Sunday, 30 October 2016

PUMPKINS WITH PURPOSE.

Recipe of the week... Pumpkin Soup!

Hello readers,

How are you this evening? Are you feeling well? Has it been a good weekend? Did you get to see any friends or family? Launch your Halloween celebrations? Crunch any autumn leaves?

However you’ve spent your weekend, I hope it’s been a really good one, readers. Can you believe it’s almost the end of October?? And the clocks have turned for winter?? It's crazy how time flies!

As I write, we’re two days off November 2016 (which sounds very wintry to say!) and the clocks have gone back an hour so it’s seven in the evening and it’s been dark for hours now. Crazy! Titanic is on TV (*weeps*) and my house is filled with cobwebs as I threw a Halloween party last night!!

I really got into Halloween this year, readers, and I’ve had fun this week party prepping. It’s been quite the project – every lunchtime at work I’ve gone out and picked up something new – booze, shot glasses, jelly, gummy eyeballs, candles… was determined to be the hostess with the mostest!

Finally, it all came together last night. Me n CoolyColey carved some (sort of) frightful pumpkins to light party goers way and I decked out the livingroom with spooky decorations! The guests arrived in some super impressive costumes and we launched a triple assault of Halloween drinking games.

Pierre and Frankie greeting the guests

The house all trimmed up for Halloween

Though I may have put more thought into the house d├ęcor than my actually costume (a sign of aging!), and ended up going out as a sort of skeleton/mime/panda, it was great to see everyone. Any excuse for a get together with the friends!

How’s your Halloween, readers? Did you do any partying yourselves this weekend? Or are you saving all the fun for the 31st tomorrow? Whatever you’ve been up to and whatever you may have planned for tomorrow, I hope you get to see your friends and have a grand old spooky time!

Your guess is as good as mine

Some cracking costumes from the girls though!

Once you’re all partied out, readers, my Recipe of the Week this week is here to provide you with the ultimate solution to your what-to-do-with-the-pumpkin dilemma! If you find Hungover You thinking ‘maybe I’ll just chuck it’… don’t do it!!! That’s one giant vegetable you’ve purchased right there, readers, what a shame it would be to throw it away.

Let’s not be wasteful, readers. I say save that pumpkin til you’ve recovered from the jelly shots and you’re well enough to stand at length. And then do something great with it! Maybe scroll back to my last blog post and check out the recipe I shared for maple roast roots? Pumpkin can definitely be roasted! Get it in the oven!

Don't let your pumpkin go to waste!

Or think of all the things you can buy in the supermarket that come in a pumpkin flavour. There’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin ravioli… why not have a crack at making one of these at home? I ate out this week at an Italian and tried a pumpkin risotto from the specials menu… blew my mind! Who know you could put pumpkin in a risotto?? But so good.

Or, if you’re heading into the office this week, why not turn your pumpkin into a delicious soup that you can heat up for your lunch some days? This is what I’ve done! Rolling out a ChefBeHere classic recipe for Pumpkin Soup… which you can find HERE.

This is a really simple recipe, readers, you just need to make sure you have onions and stock cubes in and nip out to the shop for some double cream. There’s very little skill required and it’s quite fun! If you didn’t get all your aggression out, when you were carving the pumpkin earlier this week, well now you get to go to town and hack it into tiny little pieces.

A very straightforward recipe

Go for it, readers! I think homemade soup is in a whole other league to soup from the shop. You know there’s nothing weird in there, and it’s so flavoursome and tasty! You’ll be hard pressed to find a pumpkin in a week or two, once the supermarkets kick them back out, so make the most of your pumpkin… and I hope some of you have a go at transforming it into Pumpkin Soup.

Meanwhile, readers, once I’m done weeping over Jack and Rose I think I might run a bubble bath and have an early night. That’s enough excitement for one weekend. Wishing you all a lovely, calm week ahead… and some scrumptious pumpkin recipes in your belly.

My Pumpkin Soup all Tupperwared ready for work

Soup safely,


Hayley


Friday, 21 October 2016

RAISING THE ROOF & ROASTING ROOTS

Recipe of the week... maple roasted root veg!

Hi readers,

It’s Fridayyyyyy!! Finally, an end to the working week. How’s the week been, readers? Have you gotten much done at work, or in your studies, or in life?? Have you had some fun along the way? Have you braved the dark mornings or the dark nights, for a bit of exercise? Have you braved the heating dial and turned the radiators on?


Whatever you’ve been up to this week, readers, I hope you’ve been having a good time! For me, it’s been a pretty good, fairly uneventful week. I’ve swam and run and done some yoga. I’ve finished reading a Danish crime book and I’ve seen some of my family. Went out for a Nandos and caught up with some friends. Remembered how much I love Nandos.


On telly, I watched the Bake Off semi-final… how good is it this year?! Gripped! Can anyone imagine buttercreaming for 3 hours?! And I also watched the Stand up to Cancer celebrity special of Crystal Maze – what a classic show! Crystal Maze brings back memories of me and my brother, parked on the settee together, watching back to back shows on Challenge. Fort Boyard, Takeshi’s Castle, Robot Wars… what classics!


This week is also the week, readers, that I made it to the Donor Centre for my final blood donation of the year. I know I might get high and mighty about this every three months but, once again, may I say… that it’s such a good thing to do!! You’re saving lives! Real lives of real people! The lives of babies just being born and mother’s giving birth and people who have been in the most terrible accidents and people who are surgery needing your blood.


Those people are having such a hard time and, without people donating blood, those people might not be here tomorrow! Simple as that. No one likes needles and everyone has some excuse or other. You’re prone to fainting, you’re not sure whether they’d have you or not, you can’t find an appointment after work, you did it once before and it didn’t go very well… EXCUSES.


I don’t like them! I don’t like needles, my blood pressure is erratic, it’s hard to find a vein, I have fainted before… it isn’t enjoyable for me or for the nurses fannying over me and yet I go and give blood. Half an hour of drama and it’s done. A pint in the bag, and a cup of tea and biscuit for me. The nurses can move on to someone with tremendous veins and health. Someone out there has life-saving blood coming their way.


Unless there’s a definite medical reason you can’t give blood then I don’t think you have a reason at all. Tough love from ChefBeHere. C’mon readers! I’ll stop now but please do the right thing, and make an appointment to go donate something that costs you nothing and that gives another person the chance to be alive and to live a wonderful life. Maybe one day you’ll depend on them to save your life?? Just think. 


ALSO READERS just think of all the perks of giving blood! I’ve already mentioned tea and biscuits, haven’t I? Not to be missed out on! Then there’s the next 24 hours… you aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy, you can’t attempt strenuous exercise, and you’re charged with ‘taking it easy’. Like music to my ears!



Honestly, readers, if you’re the kind of person like me who needs telling straight to give yourself a break, then giving blood is a brilliant. The nurses literally insist that you chill out! It’s their mantra. Should you get the dishes done, put some laundry on, run the vac around? Nooooo! Should you run a bath, read a book, eat some tasty food? Yes!



Readers, regardless of whether or not you’ve made a blood donation in the last 24 hours, my top tip for you this weekend is to eat some tasty food. Something hearty and autumnal and nutritious. One way or another, you’ve earned it this week!



On Monday, post-blood donation, I rolled out a ChefbeHere classic recipe and decided to maple roast some root veg. Normally, in the evening when I get in from running, or from the pool or yoga, I’m starving. Like I’m never really at risk of starving but I am an eat-your-own-housemate sort of hungry. I don’t have time to be roasting things in the oven. I do not. There’s no time. I want food NOW! Can you relate, readers?


On Monday, everything was different because I hadn’t been out exercising and, instead, I’d been munching biscuits. So I had time to roast! Nipped to the shop for some root veg – got carrots and parsnips and some shallots (small fancy onions) – and chucked some oil and syrup and seasoning on them when I got in. Spent the best part of an hour ‘taking it easy’ and building up an appetite, then had a really delicious tea.



If you’re feeling up to trying out a recipe this weekend, readers, then click HERE to find out how you can make your very own maple roasted root veg. These tasty vegetables could make a lovely addition to your Sunday roast. Jazzing it up Canadian-style. Or you could pop a dish of root veg out on the table with any meal, really, for people to help themselves to? Or they could be the seasonal centrepiece of your buffet, maybe, if you’re having people over! Why be boring? Do anything you like with them. So long as you enjoy.



Meanwhile, readers, I’m heading off up to the Toon for a uni reunion with the geography gals (and Dr Davies). I’m anticipating much alcohol and silliness, and it’s likely I’ll survive the weekend on chips and overexcitement alone. If I do indeed survive the weekend. You’re far wiser sticking inside where it’s warm, readers, with some tasty maple-roasted root veg.

Wishing you a lovely weekend, readers.

Roast safely,

Hayley



BEFORE: Here are my veg ready for the oven

AFTER: A tasty tea with a goat's cheese tart :D



Saturday, 15 October 2016

A HEALTHY-ISH RECIPE. AND HAPPINESS.

Recipe of the week... homemade wholemeal pizza!

Hi readers,

Good evening! How are you today?? Has it been a big day, today? Or a very little day? A busy day? Or a day for putting your feet up? I hope it’s been a really good day for you.

As I write this now, it’s a Saturday evening mid-October in Sheffield. And many of you might be out partying right now! Having a wild time! But CoolyColey is away this weekend and I’m on an autumn saving spree, and so tonight isn’t a night for partying for me. Instead, I find myself sat on the settee with comfy clothes on. Strictly’s on the telly. I’ve opened a chilled beer and lit a very large scented candle. Cosy times! Whether your Saturday night is a cosy one or a crazy one… I hope you’re having a great time, readers.

So, this week, the week kicked off with World Mental Health Day 2016. The message that everyone seemed to be sharing and giving great thought to on Monday was that “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect.” A really strong message! And it felt on Monday as though this message had really struck a chord with lots of people.

From the moment I woke up on Monday, the news at breakfast, and the radio in the office, and my social media feeds, they were all filled with people sharing their stories, and talking openly about their struggles and the struggles of loved ones, and speaking so passionately on the topic of mental health. It was moving! It really made me think about how difficult it can be to be happy. And how anyone at all can feel unhappy at any time. And how there are so many things that can lead a person to become unhappy. Big things and little things.

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about through the week. And then, on Thursday night, I climbed in bed at the end of the day and realised that everything had gone right. All day. I'd lived a charmed day. Nothing special had happened, and to a bystander it would probably have looked like I’d lived a really dull Thursday in Sheffield. I only spoke with eight people all day (counted them at the end) and half of those people were just strangers I had insignificant exchanges with. So, very little human contact on Thursday. It rained more or less all day and, in the news, the much beloved king of Thailand passed away.

But ACTUALLY on Thursday...

Getting ready in the morning, my eyeliner went on the first time and somehow it went on quite well. Looking good.

As a result of this fluke, I finished make up earlier than normal. And, as a result of this miracle, I had time to make porridge. And the porridge microwaved without exploding.

I remembered to leave the house with both my lunch and with my swim bag. The walk to work was dry and it wasn't too windy so me and CoolyColey could chat and actually hear each other speaking!

Ian at work asked for a coffee and I managed to use the aeropress correctly to make one without burning myself. Both Ian and Ed later made me cups of tea.

I got to spend most of the morning searching Google Images for inspirational photos. And it briefly wasn't raining at lunch time so I made it outside for some fresh air and daylight.

I was doing van-related work in the afternoon... but it wasn't all that boring. I got to email the printer and he always writes a funny response. His response was indeed funny.

I got out of work on time and gave a homeless person a piece of fruit, which he thanked me for. The pool finally fixed my faulty wristband and it opened the barriers to the changing rooms on the first try! The receptionist gave me a thumbs up.

And the rain must have kept most people away because it was a quiet and peaceful evening swimming in the pool. People were diving from the high boards which is always impressive to see.

I made it from the pool to the supermarket without my umbrella blowing inside out and without any cars splashing me on the way. I bought treats (!!!) and the shopping total was still under £20. Result.

Then, at home, I got all my chores done and still made it on the settee (with treats) by 9pm for The Apprentice. Then me, CoolyColey and KorfKing were all in the livingroom at once and we had some impromptu housemate chatter before bed. Doesn’t happen often.

I climbed in bed and realised that everything all day had gone right. That story might be absolutely unremarkable and not at all noteworthy to anyone in the world but me... but when was the last time you can recall having looked back on a day and thought everything had gone right?? Every last thing. It's pretty cool to say. So I'm grateful for my charmed Thursday.

This weekend, I’m not going anywhere exciting. None of the besties are here to visit from afar. The family aren’t around. As far as I know, there’s nothing much exciting happening in Sheffield. And yet I’m here and I’m enjoying the time to myself. I’m quite happy. Even whipped out a (healthy-ish) ChefBeHere classic recipe for homemade wholemeal pizza, and treated myself to a really great meal! If this sounds like exactly what your belly needs, then definitely check out the recipe HERE.

Readers, I hope that none of you are struggling too much to feel happy at the moment. I hope that you’re enjoying your lives! And if you’re looking at the people around you, wondering whether every one of them is happier at the moment than you are, know that it's likely they aren’t. Just because other people might be flying in their career, might have someone to love, own their own car, have a big ring on their finger, own a house… that doesn’t mean they’re happy. Focus on yourself and your own happiness. You’re the key.

Here's some snaps of my 'Single Girl in Sheffield' weekend so far...

Friday night pizza night!

Getting in bed after an action packed week

Strong coffee to kickstart the weekend

Brunching at Tamper with the girls

Off to the Botanic Gardens for a stroll

Admiring the colours of the autumn leaves

And how the autumn light really sets a scene

Listening to squirrels rustling in the bushes

Autumn leaves crunching under foot

That afternoon light! A delight

Going off-path following a squirrel

Christmas come early with a brazil nut

... maybe not everyone's idea of a top weekend, but I'm happy.


Sunday, 9 October 2016

FRIENDS & FUN TIMES

Recipe of the week... CPBP Cookie Bars!

Ingredients: 175g butter (plus a bit extra for greasing), 200g soft light brown sugar, 100g golden caster sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 250g plain flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, 2 splashes of milk, 150g dark chocolate, 100g chunky peanut butter, about 24 small salted pretzels.

Time taken: About half an hour or so. Then 40 mins in the oven. Then ten mins to decorate. Call it an hour and a half from start to finish.


Hi readers,

Hope you’re well today! How’s your week been?? Have you been achieving big and living it large?? Did you catch the first episode of the Apprentice on Thursday? I did! TV gold! Hope you all are well and having a grand time crunching leaves and turning on the heating.

As I write this, sat in my armchair with a gigantic bowl of pretzels it’s a fairly normal Sunday in Sheffield. It’s quiet out. The weather’s very Octobery. Bit cloudy but no rain. Bit chilly but not cold.


Next door have been having a birthday party in the back garden today and a gigantic bouncy castle is up. I spotted it earlier out of my bedroom window and the child in me was like ahmagaaaaaaad!! A bouncy castle so close to our house!

But I am quite hungover today. The motion involved in bouncing, I feel, would be a bad idea. Today is a day for small victories like climbing stairs, digesting food, and showering standing up. Taking deep breaths and, on a very regular basis, putting the kettle on. And then tomorrow will be a better day.


No regrets about getting into such a sorry state, though! I think for a first attempt at a night out, following Sober September, things could have gone a lot lot worse! I didn’t fall over, didn’t take my shoes off, didn’t lose everyone, wasn’t sick, wasn’t weepy. A result. Lots of people are just over a week into Stoptober and I don’t think you anticipate just how much you lose your tolerance you’ve built up for drink, if you give it up for a month. It’s alarming.

In fact, we had a good dance last night. I remember the music and remember it being good. Managed to come back less than £20 lighter. Made it home by 3am for tea and toast.


Didn't send a single idiotic drunk text. None of that! So, all in all, a great night. 

And it’s none of that stuff that made it a great night… it’s just having fun with your friends! Spending time with the best people and having fun together. Meeting new people. Ordering more cocktail pitchers than there are people. Taking silly pictures together and dance-shuffling away from the creepy boys and talking at length about off-brand butter. More nights like these, please!

Here's me clowning around last night.

So, my recipe this week, readers, which is undeniably one of the main achievements of my hangover today, comes from a recipe suggested to me by one of the besties, Floss. Sent over to me on the basis that I love chocolate. And I have a definite peanut butter addiction. And I suffer an unfortunate weakness for pretzels… this is a chocolate-peanut butter-pretzel recipe!! There is such a thing!

The recipe comes from BBC Good Food and it’s for ‘Chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel cookie bars’. You can find the original recipe HERE. I’m like…. who invented this recipe??? It’s so much fun! No special ingredients required really, just everything you hopefully already have in your cupboard (if the diet’s off!), and no difficult steps just a straightforward recipe for an indulgently sweet and salty traybake.


Does this sound amazing?? Of course it does! Here’s how you can bake your own CPBP Cookie Bars in just 18 simple steps…

1. Heat your oven to 180C, and get all your ingredients out, along with a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, your weighing scales, some baking paper and a 20cm-ish square baking tin.

2. Grease your baking tin with butter and line with baking paper, then set aside.

3. Chop 100g of your chocolate into small chunks. 

ChefBeHere Top Tip: If your chocolate comes in little bite-sized squares like mine, then I recommend using a sharp knife to chop each square into quarters. That’s the kind of size you want for your chunks. Just a bit bigger than choc chips.


4. Tip the butter, sugars and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat with your wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: If your butter doesn’t feel all that soft, then I’d pop it in the warming oven for 30 secs to take the edge off. Or you if it isn’t softened you WILL be beating your mix for a long time. A very long time.

5. Crack your eggs into a small bowl and whisk them up a bit using a fork.

6. Add half of your egg mix and half of your flour to the main mixing bowl. Stir it up.

7. Then, add the rest of your eggs and your flour. Stir it up again.

8. Add your teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and a couple of splashes of milk to the mix. Then, you guessed it… stir it up.

9. Add your chocolate chunks. And stir!

10. Spoon half the mixture into your square baking tin, and use your spoon to spread it about so it covers all of the bottom of the tin.

11. Add the peanut butter, in dollops, to cover the surface of the mix.


12. Then top with the remaining mixture, and once again use your spoon to spread it out all around the baking tin. Don’t worry about it looking too neat.

13. Arrange the pretzels on top of your mixture and pop it in the oven. 

Ready for the oven!

ChefBeHere Top Tip: This is prime time for getting your dishes done now. Do not delay! Get washing up.

14. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until your dough is set and crisp on the surface. Then carefully remove from the oven and switch this off.

15. Leave your baking to cool in the tin just at room temperature, before cutting up into bars.

16. Melt the remaining 50g of dark chocolate in a bowl over a small pan of gently simmering water, or in short bursts in the microwave.


17. Drizzle melted chocolate over your baking and then leave the chocolate a while to set.

18. When set, remove the bars from the tin and either scoff straight away or store in a Tupperware for a few days.


And that, my readers, is all there is to it.

Fresh from the oven... my CPBP Cookie Bars!

Honestly if you’re the kind of baker looking to present something beautiful-looking on a china plate, to the Queen, and hold lengthy conversations about its aromas and textures… this isn’t the recipe for you.

If yours end up anything like mine did, then CPBP Cookie Bars come out gooey inside and flaky on top. Once you’ve cut them up and spatulad them out of the tin they aren’t exactly thing of beauty! But what they lack in looks, they do make up for in scrumptiousness.


You should give them a go! CPBP Cookie Bars might not look neat, but they’re a lot of fun to bake and to eat. And just chuck some custard on top if you’re that bothered. This is a recipe you should definitely not miss out on.

Keep me posted, readers! Let me know how it goes you give these a try! A cheffing success? A flavoursome failure?? I’d love to hear how you get on with CPBP Cookie Bars!

Best of luck in the kitchen and have a brilliant week everyone.

Induuuuulge safely,


Hayley