Food: Design Your Own “YouGurt” with Onken (AD)

Yogurt is a pretty staple breakfast in our house – W likes it with fresh fruit, and if I’ve not made overnight oats (recipe here) then I’ll take a jar of yogurt and granola to eat at my desk. I tend to favour a plainer variety sweetened with a spot of honey, W is a bit more adventurous and will pick up all sort of fruity concoctions. But recently I’ve tried something very adventurous, and here’s why…

 photo Onken Yougurt16_zpshcn1crwq.jpg photo Onken Yougurt8_zpsl5dlfvol.jpgThis month Onken is inviting the public to customise their very own flavour of yogurt – or YouGurt if you like a good pun! By combining three flavours, ranging from the downright delicious to the downright bizarre. You could go tropical with a combo of coconut, mango and pineapple, add in some veggies with carrot (told you some of them were bizarre!), or even do something with one of my favourite English fruits, rhubarb. Altogether there are 220 flavour combinations – and yes, the maths geek in me did check that on a calculator.

 photo Onken Yougurt12_zps4vftbney.jpgI went for two slightly safer flavours, adding in a twist with my third. Mango, Coconut and Chilli YouGurt was certainly different! The sweetness of the mango and subtle creamy coconut-tiness paired really well, with the sweet heat of chilli peppers coming through the end. Admittedly not quite the breakfast yogurt I was hoping for, but we’re churning it in our ice-cream maker tonight for a bit of fro-yo.

Now, here’s the exciting bit…

 photo Onken Yougurt10_zpsrrgckmux.jpg photo Onken Yougurt18_zpsacuqvq1b.jpgYou can get involved too! Every day this September the Onken YouGurt Factory will be open for business and accessible via their Facebook page, where 50 pots can be won each and every day. All you do is pick your three flavours and watch the unique pot be created via a personalised video, complete with your name and illustration of your flavour combo. And you might just get to taste it too. At the end of the video you’ll see whether you’re a winner. And if so, your YouGurt will turn up on your doorstep the very next day. And if not, the videos are pretty cool anyway…

You’ve got these flavours to choose from: rhubarb, pumpkin, mint, chilli, cherry, strawberry, agave, pineapple, coconut, mango, peach and carrot. I was seriously tempted by a combo of rhubarb, cherry and mint – doesn’t that sound dreamy…?!

 photo Onken Yougurt17_zpskc3it9zv.jpg*This post has been sponsored by Onken, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Are you a yogurt fan? What flavour combination would you choose?

 

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #24

I’m now entering what is perhaps one of my busiest times of the year. September is pretty manic at work (not that I’ve experienced it yet, as my graduate programme scheduled a 3-week training conference last year), plus it’s also exam season. It’s meant working late, either on my job or at my notes, revising on weekends and generally just keeping myself busy.

Weirdly, I’m FAR less stressed about this exam than I was in April; possibly because the content is actually enjoyable so it wouldn’t be a total hardship to have to resit. Plus, yano, it’s not two exam papers over two days, it involves maths and all of the notes fit into one lever arch file (plus another two for questions and exam papers). Far nicer! Enough of exams, here’s what’s made me smile recently…

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  1. Coming home to fresh flowers. W bought me a treat after I was *really* grumpy one morning, and he even arranged them nicely in a vase. I know, I don’t deserve him!
  2. Using our dishwasher. I’ve always been against them, but our new flat has one so we’re using it as a treat on weekends. It makes a roast dinner on a Sunday evening so much better.
  3. Date night at Mother London. The pizza was fab, weirdly different to anything I’ve eaten before. Review to follow…
  4. Bedside tables. W followed a couple of online tutorials and produced some pretty cool looking furniture. I’m a lucky girl!
  5. Finally buying a step-ladder. Because I can’t reach the windows in this flat without one…
  6. A weekend to myself. I spent all of it revising and watching back-to-back Harry Potter and it was GOOD.
  7. Winning Emma’s giveaway. So exciting!
  8. Sunday night pampers. The novelty of having a bath is yet to wear off. Please send suggestions for bath products, I try to avoid Lush (my skin isn’t a fan!) but am stuck for what new to try.
  9. Quite possibly the best Cauliflower Cheese I’ve ever eaten. And it was a ‘healthier’ version too. So, so, sooooo tasty…
  10. Finding the dress I’d been lusting after on Oliver Bonas at around 70% off. I’m hoping it fits!

What’s made you happy recently?

Review: Duck & Waffle

I’d wanted to visit Duck & Waffle for aggessss. I poured over the Instagram photos, quizzed friends who had been – hell it even made it on my London Bucket List (which I really must make more of an effort to tick off!). Luckily someone listened to my whining and Santa surprised me with a voucher in my stocking last Christmas, though despite this it was still July before we headed up to the 40-something floor in the heart of the City.

 photo Duck amp Waffle_zpss9el8ejg.jpg

A post shared by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

It was pretty difficult to book in for a weekend breakfast. I checked most days for a good month before I found a date that didn’t clash with pre-made plans, exams or deadlines, and still booked a couple of months in advance. Turns out my planning was excellent – it ended up being the day after W handed in his dissertation, and two days after I found out I’d passed April’s exam (the relief is still there!). So we celebrated with a two course brunch, though passing on the alcohol as numerous bubbles had been consumed in the days previous!

Tea ordered (though still the permanent confusion when presented with two pots and no indication of which was the Earl Grey and which was ‘normal’), it didn’t take us long to decide on our ‘mains’ – we both went for the Duck & Waffle. Neither of us could resist trying the signature dish, although we were tempted by the Full English (him) and the Duck Egg en Cocotte (me).

 photo Duck and Waffle 7_zps9rzbxr0o.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 6_zpswy6s4smt.jpgA toasted waffle, topped with a succulent confit duck leg, capped with an oozing duck egg and a side pot of mustard maple syrup, the Duck & Waffle is a combination of flavours and textures that really just have to be tried. Whilst my waffle was pretty perfect (slightly sweet, soft but with a slightly toasted crunch) I’ve hear reviews of stales ones, particularly those who go later in the day. The duck leg was super-crispy on the outer, with soft fall-apart flesh within. I spent ten or so minutes wishing it was acceptable to pick up and knaw on a bone in public, I didn’t want to waste a single bit of meat. The duck egg was again perfectly cooked with a *just* set white and gooey yolk. The mustard maple syrup was verging on too sweet for me with everything else, I’d possibly want more mustard coming through, but I did enjoy it drizzled on lightly. Plus I got the converted drizzle shot…

 photo Duck and Waffle 12_zpsaxwakdde.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 15_zpsrmox7p17.jpgOur ‘pudding’ was to share a sweet waffle, and it did take flipping a coin to decide which! We went for the Caramelised Banana, which came with homemade hazelnut & chocolate spread, vanilla ice cream and peanut crunch. We loved it – the bananas were warm and gooey, encrusted in a thick brulee sugar topping. The ice-cream was super-cream, the chocolate spread rich. Our only criticism was there was not nearly enough of the peanut crunch.

Oh, and we had to spend the rest of the day lying down in a food coma…

All in all, it was pretty damn good. Pricey, but worth it for a special occasion. The views were gorgeous, the interiors rather Instagrammable and the iconic Duck & Waffle dish was delicious. That said, the menu at Duck & Waffle Local looks a little bit more adventurous (that duck burger!) so I know where I’ll be heading next…

 photo Duck and Waffle 3_zpsc8iyqx9i.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 18_zpsai0yghsw.jpg*Note that this is not a sponsored review – my parents kindly got us a gift voucher for last Christmas, and we paid the difference ourselves.

Have you ever been to Duck & Waffle? What did you think?

Recipe: Summery Orange & Red Onion Salad

Sweet and savoury combos are something I have always been suspicious of until fairly recently. I’d go as far as sweet chilli sauce, but apple butter on my Pork & Co cob was one step too far. That’s pretty much all changed now (though you can keep your apple butter to yourself!). Be it watermelon and feta, pear and blue cheese, or even the slightly-intimidating cod and pineapple combo at Skosh (full review) I’m on board these days.

 photo Watercress Orange Salad_zpsp6u3ozgt.jpgThis is one of the combos I really, really enjoyed. It’s not even a recipe, more a preparation and assembly of ingredients, but it’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts. Red onions, chilli, watercress, orange – it all comes together to form a really delicious salad that I just couldn’t get enough of.

This made the perfect side to our grilled whole mackerel. We’re trying to get more oily dish into our diets, however salmon is a tad pricey to add into our menu every week. Mackerel on the other hand is a total bargain – two whole ones from Waitrose is under £2, with an extra 20% off on a Friday for cardholders (totally recommend getting one, if purely for the free monthly magazine). If you’re squeamish (*ahem* like W!) then just get the guy/gal at the fish counter to chop the head of for you, and obviously gut it – because no-ones got time or inclination to play with fish innards *shudders*. Simply whack under the grill, flip after around 8-10 minutes and you’ve got great fish. Whilst we did press some spices onto it here, it’s not a fish that absorbs flavour easily so next time I’d just squeeze with lemon/orange and season well.

 photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 3_zps9k6cbn3l.jpg photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 6_zpssjnte96m.jpgSalad ‘Recipe’ – made enough for two (this one won’t keep well so make right before serving!)

  • 1 bag of watercress (I also like a mix of watercress and spinach)
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 red chill
  • 1 large-ish red onion

Segment the oranges (we followed this guide – it’s messy!), finely dice the chilli and finely slice the red onion. Toss the onion with the watercress, then scatter with the chilli and top with the orange. Serve with fish, though I imagine it would be great with some grilled chicken too.
 photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 5_zpshqbuvcp0.jpg

Are you a fan of sweet/savoury combos? What’s your favourite fish dish?

Lifestyle: A Sneak Peak of Our New Flat

You’d think since we moved in a month ago (time flies!) that I’d be ready to do a full-on flat tour, but apparently not!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 53_zpsfvj2zisx.jpgWhilst we got super lucky with the delivery of our sofa, with it turning up about 1 hour after we got access to the flat, we’ve been less than organised when it comes to sorting out a dining table, chairs and other bits and pieces. In fairness, we’re actually designing a dining table pretty much from scratch so it’s taking a while, but eating off a teeny tiny desk is taking it’s toll!

Our new flat is in a converted school – and the building is full of original features. The corridors are glazed brick, and from the top floor stairwell there’s a stunning view across London, taking in the Eye, Westminster and all of the iconic buildings over in the City (yep, I can see my office, and yes – it’s a little depressing to do so from your home!). Unfortunately our flat doesn’t have quite so nice views, looking over the new modern school next-door, but hey it’s better than bins or a carpark! The best thing though? Wooden floorboards (a flat-lay dream!) and double-heighted ceilings. It makes the space look and feel so much bigger…but onto the tour!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 46_zpssuz6giju.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 54_zpstqojqcjf.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 57_zpsyyftob7p.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 51_zpspkxtdngq.jpgStarting with the main living area (ignoring the big space for the dining area!). Now, aforementioned sofa was a bit of a nightmare to find. We knew what we wanted. We just couldn’t find exactly it. We veryyyyyy nearly ordered the Dylan from Made, but in the end a 15% offer from Swoon and slightly better despatch time had us order one from Swoon Editions (now sold out). In retrospect it was a great decision. The ‘cushions’ are attached so there’s no sliding around, and the colour is lighter and just slightly nicer – though I’ve had to ban chocolate binges on the sofa for now!

Of course, a new sofa means new cushions (and blankets!) and these ones from Rooi are SUCH good quality. Thick, non-scratchy material and a plump insert, they’ve made my slightly unforgiving sofa a lot more comfy. We went for the Goose & Dandelion*, and the Bee Cushion in Grey*. A bit of a backstory here – I’m terrified of geese, W really isn’t a fan of bees. So yep, I got cushions to represent the things we are scared of!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 41_zps53qufuak.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 24_zpsbw6hoevs.jpgThis bit of the flat isn’t quite yet finished though. We’d like to pick up a side-table (I’ve already kicked one cup of tea flying…) and I’m desperate for a mustard-yellow armchair too. If anyone has seen one that’s not over £250 let me know!

Oh, and apparently we need a large TV too…

 photo Flat Tour 2017 35_zpso7jol0xm.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 38_zpsucyuvtew.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 36_zpsbqu9sgba.jpgWe’ve kept pretty much the same desk set-up as in our previous flat. I’m working on getting some slightly nicer pen pots, and we desperately need a desk lamp but it’s quite a nice place to work – being right by the big windows means plenty of natural light on study days which was a big problem last year.

 photo Flat Tour 2017 44_zpshcq7nnlx.jpgThe kitchen is quite possibly my favourite part of our new flat. It’s not huge, but it’s layout means it feels SO much bigger than our previous one. Sure, I miss the clean whiteness (and ease of taking photos) in the old one, but I’m loving being able to dance around the kitchen, not have to plan ahead about when/where I can plug things in and having a decent size fridge! No more playing tetris with the food shop…

There’s a lack of kitchen photos in this post purely because I had no motivation to clean it. So just trust me when I say it’s a lot bigger than it looks!

The kitchen layout also means we have a moveable ‘island’ where we’ve installed our stand mixer. The baskets underneath are perfect for storing baking bits, so we’re managing to do just that little bit more now. Just in time to for the Bake Off Bake Along!

 photo Flat Tour 2017 3_zpsiuttbwqm.jpg photo Flat Tour 2017 7_zpsej9mmust.jpgThe bedroom is both our most and least finished room in the house. We don’t *need* anything else in there, but we feel it’s a little bare.Though it’s far better now W has built these lovely bedside tables! It’s home to what is the biggest wardrobe I’ve ever had, so everything is neatly stored away. I’d really love a double bed in here, but that’s the problem with renting – it’s difficult to make big changes. I reckon more cushions will make this room look a bit more cosy and inviting…

Oh, and we have a bath. I may or may not have indulged in one most nights since we moved in…

How do you make a rented flat your own?

Recipe: Green-Eggs-and-No Ham (aka Green Veggie Shakshuka)

We’re trying to be a bit more adventurous with our eating at the moment, with at least one new recipe a week. And ideally adding an exciting weekend breakfast into the mix too. This Sunday brunch ticked off the two boxes in one go – and bloody yummy it was too!

 photo Green Shakshuka_zpsugz8fyf9.jpgWith my tomato allergy I’m often looking over enviously at people tucking into their shakshukas – and in all honest the usual tomato-y ones do look delicious. Spicy sauce, gooey yolks, it’s basically my idea of perfection. This is a take on the classic. It’s still nicely spiced, with heat coming from cumin and fennel seeds. There’s a good combination of green veg in there, all adding vitamins as well as bulk and a great texture. The best thing about this dish though is it’s freshness. It feels so incredibly good for you, despite being really rather filling and scattered with a frankly obscene amount of feta.

 photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 2_zpsnvd3na0k.jpg photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 4_zpsbeggr6dp.jpgRecipe (generously serves 2, recipe adapted from Sunday Brunch)

  • ½ tsp each of cumin and fennel seeds (don’t use ground cumin), and ½ tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 green peppers finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 small courgettes, grated (if using 1 large courgette I’d recommend removing the ‘fluffy’ watery centre before grating)
  • 1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (and deseeded if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 100ml stock – veg is best here
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 100g feta cheese

Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry pan (we used a 25cm frying pan which worked well) until they become fragrant (about 1 minute) whilst shaking constantly. Add the oil, thyme and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes until golden.

Put the green peppers, fennel, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and half the coriander into the pan, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until starting to soften. Then add the courgette, chilli and stock – turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn! By this point everything should be soft but still with a slightly bite. Taste and season if necessary.

Make 4 ‘dents’ in the mixture and crack in the eggs. Cover the pan (foil or greaseproof will do) and continue cooking on a low heat for amount 5 minutes – or until the egg whites are set. If you want your yolks set (and if so I question your sanity!) then cook for a little longer. Crumble over plenty of feta (I subscribe to the more-is-better when it comes to feta!) and sprinkle on the rest of the coriander, before serving with plenty of good toast.

 photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 5_zpspanjej8u.jpg photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 1_zpsdmltbfgu.jpgNot only was this super Instagrammable, it was also super-tasty. Full of veggies too, it was worth the wait on a slightly worse-for-wear Saturday morning. Now to decide what to cook for our next weekend brunch!

Do you have any favourite breakfast recipes? What’s your go-to brunch dish?

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #23

So, obviously I’ve been a bit absent lately – and if I’m honest the break has done me the world of good. Weirdly it was only when I stopped to take a breather that I noticed how exhausted I was making myself. Oops! I have to say it’s been a blessing to have this long weekend. Just what I needed!

This last few weeks has been a whirlwind, that’s for sure! I’ve rushed study (due to a slightly mis-timing of tutorial bookings), been on holiday, moved flats and spent an obscene amount on new furniture. I have to say I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend, although it looks like my next one will be in October… So, highlights recently!

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  1. Switzerland. We spent a lovely six days in Switzerland – lots of hiking and fresh air, a bit of swimming, lots of wine and just generally relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It’s the first time in two years we’ve been abroad (minus my hop to Zurich for a job interview) and it was SO nice to get away.
  2. Cheese. Well, we did go to Switzerland…
  3. Chocolate. Ditto!
  4. Fireworks. Whilst we were in Switzerland we celebrated Swiss National Day – we went for a celebratory banquet dinner at the hotel W’s family have stayed in for generations (unfortunately out of our budget for the actual holiday!), ate lots, drank lots and had a blast.
  5. Washing my engagement ring in a Swiss river. W’s grandmother (and later his mum) always used to wash her rings whilst hiking her favourite route – and it’s a walk I love too. Her eternity ring provided the three larger diamonds in my engagement ring, so I honored the memory and gave mine a clean.
  6. New flat! We started packing about a month ahead (seeing as we moved around 9 hours after landing back from the holiday!) and managed to unpack in double quick time. It feels so much more spacious than the old place!
  7. Gorgeous new cushions*. I’m very honoured to be part of the bloggers programme from Rooi, which just happens to be one of my favourite online shopping sites. I picked out two lovely cushions (one with geese on, one with bees – things both me and W are individually terrified of!), now I just need the rest of my new furniture to arrive so I can take half-decent photos!
  8. Meat from the butchers. With the nice not-so-little payrise that passing my exam gave me, we’ve decided to splurge a little each month on some decent meat. Our joint of pork from the local butchers was THE nicest I’ve ever eaten, and it made wonderful sandwiches, stir-fry and nachos too. Well worth it.
  9. Catch up with friends. We had a very sociable week, with meals out most days and the weekend packed full too. It was so nice to catch up with so many people!
  10. Playing tourist. When my besties came to visit I snapped up some free Tower of London tickets (a corporate deal through my company). Whilst I think £28 for an adult ticket is slightly (ahem!) overpriced we definitely enjoyed it, the Crown Jewels were stunning and I’d love to visit again when the Torture Tower is open.
  11. Wedding Cake tasting. Definitely a highlight of the planning process, and I’m already dreaming about one of the flavours we picked…
  12. The bedside tables W’s designed, and is currently in the process of building. They are going to look AMAZING!
  13. Picking up a dress I’d been lusting after in H&M. For £7 in the sale. #winning
  14. The BEST gelato I’ve eaten outside of Italy (and only because I went to a local’s ‘best in Rome’ recommendation). A new place has opened up in Putney and words can’t explain how good it is. I genuinely have a list of flavours and combos I’m wanting to try…

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Blåbär Nordic Living, Putney

Blåbär is one of my favourite little spots I’ve found in Putney. Hidden away down a pretty unassuming (read: quite grimy) road off the High Street, it’s somewhere that I could spend a good couple of hours in despite it’s teeny-tiny size.

 photo Blabar Nordic Living5_zps0icicxyj.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living3_zpsoychi2ms.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living4_zps8zwspflu.jpgIt’s both a small cafe and a boutique, and I’m not lying when I say I could buy literally everything they stock. From gorgeous candles to the softest blankets, stylish light fittings to cushions that are just so me, there’s always something new to add to my wishlist.

And of course, it helps that their menu is on point too. So far I’ve only popped in (possibly far too often) for a drink and a sweet treat, but it’s still made it’s way up to the top of my list in Putney. Their hot chocolate is quite simply one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not thick and super-chocolatey (because this gal isn’t a huge fan of hot chocolate like that!), it’s light, frothy, milky and rich without being overwelming. But it’s the cinnamon buns that *really* bring me to this place. Termed “possibly the best in Putney,” they’re certainly the best I’ve tried – and that includes my homemade ones! Soft without being doughy, sticky but not sickly, and intensely spiced. The only other thing I can say is that you should really get yourselves to Putney and try one!

 photo Blabar Nordic Living2_zpshc3zybfj.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living6_zpsjblgnicd.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living1_zpssnee9do2.jpg photo Blabar Nordic Living7_zpsssksy2io.jpgNow I’ve just got to head back and try their brunch menu. The vegan pancake stack sounds all kinds of delicious…

Have you got a favourite local spot?

Recipe: Satay Veggie Salad

I’ve become a real lover of salads this summer. Don’t get me wrong, serve me up a bowl of the classic leaves, cucumber, onion combo and I won’t exactly be toooo impressed, but a bowl of this? I’ll be one happy girl! A substantial bowl of crisp veggies, dressed in some kind of yummy sauce, can make the tastiest of dinners. It needs a mixture of tastes, textures and colours, a dressing that will make it sing.

 photo Radish Salad_zpshtzieibl.jpgI tend to prefer Asian flavours to my salads – chilli heat, lime zing, saltiness from soy or fish sauce. Here I’ve added peanut butter to the mix – because peanut butter. Pretty much anything is made better with peanut butter. Based on this recipe from Waitrose, it’s crunchy, spicy, creamy, salty, zingy and totally fresh and flavourful. Delicious!

It’s also super simple to whip up – and I’ve made it even easier using Very Lazy pastes. These are perfect for stress and hassle-free cooking. I’ve previously only really used them in curries and stir-fries, but they actually work perfectly in salad dressings too. A win in my book, there’s little I hate more than peeling and chopping ginger!

NB: this does work out well as a lunchbox dish, but I’d leave out the cucumber and keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve.

 photo Satay Veggie Salad 15_zpspwl1xu1e.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 13_zps3xcs4eoo.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 8_zpszhg4k9lk.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 6_zpsbyk3rnbk.jpgIngredients (Serves 3 generously as a main, or 2 dinner & 2 lunch portions)

  • 3-4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), grated or finely chopped (or use the everso useful Very Lazy paste – you could even do the same for the chilli too!)
  • 1 fresh red chilli (remove the seeds if you’re a little scared of heat!)
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (I’d get some cheaper stuff, anything ‘nice’ tastes too much of honey in this)
  • 1 pack of radishes
  • 1 chinese leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch salad onions (around 5-6)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 cucumber (I didn’t include this in the one I photographed, but it adds a nice freshness!)
  • 1 pack coriander

Prep the veggies – finely slice the radishes and onions, then shred the lettuce. Use a julienne peeler to cut ribbons of the carrot (peel first), then use a veg peeler to gain fine slices of cucumber (discard the watery middle). Chop the coriander.

Then make the dressing. Pop the peanut butter into a small bowl with the lime zest and the finely chopped chilli, then gradually beat in the soy sauce – I find using a fork best for this. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Toss together with the veggies, then serve immediately.

 photo Satay Veggie Salad 3_zpsurchabcb.jpgIt makes an amazing side to grilled satay chicken (I have a recipe I need to photograph and blog), but I also love it with cold prawns, or even some baked salmon. Or if I’m having it on it’s own, I like to add some extra nuts for a little additional protein, possibly some blanched and cooled soy beans too.

Yum yum!

*Some products were received from Very Lazy in exchange for a recipe, though all opinions are (as ever!) my own.

Are you a salad fan? What’s your favourite combo?

Personal: Radio Silence

So, I’ve been a little absent lately. It’s the first unplanned blog break I’ve had in a while and if I’m honest I’ve not been remotely happy about it. I feel gutted that I just wasn’t able to balance everything last month and blogging was the thing that got the cut.

And that’s the reality of blogging, particularly with a demanding full-time career as well.

 photo 2016-12-27 16.21.14_zpslp8ekdep.jpgIt’s not all free “blogger mail” and cocktail-making press trips. It’s not receiving meal vouchers and theatre tickets. Of course, those things do happen (though not as often as soon might think!) but the vast majority of blogging is just bloody hard work.

Right now I have 34 emails in my inbox I have to reply to, after deleting another 27 that are spammy, generic or just don’t warrant a response. I have a list of 89 posts I want to pen up at some point. I have 10 posts I want to go live this month, all of which have photographs that need editing (because I luckily have a backlog of photos taken, otherwise I’d have to do that too). I have God knows how many old posts I need to go back and edit. And that’s before I even think about social media.

But this post isn’t meant to be a ‘woe is me’ pity grabber. My point is that blogging isn’t a walk in the park. And realistically, my career (my day job and the study that comes with it) have to come first. When I found out I passed the exam I took in April, despite that fact I was overjoyed, it also meant I wouldn’t be resitting in September. So I’ve had to pick up another exam instead – and with tutorials timed virtually straight away I had to throw myself into the deep end. Oh, and we moved flats too. And went on holiday (we picked up the keys to the new place about 10 hours after landing back at Gatwick!).

 photo 2016-12-27 17.01.57_zpssee0leme.jpgBasically it’s been busy. I stopped blogging. And I’m sorry. Fingers crossed I’ll carve out a bit of time over the next few weeks to get back into it.

There’s also some changes I want to make to this space. A bit of a rebrand, a bit of a redesign. I had planned to get that all done and THEN come back and start blogging. But I missed typing away and my to-do list just wasn’t getting any smaller. So keep an eye out for these changes, all will be revealed soon…

How have you been the past few weeks?