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Mrs D’s Roasted Veggie And Parmesan Pasta

 

Feeling very ravenous one lunchtime, I thought I’d make myself a bowl of pasta in tomato sauce; super easy and super lazy – especially as the sauce was coming out of a jar! But then I realised that I had all the ingredients for a roasted vegetable pasta – a dish I had made a few times before. Sure it would take more time and effort than just opening a jar of pasta sauce but it would be so worth it!

Just to make it clear, this may contain pasta but it is not authentic Italian – it’s just authentic Mrs. D! The chilli that’s included in here contains just the right amount of heat without it being too spicy but you can leave it out if you want to. Whenever I make this recipe, I always throw in whatever veggies and pasta I have to hand so this dish does vary whenever I make it but it is still very yum! The recipe below includes the vegetables and pasta I used on the day, but you can use whatever you like. If I was making this for Mr. D I would add some chicken or bacon as Mr. D simply will not do veggie!

I also decided to top this dish off with a poached egg. I’m no professional chef and I’m sure anyone who’s reading this will beg to differ but I actually feel that for the first time ever, the egg was poached really well – I didn’t even have to make to look presentable like they do in the cooking shows. So yeah, for Mrs. D it was a good effort!

ROASTED VEGETABLE AND PARMESAN PASTA

Serves: 2-4

INGREDIENTS:

250g penne pasta, cooked and drained

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tbsp of dried mixed herbs

1/2 a large green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 medium tomato, diced

100g button mushrooms

100g sweetcorn

100g spinach

50g shaved or grated Parmesan

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

1 poached egg per serving

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  2. Place chilli, garlic, herbs and vegetables, except spinach, in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over olive oil, add butter and season well.

  3. Put in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.

  4. Take vegetables out of oven and add spinach. Once spinach has wilted, add Parmesan and mix well.

  5. Dish out onto plates and top with a poached egg.

  6. Enjoy!

 

All photos taken by Mrs. D – in case you couldn’t tell!

 

Beer-Battered Fish N’ Chips

Now that I’m living in the States, I have had the opportunity to sample dishes that I’d never heard of before, and I have to say it – American cuisine is fab! But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about my fave fish and chips.I have to listen with envy as my family describe how they still have fish suppers every Friday. Yes, of course we can get fish and chips out here but no disrespect to our American cousins, this is a dish that us Brits definitely do best. I’ve tried fish and chips in many different countries, and even though all of them were very pleasant, no one does our national dish quite like we do.

 

 

Admittedly, fish and chips from a proper British chippie is impossible to beat and always to recreate at home. Almost everyone I know has said that there’s something about fish and chips from your local chip shop, with lashings of onion vinegar and wrapped in paper that is hugely satisfying and hits the spot every time. To me a proper fish and chip shop, is one where the fish is battered (never breaded) and the chips are chunky (never fries!) After my last day at the school where I worked, my colleagues and  I could have gone anywhere for my leaving meal. But what did we choose to do? Grab fish and chips and eat them on the steps of the town hall, which incidentally also gave me flashbacks to grabbing munchies after a hard night’s clubbing! Yep, I clearly knew I was really going to miss good ol’ English fish and chip shops that much!

 

 

But as much as I love chips from the chippie, that doesn’t mean that the home-made version isn’t delicious. Which is a good thing as that’s now how I’m going to be able to get my fish and chip fix regularly! Here’s a recipe below for scrumptious beer-battered fish and chips. For those of you who don’t like the idea of frying everything, the chips can also be roasted in the oven at 200°c/Gas 6 for thirty minutes, turning over occasionally.

 

 

BEER-BATTERED FISH AND CHIPS

Serves 2

Prep time 15 mins

Rest time 30 mins resting

Cooking time 40 mins

Courtesy @pixabay.com

INGREDIENTS:

50g plain flour

50g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp turmeric

75 ml beer

75ml sparkling water

Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

400g cod, hake or haddock, halved

Lemon Pepper

Salt and Pepper

For the chips:

750g potatoes, peeled and sliced into thick chips

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

METHOD:

1. Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt, pepper and turmeric in a large bowl, reserving about one and a half tbsps of the mixture and set aside.

2. Pour beer and water into the bowl and whisk until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. Leave to rest for 30 mins.

3. Meanwhile prepare the chips. Boil a large pan of water, add the cut potatoes and boil for 2-3 mins until the outsides are tender but not soft.

4. Drain potatoes then tip on to a large baking tray with flour, 2tbsp oil and salt and pepper. Toss until all the potatoes are evenly coated. Set aside.

5.  Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, then season with salt, pepper and lemon pepper for extra flavour.  Then coat evenly in the remaining turmeric flour mix. Shake off excess then dip into the batter.

6.  Heat 1 ltr oil in a deep saucepan. When hot enough, lower each fillet into the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the fish and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt.

7. Fry the potatoes until crisp and lightly golden. Remove from oil and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and vinegar. Serve with fish and enjoy!

 

Double-Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise: However Did I Go So Long Without it?

 

 

 

MRS. D’S SKIN PROFILE:

– Eczema prone skin in recovery (using prescribed cream, vitamin supplements, suitable skin-care products etc )

– Suffered from slight acne during teens and early twenties.  Outgrew acne.

– Combination skin: slightly greasy T-zone, dryness around cheeks and mouth.

– Starting to get first signs of fine lines on forehead and faint smile lines.

 

 

I was brought up on the ‘cleanse, tone, moisturize’ mantra but nobody ever told me to ‘double-cleanse, tone, moisturize.’ I have recently discovered the benefits of double cleansing and I can honestly hand-on-heart say that my skin has never looked so good. Being the kind of girl who has never been blessed with perfect skin – and never will be – I have to work harder than most to keep it looking as healthy as possible.

 

THE PROBLEM:

But about a month ago my skin looked – how shall I put this – bloody awful! It was dry, tight,  blotchy, itchy and a very unflattering shade of grey. As I suffer from a very mild form of eczema, I was having flare-ups in very quick succession despite using my prescribed cream. I was also convinced that I could see the faint traces of lines beginning to form. Nothing I used or did seemed to work. I’d be applying more make-up than usual, and I knew I still looked horrendous. It’s times like this, I wish I wasn’t so anti-Botox!

THE REASONS:

Unfortunately I commit way too many skin sins: I go to bed way too late; don’t exercise enough; wear make-up every day; drink coffee every morning; drink alcohol but not enough water; eat way too much junk… the list just goes on and on. This summer I committed the cardinal sin of not wearing any sunscreen. Terrible! I also have been guilty of using facial wipes to remove my make-up which doesn’t effectively remove all the impurities. And admittedly there were times I actually went to bed with my make-up on. It’s no surprise my skin looked horrendous.

However, I’m not a complete skin sinner. I have started to make an effort to eat healthier; I don’t smoke; I limit myself to one cup of coffee a day; I take vitamin supplements; use mainly organic products and being habitually late for everything means that I get regular exercise in the form of power walking! As I wear make-up everyday (although not a lot) I’d gotten into the habit of giving myself mini-facials every Sunday in order to get my skin feeling really clean.

THE SOLUTION:

So after a considerable amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I decided to spring into action.First of all, I decided to get rid of anything that I thought might be making my skin look bad and feel irritable.

  • I stopped the mini-facials as I felt that the frequency of these might actually be doing more harm than good.
  • I ditched my wash-off cleanser even though it’s organic as I figured that water might be drying out my skin.
  • I then used a mixture of manuka honey and cream to cleanse my face – until I found a more convenient substitute.
  • I started drinking more water.
  •  Cut back on alcohol.
  •  Upped my intake of fruit and veggies.
  •  Started going to bed early (well for me anyway!)

Slowly I started to see a difference.

THE MIRACLE:

Then I heard about the concept of double cleansing. It basically involves using an oil-based pre-cleanser before applying your usual cleanser and then toning and moisturising as usual. I wasn’t sure how effective it would be with regards to my skin problems but decided that I had nothing to lose by giving it a go – and seeing all the amazing products that are available  made the decision even easier! The aim of the pre-cleanser is to get rid of ‘nasties’  that your normal cleanser alone may not be able to handle on its own such as excess sebum, sunscreen, waterproof makeup, environmental pollutants and residual product build-up.

GETTING STARTED:

I eventually settled on a pre-cleansing oil and wipe-off cream cleanser by Una Brennan which is available from Boots. I chose the hydrating rose variety as I felt that my skin would benefit from it the most. It’s not organic but it does contain many wonderful skin-friendly goodies such as shea butter, rose oil provitamin B5 and marshmallow.  And although I know it makes sense to use products from the same range, I had already bought some argan oil day and night creams which I had felt would be beneficial to my skin so I didn’t bother buying a new moisturiser. I really liked the description on the pre-cleansing oil that stated that we should leave the oil on our faces for a while before wiping it off just to enjoy the aroma and this was my inspiration to turning my night-time cleansing ritual into a real pampering treatment.

 

THE DOUBLE CLEANSING METHOD:

  1. Warm 2-3 drops of Una Brennan’s Miracle Makeover Facial Oil  in the palms of your hands.
  2. Slowly massage oil onto your face and  in slow circular movements.
  3. Leave for a few minutes.
  4. Then dampen a flannel in warm water before carefully wiping off oil.
  5. This is followed by using the Calming Creamy Cleanser, applied with fingertips in slow circular movements.
  6. Remove using a flannel dampened in warm water.
  7. Pat face dry.
  8. Tone skin using pure rosewater.
  9. Apply vitamin E oil.
  10. Apply argan oil day/night cream.
  11. Apply eye cream.

It may seem like a lot of steps but it really is quick, simple and effective. If it works for someone like me who is always pushed for time, it’ll work for anyone!

 

THE RESULTS:

In one word – amazing! My skin feels so soft and smooth and looks clearer, radiant and healthy. The dry, tight sensation has gone and I’m now having to hunt the fine lines I saw! It itches a lot less and my skin feels less rough and bumpy. I’m getting fewer spots and I feel that the double-cleansing treatment is really effective as I feel that my moisturizers are being absorbed into my skin much more. I have been using this method for only three weeks and can already see the difference which surprised me because I thought I would have to wait a lot longer to see results. The state of my skin used to depress me but now I feel confident going make-up free.

 

Obviously everyone’s skin is different and responds differently to different products. The secret is in knowing your skin and understanding what works best. I believe that the combination of rose, vitamin E and argan oils are working wonders for my skin but others may find that different products work effectively for them. I also believe – for me at least – that it’s necessary to change products every so often as I’ve found that it is possible for your skin to become immune to products that were once very effective.

 

Right now I am loving my skin. Great skin is an excellent base for make-up and if you haven’t got that then no amount of make-up is going to improve the appearance or condition of your skin. And double-cleansing has also meant that I’m getting the most out of my moisturizers as it absorbs a lot faster and leaves my skin feeling moisturized for longer. It seems that lots of people have cottoned on to the concept of double-cleansing long before I did (always was the last to find out!) but now that I have discovered it, I will be putting it to good use.

 

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