I forgot to share my lemon curd! 30th June 2016

I should point out the picture above is not in fact my lemon curd – that looks nice but a bit fake in my humble opinion. Mine looks far more rustic.

We love all things lemon here – and I saw in a previous blog I made a lemon cream concoction that is utterly delicious. I thought at the time I had shared my lemon curd recipe too but now I realise I didn’t.

I’ll be honest – it’s not my recipe but I make it so often I have claimed ownership at this point! It’s from allrecipies.co.uk. I have changed the ingredients a little but I need to acknowledge someone else’s genius!

I have made curd in the past on the hob and it’s a hassle frankly – I’m not great with things that need to be constantly watched – I’m much more of a hands off cook – if it takes too much effort I’m not convinced of the benefits. This is a microwave version – in fifteen minutes you can have a jar of sunshine for your fridge that will curl your lips with the sharpness and make you smile after! It is truly lovely. It is also now my husband’s breakfast tipple of choice – he mixes it with a little Greek yogurt and heads to work happy! And trimmer – he has lost eight pounds since we came home from the holidays and it’s obviously not stopping that process.

Microwave lemon curd

Ingredients

  • 175 gms xylitol
  • 3 eggs
  • 115 gms very soft butter
  • zest of three lemons
  • 250 mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

Put the xylitol and the eggs into a bowl and whisk until they are combined – I just use a hand whisk – it takes only a minute – it doesn’t need to be frothy, just combined.

Put in the butter and roughly mix – if you were a good cook you could melt it, wait for it to cool down and then add it – life is too short – the recipe works fine this way, but it does need to be soft – the current weather conditions make it the perfect consistency – soft but not runny.

Add the zest of three lemons to the mix. As I mentioned before a Microplane grater is an amazing little gadget – it grates everything for me – it is worth the investment I promise you – for savoury and sweet. Then juice the lemons and add it through a strainer to the egg and sugar mix. One bowl. Very little mess. Ready for the magic.

Set the microwave for six minutes – mine is a 900 watt oven so yours will need less or more time depending on the wattage. After one minute take the mixture out and whisk by hand. The butter will be melting nicely at this point. Repeat the process every minute or so – it’s really important to do this or you will end up with little white flecks – bits of cooked egg white – we still eat it but it’s not perfect then!

The curd may take six full minutes – it make take five – after the fifth minute if it is not at all thicker it will need the extra minute. It might need a little longer but sometimes, maybe depending on egg size it can be thinner or thicker – this week’s batch was quite thick as you can see – if you microwave until it is like slightly thick soup but not walk on style it will be fine.

That’s it – refrigerate and enjoy in all manner of ways – I had it the other day over some blackberries, strawberries and raspberries – all Wexford fruit – so delicious. I added a dollop of freshly whipped double cream. I almost died and went to heaven in that moment!

Time to get back to the attic and the cleaning!

Orla

 

 

Chicken – what would we do without you? 28th June 2016

I had a busy day yesterday…

I went for my first ever 10 k walk – I’m so proud! When I got home I had great plans to sort out the attic – we are creating a bedroom up there, but I hadn’t the energy to even climb the two flights – mind you my Fitbit told me I climbed 58 flights of stairs so I’m not doing badly – the walk was gorgeous but hilly. So instead I went for the easier option and I cooked. I made five different dinners for the freezer – a good banter is always prepared – it is the only way to go – but I’m  only sharing one with you today – and it tasted so good it will become a regular here – at least for Paddy and me – the girls don’t eat cheese – sigh.

Pesto cheese and bacon chicken

Ingredients:

  • chicken breasts
  • 80gms cream cheese
  • pesto to taste – I used 1 tsp
  • smoked bacon slices – 1.5/2 per chicken breast
  • grated mozzarella
  • black pepper

Pre-heat fan oven to 200 degrees celsius. Make a well or just cut into the chicken breast to make some space for the cream cheese to sit. Mix the cream cheese and the pesto together well and put a teaspoon of this mixture onto the open breast. sprinkle some mozzarella on top, add pepper to taste, then fold over – sometimes we get the little mini fillet piece with the breasts – I like to cover all with that. Then wrap carefully in the bacon and use cocktail sticks to keep it all together.

Bake in the oven for about twenty minutes – keep an eye – they will come out with some of the inner contents splayed – just eat it there and then – divine!

 

 

 

It’s so easy to fall off that banting wagon!27th June 2016.

No that isn’t me. However it is a little like I was last week. I’ve had a pretty hectic time since I last blogged. The school year ended and with it came the usual chaos of creating tests, correcting said tests and then writing reports. After all was done and dusted,  I headed away for twelve days to our favourite sun spot – my brother’s apartment in Spain.

We had a wonderful time. We ate very healthily for the first nine days – or at least I did – my husband can “cheat” for quite a while and escape the  consequences – not me! I had been doing so well.  If we were eating in we had the most fabulous lamb chops or rib eye steaks, with locally made sausage, accompanied by plenty of incredibly cheap but very tasty red wine. On nights out we had similar fare – until we went to an Italian for one of the girls’ birthdays – but I was fine – I had two starters which were banting certified. Then on the ninth day I threw caution to the wind and went for it – crisps, milk chocolate and – quelle horreur – bread.

Oh my but it was good bread! It was fresh hot French bread – not too crusty and oh so doughy in the centre – it went beautifully with Kerrygold butter, mortadella, avocado and brie. Accompanied by crisps – as you do! That was followed by a night out in our favourite Thai restaurant – The Banana Tree – and you know what, I decided that any damage I was going to do was worth it for the sake of just letting go. So I had the ribs, with that sticky sweet bbq sauce, the duck pancakes with hoi- sin sauce, and even some egg-fried rice!

We came home and when I stood on the scales I had eight pounds on from my best weight. I figured that as a lot of that was fluid I would be right back on track in no time. Until the very next day when I headed to the Radisson in Cavan for a belated celebration of a good friend’s fiftieth. That was the day of the Ireland Belgium game. Lunch was prosecco with a Caesar salad – and chips for soakage. It was followed by some very fine champagne and then a few cocktails, and a lot of crisps for more of the soakage. We even had a few chocolates! I made poor choices at dinner and then decided I’d had enough to drink – there was not a huge amount consumed – I have a pretty poor tolerance to be honest – I had about five drinks over the space of seven hours – but it was enough for me.

Dessert was the best – and the worst. Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and ice-cream.

I got up the next morning none the worse for wear and had a slice of toast. At which point I felt physically ill. I had eaten bread four days out of five. I just couldn’t eat any more.

So Monday last arrived and I stood on the scales. 10.25 pounds up. I started back at zero. The mad eating I thought I would never do again I had actually done and I knew it was time to stop. To me that is the beauty of this food plan. I immediately got back on track, by making my crackers, and eating buttery scramble and loads of cheese. I went back onto my favourite page – Realmealrevolution.com and read through the participant chats to get my focus back and remind me of the good that this way of eating offers in general terms.

The net result is a weight loss of 6.75 pounds in five days. I was out again last night – Chinese – so not suited to this way of living but I managed to retain my weight loss so I am happy with that outcome.

3.5 pounds to go to get back to my three stone best loss. I’m nearly there.

It helped  that I was quite active four days this week – I walked or cycled five times – that is a result I am very happy with.

Now it’s time to get the body losing again. I have found myself slipping back into my intermittent fasting and only having two meals a day with the greatest of ease. I feel so much better again. My skin has cleared up of my teenage spots. This is the right journey for me.

I feel like an alcoholic who had a binge. I was scared by the simplicity of the voyage back to sugar city. I couldn’t believe how easily I slipped back into the old ways. And yet at the same time I wasn’t enjoying the taste anymore. That was a revelation – the food no longer tastes half as good – however the powerfully addictive nature of sugar remains – I ventured back for a taste and got sucked in speedily.

I am so proud of myself that I got back on track so quickly. It’s also good to know that I can splurge occasionally – although I don’t know if I want to feel that bad again soon. The sugar made me feel sluggish and unwell. So I fell off the wagon. I’ve picked up a few extra bruises on the way, but nothing that will scar me for life. By next week it will be as if it never happened. It’s a journey not a destination as Arthur Ashe so rightly said.

 

Have a good week everyone. I’ll keep you posted.

Orla