Thursday, 3 September 2015

BEETS BLU BLUETOOTH SCALES

My best friend Amanda and I have been friends for 22 years and our favourite topic of conversation is our weight - it never gets boring!! She weighs herself more than me as I am too scared a lot of the time but if I have a good weigh in, it makes my day…..and vice versa. I think it is important to keep an eye on your weight as it can creep up ever so easily as most of us know. 

I was very grateful to recently be sent some Beets Blu bluetooth scales - these aren't ordinary scales - they do the whole shebang!


The scales are easy to use - they come with batteries which you just slip into the back and then you place them on a hard floor surface (not carpet). On your smart phone, download the Beets Blu smart scale app and you can either add your details like age and height yourself or it links up to the Apple health app and imports the data itself. Then for the scary part…..hop on the scales and within a few seconds, the scales will calculate your muscle mass, body weight with body fat percentage and body mass index, and water (hydration level). Wow - a big step up from my old school bog standard scales!


I am not going to tell you my measurements (I am still carrying some holiday weight!) but I found it really interesting to see how my body mass index, fat mass and muscle mass compared to the charts and thankfully I was in the healthy/fit zone…..although there is definitely room for improvement!!!

BMI index:
Underweight Less than 18.5
Recommended 18.6 to 24.9
Overweight 25.0 to 29.9
Obese 30 or greater


Fat Mass Index:

ClassificationWomen (% fat)Men (% fat)
Essential Fat10-12%2-4%
Athletes14-20%6-13%
Fitness21-24%14-17%
Acceptable25-31%18-25%
Obese32% plus25% plus

Muscle Mass Index:

The scales work with:
- iPhone 4s (or later) 
- iPad 3 (or later) 
- Any smartphone with Android 5.0 (or later) with Bluetooth 4.0 
- Samsung smartphone with Android 4.3 (or later) with Bluetooth 4.0 

I love the fact that you can easily track your progress on your phone, this will act as a great motivator for me. Plus they look so smart and sleek that they make the scary weighing process more attractive.  With these extra measurements, my morning conversations with Amanda are going to go up a notch!!

The scales cost £55.00 which I think is great value considering all they do and how great they look. I just hope they can help me lose that holiday weight!!

Beets Blu Bluetooth Scales Amazon

Beets Blu Webite

Monday, 31 August 2015

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE POT

As you might know from previous blog posts, I am obsessed with salted caramel - it is my favourite - salted caramel cupcakes, salted caramel brownies, Haagen Dazs salted caramel ice cream, Green and Black's salted caramel milk chocolate thins…..you get the picture!! Therefore when I saw a recipe for salted caramel chocolate pots in Olive magazine, I couldn't wait to make them. We had friends for supper on Saturday night and cooked roast pork belly and fennel gratin and so these made the perfect pudding.

They take 30 minutes to prepare, however you need to chill them in the fridge for a couple of hours at least and then take them out of the fridge an hour before you serve, in order for the chocolate to soften. I used glasses for the pudding however you could use kilner jars or ramekins instead….whatever you have round the house.

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

350ml double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped (I would use a combination of milk and dark next time)
50g unsalted butter, diced
100ml whole milk
creme fraiche to serve (I would use vanilla ice cream next time)

Caramel
200g caster sugar
100g butter
100ml double cream
1 tsp sea salt flakes



To make the caramel, heat 200g of caster sugar in a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat, until melted. I have never done this before and was so surprised that it actually worked!! It took about 10 minutes and I gave it a stir a few times towards the end.




Take off the heat.

I had a problem in that some of my sugar clumped together, I have no idea why! I looked it up on the Internet and if you also have this problem, add two tablespoons of tap water to the caramel, add it back to a low heat and stir to melt any lumps that have formed.

Take off the heat again and stir in the butter, cream and sea salt.





Pour into the base of the moulds, put to one side and chill. I used 4 glasses and I measured them on scales to make sure I divided the caramel evenly.




For the chocolate, heat the cream and sugar until it comes to the boil.




Take off the heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter.




Once it's all mixed in, add the milk.




Allow to cool and then pour onto the caramel.





Put in the fridge for a few hours to set.

Remove from the fridge for an hour before serving to allow the chocolate to soften. Top with a spoonful of creme fraiche and serve.



These were good although not as great as I was expecting. As I mentioned in the ingredients list, I would use a combination of milk and dark chocolate to soften the taste next time and I would also replace the creme fraiche with vanilla ice cream. I think these little alterations would make all the difference and will make the pudding change from good to great.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

ROQUAMOLE DIP (GUACAMOLE & ROQUEFORT)

My friend Jacci is the queen of dips - I love making her Cheese and Chive Dip and last night for our dinner party I tried out her roquamole dip which is basically guacamole with blue cheese. It was very easy to make and took about 10 minutes. I did it just before our friends arrived so the avocado didn't go brown.

Ingredients for one big bowl:

130g Roquefort or St Agur Cheese, chopped / crumbled
60ml sour cream
15-35g jalapeño peppers, finely sliced 
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
2 ripe avocados, mashed


Mash together the blue cheese and sour cream. Use a good sized bowl - ours wasn't big enough so we had to change half way through!



Add in the avocados and combine with a fork. It doesn't matter if it's a bit lumpy.



Next stir in the chopped jalapeños and spring onions. I used 15g of jalapeños as Pascal nearly exploded when I added some to my Chicken Enchiladas but if you like a kick, use up to 35g. Next time I will add some more ;-)



Dust with paprika and tuck in with crisps, tortilla chips, pita bread or crudités.



This was unbelievably good - I could have eaten the whole lot to myself - my new favourite dip. I think I will be making this again very soon, it would be good in a bagel or  a wrap with some chicken or bacon as well - the possibilities are endless! Well done Jacci once again!!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

BLT CHOPPED SALAD

The other day I went to the supermarket without a list which is very unlike me - I then had a major panic as I had no idea what I wanted to buy. I ended up having a look at the millions of recipes I save on Pinterest (but never cook) and came across this salad - unfortunately it was from an American site so used cups instead of grams and so I had to make a few alterations. Plus I also didn't realise in order to view the recipe directions I then had to sign up to another website so I had to improvise - thankfully it was a success.

Ingredients for 3 people as a side or 2 people as a main:

150g lettuce (you can use just one type like iceberg or a combination such as iceberg and rocket)
200g of tomatoes, quartered/chopped depending on whether you use a big tomato or cherry tomatoes
12 slices of streaky bacon, chopped
1 tin of sweetcorn (198g), drained 
1 avocado, chopped
150g goat's cheese (or you could use feta), chopped
1 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper



Grill the bacon - I had to do this in two batches and it took about 15 minutes. Cut into strips.



Tear the lettuce into a bowl.



Add the chopped avocado.



Next put the chopped tomatoes in the bowl.



Add the drained sweetcorn.



Then the cut up goat's cheese.



Finally add the streaky bacon to the salad.



To make the dressing, mix a tablespoon of olive oil with the juice of half a lime and season well according to taste.



Pour the dressing over the salad, toss together and tuck in!



This was a very good salad - surprising really as it has such a light dressing and normally I like to drown my salads in good old Pizza Express salad dressing. The flavours in the salad are delicious and go really well together although you could jazz it up by adding olives or using sun blush tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes - the world is your oyster! We had it as a side with some burgers but I would very happily eat it as a main dish. Even my daughter Arabella enjoyed it despite claiming she doesn't eat lettuce and my husband Pascal normally prefers salads to be as simple as possible but he devoured it. A big thumbs up from us all!

Monday, 17 August 2015

MUSTARD MAC 'N' CHEESE WITH PASTRAMI & CRUMBS

Every time I see a recipe for mac and cheese in a magazine, I rip it out, so consequently I have several! Thankfully we all love mac and cheese and it was the perfect comfort food to cook last Friday when it was pouring with rain. This is a recipe I found in Olive magazine from Mishkins in Covent Garden, a New York deli style restaurant. I have never tried to recreate a recipe from a restaurant before as I always think it would be too complicated but apparently this was "easy" so I thought I would give it a go.

It took around an hour to cook and prepare.

Ingredients for 4 people:

800ml semi skimmed milk
1 bunch of spring onions, white and green part both sliced and separated
300g macaroni
50g butter (and an extra knob for the pasta)
60g plain flour
100g Parmesan, finely grated
300g cheddar or Gruyere, grated
1 tbsp English mustard
120g pastrami, cut into strips
6 heaped tbsp of breadcrumbs


Put the milk and the spring onion whites in a pan together. Bring the milk to just below boiling point (this took a few minutes), then turn off and leave to infuse while you cook the pasta.


Cook the macaroni until al dente (according to the packet's instructions) in a saucepan of boiling salted water - ours took 6 minutes. 


When ready drain and mix with a knob of butter to prevent the pasta sticking. 

At this point preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6.

Melt the 50g butter in a large saucepan.


Stir in the flour to make a smooth pasta and cook for a couple of minutes.



Strain out and discard the onion from the milk and then very gradually stir the milk into the flour and butter until you get a smooth sauce. I used a whisk for this and originally felt that the sauce would never form but it did in the end! Don't give up!




Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until nicely thickened and then take off the heat and stir in half the Parmesan, two-thirds of the grated cheddar/Gruyere, a heaped tablespoon of mustard and season generously.




Stir in the macaroni, pastrami and spring onion greens and mix all together.





Tip everything into an ovenproof dish.


Scatter with the 6 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs.


Cover with the remaining Parmesan and grated cheese plus a little more salt.


Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (we did 30) until golden, crunchy and piping hot.


Cut into portions and serve.


Even though I probably say this about every mac and cheese I make, this was really really good. I absolutely loved the combination of the pastrami, spring onions and mustard plus the crispy topping was delicious. Pascal doesn't like a white sauce and I could see him turning his nose up when we were cooking this but he was very pleasantly surprised as he loved it too. As for Arabella, she wasn't too impressed when she saw some green on her plate as I had promised her no spinach or leeks like in Fay's Mac and Cheese however she absolutely adored it and now pronounced it as her favourite (her previous number one was chorizo mac and cheese). 

Another great recipe, I can't wait to tuck into our leftovers as I reckon it will be great reheated - plus it has also reminded me that I must pay a trip to Mishkins again soon!