Rediscovering my sandwich toaster!

I usually find lunch the most boring meal of the day. I am not a fan of sandwiches at all and I often just heat up last night’s dinner for lunch. As lockdown is already boring enough I wanted to add some excitement to the monotonous day of a new mum. So, call me ‘retro’ or ‘old-fashioned’ (or just plain ‘sad’!) but a few weeks ago during a bit of a clear out I rediscovered my old sandwich toaster and it really has changed lunchtimes for the better! Everyone loves a toastie right? I thought this little blog post might remind you of the one you have lurking at the back of your cupboard? Get it out, give it a clean and rediscover a wonderful kitchen gadget!

I used to have this cheap and cheerful sandwich toaster, which certainly did the job making some lovely egg toasties or a classic cheese and onion. However, it can be a bit of a pickle to keep clean, especially when the cheese oozes out. I also found that an average slice of bread is too big for it and needs to be cut smaller to fit properly. For the price it is fine for occasional use.

A pesto, mozzerella and tomato panini – Yum!

In a bid to cheer myself up on these lonely lockdown days I treated myself to… clothes? perfume? jewellery? No! The Breville Sandwich/Panini Press! This was well worth the money spent and my husband (who finds toasties a bit ‘meh’) has loved the fact you can also make delicious paninis with it! Just think of the price of a panini in a high-street coffee shop – you’re talking a good fiver at least! We have experimented with all sorts of fillings and it is always so easy to clean up – a simple wipe with a damp cloth and you’re done – perfect when you have a little one screaming from the next room!

So, meal times getting boring? Kids needing something new? Lazy or lacking in time? Get yourself a toastie maker!

Wow… a few years ago I never would have imagined I’d be blogging about the joy that a sandwich maker gives me! It’s the little things in life!

Orzo with harissa and halloumi

I thought it was time to blog about another of my ‘mum’s yums’! This is one I came up with recently when I had some veggies and harissa paste leftover in the fridge. I love orzo as an alternative to pasta or rice (it is like a blend of the two!)

This easy recipe needs:

  • Orzo pasta (1 cup makes roughly enough for 4 people)
  • 250g halloumi
  • 1 tablespoon rose harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • Mixed veggies for roasting (I used a red onion, a green pepper and mushrooms)
  • Chorizo slices if you wish to make a meat version

Heat your oven to around 180’C and heat the oil in a large roasting tin.

Meanwhile, chop up any roasting-friendly veggies you can find. Squash or sweet potato would work well or make it more ‘earthy’ with courgettes and mushrooms. Also chop the halloumi into chunks and slice up chorizo (if using).

Mix the veggies, meat and halloumi with the hot oil and roast for 15 minutes.

Add the harissa paste to the veggies and stir in. Then roast for a further 15 minutes.

While roasting the veg, melt your butter in a saucepan and add the dry orzo for around 4 minutes. Then add boiling water and pop on the lid. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

*Orzo is very similar to rice – you need a ratio of 1:2 (1 cup of orzo to 2 cups of water)

Once your orzo is cooked al dente, stir it through the spicy veggies and halloumi and you’re ready to serve!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

My lockdown ‘whatever you have’ pasta

In a bid to avoid going to the shops as much as possible, my husband and I have been getting inventive in the kitchen.

Something I have had particular success with is my pasta dishes. I love pasta and could eat it with anything but I’ve found it particularly delicious lately when mixed with roasted veg with just olive oil, the juices from the veg and a ladle of pasta water as the sauce (a great solution when pasta sauces and chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in supermarkets).

As a self-confessed ‘flexitarian’, I mostly cook vegetarian meals and my ‘lockdown pasta’ has so far always been vegetarian (and would be vegan with the removal of the halloumi).

Here is a basic recipe for you. Vary the quantities for yourself depending on your family size:

  1. Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees c or gas mark 6/7
  2. Chop whatever veg you have into large chunks and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil in a roasting dish – I have had success with red onion, shallots, aubergine, chestnut mushrooms, mixed peppers and cherry tomatoes though any combination of these or other veggies would work just as well. I also add halloumi. I never used to roast it but wow I love it even more now that I do. It gives the cheese the texture of chicken without the chewiness!
  3. Roast the veg for around 30 minutes, stirring half way through
  4. Boil a pan of pasta in salted water
  5. When ready to serve, add salt, pepper and oregano to the roasting dish then drain the pasta reserving a ladle of pasta water to pour into the roasting dish
  6. Stir the pasta in with the veggies and serve!

I hope you find this recipe as easy (so newborn-mum friendly!) and delicious as I do!
Feel free to comment below if you have tried it out and any changes you made!

Best banana bread

I have joined the lockdown banana bread bandwagon and got baking during one of Isaac’s naps.

I have used this recipe countless times and always have success with it so if you want an easy, affordable and quick recipe check it out here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bananabread_85720

Today I had no plain flour so took the risk of using self-raising (which was slightly past its best!) without adding baking powder.

Pleased to say it worked a treat and I am sure Isaac will enjoy it through my milk!

I hope you have some success baking this too.