I’ve been back at work for four months now, and sometimes the daily grind of trying to ‘do it all’ takes its toll. It’s a mad rush in the mornings, and a mad rush to get home to Harry at the end of the day! Then its dinner, bath, books and bed – which can sometimes be unpredictable! By the time we have done it all, and sorted the house out, not to mention everything for the next day, we are done in!
Sometimes you just need to get away, clear your head and slow down a bit. So last weekend’s trip away was just what we needed.
We headed off on Saturday morning to the north coast of Northern Ireland where we spent three perfect days. The weather was a bit up and down but Harry had the absolute time of his life! He was in great form and really loves being in our caravan – it’s the simple things haha! He wasn’t interested in the bag of toys we brought from home; instead favouring the ancient caravan board games and a big tub of crayons which might have actually been mine from years ago.
We took Harry to the beach and he loved crawling around and playing in the sand. He loved the texture and digging his little hands in to it. Kept him amused for ages! We also took him to an amusement/fairground type place; the famous ‘Barrys’, and he loved it there too. We fed the ducks, went to the park and had a picnic too.
In the late afternoon and evenings we played, napped (amazing) and had dinner. Harry slept well and ate well and generally thoroughly enjoyed himself!
Ballycastle is just over an hour from home, but just getting away for 3 days to somewhere quiet, beautiful and simple, with a slower pace of life and not a lot on the agenda, was absolutely perfect!
I don’t think we have relaxed so much since before Harry was born!
I am always put off making risotto as it is pretty labour intensive and takes a while. But when I do make the effort it is always worth it! I decided to make a vegetarian version using butternut squash and sweet potato, and it worked really well.
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 large sweet potato
- 600ml vegetable stock plus more boiling water if necessary
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 250g risotto rice
- 100ml white wine
- 50g grated Parmesan
- Peel the butternut squash and sweet potato and chop into small cubes. Coat in olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius.
- Meanwhile, add some olive oil and a knob of butter to a large frying pan on a low heat. Add the onion and garlic, then cover and cook for 3 mins until the onion turns translucent. Stir in the celery and herbs and cover again and cook for a further 2 mins. Increase the heat slightly and stir in the rice. Stir continually for a few minutes.
- Increase the heat, add the wine and let it cook until it’s almost completely gone. Reduce the heat and begin adding the stock. Add one ladle at a time, and each time stir gently but purposefully until it is absorbed. This will help the rice absorb the liquid, while at the same time release its starch and thicken the broth. If the rice is still too nutty when the stock is finished, add ladles of boiling water until you have achieved the desired consistency.
- Remove the pan from the heat, take half of the roasted squash and potato, and mash it up well. Stir into the rice, and then add the parmesan.
- Add the remaining chunks of squash and potato and stir through. Season if desired.
I really liked the sweetness of the butternut squash and sweet potato mixed with the savoury flavours of the herbs, white wine and parmesan in this risotto. The flavours complemented each other so well and the mashed squash and sweet potato added an extra creaminess to the rice. The roasted chunks mixed through at the end meant that every bite did not taste exactly the same. A must make if you like a good risotto!
Fancy a curry but haven’t got time to mess around with lots of preparation or let it simmer for ages? This easy weeknight chicken curry is for you!
I made this last week, as soon as I got home from work, and it was an easy, quick and tasty weeknight meal. Plus it’s really healthy! Here’s the recipe:
- 1 large onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- Large pinch fresh grated ginger / 1 tsp ground ginger
- Large pinch of salt
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 100ml cold water
- 2 chicken breasts
- Handful of fresh coriander
- 3 tbsp natural yoghurt / crème fraiche
- Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to a pan with coconut oil or olive oil. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the ginger and chilli and let it cook for another 3 minutes.
- Pour in the tomatoes, water, salt and garam masala. Bring to the boil, then add the raw chicken. After 3-4 minutes, add the coriander, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Then add the yoghurt/crème fraiche and stir well.
- Serve with basmati rice and lots of fresh coriander on top, if you like it!
Most of the ingredients you might have on hand, so it’s something you could make without having to go and buy a list of ingredients. You could add additional spices, some coconut milk or use prawns or beef instead of chicken. Adding the chicken raw saved a lot of time; its something I haven’t done before but it worked well. All in all it took about 25 minutes including prep time; I am definitely adding this to my list of after work meal options!