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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!

 

The No Straighteners Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Forget the wheel, the motor car and even the mobile phone; for me, the greatest invention ever has got to be… hair straighteners! That’s right, hair straighteners. But then when you’ve got unruly hair that can only be tamed by a good pair of straighteners, you’d think that they were the best ever invention too.

I have been using hair straighteners since I was in my mid-twenties and I could never get over the transformation: I went from looking like a small shrub to looking like a girl from a hair commercial. Amazing! I have a fantastic pair of straighteners by Tresemme and they go everywhere with me.

 

Sadly, I’ve noticed that all this non-stop straightening over the years has left my hair in something of a sorry state. It’s become quite parched, frizzy, static and more unruly than usual. Using styling products is only a short-term solution to the problem. I’ve tried using home-made remedies such as conditioners made from egg and olive oil and switching to different shampoos which are suitable for my hair type. I’ve also limited the number of times I use my straighteners, use a heat-defence spray before using heated appliances, and have reduced the heat setting on it. And it has made a noticeable difference… but it’s not enough.

 

I now have to concede defeat and ditch my straighteners. At least for a while – a long while! I realise the problem are the straighteners and until I stop using them completely, my hair is never going to recover. My hairdresser was appalled by the condition of my hair which she said had been ‘burnt’ from over using heat appliances.

But the question is, after years of being heavily dependent on them, can I leave my house with my hair looking au natural? How will I be able to face my work colleagues with crazy hair? Can I deal with the sniggers from my students? Will Mr. D refuse to be seen in public with me? What will having shrub-like hair do for my confidence? Well, I think my confidence will be in even more tatters if I continue to wreck the condition of my hair which has always been one of my best features and if I want it to stay one of my best I have to take care of it and make sacrifices… meaning no more straighteners.

 

 

So I’m going to give my hair a lot of tlc; continue doing what I’m doing as well as having conditioning treatments at the salon, and not use my straighteners for one whole month and see if there’s any improvement. I’m hoping that some really good hairstyling products will help in making me look ‘presentable.’ But will I really be able to get through a whole month without my beloved straighteners? Watch this space…

…and wish me luck!

 

Egg And Olive Oil Hair Conditioner

 

I was moaning to a friend about the state of my hair when she suggested I give my hair an olive oil deep conditioning treatment. “Don’t you ever do that?” she asked, ” Add some olive oil to your hair and wrap a towel around it?”

I used to. A long time ago. In fact I was fanatical about massaging warm olive oil into my hair before wrapping my hair first, in cling film and then a towel. I did this every time I was about to wash my hair. There was no treatment like it and it left my hair soft, easy to manage and very, very glossy. I loved it!

Unfortunately however, you can have too much of a good thing and after two years of deep conditioning my hair, it actually left my hair very dry and straw-like. I couldn’t understand why. It was a beautician friend of mine who explained it.

“It’s good that you deep condition your hair but you’re not supposed to do it every time you wash your hair,” she said. “you’re actually forcing your hair to work harder and that’s why it’s become so dry.”

So I stopped conditioning my hair with warm olive oil. I was disappointed as I loved my pre-bath ritual and enjoyed in a little self-pampering.   However, over the years constant blow drying and straightening have once again left my hair in a sorry state. Although I always use a heat protection spray on my hair before using heated appliances  and have recently had my hair cut short… it’s still not in great condition. So this weekend, following my conversation with my friend, I decided to go back to my (hair) roots and see if deep conditioning it would make any difference.

This time, I did things a little differently. I actually added an egg to the oil before massaging it into my hair. I remember hearing that eggs work as an excellent shampoo or conditioner as it clings to any dirt or impurities in your hair and also helps to strengthen it.

I left the mixture on my hair for a couple of hours, wrapped neatly in cling film and a towel (much to the amusement of Mr. D!) and waited for the conditioner to work it’s magic!

And work its magic it did! My hair was super soft and shiny. I couldn’t stop running my hands through my hair. It’s been a long time since my hair felt this good. I know it’ll take a few more treatments before my hair is in tip-top condition but I also know not to overdo it again and will be spacing out treatments accordingly. Straw-like hair is so not a good look!

Here’s my method for the olive oil and egg deep conditioning natural hair treatment. I only used one dessert spoon of oil because my hair is quite short but the amount of oil you use depends on the length and thickness of your hair.

  • Put a dessert spoon of olive oil into a small bowl.
  • Place the glass in a pan of just boiled water so that it will warm through. Ensure that the oil does not get too hot.
  • Break an egg into the oil and whisk thoroughly  (the oil should not be overly warm or the egg will scramble slightly.)
  • Evenly apply the mixture to dry hair.
  • Wrap head in cling film so that all you hair is covered.
  • Then wrap head in towel.
  • Leave for a minimum of twenty minutes.
  • Wash your hair thoroughly with your favourite shampoo. Make sure you wash your hair in lukewarm water – scrambled egg is very hard to wash out of your hair!
  • I finished with my favourite conditioner but this step is optional.
  • Dry as you normally would.

Voila! Great looking hair. And for those of you who may suffer from an itchy scalp, I’ve been told that mashed banana is an excellent remedy.

 

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