Today’s breakfast lamb recipe is in partnership with the Lamb. Try it, Love it campaign. If you like this one, why not try my Greek lamb meatballs for an easy packed lunch?

lamb breakfast recipe for Valentine's Day

When I first mentioned to Belle that I was going to make up a breakfast recipe using lamb, she was sceptical.

‘A breakfast lamb recipe?’ she said, scrunching up her face. ‘LAMB? For breakfast?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’m going to base it on my favourite – eggs benedict – but bring in a literary reference for fun.’ She didn’t look less sceptical at this point, I have to say. ‘So it’s eggs and ham… green eggs and ham… GREEN EGGS AND LAMB!’

I paused for her to tell me what I genius I was. Silence. She’s 16 though, I don’t think it was a reflection on my idea.

The thing is, I could see where she was coming from. When I first considered lamb for breakfast I wasn’t sure either. The more I thought about it though, the more it felt like an untapped source of breakfasty meat goodness. We have no problem eating pork for breakfast do we? Bacon, sausages, black pudding – it’s all good. Steak and eggs isn’t unheard of for a hearty brunch, so why not come up with a tasty breakfast lamb recipe?

Plus there are environmental and health benefits to consider – lamb is a lot more sustainable than most other animal agriculture farming and it’s also one of the healthiest meats you can eat – it’s rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a great source of things like protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. So there you go.

My green eggs and lamb recipe is pretty easy to make, although I’d suggest it’s more of a special weekend breakfast than a ‘we’re leaving in ten minutes godammit so find your shoes NOW!’ thing. It’s the sort of breakfast I imagine cooking up while listening to The Archers omnibus and drinking a big mug of fresh coffee. In fact, it would serve you very well as a Valentine’s Day breakfast – nothing says ‘I love you more than the cat, honest’ like taking your time over a special breakfast for someone.

That’s not to say my breakfast lamb recipe is difficult, in fact, it’s possibly easier than your regular eggs benedict because the ‘green’ bit comes from a cheaty hollandaise-style sauce made from avocados, which is actually much easier than regular hollandaise. Your Valentine doesn’t have to know that though.

‘Darling, I love you so much I made you this delicious avocado sauce from SCRATCH.’

Chuck a flower on the side next to the plate and cue some much deserved swooning. View Post

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Today I put Belle to work in the kitchen to create this mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial for you, because as you may know, she secretly wishes she WAS a mermaid. I hovered about taking photos and offering ‘constructive criticism’. Great fun was had by all.

Mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial

A while ago I went to a black tie dinner thing in a silver sequinned jumpsuit and crimped hair. The look I was going for was ‘disco mermaid’. I scoured the shops for mermaid jewellery, thinking for sure that I would find some big, tasteless scallop necklace in Claire’s at least, but no luck. Apparently mermaid jewellery isn’t a thing anymore.

Mermaid cupcakes though. Mermaid cupcakes are very much a thing.

I thought it might be fun to put together a little mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial for you using the new Dr Oetker mermaid cupcake decoration kit. They aren’t paying me to write this, but they did send me the kit to try, and it was fun, so here we are. View Post

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Welcome to the final part of my fascinating freezer series – freezer staples! Do go back and read part one: Weird Crap You Have in Your Freezer, and part two: How To Defrost a Freezer Without Doing Anything Stupid.

I have to say I’ve been feeling pretty good about life since I defrosted my freezer last week. I’ve sorted out my freezer staples, arranged the shelves into three categories – meat, non-meat, random crap in bags – I’ve frozen leftover pancakes and soup and even some leftover cheese sauce. It’s been pretty empowering. On the back of defrosting the freezer I felt inspired to replace the broken headlight bulb in my car all by myself, and I’m almost feeling brave enough to call Sky and cancel my TV subscription.

In this post I want to go back to the tweet that started me thinking about my freezer, where I asked people about their freezer staples – cool or weird stuff they always kept in their freezers because it was actually super useful. I asked the question as an antidote to the fact that I always seem to have half a loaf of bread in my freezer, but never actually use it. (NOT useful.)

The tweet had over 100 replies, which just goes to show how people honestly need to get more hobbies, but it was really interesting for me to read everyone suggestions. I was heartened to find that around 83 of them were advising me to freeze lemon and lime wedges for gin and tonic – proof that I have my target audience on point.

Based on the answers to my tweet, plus my own research, I’ve pulled together a list of 11 freezer staples I think would be genuinely useful for you to have in your freezer for NOW AND ALWAYS.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what your freezer absolutely couldn’t do without.

Frozen fruit for drinks

I’ve never frozen a lemon wedge before, but what a genius idea! It makes me feel slightly ashamed to be honest that I’ve spent at least 20 years buying lemons, cutting out a wedge for a drink, leaving the rest in the fridge until it dries up and smells of onions, and then throwing it away.

As well as lemons you can freeze lime or orange wedges, or fruit like raspberries. You could even go with thick cucumber slices for gin? The added beauty of this is that the fruit doubles as an ice cube! Huzzah! Make lemon and lime wedges one of your freezer staples RIGHT NOW.

freezer staples How to freeze lemons View Post

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I’m going to put it out there – peas are, in my opinion, a severely underrated vegetable. They’re tasty, low calories, and as you will know from my freezer reveal, everyone always has peas in their freezer. Pea soup is one of my favourites and this easy pea soup recipe is so simple, you can have it in the bowl in ten minutes.

I’ve found over the years that working from home can lead to bad lunch choices. I’m never going to be the sort of person who forgets meals, but it’s too easy when you’re sat next to the fridge, (that’s where my desk is, I don’t just put a chair there), to graze on slices of cheese dipped in the mayonnaise jar in lieu of a Wholesome Meal.

Making a quick pea soup is an easy way to break the snack habit and pack in some vitamins and minerals. As well as being yummy, peas are high in fibre and contain vitamin C, folate and vitamin B1. If you love peas as much as me you might also enjoy these mini frittatas or this pea and pancetta pasta recipe, both of which would make an easy work-from-home lunch.

Fun pea fact: the average Brit eats 9,000 peas a year!* Challenge: why not count the number of peas you eat over the course of a year and see if your pea consumption is above or below average?

This easy pea soup recipe is just for one person, but you can easily scale it up. It makes one large bowl, (larger than the one in the picture – that’s just to look pretty), but could stretch to a bowl for lunch and a small bowl mid-afternoon.

I’ve used ingredients that you probably have already, to keep things simple. No point changing out of those freelancer pyjamas if you can help it.

quick pea soup recipe View Post

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This ‘how to defrost a freezer’ post is part two of my ‘cool posts about freezers’ series, so do go back and read ‘What weird crap do you have in your freezer?’ and check out 11 things you should have in your freezer now and always.

There are many aspects of general house care where I feel I’ve really got it together. My bathroom is always reasonably clean and I do that thing where you put a whole set of bedding into one pillowcase so you never have to rifle around in the airing cupboard for a matching set. (Honestly, that changed my life.)

Other things though, not so much. Take my car windscreen for example. It turns out that scraping off ice with the base of a tin of paint that you happen to have in your hand is not a good idea. I mean it looks fine – you couldn’t tell – except when it rains. Gawd.

Defrosting the freezer regularly is a similar weak spot for me, as you can see here:

How to defrost a freezer

I haven’t done it since we moved in 18 months ago and it has started to do the thing where it’s difficult to open the doors because there’s ice in the way. Also, it could really just do with being cleaned. The bottom of the freezer is a mess of peas, crumbs and, weirdly, hair. View Post

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I was sat on the sofa on Monday night, having had a really unproductive day. I’d had a migraine the night before and was feeling generally yukky and like I’d just not achieved anything. When I feel like this I often find myself wanting to do weird jobs around the house that are kind of not very important but also somehow wholesome feeling.

I had a flash of inspiration – my FREEZER. I would to write a three part blog series about my freezer. I mean come on, you’re excited already aren’t you? Not even just a single post – a three part series!

The freezer thoughts all started because of the fact that I’d had a rather difficult time during the day with milk, as you can see from these tweets:

https://twitter.com/mummyblogger/status/1084816158468030464

https://twitter.com/mummyblogger/status/1084837922598203392

The second one is the worst and will probably result in me, come summer, having to burn my car in a field somewhere. View Post

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Quark cheesecake recipe in association with the Queen of Quark

I had an email a couple of weeks ago asking me if I wanted to ‘Quark up my life.’

Well. Who doesn’t?

I immediately burst into song. ‘People of the world!’ etc etc

It turns out the project wasn’t music related, but was actually a call to action from the Queen of Quark – Bavarian royalty on a mission, with World Quark Day on January 19th, to inspire the people of the UK to love Quark as much as she does for its low-calorie, high-protein, all round versatility.

All hail the Queen of Quark. *makes fanfare noise*

I decided to run with the musical theme anyway, and set myself a challenge – just how many Spice Girls can you crowbar into a Quark cheesecake recipe title? (Two apparently.)

Quark is a fat-free soft cheese, that’s similar in texture to sour cream. It can be used in all sorts of recipes, sweet and savoury, as a healthy substitute for yogurt or soft cheese. Think protein-rich fruit smoothies, avocado dips, quiche… or in my case, think ‘posh ginger spice Quark cheesecake.’

The ginger element comes from the use of ginger biscuits in the base and ground ginger in the topping, and the posh bit is the chocolate swirl on top. Have a look. Admire my swirl:

Quark cheesecake

Impressive yes? It reminds me a bit of the lovely Metis cheesecake I made a while ago – that had a VERY pretty swirly top.

If my Quark cheesecake gets you thinking about what other things you could make with Quark, then do check out the FREE E-BOOK of Quark recipes from the Queen of Quark, which you can download here. View Post

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Feeling hungry? I’m back today with more inspiration as part of my partnership with the ‘Lamb. Try It, Love It‘ campaign, so if you need a bit of meaty inspiration read on…

One of the things I desperately wanted to do this year was find myself some new office space. When I moved back to Taunton, (five years ago this June, can you believe??), I started sharing a lovely room with a couple of guys in the centre of town. Last spring I moved with one of them to share with new people, but then there was a change of circumstances, and as the summer holidays rolled around I found myself back at my kitchen table, between the fridge freezer and the cat litter tray.

I was not really living the aspirational freelance life.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy working at home, it’s just that when it’s just you and a teenager and three cats in the house, you really do need to leave it from time to time, for everyone’s sake. Also when I’m at home I get easily distracted watching old episodes of First Dates and roasting random vegetables I find in the bottom of the fridge*, so it’s good to have somewhere to go where you can’t do this.

This week then I started a bit of casual office sharing somewhere new, away from the lure of the limp cauliflower. Starting a new office, a bit like the first day back at school, is an excellent excuse to buy a new lunchbox, so I bought this cat bento box:

cat bento box office lunch ideas

Honestly, I am LIVING for it. View Post

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If you enjoy this roast neck of lamb recipe you might also like this Greek lamb meatball lunch.

As you may remember from my recent post about lamb kebabs, I am on something of a lamb based journey over the next few months – a meaty pilgrimage if you will – to showcase the ‘Lamb. Try it. Love it.‘ campaign. I’m exploring different cuts of lamb and creating tasty recipes that show that cooking with lamb doesn’t have to be difficult OR expensive.

Today’s roast neck of lamb recipe ticks both of these boxes – it’s a very simple ‘all in one pan’ dish, that I reckon you can have on the table in 40 minutes. It uses lamb neck fillets, which I have to say is something I would NEVER have thought to buy before, and is easily scalable depending on how many people you’re cooking for. It would work well as a special dinner for two, or scale up the ingredients, add loads of vegetables on the side, and turn it into a feast for family and friends.

The lamb is cooked with sweet potatoes, pine nuts, lemon and honey, and the lemon slices make it look super pretty when it comes out of the oven. This lamb dish would be lovely as a simple supper over Christmas – loads of flavour and style but with minimum effort.

roast lamb neck fillet recipe

How to cook roast neck of lamb fillets

First things first, you need to buy your neck fillets. I’m sure this is something you could get from the butchers, but I went for these from Tesco. Going by the nutritional information per serving, I would say this would be two generous portions, so that’s what the rest of my measurements are based on. You can be flexible though, depending on how much meat you like, your budget and what side dishes you add in, so take my recipe as a loose guide. View Post

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If you’re anything like me then you’re salivating just reading that title. It’s the ultimate comfort combination surely? Roasted seasonal vegetables, a hot and creamy risotto and juicy lamb kebabs – that’s a winter feast right there. What’s even better is that it’s dead easy to make, as I will show you now.

First up though, in case you’re thinking ‘hmmm… lamb, not sure really, it’s a bit pricey isn’t it?’ then FEAR NOT. I was in exactly that boat before I made this recipe. I hardly ever bought lamb because I thought it was too expensive and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. As much as I love the flavour of lamb, (soooo good), I thought I needed super meat cooking skills (which I do not have) to cook lamb well.

Turns out I was wrong. Lamb koftas are super easy to make, and so versatile too as you can add lots of different seasonings, herbs and spices depending on what flavours you like. Fun fact for you: lamb is a lot more sustainable than most other animal agriculture farming. It’s also one of the healthiest meats you can eat – it’s rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a great source of things like protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

Lamb doesn’t have to be expensive either – the 500g of lean lamb mince that I used in this recipe was just four pounds, and that made enough lamb koftas for four people. One pound a head isn’t bad is it? Most of the rest of the ingredients are either things you have in your cupboards already, or fresh, seasonal vegetables that can be picked up cheaply from a local greengrocer – this feast for four people definitely comes in at under a tenner.

Basically you’ve got no excuse not to buy some lamb RIGHT NOW and whip up some lamb koftas for tea.

easy lamb kofta kebab recipe

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In association with Aqua Optima

Okay, I know, it’s not Wednesday. Well not when I’m writing this anyway. Maybe you’re reading it on a Wednesday though, that’s a possibility. In which case well done – great timing.

The alliteration isn’t key though, it’s just one way to remind yourself of the importance of HYDRATION. Now I don’t want to get all ‘lecturey parent’ on you, but come on, when was the last time you properly drank enough? I mean like not tea and coffee or fizzy drinks, just actual water, all through the day?

I see you there, looking sheepish.

I’m just as guilty. I do drink a lot, but I drink my fair share of caffeine filled tea and coffee too, and squashes, smoothies and fizzy drinks all full or sugar or artificial sweeteners. Now I’m not saying these things don’t contribute towards hydration, but it would be much better for me if at least some of the time I cut out all the additives and just drank water.

(Wine though! *sad face*)

how to drink more water

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

So. What to do about it?

Like most things it’s really just a matter of forming new habits. Once you do anything often enough it can become routine, it’s just finding the things that will help you to form the habits in the first place.

Here are some ideas: View Post

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In association with Red Letter Days

When you think Red Letter Days gift experiences, what do you think?

I have to admit that until a few weeks ago my first thought would have been package spa breaks and track days. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things – I like a lounge in a sauna and prosecco lunch as much as the next person – but Red Letter Days is about so much more than that, as I found out when Red Letter Days asked me to choose an experience to, well, experience. 

I started off with a browse, which takes a while as there is a LOT to browse. Honestly, I challenge you NOT to find a Christmas gift for just about anyone in your life. I was tempted initially by the London theatre and dinner packages – if you like comedy then I would DEFINITELY recommend this offer for The Play That Goes Wrong – it’s such good fun. Two tickets plus dinner for two for just £109, which is a bit of a bargain.

I liked some of the adrenaline activities too – how cool would it be to take a vintage Tiger Moth over Stonehenge or to undertake a private investigator surveillance mission at London Paddington? (Even though I’m 40 now I still want to believe that one day I will turn into Nancy Drew, the sassy teen detective.)

And then there’s all the food and drink options – I lingered for a long time over the bottomless gin and tonic afternoon tea.

In the end though I opted for a cookery course at River Cottage HQ in Devon. It was well timed for me as I’ve been in a massive cooking rut recently and we’ve been consuming unhealthy amounts of frozen chicken products. I’ve been trying to be more creative, but sometimes you need a bit of a kick up the bum to reignite an interest in something or to make you feel more confident in your own abilities.

Booking the course with my Red Letter Days voucher was easy – there were instructions on the voucher and then contact details for the venue, easy peasy. I packed my selection of Tupperware for leftovers, as advised, and set out for Devon.

I knew the day was going to go well when one of the first things we were told was that there was a bar and that if we wanted any drinks brought to us during the day we just had to ask Steve, and he would sort us out. Needless to say Steve sorted me out with a couple of lovely gin and tonics – the spa day vibe without even needing to hoist myself into a swimming costume.

The one day River Cottage course covers a whole range of cooking techniques, from bread-making to fish filleting, so we started off by getting our dough on the go.

Red Letter Days cookery courses View Post

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