Sunday, 27 January 2013

Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Hello all!!

I have not done a recipe post in a while.

And to be honest, feeling under the weather lately, I didn't cook that much.
But today I felt creative and hungry for some good and healthy food.
I basically made up a recipe of things I had in the fridge and things I know go well. And it was DELICIOUS!!! 

So here is an easy and yummy chicken in tomato sauce (preparation time 15 mins, cooking time 1 hour):

Saute three medium onions and one carrot on a bit of olive oil. Add vegetable stock with it. Don't add water just the stock pot:

Brown the chicken in a separate pan on a splash of olive oil. I had one chicken breast and three thighs. Not much, but then again, it is vegetables and the sauce that make this dish good. Note, just brown the chicken pieces as they are going to cook in the oven for about an hour once you add the sauce. Once browned, put aside to set.

Cut out vegetables. I only had three mushrooms and one and a half of yellow pepper. Of course you can add anything you want (celery, courgettes, aubergines,...). I had these in my fridge and they are kind of my staple anyway:

Once the onion and carrot are softened, add your chosen vegetables:

Now, for the star of the dish - tomato sauce. I absolutely love tinned tomatoes and use them in almost all my cooking. I always have at least two or three tins in my cupboard. For this dish I used two tins, three cloves of finely chopped garlic, two bay leaves, a bit of dried oregano and three chillies (if you like hot food that is. If not, just leave them out).

After cooking vegetables for about three minutes, add the sauce in. Cook that for another 3-4 minutes but not longer. You just want the spices and juices to get going. They'll cook longer in the oven and release all their goodness in time.

I had four potatoes and threw that in too. Cut them in smaller pieces so they cook faster. I placed the chicken at the bottom of the tray and then pour the sauce over it, covering the whole tray. Season the whole dish, but don't forget you've already put the vegetable stock in and that's already somewhat salty.

Pre heat the oven at 200C. Pop the dish into the oven and cook for an hour, on medium heat, then after half an hour turn it up to the highest your oven goes to. And then wait patiently (that was the hardest bit of the cooking. The kitchen smelt beautifully and I was starving).
After an hour, your dish is ready to be eaten:

In all seriousness this was the best meal I have had in months and months (and I have eaten in quite good restaurants in the last six months). But this one beats them all. It is healthy and if you leave potatoes out not many callories either (next time I am adding quinoa instead of potatoes). Most of all, this dish is seriously delicious. And so easy to prepare. The biggest challenge is not to go for seconds, thirds, fourths,... I can't wait for my dinner tomorrow (there is so much of it, I have at least two - three more meals left).

I am not so good at following recipes. I take the basic idea from a recipe book and then experiment. I cook with my gut instinct, my taste buds and what's in the fridge. I can never stick to someone else's recipe. So of course, use this as your guide, but add or leave out at your pleasure. However, I suggest that you use different coloured ingredients. It is important that the dish looks colourful and inviting.

So, how do you cook? Do you follow someone else's recipe or do you go in to invent and experiment. Either way, let me know.

Have a delicious week.

Red xx

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Beautiful Snow in SW London

Hello all!!

I love, love, love snow. It makes me happy; it makes me smile and it brings out the kid in me. I can't quite contain my excitement when it snows. Walking also becomes more interesting. You never know when you might fall down on an icy patch and recreate a slapstick comedy scene. It is just too much fun. Everything is beautiful; there is a strange sound of "silence" in the air, and of course, fresh air. What's there not to like?

It started snowing on Friday. Then the beautiful white stuff took a break on Saturday and was replaced by rain (just when I planned to go sledging!!) but came back in full force over night. I woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow.

I took two long walks around my neighbourhood. Now, it is not exactly known for the beautiful landscape, but I think you will agree that it looks quite pretty now:

My terrace and my freezing lavender and rosemary:

The streets are deserted and beautiful:


Some pretty plants down the street from me have new clothes:

My feet are well protected in Birkenstocks:

Some people are still in the festive mood:

And some people are in the mood for love:

And some people,... well, I need not comment on this one. The picture speaks for itself:

So, hello snow and hello world. 
Let's enjoy it while it is here:

I hope you are loving the weather wherever you are in the world. I certainly am and am living in the moment.

Have a happy week everyone!!!

Red xx


Monday, 14 January 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Dear all!!!

In the past, I never made New Year's resolutions, because I always thought that if I do and then don't get them done, I will be disappointeded. And I really don't like disappointing myself.

However, this year, I decided to make a few resolutions, but the ones that I know I can actually keep. The ones that will make my life and that of the closest to me, maybe a little bit happier.

So here is a list of what I will endeavour to do this year:

1. Read more! And read things that I wouldn't naturally pick. So for example, I have never read a SC-Fi book. I should try at least a few this year. I read a lot, but I want to up the game this year.

2. Buy a present for someone different I love or like, every month. It doesn't have to be a big present. It can a book, flowers, make them a card, bake them a cake ... Doesn't matter what, just let them know that I am thinking of them.

3. Go swimming. Often.

4. Buy myself a treat every month. Something small, but something that will make me smile.

4. Learn and try something new every month. Anything, as long as I have never done or tried it before.

5. Learn to cook a new dish every month and then invite a friend/ friends for dinner.

6. Dance. Dance. Dance.

7. See more art exhibitions. I have Paula Rego lined up for this month, so this month is sorted.

8. Go out for long walks every time it rains. Let's face it, it rains a lot in London, so I should be alright on that front.

9. Sing more. Sing every day.

10. Read a new poem every day. 

So, do you make New Year resolutions? What is yours? What else could I add to my list?

Have an amazing and a happy year that counts.

Red xx