Our Wedding Venue

Things are getting really exciting in the Campbell/Brooker camp at the moment. I posted our wedding invitations yesterday marking the eleven and a half week countdown and a year to the day since we got engaged. It really has been the most wonderful time in my life so far, but what’s to come is going to be so much better. Charles has been so busy trying to get our house finished in May, but he promises you will hear more from him once we’re installed in the house and he has a little more time on his hands.  

The view from our bedroom window
 

Our wedding venue was one of the more contentious issues at the start of the planning process – between me and my family, that is, Charles didn’t particularly want a white wedding at all – as I had my heart set on Loch Lomond but my mother was having none of it, claiming it was too far from home. I didn’t really understand the issue, but bulldozed I nevertheless was. So we looked at venues in the Scottish Borders and on my back door, but nothing fit the bill in terms of giving us what we wanted and doing so in budget.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond
 
Until we found Forbes of Kingennie. I was browsing the Scottish Wedding Directory and happened upon Forbes of Kingennie in Angus, North of Dundee – a place I had never heard of despite it being only 40 minutes up the road. It looked beautiful, suspended over fishing ponds with beautiful countryside scenery, golf and fishing onsite for the boys and exactly the type of catering packages we were looking for.  
Forbes of Kingennie
The reception venue
  

Forbes of Kingennie
The reception bar
  
Forbes of Kingennie
View from the reception venue
  
Forbes of Kingennie
The ceremony venue
 
We took a few more trips up there before we booked it, but it immediately felt like the relaxed sort of place we were looking for. Charles and I had a trip up to try the food and walk around the grounds and had a lovely day taking photos and chatting about the future. We’ll be going up for 3 days as there is a 3 night minimum stay for the self-catering accommodation but it’s reasonably priced so it doesn’t add too much to the budget. 
Forbes of Kingennie Weddings
View from the ceremony room
  
Forbes of Kingennie Weddings
The ceremony room
  
Forbes of Kingennie
The reception venue
  
Forbes of Kingennie
View from the reception venue
 

It also comes with the most incredible honeymoon suite – a self-contained boathouse with balconies over one of the fishing pools, known as the Leannan Boathouse.  

Forbes of Kingennie
The honeymoon suite
 

The main bar has just been refurbished, which is a stroke of luck and it looks beautiful, with the addition of panoramic picture windows and a lovely wood burning stove (although we’re hoping we won’t need to use that in May!). 

The public bar
 

I hope you all enjoyed this post; we did promise to share some more about our lives as well as our revipes so I’ll try to spend more time on posts like this if you like them. 

Salmon and Broccoli Cous Cous Bowl

This year is all about “bowl food” so it’s time to see what all the noise is about. Bowl food is all about putting together a meal of tasty but nutritious food, served in a bowl. We’re talking, laksa, ramen, smoothie bowls (but that’s just wrong) and any assortment of protein, grains and vegetables.

I was stuck for something to have for supper on Tuesday, as I’m trying to run my freezer down ahead of moving away in May, I’m trying to buy less in the way of meat and fish at the supermarket in favour of eating what I already have. But as someone who loves to cook, that’s often easier said than done! On Tuesday morning, I completely forgot to rake around in my freezer drawer for something to cook that evening, so I had two choices: salmon, which defrosts relatively rapidly or will cook from frozen, or tiger prawns, which defrost within an hour or so in a bowl of tap water. I changed my mind about three times and settled on the salmon, and this bowl of nutritious deliciousness was the result.

salmon and broccoli cous cous bowl
You can make this dish with all sorts of things you personally like or fancy, but you may wish to use:

1/4 onion

1 clove garlic

dash olive oil

a few florets of broccoli

1/2 red pepper

a small carrot

a nice chunk of cucumber

80g cous cous (or bulgar wheat or quinoa)

1 stock cube

2 tbsp. pesto (I used my homemade pesto)

1 salmon fillet
tasty cous cous recipe

1. Chop the onion and grate the garlic and gently cook them off together in a little oil, being careful not to turn the heat up so high that things catch and burn.

how to cook cous cous2. Prepare the cous cous by weighing it out into a bowl.

how to prepare cous cous  

3. Make up some hot chicken stock…

easy cous cous recipe

3. …and pour it onto the cous cous until just covered. 

how do you cook cous cous?

4. Cover the bowl with a small plate to keep the heat and steam in. I used whole grain cous cous so it should only take 5 minutes to coo through, but if you’re using regular cous cous, leave it to settle for 10 minutes.

cous cous ideas

5. When it’s ready it should be tender against your teeth, and fluff it up with a fork. 

quick vegetable cous cous recipe 

6. Finely chop the nice fresh vegetables( which will add crunch as well as bulking out the carby element. 

vegetable cous cous recipe

7. Stir into the cous cous and that’s that part ready. It’s also delicious cold. salmon recipe  

8. Place the salmon fillet on some foil and spoon the pesto over the top. 

pesto salmon recipe  

9. Fold the sides of the foil up and put in the oven for 8 minutes at 180c. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 7 minutes, and boil an egg (for 4 minutes once it gets to a rolling boil if you like it just soft in the middle, or 5 minutes if you prefer it well done. 

Serve everything up in a bowl, or a plate I suppose, and dig in!

Beef Kofta Feast

I may have told you this before, but there is nothing I love more than some sort of delicious meat served up with a dip or chutney, flatbreads and salad.  I don’t know if it’s the spice or the contrast in textures or the DIY element, but this mini feast has given me some of my very favourite ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ suppers.  These lovely little beef koftas are packed with flavour, and if you cook them just right they’re be deliciously juicey too. A great light alternative to a burger or a kebab, as well as being something a little different to make with that packet of beef mince.  You could even make mini versions to serve up with a dip at a party, if you were of a mind.

Beef Kofta Recipes

You will need (to make 4 koftas to fee 2 greedy souls)

500g beef mince

1/2 onion

clove garlic

2cm piece ginger

1/2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

black pepper

1/2 tsp dried parsley

dash Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp ground cumin

medium pot Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp curry powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

dash lemon juice

pinch salt

salad vegetables of your choice

flatbreads or pitta – I used wholemeal pitta, which keep really well in the freezer

Wooden or metal skewers
Make Takeaway at Home

1 Chop the onion and grate the garlic and ginger.
Recipe Ideas using Beef Mince

2. Add the olive oil to a small saucepan over a medium heat.  Once it’s warm, throw in the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until translucent – don’t give it too much heat as you don’t want it to burn.  Set aside and allow to cool when ready.

Healthy Kebab 3. Bring the mince out to room temperature around half an hour before you want to use it if possible so it isn’t too fridge chilly.  Try to use good quality mince  – it’ll be less fatty, taste better, and be better for you – and a little goes quite a long way with all the accompaniments you’ll add in. Preheat the oven to 180c.

Light Dinner Ideas

4. Add the cooled onion-garlic-ginger mixture to your mince I a large bowl, then add the ketchup, mustard, parsley, 1 tsp cumin, pepper and Wprcestershire sauce.

How to Make Beef Koftas

5. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty here -just make sure they’re nice and clean in the first place.  Mix everything together well with your hands and you’ll be left with this lovely beefy mixture.

Barbecue Recipe Ideas

6.Now, grab your skewers!  I use wooden ones, so I make sure to soak them in water beforehand so that they won’t catch in the oven. Grab a quarter of the mixture and form it into a sort of thick sausage shape in your hand. Place the skewer in the middle then close your hand around the meat, squeezing it tightly onto the skewer.

Midweek Meal Recipes

7. Repeat with the remaining mince mixture and set the koftas out on a foil lined baking tray and stick them in the oven. They should take around 20 minutes, but check after 15 and turn over.

Supper Ideas to eat with Salad

8. Now put together a lovely, fresh, crunchy vibrant salad which will give a nice contrast to that meat, yoghurt and bread.

Recipes using Greek Yoghurt

9. Get your little pot of yoghurt ready.  You have two options here: do things properly and set out a lovely dip bowl for your yoghurt, or just mix it up in the yoghurt pot – which is what this scruffy girl went with (less washing up!). Epic spiced Yoghurt Dip

10. Chuck in the spices, salt and lemon juice, and mix, mix, mix.

Currid Yoghurt Dip Recipe

11. Remove the koftas from the oven when they’re ready to serve up.

How to Make Beef Koftas

12. Toast your pittas (a toaster works just fine) and serve everything up with plenty of napkins!

Tasty Healthy Meal Ideas

13. Enjoy your messy feast!

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Since the weather doesn’t seem to be improving any, we’re stuck in soupsville for however many weeks it’s going to take Spring to warm things up enough to let us enjoy salads at lunchtime. This is a swings and roundabouts problem, however, because the soup gets made on Sunday, and then portions will need to be reheated each day for lunch, whereas salads necessitate chopping and boxing every evening when supper’s being made, and there often needs to be a roast bird in the oven on Sunday to provide the protein element.  So either way, this is my hardest work part of eating well.

 
All that work pays off, however, as long as you can keep changing things up enough that you keep enjoying whatever it is you’re feeding yourself. And that’s why it’s time for a new soup! You don’t me need to tell you that carrots help to see I the dark but you may not know that they are packed with vitamin C. They can be a little sweet, however, so to me it makes sense to balance them out with a little heat and some acidic citrus to give you a tasty well/rounded soup. 

You will need:

2 onions

2 leeks 

3 cloves garlic

2 cm piece ginger 

1 tbsp olive oil 

1 kg carrots

3 chicken stock cubes (use vegetable if you would prefer, or fresh stock)

2 tsp dried parsely

1/2 tsp ground chilli

1/2 tsp ground cumin 

4 tsp ground coriander 

Splash orange juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce 

Salt and pepper 

A few leaves of fresh parsely or coriander (optional)

  
1. Chop the onions, garlic and ginger. Don’t worry about being too delicate or even – it’ll all blended once it’s cooked.how to make soup 
2. Add a tablespoon of oil to your soup pot and chuck in the onions, garlic and ginger and cook on a medium to high heat until it’s all starting to turn transparent.  recipes to use up leeks
3. Chop the leeks – make sure you rinse out any mud and trim off the toughest part of the leaves.

 carrot recipes 4. Peel and chop the carrots – you can leave the skins on if they’re not too gnarly – just give them a quick wash.easy soup recipes 

5. Add the leeks to the soup pot and cook out for a few minutes… carrot soup recipes 

6. …then add the carrots and stir it all together.  how to make carrot soup 
  7. Make the stock by dissolving the stock cubes in water, then add to the pot, topping up with more water if necessary. I used about a litre and a half. Put a lid on and leave to simmer on a low to medium heat for 40 minutes to an hour.  Carrot and Coriander Soup Recipe

8. Add the parsley and spices  to the pot and take it off the heat. Now it’s time to turn this hitch pitch into a smooth soup. You can do that by pouring it into a blender or by using a stick blender. I like to use a stick blender and decant the soup into a big bowl before blending to avoid getting my soup pot scratched.   

9. Add a little more water if it’s all looking too thick. I added some fresh parsely leaves at this point just to freshen things up, but you could use fresh coriander if you like it. I tasted it for seasoning and added some more ground coriander at this stage but I’ve accounted for it in the overall measurements above. Add seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and the orange juice and mix together. 

Carrot and coriander soup 10. Taste, and add anything you feel is missing. If it’s a little bland, add seasoning. If it’s not spicy enough for you, add more coriander or chilli, or if you think it needs more zest, add a splash of orange juice. Serve up and enjoy!  

PB & J Biscuits

As you may be able to tell, I’ve had a bit of a peanut butter obsession lately. So I just had to turn my hand to some peanut butter coolies. As you know, I like to try to add a bit of twist to things (as you saw with my chocolate pancakes). And whilst it doesn’t always result in a success, the addition of the jam to these buscuits definitely improved them (in my opinion at least). They also started off with ideas of becoming cookies, but they didn’t taste that great when still soft in the middle so I decided to bake them all the way through and call them biscuits. They’re still sweet with a good crunch but melt in the mouth. In fact my mum keeps asking me how difficult they were and can I make them again!

PB &J Biscuits To make a lovely big batch, you will need:

230g salted butter, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

150g light brown sugar

2 large eggs

250g crunchy peanut butter

391g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam
biscuit recipes 1.  Weigh the butter into a large bowl and whip it up until fluffy with an electric mixer.

how to make peanut butter biscuits 2. Add the sugars and mix again until blended then add the eggs, and mix together until well combined.
recipes using crunchy peanut butter

peanut butter cookie recipe  3.  Add the peanut butter – mix again…. you can use smooth peanut butter if you like but the crunchy type will give you nice nutty bits which add to the texture and crunch. 4. Mix in the flour, baking powder and bicarb until just combined, being careful not to overmix as that will stiffen the batter and given you heavy biscuits.
  5. Swirl in the jam to give a rippled effect.  Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

  6. Prepare a baking sheet with baking parchment or a non-stick sheet and pre-heat your oven to 170c.

how to make pb&j cookies

7. Once the goufh is chilled, roll pieces into smallish balls and press down into the lined tray, leaving plenty of room for spreading. Use a fork to gently press a sort of double hash shape onto the top (as for traditional peanut butter cookies) as pictured. 
peanut butter and jam cookies

8. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until well baked all the way through. If they’re a bit soft on the underside, pop them back in upside down once they’ve cooled a bit. They’ll come out of the oven quite soft but will harden as they cool. The jam will add a sticky zing and a bit of contrast.

  

These will keep for a good few weeks in an airtight container. 

Flourless Banana Pancakes and Chocolate Banana Pancakes

I shan’t pretend this is a full-on recipe because it just isn’t – this guy is all over Instagram and Pinterest. I also won’t call these “two ingredient pancakes” or “protein pancakes” because you really need at least four ingredients to make them taste great (why limit yourself two ingredients just to be able to have a gimmick) and why oh why would you turn the name of something so lovely into something so unappealing (protein and chips for me please)?!

These definitely live up to the hype so thank you Mr Brooker for introducing me to these guilt free treats, which are so much easier to make than normal pancakes!

   gluten free pancake recipe 
You will need (for a generous batch which would probably feed 2): 

1 ripe banana 

2 eggs 

Pinch salt

A little butter 

Optional: 3 tsp cocoa powder 

Maple syrup to serve

Extra banana or other fruit to serve

 recipes using ripe bananas 
  1. Mash the banana with a fork.how to use up really ripe bananas

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk up with a fork.   recipes using eggs

 3. Add the banana and pinch of salt and mix well. Don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy!how to make pancakes 

4. Put a medium to large (depending how many you want to cook at a time) frying pan on the job and add a little butter. Let it melt over a medium to high heat. If it sizzles it’s hot enough for your pancakes. 

how to make flourless pancakes  

5. Drop two tablespoons of the batter onto the pan in quick succession so that it forms an almost round pool of batter – it’ll be too runny to be perfectly round, I’m afraid, and allow it to cook until it is set around the edges. 

 2 ingredient pancakes 
6. Slide a spatula under it and flip it over. If you’re brave, do feel free to try to flip without the spatula, but I’m really not that coordinated. 

 banana pancake recipe 
7. Cook on the other side – noting that it won’t take as long for this side to set – then remove and place on your plate. If at any point the surface looks too dark, turn the pan down a little. Otherwise, add a little more butter and repeat until all the batter has been used. 

  

If you want to go crazy, without adding too many calories, add cocoa powder to the batter before you cook it off. I did half plain and half with cocoa powder so I used about 2 tsp of cocoa powder and mixed it into the batter. It just gives it less of an eggy taste, though they surprisingly taste but very eggy at all  – more like banana pancakes! flourless chocolate pancake recipe
 Cook them off as before, but be aware they’ll look brown even if they’re perfectly cooked. 
gluten free chocolate pancake recipe  

Serve them all stacked up with a drizzle of maple syrup and some sliced fruit and you’ll never know the difference!

 gluten free breakfast recipes 

Interestingly, the same batter makes cracking crêpes, which I discovered accidentally when I dropped the bowl over the pan!
  

Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken

I like stir fries. Quite a lot. They’re a great way to, relatively quickly, pack in all the protein and veg you need for a healthy supper, without things tasting too dull. The only problem is that it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut in terms of the flavours you serve up (in my case, teriyaki, teriyaki, teriyaki) so I thought I’d mix it up a bit this time. And the peanut butter adds extra protein as well as being delicious!


You will need:

1/2 onion

1 carrot

1/2 red pepper

4 or 5 florets of broccoli

4 mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1 2cm piece of ginger

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp sriracha

Dash lime juice

2 tbsp groundnut oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

how to stir fry vegetables
1. Chop the veg. I like fine slices of onion (dice would just melt away), bite-sized pieces of carrot and pepper, slices of mushroom and teeny tiny broccoli pieces which will steam through in the won’t save messing around with another saucepan.
2. Grate the garlic and ginger into a bowl then add the soy sauce and honey. recipes using peanut butter
3. Add the peanut butter. Stick with the single teaspoon as any more makes it far too creamy. If you want more peanuts, add some peanuts. recipes using sriracha
 4. Add the sriracha and lime juice….chicken recipes
5. ….and mix it all together. 
6. Clean and trim the chicken thighs and cut each into 3 pieces. Then mix into the marinade and allow those to settle while you get on with the veg. quick chicken recipes
 7. Add 1 tbsp of the oil to a wok on a medium heat. Chuck in the onions, carrot, pepper and broccoli and cook until the onions are translucent and the broccoli is tender. 
8. Add the rest of the oil to a frying pan, heat until sizzling then add the chicken. Cook on both sides until glazed and then allow another few minutes to make sure it’s cooked through. Keep turning it to avoid it burning then turn the heat down a little while the middle cooks.chicken thigh recipes
9. Add the mushrooms and any remaining marinade to the vegetables.easy stir fry recipes
10. When the chicken is done, add it to the wok and heat everything through together.

Serve up with your favourite rice or noodles and enjoy the peanutty goodness.

Giant Sausage Rolls

I know Mr B has already shared his party sausage roll recipe with you, but we made these giant ones together at the weekend and it seemed a bit churlish not to share them with you.

They are pretty cumbersome, but make a filling lunch served hot with some salad or add some more carbs and roasted veg or baked beans to give you a comforting supper. I suppose you could slice them up for a party, or just make them smaller!

Giant Sausage Roll Recipe If you want to make two of these meaty beasts, you will need:

One pack of ready rolled puff pastry (who makes their own?!)

10 decent pork sausages

1/2 onion

splash oil

1 clove garlic

3cm piece fresh ginger

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp fresh parsley

1 egg
How do you make sausage rolls? 1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan.  Finely chop the onion and parsley.  Heat a little oil in a small saucepan and cook off the onion gently.
things to make with grated garlic and ginger

2. Grate the garlic and ginger and add it to the saucepan, letting it cook off as well to soften the flavour.  When they’re all cooked off, set the saucepan aside to cool off (or set the saucepan in some cold water if you’re in a hurry) so they’re not being added to the cold meat.
Best Sausage Roll Recipe

3. Meanwhile, skin the sausages and mash the meat up in a big bowl.  Add the parsley.  You may need to get your hands dirty here…
Hoe do you make sausage rolls?
4. Add the cooled onion, garlic and ginger mixture, then the seasoning, mustard and paprika.  Mix everything together well with your hands, making sure the flavourings are evenly distributed throughout the meat.

Picnic food ideas

5. Get your pasty ready by unrolling it  (or rolling it out if you haven’t bought ready rolled), leaving it on the paper to save making too much mess (Charles will roll his eyes here; I always make a terrible mess and he usually has to clean up after me!).  Try to pull out about half of your sausage mixture and press it into a sort of large sausage shape, laying it along the short side of the pastry, leaving enough room to fold the top over, but also making sure there’s enough pastry left for the other half of the meat (that’s to say: use half of the pastry!).
Easy homemade hot lunch

6. Check that the top can fold over nicely and reposition the meat a little if necessary.  You should make sure it’s pulled together relatively snugly so there are no big air pockets, but there should also be around a centimetre of excess pastry along each edge to match up.
hot lunch recipes

7.  Whisk the egg in a bowl and use a pastry brush to egg wash (brush on beaten egg) the inside of the seam to help it to bind.  Press the seam together with a fork to form a nice seam.  Next, egg wash the top and sides of each sausage roll, score the top with diagonal lines and egg wash again.  This will make your pastry golden and shiny once it’s cooked.
things to make with puff pastry

8. Carefully transfer the sausage rolls onto a baking tray lined with tin foil.  Pop it into the oven and leave it there for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the meat is nicely cooked.

Recipes using sausages

Serve in chunks or slices, hot or cold.  But please do enjoy!  They can also be reheated later on, just make sure the meat is nice and hot in the middle.
Easy Lunch Ideas for Friends

Why We Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day

It’s a busy week for food: Chinese New a year has given us cravings for takeaways we only want on the one night of the year they’re not available, today is pancake day and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner this weekend. Whilst I think taking a day out every year to celebrate a very delicious breakfast/pudding made from flour, milk and eggs is truly righteous in some ways, the rush to buy ready-made crêpes and batter mixes has ripped the very soul out of the celebration. Pancakes are all about simplicity; a classic act of love to be mastered over the years, topped with a squirt and a sprinkle of your own personality. One of my very favourite memories is the anticipation of the first pancakes Charles ever made me, then scoffing them up with a variety of toppings. That is what food is all about, to me anyway.  

Valentine's Food Memes
photo credit www.someecards.com
 

Charles insists that Pancake Day is the one day a year you should refrain from making pancakes, and I can see where he’s coming from, but still I think there’s a place for it, as long as you do them well. There’s something wonderful about serving up a plate which can’t fail to raise a smile on a soggy February night. 

  
It’s from a similar stand point that Valentine’s Day passes us by every year. We’re still a long distance couple, and our anniversary is 9th February (although it’ll be superseded by our wedding anniversary after this year) so it isn’t really an obvious celebration for us, but even if that wasn’t the case, we have plenty of reasons to avoid it:

 

Valentines Day Memes
photo credit www.memecenter.com
 
Commercialisation is a somewhat trite story of capitalism exploiting sentimentality, but clichés usually turn out to be true. If you want to pay 3 times over for the same bunch of flowers you bought 2 weeks ago, be fleeced for a novelty box of chocolates or battle for a booking at a cramped restaurant where the food is offered at 150% its usual price and half its usual quality with side orders being upsold with every course, be my guest. But we’ll be staying in, thank you. 

 why is valentine's day always disappointing ? 
The weight of expectation. Much like the dissappointment of Christmas, birthdays and New Year, Valentine’s Day is notorious for falling flat. Let’s face it, who’s in the mood for romance with that weight of the expectation for “the most romantic day of the year” on their shoulders? Inevitably, it’s overpriced, average quality and completely impersonal. 

showing off on valentines day
photo credit www.interflora.com

The public displays of “affection”. Show offs are the worst kind of Valentine celebrant. It’s all very well wanting to spoil your girl or man, but really, is a bouquet of 100 roses really necessary? It’s not a competition. And quite frankly if you’re spending £500 I’d rather have a holiday. Or a piece of furniture. Or a KitchenAid. If you need a huge public display like that you need to rethink your priorities, as well as the impact it’s having on everyone around you. Your obscene spending doesn’t make you look big or clever. If your way of celebrating is to make a public show of someone (or indeed to demand roses delivered to your office by cupids) you need to rethink your relationship. 
 

photo credit www.happyvalentinesday2016.net
 
The effect it has on everyone else in the world If you really have to make a grand gesture (or generally be sickeningly happy in public), can you at least spare a thought for the rest of the population? You happiness isn’t dependent on looking better than other people or making others unhappy. Sending ridiculous gifts to your other half’s office or posting multiple smug photos showing  “how happy you are” all over Facebook will do more to upset other people than it will to improve your relationship. The fourteenth day in February is just another day: it doesn’t belong to couples and it shouldn’t exist to shame the single. It shouldn’t be necessary to celebrate “Galentine’s Day” with your friends to compensate. And don’t go thinking we’re part of the smug brigade; we always spend it apart (although I should add that doesn’t make us bitter and twisted about it!). i love you grafitti 

If you can’t do it the rest of the year why get interested for one day? This sentiment rings true for so many of these days (Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day etc); joining in for the sake of it is hollow. If you really meant it you would buy them treats, take them out for dinner and dress up for them at random intervals through the year, “just because”. Taking me out for a meal because your mates are busy with their wives and girlfriends isn’t going to impress me. We want your thought, your time and your effort. If you really want to show someone you care about them, cook their favourite meal from scratch, bake them a cake, write them a letter, learn how to make their favourite snack, and tell them you love them randomly and frequently just because you do. Hug often, share in-jokes, be as sickeningly sweet to each other as you want to, but do it at home!

 homemade birthday cake 

Mushroom and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been sceptical of stuffed peppers for many a year, fearing I’d be branded a vegetarian for daring to tuck into one. As part of my new year’s resolutions, I vowed to get more adventurous with food and so stuffed peppers became my first experiment (only to find that Charles had done the same thing 2 days before).

I was pleasantly surprised, so here’s one way to make them.

Stuffed pepper recipe You will need:

One shiny lovely red pepper (or indeed a pepper coloured to your taste)

One portion of brown rice – I made too much but enjoyed munching my way through the leftovers)

1/2 brown onion

1 clove garlic

4 chestnut mushrooms or 8 button mushrooms

Olive oil

1 tbsp butter

A sprinkle of dried parsley

A sprinkle of dried thyme

Salt and black pepper
vegetarian meal ideas 1. Get the brown rice on to cook first in some salted water, as it will take around 20 minutes to cook.  Finely chop the onion and mince or grate the garlic. Preheat the oven to 180c.
Mushroom stuffed peppers   2. Slice the mushrooms.

how to cook onions 3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, turn the heat up a little and throw in the onion and garlic.
How to make onion and mushroom stuffing 4. Cook out the onion until browning and translucent, but don’t turn the heat up too high or you might burn the garlic. Add the mushrooms, seasoning and herbs and cook out until the mushrooms are just cooked (they’ll get more cooking in the oven). recipes using brown rice 5. When the rice is tender, drain it and place it into a bowl.
 Tasty Stuffed Pepper Recipe 6. Mix the onions and mushrooms into the rice.  Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary – this should be really tasty and moreish if the balance is right.
How to stuff peppers 7. There are many ways to stuff peppers – some people half the pepper and fill it up, which would be a great accompaniment to a heavier meal, but I wanted this to be the star of the show so I serves up a whole one by neatly slicing the top off and removing all the seeds and sinew from inside, giving me this lovely edible bowl.
 8. Add the filling, squashing as much in as you’d like, but remembering you need to get the top on.  Use a form to push it right down into the corners.
Midweek Meal Ideas 9. Pop it on some tin foil on a baking tray, drizzle with some oil and put in the oven at 180c fan for 25-30 mins depending if you like your pepper crispy – don’t roast it for too long though as it could become too soft and collapse! Exploding peppers!

Resipes using peppers I served mine with a piece of salmon and some green beans for a delicious, filling, (relatively) healthy meal – you could swap out the oil for butter, but I much prefer butter with mushrooms!
Peppers stuffed with brown rice Hopefully we’ll be sharing some alternative ways to stuff peppers in the future – Charles has his filled with spicy cous cous! Let us know what you think, and remember to sign-up to our mailing list!