Friday, 28 February 2014

Foodie Friday - Healthy Beef & Shiraz Casserole

by Bex

We made this recipe together a few weeks ago now and is definitely one we'll be adding to our winter repertoire.  It was lovely and pretty healthy!  It was an M&S find on their website, Beef & Shiraz casserole.

Ingredients:
400g lean diced beef 
2 whole onions, diced
2 large whole carrots, diced 
4 sticks celery, sliced 
2 tbsp plain flour 
2 sprigs fresh sage, roughly chopped
200g whole baby button mushrooms (we couldn't get baby ones so halved the big ones)
300mls beef stock
300mls red wine (we used Merlot as we had some open)
pinch ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 150c / 130c fan

Heat the oil in a casserole dish, fry the meat until brown.  Add onions and fry for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add flour and stir to coat the meat.  Add the carrots, celery, sage, mushrooms and seasoning and stir fry together for a few minutes being careful not to burn the flour.


Pour over the Shiraz and beef stock and stir well.



Cover and cook in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour 50 minutes.



We made chive mash to go with it.


Rest for 5 minutes prior to serving on warm plates with extra veg of your choice.  I particularly love any green vegetables.


Weird times

by Bex

(Foodie Friday will be live this afternoon with a lovely healthy casserole recipe from M&S!)

We find out soon where we will be living for the next 5 years (minimum).  It feels weird.  We submitted our ranking and now we just have to wait and see where Nik placed among the other interviewees to see which choice we'll get.  Trying to rank the list was hard.  Thinking about moving somewhere far away is hard when you don't know if it will even happen.  Brighton, for example, ended up being our first choice and from what I've seen and heard, I think I'd really like it there.  But I'm trying not to convince myself too much!  If we don't get our first choice, I might be disappointed now!

Since Vikki (my closest friend, in spirit, not geography) is now moving to Liverpool, it pipped Manchester to the number 2 spot.  I'm pretty happy with our top 4 choices really, North Yorkshire is number 4, as whatever happens, we'll be closer to family.  Nik's brother and some of his aunts & uncles are in London and if we move south, his parents probably won't be far behind as they'd then be closer to all of us.  I have cousins, aunts and uncles and my brother in Warrington, Darlington and Wakefield/Donny so the other top options mean I'd be closer to them.  And the obvious, my chosen family - my friends made mainly via blogging these days are scattered all over the country so I'm bound to be closer to many of you.

Obviously this also means I'll be further away from my close and very awesome friends in Glasgow, some newer than others but all equally amazing and supportive.  I'm hoping with the help of Twitter, Yelp and my blog (particularly through the help of book club, craft club and baking club) I will be lucky enough to meet new friends who are just as awesome wherever I end up.  It may sound silly but that is more on my mind than where I might work or live.  I think the main reason that I have loved these 6 years in Glasgow so much has been thanks to who I have met here.

I shall share news soon when we find out which city/county we will end up in!  Fingers crossed I'll be near one/some of you!  Instant local friends, yay!

As for other weirdness, I'm kind of going through a purposefully ignorant stage on the IVF front.  There is a plan.  I am not hopeful but I'm currently coping by keeping busy.  There are lots of baby related things happening at the moment elsewhere and I hope you'll forgive me for being quiet on that front, take this as a generic 'happy for you all' and please forgive me for being silent and focussing on other things for now.  Other things being food and jewellery ;)  I am mostly trying to live day to day, planning fun things (lunches with Roz and Briony, baking day with D, girls night with Sarah) to keep me occupied and I try not think too much about the future for now.

Amazing brisket in a pretzel bun at Bread Meats Bread and awesome pizza at Munro's!

I'm also back on My Fitness Pal and trying (semi-successfully) to be healthy and get back in shape again.  I actually got Nik to take some 'before' photos of me in a bikini last night which may well NEVER see the light of day!  He took some front on and from the side, both relaxed (i.e. letting it all hang out) and with better posture and sucking my belly in!  I think they'll be interesting for me to compare to though once I start toning up again.

I have my 10 year university reunion next week but have just found out Nik can't swap so is working that weekend (he does 1 in 3 and they always seem to land on something important like weddings, interviews, reunions...) so I'm not sure if I'm still going to go.  I can't imagine facing questions about kids, etc at the moment and I know a lot of the people going have children/are pregnant so it's inevitable after not having seen some of them for 10 years.  I don't know what I will talk about, the only things I am really proud of are my husband and this blog.  I wish he could be there with me, I don't really want to go without him there by my side.  I did have an awesome outfit planned though with a very cool new necklace.  Maybe I'll save it for something else.  Or maybe I should just get over it and go anyway, I might have a nice time getting away up to Dundee?  I don't know.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Necklace of the day on Instagram

by Bex

Those of you who follow me on instagram may have noticed that I recently starting posting a 'necklace of the day' (although it may not always be daily, I do usually have some kind of neck adornment!).  Since necklaces are my most favourite accessory and I have so many of them, statement and otherwise, I thought I would feature more of them and decided it would be a good idea to do it like #ootd (outfit of the day) on instagram.  I thought I'd share some more of my (quite ridiculously massive) collection and how I wear them and in turn this would inspire me to wear different ones more often and think of new ways to style them.

I really have no idea why it didn't cross my mind that I wasn't the first to think of this and my initial hashtag #notd (necklace of the day) backfired immediately when it was pointed out to me that the nail bloggers use this for nails of the day!  Roz suggested #ODnotd so it's just my own hashtag and since #aotd (accessory of the day) and #necklaceoftheday are both also in frequent use, this seemed a good way to keep them all together.  I really should have done some hashtag research!

So far I've found it quite interesting to see which styles people seem to like the most.  It wasn't what I expected, the statement numbers are the most popular with my Tiffany dragonfly a close second...

I love that the big, colourful ones are getting all the love!  :)

However, I also want to see what you guys are wearing around your necks!  You may not be as obsessed with necklaces in the same way I am but I'd love to see what necklaces you wear day-to-day or for a night out or special occasion.  So if you fancy joining in, just use the #ODnotd hashtag and link to me on instagram @olivedragonflybex so I know you've added one and I'll check it out!  :)

Roz has already joined in and posted a star necklace (of course!) and I have added the hashtag #BexNOTD to mine so I can easily see just my collection if I (or anybody else) want(s) to.


So, please join in, have fun with necklaces and tell me - are you as excited as I am to see how people wear their jewellery??

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Outfit post - Summer maxi, winter style

by Bex

I really love this maxi dress I bought from M&S a couple of years ago but only wear it in the summer (see dressed down here in Borneo and dressed up here in Glasgow).  Since the colours aren't particularly summery (and it features my favourite - olive green), I thought I could style it up for winter and get more wear out of it.  I often have ideas for outfits which are disasters when I actually put them on but this one worked even better than I'd hoped.  I love it and was so comfy for a day wandering Edinburgh with Siobhan before meeting Lara for lunch, even in the rain!  You may have noticed I am seriously obsessed with my Oxfam coat on instagram too, here it is again...


Dress - M&S
Coat - Oxfam (Gannex)
Cardigan (T K Maxx) for extra cosiness
Hat - Primark
Gloves - M&S
Boots - Aldo
Bag - H&M
Necklace - eBay (vintage)

The wind kept blowing my hair in my face!

I know the one on the right is blurry but I loved it anyway ;)

Thanks to Siobhan for very patiently taking the photos for me!  :)


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Good Luck Kid

by Roz

If you've not heard of Good Luck Kid then people you are missing out!  I heard about them through a tweet from Michelle and then recently Lynsay included the recent pop up in at The Squid & Whale in her post.

So when I saw an announcement last week about a pop up in Bread Meats Bread on Monday is was very happy as I work just up the street so knew I could be one of the first in the queue!


The lovely lady in the stripy top above is Stacey who only started Good Luck Kid recently and hasn't yet established her own shop, hence the pop ups.


Just check out the jam and custard oozing out of those bad boys :)

I can confirm, in my humble doughnut munching opinion, that they taste as good as they look!  I really liked the peanut butter custard one, as I'm a massive fan of peanut butter, and the sweet / savoury balance was divine. But the mixed berry jam one was just as delish. Yes I bought two doughnuts and scoffed them both (a few hours apart mind!) and they definitely made my Monday.


I hope Stacey manages to find a permanent home for Good Luck Kid soon but in the mean time get yourself along to the next pop up or order a big box to enjoy at home :)

Roz xx

Bex here, I'm not usually in the town on weekdays so I often miss out on fun pop ups and events or lunches but happened to hear about a foodie meet up at Bread Meats Bread on Monday evening and invited myself along to fill the last seat at the table.  The food was SO good I expect you'll be hearing more about it and I had so much fun meeting even more new foodie people.  We all thought they'd long sold out of the Good Luck Kid doughnuts but the wonderful guys at BMB had saved us all one each!  AMAZING!  I had a jammy one (I'm allergic to peanuts.  Although I do love custard, not enough to risk death!) and it was delish!  :)


Graeme's doughnut happy sugary lip smile :)

All washed down with a cuppa ;)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Day out in Bath

by Bex

During our weekend in Bristol, we also visited Bath on Sunday.  It was a lovely sunny day and we just wandered around, stopping for coffee at The Loft and seeing some of the sights...


We walked around the shops, saw the amazing abbey and bathhouse and crossed Pulteney bridge.







We then made our way along  to the Holbourn Museum and passed lots of beautiful, colourful doors along the way.  (The yellow one was actually on Royal Crescent.)



I found some gorgeous crocuses in the gardens which had beautiful light on them and happily spent a few minutes crouching down (trying not to get dirty knees) snapping away while everyone else used the facilities.  Therefore, here follows numerous pretty pictures of crocuses...





We stopped for lunch at Clayton's Kitchen at Porter where I had the most massive portion of pork & stilton sausages with mash and Nik had an amazing venison sandwich with delicious chips.





I couldn't eat all three of those massive sausages so Otto is now my friend for life after he got the leftovers ;)


We walked back through the park next to the famous Royal Crescent and Otto was very excited to get to fetch his ball again...

Selfie while enjoying a lolly on our walk back to the car






I even got a wee video of Otto fetching his ball, trying to decide who should throw it for him next!  :)

video


I really need to clean my lens!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Pork Rillettes recipe - Foodie Friday

by Bex

This was a recipe from my Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine and I had planned to make it to go with our Christmas day lunch/starter but ran out of time/energy.  I ended up making it for my birthday instead which gave it an extra 3 days of marination before I cooked it.  It turned out really well and went down a treat with the other bits n bobs we nibbled on before our Indian banquet.  It's not the most attractive thing to serve but it tastes fab!

Ingredients:
4 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
1kg rindless, boneless pork belly, cut into 1" sized pieces
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
10 juniper berries, roughly crushed, plus extra to decorate (optional)
1/4 tsp chinese five-spice powder
large splash of brandy or calvados
salt & pepper
4 tbsp duck or goose fat (optional)
To serve: 
sourdough toast
cornichons or sliced gherkins
dressed bitter leaves


Method:
Reserve 1 bay leaf, then tip everything except the duck fat (and serving suggestions) into a bowl and season generously.  If you have time, cover and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge, however this isn't essential.


Heat oven to 140oC (120 fan) and tip the meat and all the juices into a flameproof casserole dish with a lid.  Pour over 250ml water, or enough just to cover the meat and place the pan on a low heat.  As soon as it starts to bubble, pop the lid on and put it in the oven for 2.5 - 3 hours, removing it once to give it a good stir.  The meat should now be very tender.  Leave it to cool slightly in the pan, then drain over a bowl to catch the fat and juices.  Shred the pork by hand or put in a food processor and pulse a few times to shred, but don't overwork it into a paste.


Taste, add extra seasoning if needed (mine did), then press into 2 small or 1 large serving dish or pack into individual ramekins.  Pour the juices and fat back over the meat and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours to harden.  (I actually really liked it warm as well!)


To keep the rillettes for a week or so, cover with a layer of duck fat and lay a bay leaf and a couple of juniper berries for decoration.

Serve with sourdough toast, cornichons and a few bitter leaves (eg, rocket, endive or radicchio) in a sharp mustardy dressing.

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