.: Carrot Cake :.

I’ve been doing lots of cooking recently. From home-made pizza, Brownies (with 90% dark chocolate, so yum!) and today decided to try a carrot cake. I’ve followed the Hummingbird’s recipe for this one. As usual I didn’t follow the sugar quantities. For instance in the brownies I’ve used half of the sugar, this time rather than the 300g I’ve used only 200g

Ingredients

For the cake

300g soft light brown sugar (In my version I’ve used 200g)
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon (plus extra to decorate) (I’ve added a bit more)
1/2tsp ground ginger (forgot to buy ginger, so used nutmeg instead)
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
100g shelled walnuts, chopped (plus extra chopped and whole to decorate)

For the frosting (this is the official version)
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter (at room temp)
250g cream cheese, cold

What I’ve used instead (pretty much replacing the butter or the cream with greek yogurt)

1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp cream cheese (I’ve rounded to 80g)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt – (I’ve rounded to 80g too)
4-5 tbsp powdered sugar
scant 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

As you can see, it’s a much smaller quantity of frosting which only allows to cover the top of the cake. If you want to have a bigger quantity, just follow the official recipe and replace the butter with greek yogurt + vanilla extract

And here’s the result

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Since it was my first time doing this cake, I’m really happy with the result. It’s really moist, it tastes really nice and it doesn’t feel too sugary. I’ll have to do it again!

Do you like Carrot Cake? What’s your favourite version?

.: How to find motivation to cook just for one :.

I’m sure we’ve all been there at least one. It’s just one of us at home and it’s meal time. Feels like eat a sandwich or some cereals and not bother to cook at all. It’s a lot easier, mentally, to cook at least for 2. Since I struggle with motivation to cook for the 2 of us on a daily basis, when I’m home alone, I’ll typically do something really quick, such as just cereals or maybe pasta with tuna or similar.

My inspiration in this field has to be my sister. Most of the time she does cook just for herself. The way she does it though, is to cook as if it was for 2 and then next day she doesn’t need to buy or cook an additional lunch. Sometimes she will store the leftovers and mix up with something else so she doesn’t get bored of the food.

She says if she wasn’t going to cook, then she would be eating just cereals and rubbish and that’s not healthy. Plus she really likes to eat, and she eats quite well. She’s also really skinny, mostly due to the amount of exercise she does. Although she eats a lot, she actually eats healthy, avoiding fried stuff or too much sugars on a weekly basis.

Here’s some of the things she cooks:

Here’s one of my favourites, this is actually cod, with corn bread and shrimps on the top.

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Corn bread with melted cheese and oregano for the starter

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Stuffed mushrooms

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Peas with chorizo & poached eggs (this is quite a classic in the portuguese menu)

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Not sure what this one was

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And this was her lemon merengue pie, which was absolutely delicious!

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Do you struggle to find motivation to cook just for one? Any main dish you rely on?

.: On a mission to eat healthy :.

Yap, this year I’ve been on a mission to eat healthy. First of all, because that’s what we all should do by default, then, because it’s no longer just about me! Then as I’ve lost a lot of wait for the last few months, trying to recover with lots of healthy food. And as I know, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, can be really tasty it just gives a bit more work.

Little steps I was already doing:

  • No Soda drinks – This is something I was already avoiding anyway. Even juices I tend to avoid. I rather have water with lemon and ice, it’s much more refreshing and healthier too
  • Don’t drink your fruit – eat it – As per point above, I’ve been avoiding juices. But once in a while will do a smoothy, like banana & honey and a bit of milk. So good!
  • Avoid fried stuff & avoid ready made meals
  • I don’t use salt in the food. I’m not the type that seasons everything with salt. I use herbs instead, pepper, paprika, coriander, parsley, whatever I have available. I do use the knorr once in a while for the pasta (which on it’s own has a lot of salt)
  • As I love pasta and bread, I replace white pasta / bread by wholemeal versions of it. I love wholemeal pasta, really tasty!

This year I’ve started to prepare my own soups

  • I’ve done tomato soup
  • Juliana de legumes (pretty much a portuguese soup based out of potato, and cabbage)
  • Carrot cream
  • Ramen (well this is a kind of a soup – I use Nigella’s recipe)

I had no idea how I was craving for soups until I left Portugal! Nothing is better than a good soup, seriously. It really makes you feel warm within.

I’ve started to eat a lot more fish, mostly cod & salmon. If I go out for dinner, I tend to scan the fish options and go for it. Unfortunately within UK it tends to be the classic fish & chips (so fried…) But I find that more places offer fish options these days.

A few other ideas I have tried:

  • Banana ice cream – Frozen banana is all you need to prepare a creamy banana ice cream. It’s really easy! I’ve done my version with honey and cinnamon

Photo from thekitchn.com

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  • Tuna & bean salad – This is a dish that reminds me of my childhood. We would call it “russian salad” known as Olivier salad. We would have boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna, olives and sometimes green beans and mix it all up with mayo. As I don’t really eat mayo anymore (something I really avoid at all cost), I did my version with boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna & chopped tomato topped up with portuguese olive oil. It looks similar to this italian version from Tesco’s website.

For dinner today I had water with ice, strawberries and lemon

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And prepared cous-cous with grilled chicken in parsley & honey sauce, chopped plum tomatoes & nuts in parsley, olive oil, lemon & honey. It ended up being a quite tasty and flavourful meal. For dessert fresh strawberries!

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Another ideas, pesto pasta with grilled salmon and cherry tomato.13321812_10207505053359259_4373151561322365991_n

Any good recipes that you rely on?

.: The flipping struggle – Banana Pancakes :.

How’s everyone today? I’m enjoying a relaxing weekend at home, as next weekend we are going away to Wales and the last weekends have been more social.

We had a quick breakfast in the morning, played “Trains to Europe” together and he won again

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This is such a nice game to be played together!

Then I had decided I wanted to try banana pancakes again. Last time I had attempted them, he put all the mixture straight into the pan, so forget about flipping, it was virtually impossible. This time, after checking this recipe from the Londoner, I wanted to try them again.

Look pretty delicious right? Here’s mine

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This was one of the few I’ve managed not to break. It’s really hard to flip flourless pancakes. Next time I’ll just add the banana mixture into my regular pancake recipe. They taste really well though and it’s a pretty healthy recipe.

Have you tried to make banana pancakes before? Any tips?

.: In the kitchen – Chili con Carne :.

It’s winter time and now winter is really coming as temperatures are dropping. One of the best winter foods I know is a good Chili con Carne. I had tried to do this before, but as I had to cook for 12 people it was quite a challenge to ensure it was not too spicy but spicy enough. Also, I’ve ended up using minced meat because it would be easier to cook and feed more people.

So imagine this, lazy Sunday morning, how about preparing a proper chili con carne? That’s precisely what we’ve decided to do. My favourite recipe for Chili con Carne was Jamie Oliver’s

We didn’t cook it for 7h, but rather 3h, but still the final result was really good. He was in charge of the spices so let’s just say it was the max I can normally handle. I felt crying from all over the place if you know what I mean, but really tasty.

Here’s the final result

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Really yummy! Now I feel like having a siesta!

Have a lovely week ahead

.: Relaxing :.

Happy new year 🙂
Have you started any new year resolution so far?

As today it was such a miserable cloudy and rainy day we’ve decided to stay indoors and I can tell you, there was lots of food 😀

Brunch

Oven-baked pasta with ham, Chorizo & Mozarella

And while I was cleaning the kitchen he baked bread 😀

Yummy!

And now I’m feeling grumpy as my holidays are gone and Monday I’m back to work 😦 Anyone else feeling the same?

.: Diary of a food week :.

I guess the keyword for this week’s food diary was: fish! Fortunately for me, because I work in Bristol I have access to more fish options than I have in London:

Mussels with Tatchers (beer) sauce

Grilled fish (don’t remember which one exactly, but it was good)

Salmon with Quinoa (homemade)

And tonight, after all the food from yesterday all I was craving was pasta with tomato sauce:

Wish you all a great week ahead 🙂

It’s all about food – The Ox Bristol

I discovered this place on facebook I believe, and it was referred as one of the best places to go out for dinner in Bristol. Indeed!
Located in the Corn Street, the location couldn’t be any easier. The decor itself looks like a spanish wine bar
P.s I didn’t took any photos, so I’ll have to use existing internet photos

The staff was quite friendly as well and they’ve allowed us to take the early bird menu even at 19h. Also I would recommend a reservation, as most of the tables were already booked by the time we’ve arrived.

The menu – Not that many choices but people go there for the meat anyway

The meat, really really tasty! It’s not very filling, but it’s worth it. I have to agree it’s the best steak in Bristol

One of the other favourite it’s actually in the Marriott Hotel served with Broccoli & almond.

Totally recommended 🙂

Exploring Lisbon – Part IV

Last day in Lisbon finally came, and I have to say it was really hard to realize it was over. Pfff
One of the places I had on my wishlist – it’s always there – was Sintra / Cascais

The weather wasn’t great at all, actually it was quite foggy the whole morning

Lunch @ John Bull Cascais

Coriander grilled squid with prawns. It was good but nothing fantastic. I was really enjoying eating outdoors as it was quite warm. It’s a nice place to stay to enjoy the weather without spending a lot of money. As soon as there’s more people around the service becomes a bit slow.

Then we had “Ginjinha” in a chocolate cup

Next a drive to Lisbon following the river – it’s a must do as well

We were supposed to be heading to “Pasteis de Belem”, but we’ve decided that ice cream was a better option

Finally a dinner with friends @ Bairro Alto

Dinner @ Cabacas – Bairro Alto

This is a quite small restaurant located at the entrance of Bairro Alto, so no wonder there was a big queue waiting to get in. We had to wait roughly 1h before we could get in. While that we were enjoying 1€ beers.

The main dish is Naco na Pedra, but I decided to try Picanha, as the meat is slimmer hence easier to cook

It was good but nothing special. The deserts were ok-ish as well. But as it’s quite affordable we can’t really complain. Once we order the food it’s quite quick to be served.

After dinner we went for a quick visit at Pensao Amor, where the decor is quite unique. Really

Final stop was at “O Bom, O Mau e o Vilao“. The choice of drinks was the best I’ve seen this week. From our traditional liquors, vodkas and gins. And here was the best I had. Bulldog with orange & cinammon really really good. Price wise again very similar to the other places I’ve mentioned before. My gin was 10€.

Because it’s not that cheap for a portuguese pocket, people tend to stay outside drinking beers and shots for 1€. Hence it was quite relaxing to stay here, enjoying the gin and good company with friends. Maybe because we came early, we managed to get a table for 6

And that’s it, my amazing week in Lisbon was over and time to get back….