Cauliflower Chinese rice

I’ve made this a few times now and it’s definitely a hit in my kitchen. It’s inspired from a dish in the book “favourite mince recipes” here, which I have made various changes to.

I did originally used to make it with rice but I’ve recently decided rice isn’t my favourite thing and I’ve started replacing it with different carbs/replacements. Cauliflower works great in this dish as it absorbs the flavours much more efficiently than rice.

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Ingredients- serves 2
150g-ish turkey mince
Half a carrot
1tablespoon oil
1 onion
1cup peas
1 cauliflower
2 eggs
2 sprinkles of crispy fried onions
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Splash of sesame oil

Method
1. Grate the cauliflower and place to one side

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(Just in case you needed to be told how to grate something)

2. Fry the mince, onion and carrot in the oil. Once cooked remove any excess oil from the pan.

3. Meanwhile mix the tomato sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce together. Feel free to alter the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste buds.

4. Add the cauliflower and frozen peas to the pan and stir to absorb the flavours. This needs about 2 mins max.

5. Add the sauce mixture and stir to combine. It takes a little while to properly mix the sauce in. I usually do this while frying my eggs (below).

6. Fry the eggs and serve on top of the cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with the crispy fried onions and serve immediately.

Best served with some spring rolls you can just bung in the oven to cook while you’re cooking the main event.

I think this is a fabulous quick, tasty mid week meal which looks like you’ve put more effort in that you really have.

Let me know if you make anything similar with cauliflower rice.

Jessica x x x

Leek lasagna

OK so obviously this isn’t actually leek lasagna:

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This was tea on Friday night. I had planned to make lasagna with leek sheets rather than pasta sheets but the boyfriend decided he was going home home for a leaving party, so I was left to cook for myself.

Now in these situations I would always usually have prawns seeing as he hates prawns and I adore them. However he only decided he was going away after I had had my dinner of a prawn sandwich with prawn cocktail crisps so you could say I was all prawned out.

Bearing this in mind I thought I’d make myself some good old fashioned comfort food with the contents of the fridge, loosely based on my original planned meal and completely thrown together.

Ingredients – serves 1 VERY hungry person
70g-ish turkey mince
Half an onion
1 chestnut mushroom
1garlic clove
1 leek
1 potato
Half a pint-ish milk
1 tablespoon flour
1tablespoon butter/marg
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
25g strong white cheese
Sprinkle of nutmeg

Method
1. Peel and chop the potato then boil in salted water until tender.

2. Fry the mince with the chopped leek, onion, mushroom and minced garlic.

3. Add the drained boiled potato to the mince mixture and stir to allow the potato to soak up the flavours.

4. Make a quick cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and once melted add the flour. Quickly stir to mix and them slowly add the milk until you’re happy with the quantity and consistency. Sprinkle the nutmeg in. Add the cheese cut up into rough chunks (or grated) and stir the mustard through.

5. Once the cheese has melted add the sauce to the potato and mince mixture and stir through.

6. Serve immediately and preferably with a gin and tonic. It was a Friday after all.

As I kinda just threw this meal together I wasn’t really paying attention to portion sizes and this actually made quite a lot. I intended to leave leftovers for Saturday but I decided to just be greedy and eat the whole thing..maybe that was the gin talking though.

Anyway hope you like my leek lasagna. Give it a go…this is a meal I’ll repeat for the boyfriend once it gets colder…proper comfort food for a rainy day.

Jessica x x x

You can take the girl out of the farm part 2

Unfortunately no-one had a toy combine harvester at all….no-one! I was left to use a pair of boring kitchen scissors for my harvest and did so with a heavy heart.

Moving on I wondered what I could do with my wheat and as I was looking round my front garden I spotted the lavender bush. *bing* lightbulb moment.

I cut some lavender stalks and then thought hey why stop there and I hacked away at my conifer hedge. I bought a new vase from Next a while back which I haven’t had the pleasure of using yet (nudge boyfriend) and got to work placing the dry ingredients together. Here’s a close up:

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The lightings not great unfortunately so you can’t see the purple as vividly as you can in real life.

Here’s a long shot:

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I tried to remember what my mum always told me; foliage around the sides and put things in odd numbers. Hopefully I’ve followed her instructions.

I think the vase goes great with the whole look of it and because both the lavender and wheat are bone dry hopefully the arrangement will last a while, I can replace the foliage quite easily.

I do however have quite a few heads of wheat left over….does anyone have any idea what I can do with it? I kinda want to make my own flour but have literally no idea how I can do this? Any experts???

Jessica x x x

Popping out a baby

Not me don’t worry.

The boyfriend’s sister has just had a little baby girl who is utterly gorgeous. We had arranged to go see her over the weekend so I knew I had a time scale on making a card.

The previous new baby cards I’ve done have been very much stereotypically cross stitch designs but I’ve recently tried branching out and looking for more design lead designs (god I need a thesaurus).

I found this design on etsy via pinterest and love the idea of the Russian dolls but I wanted a more traditional design. When I was little I had a set of Russian dolls and so I googled them to see of I could find that design. Turns out it’s probably the most common design for Russian dolls but I like it.

So I drew something up and came out with this:

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I was going to write “congratulations Isabelle” but then after I had stitched Isabelle I realised it sounded like I was congratulating the baby for being born which is a bit weird. So I changed the writing mid project (no big surprise there for me).  I think the writing now makes more sense.

And as promised….here’s my new stamp in action on the card:

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The card went down well but was soon swallowed in the mass of new baby cards there. The card industry must make a fortune!

Hope you like my stamp!

Jessica x x x

My next week in meals

It’s that time of week where I’m ordering my online food shop. I’ve been doing this for a few years and I do love how easy it is! Recently I started making meal plans for the week.

I know a lot of people praise them for making you save money and cut waste but for me personally that’s never been the problem. For me I just get too used to making the same meals again and again so by having to sit down and think of 7 main meals it’s making me be more exciting with the meal choices.

So here they are:
Monday: chicken, chorizo and spicy bean stew
Tuesday: cauliflower rice Chinese style with fried egg (catchy name I know)
Wednesday: cauliflower (base) pizza
Thursday: courgetti with a tomato and mince sauce
Friday: lasagna made with leek sheets
Saturday: my famous chilli
Sunday: roast chicken with all the trimmings (well what I like anyway).

So that’s it really; I already know that early next week will consist of leftover chicken. I’m thinking chicken and mustard potato cakes and a chicken stew.

If anyone wants me to do a post on any of the meals just give me a shout out.

What are you planning to eat this week?

Jessica x x x

Jack Vettriano cross stitch

I’m afraid this is another look at my archives…in this case here is a cross stitch design of the famous “singing butler” painting by Jack Vettriano.

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It’s my own design and this is clear to see…the colours are off, the proportions of sand to sky are off (there is actually more sand but I miscalculated the frame size and so it is folded within the back of the frame), but I like that, it’s my take on the piece.

It was also my first attempt at a more intricate painting, its obviously a harder design than my earlier Picasso piece but I think they compliment each other nicely.

You can’t really see the size of the piece but its about 10 x 15cm. Its also stitched on the smallest Aida I have. I usually stitch on 14 count but bought a huge piece in a scrap bucket at a craft stall thinking that by eye it looked like my normal fabric. Wrong! Its a lot small which does work out handy when you’re doing an intricate design on small scale.

As you can see I love my shabby chic’d frames and you will see a few more instances during the course of this blog.

That’s all folks

Jessica x x x

Handmade by…

So you probably know by now that I do a lot of my own card designs for friends and family, well I’ve been pondering for a while about getting a stamp for the back of the card

As usual Google was my first point of call, seriously what did people do before Google?

I became obsessed by a personalised wax seal stamp but unfortunately I couldn’t justify the price when I know for a fact that half the time I would be rushing to either finish the stitching, making up the card or actually giving the recipient the card.

I stumbled upon the English stamp company website and it was just what I wanted! A fully customisable stamp, different types of ink and some handy advice. If anyone is thinking about getting a stamp for whatever reason I would recommend them. The package arrived promptly and safely.

There was a huge amount of choice for ink colour and I decided to go for a charcoal which I thought would look nice against the cards I use and has a softer look than black but still looks classic. I toyed with the idea of a deep magenta or purple but thought I would get sick of it in no time.

Anyway, enough writing, I’m sure you all are demanding ‘well show us the stamp then!’ Well here you go:

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I love it. It is a big bigger than I thought it would be but I think the proportions are great. I wouldn’t have wanted the writing to look squished.

Watch out for the next card, it may just have a cheeky rear shot!

Jessica x x x

You can take the girl out of the farm…

I grew up on an arable farm on the Lincolnshire/Yorkshire border and for as long as I can remember August has always been harvest time.

My dad would spend days in his combine harvester with my mum and various relatives being the tractor driver. It is a long standing joke that if you get caught behind my mum on a local steep hill you might as well take a diversion because you’ll get there quicker.

So last year I eventually moved out from home properly. Well I went to uni and returned after third year for the summer and then moved to Leeds to do my post grad course but I lived in a flat and my bank, driving licence etc remained at my parents address, or “home home” as I like to call it. So really in my head I officially moved into my own place when my boyfriend and I bought our own house and I’ve finally changed bank details!

So earlier this year I realised that something very familiar was growing in  my front garden…

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Yep that’s wheat. I couldn’t believe it! My mum swears that my dad must’ve intentionally dropped some seed when he was helping us move in but he denies this.

Ever since I’ve been waiting for it to get ready for harvest. One thing I’ve realised that it definitely takes longer to be ready in the suburbs than it does in the countryside.

But it was finally ready:

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Check it out!

Now I’m gutted because I had the most perfect idea…I wanted a toy combine harvester so I could take the best photo ever. Unfortunately I don’t have one. I emailed work and no-one had one. I was actually shocked, loads of them have children, maybe its a country thing but I remember we always had things like that.

So yes I’m having to resort to scissors now. Seriously, scissors, that’s barely worth a photo!

Its been very damp recently so I’m waiting a few more days for it to dry (fingers crossed) to harvest.

If anyone in the Leeds area has a you combine harvester PLEASE get in touch asap.

Jessica x x x

From start to finish: a cross stitch story

My project this week has been a wedding card for a wedding I attended last night and before I started I thought it would be a fabulous idea to take pics along the way to show my thought process:

Step 1
I’ve got an idea in my head to do a picture of them flying in a plane. He’s a pilot and they’re having a bit of a travelling honeymoon so I thought it’d be perfect.

So on the bus home from work I started looking for inspiration for plane shapes:

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OK so maybe these are too detailed, let’s look at some cartoon planes…

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That’s better.

Step 2
So I have a better idea of the shapes and it’s time to get some drawings down on paper:

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Ok it’s not the most realistic looking plane but I only have 43×43 stitches to work with and I wanted to have a good amount of space for the people, although a major weakness of mine is faces as you will see below!

Step 3
So it’s time to start stitching. Of course I end up changing a few slight things along the way but its barely noticeable:

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Step 4
So I finished the stitching and headed for my lace collection. Right from the start I had the idea of stitching lace onto the head of the bride to be the veil and add another dimension to the card so I was quite excited about this having not added lace before. After adding the lace I thought it needed some pearls as well so I added a few small beads to the top of the veil.
(I didn’t take a photo of this stage…oops sorry)

Step 5
I got the trusty boyfriend to mount the fabric into a ready made tri-fold aperture card:

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I love the veil…I think it’s my favourite part and I will definitely be incorporating lace into future designs.

You can now see for proper my awful inability to across stitch faces for yourself!

So that’s it really, what are the stages in your projects?

Jessica x x x

Brunch: scrambled eggs/omelette

OK so this doesn’t look that appetising but please don’t let that put you off.

Dinner on the weekends is always a bit of what’s in the fridge and in this is what happened today:

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Its a cross between scrambled eggs and an omelette served on top of slightly toasted bread so its still a bit chewy.

It tasted much better than it looks thank god.

Ingredients (serves 1)
2 eggs
1/4 onion
1/4 red pepper
1 inch chorizo
4 cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon Parmesan
1 slice toast
Salt and pepper to taste
Frylight

Method
1. Toast the bread

Meanwhile

2. Chop up the rest of the ingredients (minus eggs of course) into your preferred size and fry these off with some frylight.

3. Crack the eggs into the pan and stir to mix up. These should cook very quickly so keep an eye on them while you stir the mixture. Season to taste.

4. Serve atop the toast with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a dollop of tomato sauce.

Et voila

Its a quick and easy brunch and the eggs should keep you satisfied for a while. Let me know what you think.

Jessica x x x