I recently shared my apple and sultana strudel recipe, a favourite pastry of mine to stuff my face with during the Autumn. Now I’m going to share a seasonal update to this with my Festive Brie and Cranberry Bites – something I become addicted to making and eating every Christmas. I can’t remember now where I got the recipe from (props to one of the supermarket magazines though) but it is one of the best, so easy and tastes just like Christmas in a puff pastry.
With Baby Lynch due any day now (5th November if they’re on time), I’m into week three of maternity leave and am trying to use my time productively by cooking up a storm and preparing some meals to have in the freezer ready for those days where we need to eat but sticking a ready meal in the microwave is all we can manage.
I have a real sweet tooth, even more so in the latter stages of pregnancy, but I’m in no way a baker. I don’t have the patience or precision when it comes to cooking, which is essential when baking as we can all probably admire from the Great British Bake Off.
Definitely not just one for the preggos, I recently had a stab at combining recipes from a few places around the web (and made a bit of it up myself) to mix two of my favourites – Mexican flavours with Italian meatballs. Read more!
Last week, I met up with seven friends for Afternoon Tea at Panoramic 34 in Liverpool to see three of us off into impending parenthood. Due within weeks of each other, it was nice to chat symptoms, shopping and all things baby, as well as catching up on non-baby life, which is always good to do, it’s crazy how quickly and easily baby life can take over before you’ve even had the baby!
One of my favourite times of the week is Saturday and Sunday mornings, when the husband takes over the kitchen. He has a knack for making a mean breakfast and if we have time, he likes to get creative with his presentation – all in the name of having a laugh, not because he thinks he’s missed his vocation in life as a Michelin star chef.
My favourite breakfast, a la Mr Lynch, is his homemade Blueberry American-Style Pancakes, which often come decorated in a variety of fruits and always with coffee and orange juice. It’s a basic recipe which I’m sure he found online, but he’s perfected it over the months so I thought I’d share the joy right here in the form of some pancake porn and the recipe!
Pancakes (makes 4 pancakes):
- 200g self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 300ml milk
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Knob of butter
- Blueberries (optional)
Toppings (all optional):
- Natural yoghurt
- Maple syrup
- Any kind of fruit (try warming your berries or peaches in a pan with some Mixed Spice until they go soft and a bit caramelised)
- Seive the flour and baking powder into bowl, adding the salt if you choose
- Pour the milk into a bowl and whisk in the egg, then pour into flour mix and whisk all together until you have a smooth batter
- If adding blueberries, throw them in now and stir through the batter
- Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan, then pour out any excess butter to use later – you just want a light coating on the pan to stop the batter sticking
- Add a ladle of the pancake mix into the pan – we go for a depth of around 1cm but it depends how big your pan is (you might want to go thinner and larger in a bigger pan)
- Cook for approx 2 minutes on a medium heat on each side, when you start to see bubbles coming through you know it’s cooked and it should be a golden brown shade
- Remove from the heat and put aside on a plate while you cook the rest of your pancakes until the batter runs out
- For our toppings, we always add a little maple syrup and a little natural yoghurt, often over some warmed fruit or bananas, all of which go perfectly with pancakes and blueberries.
Give them a try and let me know what you top them with, anything goes!!
Even during the summer I love my comfort food, which isn’t ideal when it’s 28 degrees outside and what feels like 280 degrees in my windpipe thanks to my lovely pregnancy friend, Heartburn, but there are ways of combining comfort food with fresh and light summer flavours to get the best of both worlds.
I’m 28 weeks into pregnancy now and recently I’ve been thinking a lot about something very important to me. Food.
I’m not talking quantity, I’ve managed to avoid eating for two although I can feel the snack urges creeping back up on me, I’m talking foods which I haven’t eaten since finding out I was expecting. And I’m now starting to dream about them.
Avocados were one of those foods that I had to keep forcing myself to eat until I liked them. I liked the thought of them, they looked fresh and exotic and like the kind of green food I could grow to love, unlike most of the other greens my Dad is still trying to force on me to this day.
Now, I can’t get enough of them. In salads, on toast with cayenne pepper and lime, and in the form of guacamole with salted nachos. YUM. And, it’s ‘allowed’ so is perfect for pregnant foodies like me!
It’s great for your skin and hair, and while it is a fatty food, it’s a ‘good fat’ so as long as you don’t eat them all day long, it’s all good. It’s also one of those fashionable foods and rarely a day goes by where I don’t see a case of the mashed avo toast on my Instagram feed. It’s annoying and I almost now wish I didn’t like it just because I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ people, but I made my bed, so now I must lie in it and eat my avocados.
And as I’ve found recently, it’s one of those crazy easy DIY dips, and I’ve found a few key ingredients that make it a bit more special and the perfect accompaniment for Mexican food, burgers, crisps, Ryvita, toast… yeah, anything basically.
- 2 avocados
- Juice of 1 lime (or more, depending on how limey you like it!)
- 1 tomato (or a few cherry tomatoes if you don’t have a biggie to hand)
- 1/2 red onion
- Small amount of green chilli (optional, but so good)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- handful of fresh coriander or a pinch of ground coriander
Before we start, worth saying that the coriander is completely optional as I know this is a real marmite flavour, you love it or hate it. I personally love it and it adds a lot of lovely fresh taste to this guacamole, but if, like me, you forget to pick some of the fresh stuff up when you’re doing the food shop, a pinch of the ground stuff will just add a touch of the right kind of flavour. Or, if you hate it, don’t use it at all. It’s your guac.
- Peel the skin from the tomatoes and chop the flesh into small pieces
- If you cut an X into the skin of the tomato at the top, then throw it in some just-boiled water and leave it for a couple of minutes, it will go a bit soft and wrinkled and the skin will just peel off. The most satisfying feeling ever, trust me.
- Scrape out the seeds and juice (or if it’s cherry tomatoes give them a squeeze and the juice and seeds will just fall out)
- Half the avocados, peel off the skin and take the big stone out
- If your avocados are ripe enough the skin should peel off pretty easily, and the stone will basically pop out of you give it a little squeeze
- If you need to scrape your avo flesh out, it’s no problem because you’re just going to mash the life out of it anyway.
- Chop the onion into small pieces
- Put the everything in a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice.
- MASH, MASH, MASH
- Mash until you get the consistency you want, it can be as smooth or as lumpy as you like it.
- If you’re having fresh coriander, throw it in towards the end and give it a final mash.
Eat with ANYTHING!! Enjoy!
I hate to start with a disclaimer, but just to be totally clear before we get started – I’m not a chef or a medical professional. But I am pregnant and I do love food and enjoy cooking. So any recipe posts are just a little record of what I like to eat while some of my favourite go-to foods are off the menu. Hoping it gives others like me some ideas and inspiration for eating during their pregnancy.
Pregnant or not, this is hands down my favourite meal to cook at home.
Another recipe from my favourite cook book, The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight, the Southern Style Jambalaya is a smoky, sweet, warming and good-for-you one pot wonder of utter food fitness. The proper version is like a Creole paella, with chicken, chorizo, prawns and a whole load of colourful vegetables, cooked in one pan with the all important rice.
I couldn’t go a whole 9 months without this meal, so have made the adaptations to make it preggo-friendly, which involved simply removing the chorizo and prawns (cooked prawns are ok when pregnant but I’m playing it safe at this early stage).
So imagine the below set of ingredients, minus the sausage and shrimps…
It looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s all easy stuff to get hold of, and all of the effort is in the prep which is largely just chopping. The actual cooking bit is really quick, so do all your prep before you start (photoshoot optional).
The Pregnant Version Ingredients (Serves 6):
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or diced chicken for ease!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 slender celery sticks, cut into 1cm slices
- 2 small green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks (I added a red pepper to make up for the missing chorizo)
- 5 large ripe vine tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 200g long-grain rice
- 450ml chicken stock
- 6 spring onions, sliced
- flaked sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
The beauty of this dish is that it’s, shall we say, ‘rustic’, therefore while I follow the recipe broadly, it’s totally fine to mix it up, add or remove and not be too concerned with the details. It’s a throw and go kind of dish.
How to (the quick overview, see the full recipe on the Hairy Bikers website):
- It’s not what the instructions say, but because it’s the most fiddly part I always start with peeling the tomatoes. The Hairy Biker’s top tip is to cut an X in the top of the tomatoes and drop them into just boiled water to soak. After a few minutes the skins pretty much just peel off, then you can chop the flesh. Works a treat!
- Fry the diced chicken off in the oil until it’s got a little colour then take out of the pan and set aside.
- Tip away the excess oil and throw in the onion, celery and peppers and cook for 8-10 minutes until softened.
- Stir in the oregano, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme and bay leaves and cook for 20-30 seconds before turning up the heat and adding those stripped and chopped tomatoes along with any juice you collected in the process.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the chicken back to the pan and chuck in the rice (yes this feels unnatural but just trust me!)
- Cook for a minute before pouring in the chicken stock, stirring it altogether, seasoning with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the rice is soft and has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Don’t let the mixture dry out – the HB’s use easy cook rice but if you don’t it will take longer to cook so keep an eye on it and add a little more stock (or just hot water) now and then to make sure it stays a little saucy.
- When the rice is done and you’ve got the right consistency, take it off the heat, stir in the spring onions and EAT!
Please please try it for yourself and let me know if you love as much as me!