Easy Nachos

I’m doing Weight Watchers in case you’d forgotten (there’s a little badge half way down to remind you) – and I’m pleased over Christmas I’ve only gained 2lb – although we’ve not really had much chocolate so there hasn’t been too much temptation.

Anyway, it was a rainy Boxing Day and we were bored, we didn’t want to go out, but we wanted something simple and savoury. After looking around, it’s pretty easy to make Nachos, so I adapted it a bit to be Weight Watchers friendly. I have no idea points-wise how much they’ll be, as a lot depends on how many you eat, but certainly not as much as regular crisps!

1. get some Weight Watchers tortilla wraps (4 points each). I always seem to have them and they’re often close to their use-by date – Poundland also stock them which makes these quite cheap.

2. cut them in half, and in half again, and then cut those in half again, so you’ve got a rough tortilla chip sized piece, 8 per round tortilla.

3. lightly spray them using your Weight Watchers Oil Spray – it doesn’t need very much at all, two or three mists.

4. sprinkle them with some paprika.

5. stick them in the oven – we have a fan assisted oven and had it on at 180c – I used one of those pizza trays with the holes in the bottom which helps make the underneath crisp.

After ten minutes check how hard they are (you might like them crispy, you might like them soft) and remove from the heat to let them cool down. I added a tiny bit of salt and some spices, then left them to stand and harden up a bit.

We had a sachet for some home made salsa which only needed some tomato adding (we used Passata – 0 points), and leave for an hour or so in the fridge until it’s properly spicy (we also added some coriander from our Gourmet Garden selection of fresh spices). I also bought some guacamole the other day so we added that.

Sit yourselves down, stick a film on and munch away for a good half hour or so.

Fab! Points-wise I’d say you’re looking at 4-5 per tortilla, extra for dips so adapt where necessary (the salsa may well have been 0 points)

Weight Watchers Friendly Nachos

Souptastically Souper Soup with some Gourmet Garden for added Zing

We love soup, and I love my Soup Maker, and tonight I wanted to try something special for the Gourmet Garden challenge via Mumsnet.

The best thing about a soup maker is the random things you can throw in to make a very tasty soup – tonight was no different – so I hastily cobbled together lovingly prepared the following….

Gourmet Garden SoupOne sweet potato, peeled and chopped
Half a butternut squash
one red onion
One stray potato chopped and peeled
some old broccoli
some old green beans
three heaped teaspoons of bouillon

to that concoction I then got my Gourmet Garden tubes, a bit of chilli for some tongue tingliness, a bit of garlic as I figured that would work well with the bouillon and onion, some ginger as it’s a cold day and you can’t beat ginger – plus it works well with chilli and a splash of basil as why the heck not. Twenty two minutes later and the soup was ready – and oooh, it was good. I added some fromage frais to it, and a couple more tiny dollops of basil, stirred it around and it was divine!

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was a proper winter warmer – everything tasted just right, not too overbearing and you could still taste each bit (especially the chilli!).

Yum!

Mum Friendly Gourmet Garden Challenge Soup
Look at this soup – it’s smiling at YOU as it knows it tastes THAT good.

We were provided with tubes from the Gourmet Garden range for the purpose of this challenge. All opinions are our own and all our food is tasty!

Tesco Prepared Fruit and Veg ranges – a Review

Tesco have made available some new prepared fruit and veg ranges in store right now – and we were lucky to be sent some to sample and review.

We’re always pushed for time after work (especially when there’s a landslip in Horsham so all the trains are messed up), with not much time to prepare food to get it on the table, anything that helps is a good thing. If I know I don’t have long then occasionally I’ll buy some prepared vegetables to save some time, and this is where this range sits with our family.

Tesco Stir Fry

We always sit to eat together every evening – and we eat roughly the same foods – and as luck would have it, this food arrived on the first day we found out H had chicken pox, which was brilliant timing – as the last thing you want to do is spend ages preparing food.

image001-3

For the last two night we’ve had stir fries and padded it out with some tofu or quorn for protein, which hasn’t taken much time to prepare at all. For desserts we had a fruit platter, one of which comes with mini meringues and sauce, the other with biscuit and fudge pieces and chocolate – and I did a quick WeightWatchers calculation and both came in around two points with my portion size, which was pleasing!

Tesco Fruit Platter Dessert

One thing I’ve found with the prepared foods like this is they’ll go off before their use by date or get a bit smelly – but I’ve found that these keep their crunchiness and taste going right up to the use by date which is worth bearing in mind.

Tesco Fruit Platter Dessert

I’ve been really impressed with the food we’ve been sent – we have a Tesco near work so this is definitely a range I’d buy when I know we’re pushed for time in the evening. If you’re a Tesco shopper then check them out – the stir fry selections are priced around £1-£1.50, whereas the Finest* fruit platter desserts (see above) are currently on offer with 50p off, taking them to around the £3.50 mark (but worth every penny – they’re delicious!) and in-store now.

We were sent a selection of fruit and vegetable dishes to try, all opinions are our own. Thanks to Shaun for cooking them  🙂

Souptastically Souper – a Minestrone Kind of Day

We hadn’t thought ahead as far as our evening meal goes – I’ve been coughing all afternoon and the last liquorice teabag had been used – we were all just lying low, a lazy day, resting. So it was with joy I spotted this recipe over at Thinly Spread and adapted it with what we’ve got in the cupboard – and it was so easy to do.

You need….

a tin of chick peas
small bits of broccoli
half an onion
a sweet potato chopped
six small baby potatoes, peeled and chopped
frozen sweetcorn (50g)
frozen peas (60g)
baby pasta (60g)
three heaped teaspoons of low salt bouillon

passata and some italian herbs and spice for the end

Stick them all in the Soup Maker pan, top up to the maximum level with water, set to the chunky setting and 28 minutes later is your almost-minestrone. I added some passata to cool it down (which was a good thing as H decided to stick her arm in Shaun’s bowl, so it wasn’t as hot as it could have been and she’s fine – phew) and make it more tomato-y which worked quite well, though overall there wasn’t much taste to it, though the veg was good – so if you wanted more, maybe add garlic or some chili.

It was nice and filling, anyway – and the first time we’ve tried soup with pasta all cooked in the pan. H ate all hers too which to me is a very good sign! I’ve not worked out WeightWatchers points yet, but I reckon no more than 2 or 3.

Minestrone Soup

Review – Popchips

If you read things on here regularly, you may have spotted I’m doing WeightWatchers. This has meant a whole lifestyle re-evaluation, cutting out things I don’t need and substituting them with things that are as good – my three biggest weaknesses being pizza, chips and crisps. I’m still working on the pizza as nobody seems to stock the vegetarian WeightWatchers ones, I’ve spotted some WW oven chips I’ve not yet got around to buying, and crisps-wise I’ve been looking at what’s out there that’s a low amount of points. More often than not I’m relying on WeightWatchers own brands, but I’m looking for more low-calorie tasty foods – and along came Popchips.

Currently you can only buy them in Waitrose, WH Smiths and a few other stores (but only Waitrose supermarket-wise), and the good news is that each pack comes in at a very nice and low 3 points – the salt & pepper one comes in at 2! So if you’re looking for snacks and weren’t sure what to make of what’s out there, try Popchips!

PopchipsThere’s six flavours in total – Original, Barbecue, Sour Cream &  Onion, Salt & Pepper and Sea Salt and Vinegar – plus there’s a brand new flavour we’ve not tried yet, Thai Sweet Chili (and I see America has some Sweet Potato ones). Oh, and they’re yummy too. Very yummy. Very very yummy. So much so I may be more than a little bit addicted.

So, what’s to know about them? They’re not fried, and they’re not baked – they start with the finest ingredients, add a little heat and pressure until they pop – and there you are – a popchip. After that the natural seasoning is added which makes the yummy flavours listed above.

Each pack has approximately 18 chips, and each pack is less than 100 calories. They’re less than half the fat of fried potato chips, there’s no cholesterol (which is something I need to be keeping care of), and there’s 0 grams trans fat.

What else? There’s no fake colours, no fake flavours, no preservatives and most importantly of all, no wiping greasy hands on your jeans (which I’m not so big on these days, though H is).

Popchips are good – check them out!

We were supplied a box of Popchips for the purpose of review – all opinions are our own!

Smooth-tastically Scrumptious Stuff

Sorry, appalling title there. So, its Wednesday, my day off work and H and I have already decided we’re doing nothing all day apart from our swimming lesson – it’s officially a lazy day. Or at least, a lazy day for a three-year old who can’t cook (yet).

A pile of fruitSo, you have a pile of fruit. A Morphy Richards Soup Maker. Milk. Although no ice cream (despite being promised some vouchers to get some… sob!), but we’ll get by.

Peeled bananas and satsumasSo the bananas were peeled and put into the maker. I asked H what she’d like with her bananas, and she said ‘oranges’. We have satsumas so I thought they’d do.

Milk addedAdd milk – we only had skimmed open.

BlendingReplace the lid and hit the blend option, and two minutes later you have this.

The end resultActually, it didn’t taste great. Orange and banana don’t work as well as I’d hoped. H left hers too… I think it needs a spot of work. Also, some banana didn’t blend, and needed to be done by hand instead.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for future smoothies out there? Or even suggestions for good cupboard ingredients that might help them taste a bit more interesting? Let me know!

Souptastically Soup Time

Well I said I’d share my soup recipes. Today I picked up a bag of Sainsburys Casserole Vegetables and some low salt vegetable bouillon. (pardon the photos, they’re from the iPod Touch)

Casserole in the Soup Maker

Tonight was one of those late nights getting home from picking up H – we finally made it through the door at 5.45 – so I went straight to my Morphy Richards Soup Maker as I fancied a kind of soupy casserole – I didn’t have time to chop the vegetables so put them all into the container; topped up the water to the maximum then added four teaspoons of the low salt bouillon. I also sprinkled in some paprika, although Shaun reckons it wouldn’t make a difference.

Ready to Cook...

I set the Soup Maker onto the chunky setting so the vegetables were left – and 28 minutes later our casserole-y thing was ready (and I got all that time with H I wouldn’t normally have!). I also made some brown rice to go with it.

So, the casserole-y vegetables were done, tasted good, but I felt needed a bit of chopping. So I replaced the lid of the Soup Maker and pressed the ‘blend’ button for about three seconds. Went to look again, and what was a kind of casserole was a soup – so those blades are good and sharp in there.

In the end I put the brown rice in bowls and added the soup mix on top – and H loved it! WeightWatchers wise it works out at around 4 points – the rice was around 40g (2 points) and the vegetables also came in at 2 points thanks to there being potato included. If you were to be less lazy and do it properly, you could get that right down.

My Casserole-y Soup

We added bread as the soup was quite hot, so points-wise I reckon this was 5 – and it’s really filling too – and really quick to prepare when you can’t be bothered to chop up your vegetables after a long day at work.

I suspect the next recipe will be pumpkin/butternut squash based, due to having loads of both…. any recommendations?

Giveaway – Kelly’s Of Cornwall Ice Cream

Kelly’s Ice Cream from Cornwall are launching a nationwide search to find the ultimate home-made pudding recipe to serve with Kelly’s ice cream.

BUT – the competition ends this week – don’t let that stop you from entering – you can buy Kelly’s ice cream from all major stores – our local Co-Op has a fine selection (and they’re doing a 2-for deal at the moment too) – or indeed you could gaze at the pictures here and concoct a recipe, and enter this competition which is your chance to win five tubs!

Do you make the most sumptuous sticky toffee pudding? Have you got the best bread and butter pudding recipe in the county? Then this is your chance to don an apron, bring out the rolling-pin and bake for the opportunity to represent Kelly’s of Cornwall online pudding campaign.

The lucky winner will be honoured on the Kelly’s of Cornwall website with their recipe professionally made and photographed. What’s more, the lucky winner will also be treated to a year’s supply of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream.

For ten runners-up, there is a months supply of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream up for grabs.

There are seven flavours of Kelly’s of Cornwall’s velvety ice cream to get creative with, so why not organise an evening in with great company, fun entertainment and a rather generous helping of your homemade creations for all to share and feedback.

It’s easy to enter, just submit a photo of your chosen pudding with a detailed description of the recipe, including the flavour of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream it matches perfectly with.

Enter online via the entry form at www.kellysofcornwall.co.uk. You must upload a picture of the finished pudding and a reason why your pudding is oh-so-perfect with Kelly’s ice cream. The deadline for entries is 2nd November 2012.

Members of Kelly’s judging committee will then judge all entries and one winner and ten runners-up will be selected, and announced on 9th November 2012 – National Pudding Day.

Kelly's of Cornwall Ice Cream

This Mum Friendly giveaway will finish on the 19th November 2012, so you’ve still plenty of time to enter – you’re just running out of time for Kelly’s own competition.

Now, a part of me says that doing WeightWatchers and promoting competitions like this would be a bit of a conflict – but on having the dietary information for a scoop of the ice cream, for an 100g scoop it works out at 6 points which, quite frankly, is pretty ruddy well good (this is for the clotted cream ice cream).

Kelly's of Cornwall Ice Cream

This is an easy entry giveaway via Rafflecopter – get clicking and entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My New Gadget – and I Love It – A Soup Maker

* I’ve written a follow up, six months on from buying this – it’s over here*

Greg who sits opposite me at work has an annoying habit of knowing exactly what kind of gadgets I like, suggesting them and then watching me buy one a week or so later, when I’ve managed to convince myself I need one.

This week it was a Morphy Richards Soup Maker.

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Now, you’ve probably read the name and said exactly what I first said when greeted with this (what sounds) frankly ridiculous idea – a Soup Maker? I’ve got a pan, thanks.

But then I thought about it. The last time I made soup it was a disaster. I seem to remember blending all the vegetables and the bottom of my blender coming open so the liquid spilled out everywhere – I saved what I could, but there wasn’t much.

Which is where the Soup Maker comes in. I love the nights we decide to have soup as it’s so quick – we’ve been having lots of lovely spicy butternut squash soups that are on offer at Ocado – but this appealed. The idea of just prepping your veg (as I would do anyway), putting it into a container, adding water and spice and stock and leaving it for 20 minutes then serving just seemed a bit too easy – plus with what limited time we have it means I can spend a bit more with H – I’m never happy leaving a pan boiling on the cooker.

Prepping veg for the Soup Maker

All you do is prepare the vegetables, add them to the Soup Maker, add water, stock, seasoning and leave it, using whichever setting you want – you’ve a choice of Smooth, Chunky or Juice – oh yes, forgot to mention, you can make smoothies in there too.

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Then of course there’s cleaning it afterwards, my least favourite job of anything. Actually, it’s easy. They’ve made it easy – and that is something I approve of, as washing up is boring (and the Soup Maker isn’t dishwasher-friendly) – and I’ve cleaned (and stopped using because the cleaning was so boring) so many juicers I’ve lost count.

So yes, we’ve used it twice since Thursday and made some delicious soups – you can make it up as you go along pretty much – the end result is something which tastes good, the vegetables are all cooked so they don’t lose any nutritional value – and it sits perfectly with WeightWatchers as I can now make 0 Points soups!

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Tonight Shaun made a spicy vegetable soup, I’m going to share any recipes we make up on here (using the tag souptastically souper)- do you have a Soup Maker and have any good recipes to share?

You can buy the Soup Maker at Amazon and all good stores.

Spicy Vegetable Soup

You need – carrots – however many you fancy, peeled and diced. Butternut squash – peeled, diced and unseeded – just the one. One onion. One clove of garlic. Some curry powder. Stock cube (we use low salt ones). Ginger. Cumin – one spoonful. Curry powder – one spoonful. Chilli powder – one spoonful.

Make sure all the vegetables are diced and weigh around 700g, put them into the Soup Maker, add water up to the full line (if you’re doing three or four bowls of soup), put it on the ‘blend’ setting, and 22 minutes later it’s ready.

If your soup is a bit too spicy, add some milk, cream or yoghurt to spice it down a bit (this worked for H).

Voila!

Shaun's Spicy Vegetable Soup

(n.b. I know the soup looks boring, but it tastes pretty good)

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza Review

We’re huge fans of the Dr. Oetker pizza range in our house – where I’m more than a little bit addicted to the Pizza Mozzarella one – so when we had the chance to review the pizza we obviously accepted!

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza

Dr. Oetker pizzas became popular on our weekly NCT group meets, when we’d often have a couple of the varieties to share – from the vegetarian Pizza Mozzarella to more meatier options like Pollo, Speciale or Hawaii. They’ve a very slim base and cook nicely – you know how some bases get soggy if they’re overloaded with fillings? That’s absolutely not the case with these pizzas – they cook straight on the oven shelves and are ready within ten minutes.

For review we went with my old favourite Pizza Mozzarella – a tomato base with mozzarella cheese on top, plus several dollops of pesto around it. The base cooked brilliantly, stayed nice and crispy and most importantly of all didn’t have that annoying too-much-topping problem some pizzas have, when they dribble all over your oven – everything stayed intact.

Dr Oetker Ristorante pizza

Would I buy this brand of pizza again? Absolutely! They’re light enough you don’t have that stodgy feeling afterwards like with some pizzas, while still being filling. While I’m a sucker for the Pizza Mozzarella, there are a lot of varieties available and a decent vegetarian choice.

The pizzas are available from all supermarkets – and are just the right size to fit in the freezer too.

We received a voucher for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own