Wednesday, 19 July 2017

What I ate: Feta & spinach puffs and Halloumi Kebabs


The second I got back to my uni house in Leeds (well, after laying on the floor panting. It’s far too hot to drag a suitcase up hills) I planned out my meals for the week. Knowing all the good food waiting in my future is a good way to raise my spirits and makes me feel at home!

During the summer I really like having a load of pre made salads/mixes/bites in the fridge to pick at during the day and put together for meals. Usually that involves a big pork pie that I segment out for each meal, but I’m trying to cut down on pork pies again. However, that pastry taste and texture would be missed, so I thought why not make something else of my own.

I’m not trying to convince you that feta and spinach puffs are a direct vegetarian alternative to pork pies, but they hit the spot in similar enough ways. Pastry & feta: filling, caramelised onion: sweetness. 

And another element I like to keep in the fridge is leftover kebabs. Not the scary kind from takeaways, the chopped up, seasoned and grilled kind. I decided to keep the meatless theme and go for halloumi, bell pepper and onion, which would top salads nicely & add some substance!

Together, these took about an hour. Read on for the recipes!

Leftover Kebabs:



  • 1 pack of Hallouimi 
  • 1 Bell pepper 
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • [extra ideas: 1 courgette, diced chicken/lamb] 
  • Black pepper/fajita seasoning/a marinade of your choice
  • Kebab sticks - wilkos do packs of 4 metal ones for like £2!


1. Chop your ingredients into similar sized squares and apply to the kebab, alternating each ingredient. You want the ingredients to flavour each other. They can touch, but don’t pack them too tight or they won’t cook well in the middle. Once done, sprinkle seasoning (to taste) over each kebab, covering each side evenly.

2. You can either barbecue or grill your kebabs. I rested mine on the edges of a foil lined baking tray, so the kebabs were suspended. Some of the halloumi is likely to get soft and fall off, so if the tray is lined it will still cook nicely and be edible!

3. Grill until the tips blacken, take out to turn, and repeat until you’re satisfied everything is cooked. Be particularly careful if adding meat by chopping off a piece to make sure the centre is cooked. 

4. Store in tupperware the fridge and use to top salads/add to pasta dishes that week!

Puffs:



  • Pre-made puff pastry 
  • 1 bag of spinach 
  • 1 pack of feta 
  • 1 onion 
  • 1-2 garlic cloves 
  • (nutmeg)
  • black pepper
  • (lemon juice)


1. You don’t have to do this step, but I wanted caramelised onions in the parcels. Chop your onion in half, and then into thin [5mm] strips. Fry with oil or butter on a medium heat, and cover with a lid for up to 10 minutes, stir, add a small spoonful of sugar, then stir and cover again. Keep checking on them until they’re soft and browned. Remove from the heat and put to the side. 

2. You can use the same pan for the spinach mix. Crush the garlic and fry it off in the pan. Add the bag of spinach, maybe a little at a time until they wilt down and free up space. Add black pepper and a little nutmeg (to taste). When completely wilted, remove from the heat and stir in the roughly chopped/crumbled spinach. Add a little lemon juice to taste. 

3. Pre heat the oven. 

4. Flour a clean surface and roll out the puff pastry slightly with a floured rolling pin. Cut into fairly large squares of 3-4 inches. Mine were all slightly different sizes which resulted in different shaped parcels! Only the proper squares will fold diagonally into nice triangles, but you can fold more rectangular pieces in half.


5. When the mixture has mostly cooled, spoon it onto one half of each pastry piece, leaving room around the edges to seal. Consider how each piece will need to fold. You can easily nudge the mixture around if you go wrong though! I ended up mixing the caramelised onion into the spinach & feta, however It would be nice to spoon the onion on top of the filling, creating layered flavour. 

6. With your fingers and lukewarm water, rub a little water along the edges of the pastry. Fold each pastry down the middle, over the filling. To seal, use a fork to press the top pastry layer into the bottom, creating a nice edging. To decorate you can poke little holes in the top or place a slice of onion.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, making sure to check them periodically. Remove when golden on the edges and top.

8. When cooled, place in tupperware or wrap individually in foil.


I hoped you liked the post! I'm going to make an effort to do more of these "What I ate" posts as I do get a lot of messages asking for recipes of the things I make & show on Instastories. Do let me know if you make these & how you get on!! 



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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Thailand Diaries - 28th May - Temple Tour


So after our nap we woke for 12 and quickly got ready to meet our transfer at 1. Slathering on the suncream and mozzie spray, we headed out to the tour car, not really knowing what to expect, but much more optimistic than yesterday!
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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Thailand Diaries - 27th & 28th May - Chatuchack Market & Chiang Mai


9AM

We have the shits.

Jack thinks it was last night's curry, but I think it was that water fountain. Bloody hell. Now, every traveller gets this at some point because of the change in diet, but Jesus Christ.
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Monday, 12 June 2017

Thailand Diaries 26th May - Sightseeing 2.0


I woke up this morning to a message from the Australian girl saying that she'd had a wonderful experience booking through the travel agency, and she couldn't imagine that they would con us. I, however, fuelled by paranoia, was still convinced all our tickets were fake and we wouldn't even be able to get on the train to Chiang Mai. I told Jack I was tempted not even to go on the route, forget it ever happened and book everything again ourselves. He, however, suggested we just ride it out and see, because we still didn't know. Our receipt said a taxi would pick us up at 4PM tomorrow, so we should wait for it and see what happens. 

We were meant to move to a hostel tonight, but I went and booked another night at the Arun hotel just to feel more secure after the shock of yesterday. I also got a little discount too. Whether my bartering skills have improved, or the hotel staff are just nice, I cannot say.

SO. First stop on our Sightseeing Day 2.0 was brunch, at the most AMAZING little place - AMA. I went for Tom Kha Goong soup and sticky rice, which came in a teeny little bowl but was incredibly filling. It's a spicy, prawn and lemon grass concoction of WONDERFULNESS and my favourite dish so far!

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Thailand Diaries - 25th May - Quite the tour of Bangkok


When visiting Bangkok, be careful, and do your research. Today's post is a big one, I'm afraid! Maybe put the kettle on.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Thailand Diaries - 23rd - 24th May - Travel & Birthday

{23/05/2017 - 24/05/2017} TRAVELLING TO THAILAND

Believe it or not, and I'm sure those of you who know me intimately absolutely would, we booked our plane tickets to Thailand two days before departure. Our first hotel the night before flying. It's not that I'm disorganised, I just have an inability to make decisions. I will dither between two paths until there is no option left but to cover my eyes and point. This ailment plagues me most when the decision is under pressure, and deciding what to do for my 21st birthday was pressure. Honestly, I was very close to opting for a nice dinner with my boyfriend, Jack, and buying myself some flowers and a haircut, but we ended up going to Thailand for two weeks.
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Sunday, 8 January 2017

How To: Mushroom Risotto


If you're not making risotto this winter, get on it quick! It's one of the most wonderful, wholesome, filling and versatile dishes you could put on your weekly meal plan. Today I'm sharing a mushroom risotto, the classic, but of course if you don't like mushrooms just leave them out!

So, what do I love about risotto? All of the above, plus it's cheesy, creamy and a fab way to use up all the leftover veg in your fridge! Does anyone else usually have 1/4 of a broccoli, a few leaves of spinach and 3 string beans left in their veg draw at the end of the week? Just chop 'em up and throw them in a risotto with the last of your cheese. Sorted.


Ingredients


  • Arborio rice - This is the only rice you are allowed to use, it puffs up and goes all creamy, trust me! It's been available in every supermarket I've tried, and £1 from Morrisons!
  • 1 stock cube - Vegetable or chicken
  • 1 glass of white wine {optional}
  • 1 onion
  • A tub of mushrooms - They shrink!
  • Greens - Here I've used chopped string beans and spinach
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil (or butter)
  • Cheese - How much is up to you, however for this recipe I used 2/3 of the brie you see above, with some left for topping. Parmesan is also a favourite, and blue cheese if you're up for it! Just combine them all if you're anything like me...






Method:


Heat up some olive oil/butter (start small, you can add later - mushrooms soak it up!) and fry off your onions and mushrooms together, on a low heat. When the onions are golden and the mushrooms have shrunk down, add the garlic and fry that off for a few minutes too. 

Rinse your rice (it's just good practice) drain and add it to the hot pan, mixing it in with the veg. After 2-3 minutes add the glass of wine and let that sizzle until the rice soaks most of it up. Make up your stock following the instructions on the box. I really don't bother with exact amounts, I keep adding hot water until the rice is done anyway! Start adding stock to the pan, one small pour at a time. Wait until the rice has soaked it up, then add in more. You need to keep stirring to ensure no rice sticks to the pan, believe me, it happens quickly! Add in your greens along with the last bit of water so it gets to boil a little.

Once all the stock has been added and the rice is fully puffed (taste test to check!), mix in the chopped brie (etc). Let this melt as you stir. Season with pepper and you're done! Serve quickly with a bit more cheese to melt on top and enjoy!!



I usually make far too much risotto for one portion, so put the rest into containers for lunches over the next few days and freeze some for a later date. If you don't hide it away, you'll definitely be back for more - it's SO GOOD!!

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I'm constantly making risotto and it's nearly always different, depending on what's in the fridge. There are so many ways to make an amazing concoction, so I'd love to bring out a little recipe zine, to share ideas? Would anyone be interested? Recipe book/food illustration is where my heart is at, it's about time I give it a go, right?!
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Where Did My Confidence Go?

I want to write and blog, but I don't know what to write and blog. You know? Well, I didn't used to know. I used to have unlimited things to talk (moan) about on the internet, but now I just have a complete compulsion to keep everything to myself. A voice that says no one cares anyway? Growing up and realising I don't actually matter, at all, to anyone, was traumatic, to say the least.

This is sarcasm.

I read the Georgia Nicolson series as a teen and it undoubtably had a major influence on my life outlook. Very insular, you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read them. Secondary school was horrible, riddled with people who enjoyed nothing more than to pick at me for everything I did, especially what I shared on the internet in The Early Years (Tumblr). The only way I toughened myself up to get through it was to believe that they were only picking on me because I was very interesting and they were very not at all. This helped a lot. It was a fun few years being a human shield of confidence. However, once this all stopped I kind of had a very belated breakdown. After college, away from anyone who had anything against me, I developed a horrible, constant expectancy that in the street, on my timeline, sitting on the other side of the coffee shop that I couldn't see to because of my poor eyesight, was a group of people who were laughing at me. I began to hold myself back from doing things just in case they came out and attacked me for it. I absolutely would not put myself out there, so obviously my ~online career~ had a ceiling. Because that's how it works, right? You share more, people connect more, they share it, everything grows organically? Well I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to keep an online diary about running a small biz (&life) going, I wanted to give Youtube a go, but the idea of these things caused so much anxiety and worry that I just absolutely would not try. I even started to hold back on the shop side of things, the thing that made me happiest and actually proud. I worried about selling at craft fairs, pitching my products to retailers, expanding in any way whatsoever, in case it was presumptuous, I was being silly, getting too big for my boots, etc.

So these ghost people that I had imagined were there, ready and waiting for me to try something that would fail so they could laugh at it, started holding back everything that might have been if I had just tried. And I know it might have worked because I love sharing, nothing brings me more joy than being open and finding out everything about another person, and vis versa. I believe that if you have a true passion, you'll be able to make anything work! And I've had so many requests for me to start Youtube, or a podcast, but I've batted every one away. Just over two years ago I finally persuaded myself to get snapchat, and really quickly started pseudo vlogging, but these days I can hardly bring myself to do even that, for a different reason.


After essentially freezing my career, my hobby, I've watched it slowly, but predictably, fade. It is downhill. Going. On a roll, down a negative gradient. As has my motivation because of this weird, ridiculous unwillingness to try.

And God, I feel terrible, because I still get messages, requests for interviews, saying how well I'm doing and asking for advice. I'm not doing well! I'm doing pretty horribly, to be honest. I haven't been doing well since August 2014, before I left for uni. And even before then. I was probably only doing well in 2013. I definitely have the complex where I would be upset if I got a B in a test I was working to get an A on. It doesn't matter that a B is good, I know within myself what my dreams are, my goals, my capabilities, and how much or little I'm working towards them. I'm not happy now because although I'm still working every day at what I do, I used to and should be working on another level. I could still be if it wasn't for the horrible insecurity that hovers like a squishy but solid and black wall above me, not letting me through the trap door to the next level of the doll house game I could be in if life was actually a video game.

How do I explain what I'm feeling? Why it's an issue?

  • I feel as though I can't design new products because they're not good enough, which comes from a general and quickly spreading, overall insecurity. I even tried collaborating for a few months because I was so insecure about my work. Totally loosing sense of what I wanted.
  • I feel the decline in the success of my business, whatever area it may be, is un motivating. Obviously that's a cycle and is a side effect. Everyone goes through this, it needs pushing through.
  • I feel intensely uncomfortable with putting myself out there, trying. When I do, usually I feel happy. But I rarely do. It's too much of a block to start. That's why this post is completely unstructured. I'm just getting it all out, capturing this short burst of motivation. 
  • I feel embarrassed and even more insecure in my abilities because it seems a lot of people haven't noticed. I assume most people have. But the messages make it worse. I'm sorry if you've said something kind and this makes you feel bad but I just can't take the compliments if I don't consider them true..

All this has affected me at uni, too. I don't know how to talk to people anymore. I haven't been a very smooth socialiser since school, really, but it's just pathetic now. I don't have confidence in who I am, so I stay silent a lot of the time. I hate it!! People must meet me and think I don't care, or that I'm really boring. I just don't know how to present myself, why would they care to talk to me?


Positivity. Let's think positively. I've considered that maybe this is an internal journey and I'm currently on the cusp of the sort after and long awaited realisation that nobody cares so do whatever the hell you want. But I think it's more along the lines of nobody cares so don't do anything, or they'll care but in a bad way and it will be terrible. Oh my god, I'm so ridiculous?

This post is like really, really crap self therapy. How do I end it..

I need to find myself, to try everything that I want to do. Because I do WANT to do it. I have the thoughts, I still have dreams. I need to try things, set goals for myself again. I need a plan, I need to meet these plans and feel proud again. I had a plan from Year 11 until uni, but I'd forgot to plan what happened once I got to uni, so completely spiralled into uncertainty. Anyway, positivity. Brains are so complicated, self worth and efficacy are hard to keep when you're capable of being your worst enemy. So what's the answer, just get over it?

I think that's all I have to say. I kind of hope no one reads this, but then again I want to share it. Happy 2017, make it lovely. Don't let others bring you down.

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