Friday, 26 May 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: New Skills and Nostalgia


Hello again! I'm very pleased with myself after launching my latest column on my blog (did I really just refer to it as a column? Feel a bit fancy) and having a very good week when it came to eating lunch. I think my high point was when an avocado turned out perfectly (so creamy!) - but my low point was that somehow I managed to burn myself... twice! Ouch! The first time was on some steam while boiling an egg, the second time was on Friday evening pulling a pasta bake out of the oven. The towel slipped. I have a very fetching red line down the side of my left hand. I spent most of Friday evening with my hand under the tap. Another high point came from grabbing a freshly-baked double chocolate cookie from Lidl. It was so fresh, I actually hung around waiting for the shop assistant to finish loading the cookies into the basket. It took ages because they put in all the bread rolls first. You can't say I'm not committed to my love of cookies. In other news, I totally forgot to buy lettuce this week. I've still included it in my recipes, you just won't see it on the plate! Oops!

I've also learned to be more comfortable with the oven, too. I used to be all about switching on a microwave and shoving a jacket spud in for five minutes, but cooking properly actually demands you to take time out (for at least fifteen minutes) and think about what you're feeding yourself. It's the most basic and essential form of self care there is. Plus, it's actually fun and a proper adventure if you're doing it solo. Tell me you don't enjoy taking time out for yourself, learning something new and eating something yummy in the process.

This week I'm trying two new ideas out and one recipe is proper old-school nostalgia, oh, and it's healthy. Let me know what you think!


Crustless Quiche with Cold Roast Potatoes and Baked Beans

SW inspired slimming world inspired Crustless quiche with potato and baked beans

Oh my days, Sunday lunch was amazing. We absolutely love roasted vegetables in our house, and I thought this week's veg was amazing. It was delicious - there was a mix of sweet potatoes, peppers, red onion, mushrooms, carrots and cherry tomatoes. I can't stop thinking about it, they were that good. We had a few left over, along with some spicy roast potatoes (we love paprika on ours). I decided that I wanted Monday to be fairly easy, so I went online hoping to find a crustless quiche recipe (which is basically a quiche without the pastry... which is basically an omelette) - I decided after about five minutes that there was nothing I fancied trying, so I kind of made my own up. It was, as always, easy to put together. It did take longer than usual to bake, which is why it's perfect for a Sunday afternoon. My only regret was not seasoning the quiche, as it made it taste a little bit bland without it. Don't forget your salt and pepper, people! I'd also suggest adding the strongest grated cheese you own, too. If you do plan to have this with cold roast potatoes, take the potatoes out of the fridge first and leave it for a while so that it comes to room temperature.

Take a small portion of cold roasted vegetables (I had red, yellow and green peppers, mushrooms, tomato and sweet potato) and keep them aside. Beat three eggs together and add 100ml soya milk. Add plenty of salt and pepper to it. Grease a sandwich tin and sprinkle in the vegetables. Pour in the egg mixture. Spread out 100g strong cheddar cheese on the top of it and add more salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 180℃ for about 30 minutes, checking frequently. You know it's done when the whole thing is set, it's all dry and nothing wobbles on top. Allow it to cool thoroughly. You'll notice that it will sink in the middle, try not to worry about this! Cut into quarters and eat it with cold roast potatoes and hot baked beans.


Macaroni Cheese (without the Mac) 

SW inspired cheesy macaroni cheese pasta bake

Yesterday, I made my own recipe up. I'm doing the same again today... and again on Wednesday. When it was my birthday earlier in the year, we went out for lunch in a really cosy pub (you know - the kind with low ceilings and old books and board games in the corner - gorgeous!) and I had macaroni cheese with a big salad on the side. I wasn't feeling too great (typical, that - two years in a row now!) so it was a lovely, simple meal to eat. I really enjoyed it. So I'm going to have a go at making my own macaroni cheese, but because I didn't buy any of the macaroni pasta shapes, nor did I need them, I'm having a party with penne. Let's switch it up a bit, guys. I'm also adding a few veggies in for good measure (using our leftover roasted vegetables from Sunday) just to make it super healthy.

You can apparently do macaroni cheese two ways, either you cook the pasta first, add the sauce and grill it in the oven, or you make the cheesy sauce and pour it over dry pasta and bake. I'm going for the first option - I first made this recipe using the pour-it-over-dry-pasta method and it took the best part of an afternoon. It was really, really hard going, but there's a certain sense of pride knowing that you've nailed making a cheese sauce. Despite my pasta disaster, this made me pretty chuffed - see, I told you learning new skills is fun! Even though I'm exhausted now. For an easy lunch, it's probably better to make it ahead and reheat the next day. This suits one very hungry person.

Measure out 100g of penne pasta per person and boil it up in a pan with a handful of frozen peas, until double the size and soft. Towards the end, add a handful of roasted veggies. Melt 50g butter in a pan and add 50g plain flour - stir it together. Slowly add in 300ml of soya milk and keep stirring until it makes a thick sauce. You may wish to add a bit more milk to loosen it up. Take it off the heat and stick the pan on a trivet (TRIVET! not PIVOT!) and add in 125g of grated cheese, stir it until it melts. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Pour it over the not-macaroni pasta and stir it all together. Add the pasta to an oven dish, stick the lid on (very important!) and pop the dish in the oven, at 180℃, for about twenty minutes. The pasta and veggies should be hot and very soft, so be careful. Pop it in a bowl, grab a fork and enjoy.


Ham, Egg and Chips

Slimming World inspired ham egg and chips

I had plans for my lunch today, and I realised I didn't have enough ingredients for it, so I decided to change it at the last minute and throw together something else. The weather (so, so hot) and feeling mentally and physically exhausted had a really big part in what I picked for today's lunch. I always remember eating this meal back last year, on holiday, when the weather was hot and the fatigue was completely overwhelming. I picked it off the menu in the pub and was presented with a huuuuge plate with three cold thick slices of ham, a portion of chips and three (yes, three!) poached eggs. It took a while, but I devoured the lot, and yes, cold ham is a bit hard to get your head around at first, but it works. Ham, egg and chips always reminds me of that holiday, and how delicious and muchly needed it was at the time. So, I made my own. There might not be many handmade elements to this meal, but it's perfection all the same.

Put a portion of oven chips in the oven and start cooking them. Arrange two slices of ham (the thicker the better) on a plate while you wait. (Hey, it rhymes!) Towards the end of the cooking time for the chips, poach an egg. As you can see by the egg in the photo, it actually looks like something you'd get while being an astronaut in space... but I actually made it in my toaster. (Tefal Toast 'n' Egg, if you're wondering!) Microwave some baked beans while you wait. Arrange the chips, egg, and beans on the plate with the ham and eat as soon as possible.


Baked Bean Pizza

SW inspierd baked bean pitta bread pizza

I thought about making one of these last week and I'm pretty excited for it! Who remembers baked bean pizzas? They were these really lovely mini pizzas back in the 90s that had baked beans (obviously!), cheese and tiny circles of meat (I think it was either sausage or ham) on top. Honestly - why they got rid of them, I'll never know. You know how Cadbury brought back Wispa bars when there was a huge petition? I think we should do the same with baked bean pizzas. Come on Heinz, sort it out! But until then, I've made my own up. When nostalgia strikes, you should totally indulge it. Anyways, this pizza is made with a trusty wholemeal pitta bread, cheese, baked beans, and ham. Please let me know what you think! There's salad on the side, because diet, but if you want to relive your 1990s youth, you obviously need potato waffles and more baked beans (or spaghetti hoops, but I didn't like those growing up!)

Arrange a wholemeal pitta bread on a baking tray. Like last week's recipe, add a tablespoon of tomato sauce and spread all over with a butter knife. Add about 30g of grated cheese. Next, tear up half a slice of ham and put it on top of the pizza. Next, take a tablespoon (or two, if you feel cheeky) of baked beans, drain away any excess juice, and spread it over the pizza. Try not to drown it with beans, though. Put it under the grill until the cheese melts and browns. While you're waiting, make a quick salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and olives. Except I forgot the lettuce, so I'm just having a garnish, if you will. Add the pizza to the plate and eat immediately. Marvel at how quickly twenty years have passed.


Cheese and Potato Pie

Slimming World inspired cheese and potato pie

Okay, so it's Friday, and admittedly by this point, I'm quite happy because, yay, nearly weekend. So I went all out and had cheese and potato pie, which is really easy to make and doesn't take long either - oh, and it's really creamy and cheesy and there's a lovely hint of onion too!

Prepare and boil enough potatoes for each person. Smoosh them up with a potato masher, and add a big handful of cheese, mashing it up some more. Chop up some onions very small and add them into the mixture. Put the potato mash into an oven dish, pop the lid on and bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes until it is very, very hot. Put it in a bowl and enjoy!

That's another week in the bag - I hope you liked reading about what I ate for lunch this week! Please let me know if you tried any of my recipes. I shall see you again next week :)

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