Quick Weekday Dinner

I had had a really, REALLY bad day. Due to insanely high winds and general antisocial weather conditions, the trains had completely failed. There was a tree on the line a couple of stops before mine which I only discovered upon reaching the station in the morning. I could see people turning around and walking back the way I was coming, never a good sign…

To cut an extremely long and frustrating story short, all trains were delayed or cancelled and I had to walk back home and drive to work (45 minutes away) having already paid for my ticket which, due to the almost painful lack of decent customer support at South West Trains I knew I wouldn’t receive a refund on. The final straw was having to stay late at work, meaning I got home about 2 hours later than I would normally. Not at all ideal.

I was also absolutely starving and as any food lover knows, hungry + angry = hangry which is not the sort of position you want to find yourself in very often. If at all. I needed food and I needed it fast! There was a packet of Sainsburys Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini in the fridge which sounded absolutely stunning, confirmed by the realisation that it only took 2 minutes to cook. I put the kettle on and started the hunt for a pasta sauce. Hmm. A fruitless search. There was however a carton of chopped tomatoes in the cupboard so I set about making a quick and easy pasta sauce. I hate the taste of canned and chopped tomatoes and prefer to simmer them for a while with other flavours to remove the metallic/cardboard taste.

I started off by chopping some cherry tomatoes into halves and sauteing them with olive oil and lots of black pepper. They smelt absolutely amazing and I nearly abandoned the pasta idea in favour of good old tomatoes on toast! I saw sense though and continued my original plan. Once the tomatoes were quite broken up I added the chopped tomatoes and a minced clove of garlic. I let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes to get rid of all the liquid, then added two teaspoons of red pesto at the end. This was the best thing ever! The pesto added so much flavour to the tomatoes, mmmmm.

While I simmered the sauce for the last few minutes I quickly cut and toasted a slice of tiger bread. Before mincing the aforementioned garlic clove, I sliced the end off and rubbed it all over the toasted bread before adding a generous layer of Lurpak. I then switched on the grill and put the toast under there for a couple of minutes. Once it was crisped up nicely I added some grated chedder cheese and set it aside to toast right at the end. It smelt amazing! Nothing quite like the smell of garlic, I absolutely love it.

Finally, I poured my boiling water into a medium saucepan and once it was bubbling, added the pack of tortellini. It literally needed a minute and a half, I often overcook it as I worry it won’t be done but I have learnt to err on the side of caution and take it out about 30/45 seconds before I think it looks done, as it will continue cooking and heat the middle, leaving the pasta perfectly al dente. I popped the pasta in the colandar to drain and placed the now cheese topped bread under the grill. There were a few frantic minutes of trying to simultaneously plate up, clean up the kitchen and keep an eye on the garlic bread but it all came together quite well and I was so proud of my quick dinner!

 

 

It was the first time I’ve really made a homemade pasta sauce and it tasted amazing. I added a sprinkle of cheddar on top as clearly there is not enough cheese in spinach and ricotta tortellini.

 

 

 

 

The garlic bread was amazing due to the award-winning combination of garlic, bread and cheese and I can assure you that not a crumb was left on that plate.

 

 

 

 

Quick, easy, perfect weekday dinner, just what I needed after a long and stressful day. Pasta is one of my top comfort foods and since discovering the wonders of tortellini I am finding it difficult to go back to plain, un-filled pasta shapes.

One of these days I would love to make my own tortellini or ravioli but that, I think, will be the subject of a much longer blog post!

Tesco Tapas! Range

Me and Ben were recently in Tesco doing some shopping before Christmas and fancied a nice easy dinner that would also be a bit special. We noticed a new range in the chilled section and decided to give it a go!

It was the new Tapas! range, a collection of dishes available in a deal – 2 dishes for £4 or 6 for £10. We go to La Tasca quite often when they have their 50% off vouchers and love the food there. 6 dishes for £10 seemed really good value so we got stuck in! Ben is vegetarian so he chose a veggie paella and creamy mushrooms, I chose chorizo croquettes and chicken paella and we decided to share the (vegetarian) spanish omelette and patatas bravas. We also couldn’t resist getting some fresh olives from the deli counter so all in all we had quite a haul!

We eagerly set about cooking the dishes when we got home and found it was really easy. They all had similar cooking times and most just needed 20 minutes or so in the oven so there was no faffing about with timings (ideal when you fancy having a glass or two of wine!) I also quickly made some garlic mayonnaise as aioli is a constant accompaniment to the dishes at La Tasca and we love it! I just crushed a garlic clove into some Hellmans mayonnaise with some salt and pepper, really easy and it tasted lovely! Not quite aioli but good in a pinch!

In no time at all our feast was done and we plated it all up. Ben has just moved into a new house and we don’t have a coffee table yet so we had a little indoor picnic!

The chorizo and cheese croquettes. I was really excited for these but they were actually really bland, I ended up dipping them into my garlic mayonnaise to make them a bit more exciting. A disappointment!

Ben’s paella de verdunas – really nice, lots of little veggies (onions, mushrooms, peas, red pepper) and good amount of flavour. You also got a lot more rice than in the meat paella which was a bonus!

My paella valenciana. Chicken, prawns and spicy chorizo. This was really lovely! Nice heat from the chorizo and a good amount of prawns. Only got two bits of chicken though!

Champinoes al ajillo – Creamy garlic mushrooms. Ben really enjoyed these but we realised some bread would have been nice to use up the last of the sauce. I didn’t try them as I am not fond of mushrooms.

Patatas Bravas. There was no question when we spotted these that we would be adding cheese, we ALWAYS order our patatas bravas con queso when at La Tasca and couldn’t really imagine having them without! These were really lovely, the sauce was quite spicy and there was lots of it so the potatoes weren’t dry at all. Really good sized portion as well, we didn’t finish them!

Tortilla! This was delicious, and huge! Really the best value item in the deal I think, we each had a couple of slices and were full! Lots of yummy leftovers. Spanish Omelettes are quite bland but we added the garlic mayo and ate it with the tomato sauce of the patatas bravas and it was lovely.

Nice shot of our mixed olives, we had a few different types of olives plus strips of red peppers, feta and mozzarella cheeses, marinated artichokes and sundried tomatoes. Nice cooling accompaniment to some of the hotter dishes.

My plate!

Overall we felt this deal was really good value for money and the food was of high quality. Much cheaper than a night at La Tasca as we always get carried away there and order far too much leading to an expensive night, even with a voucher. Much less risky and easier to eat at home and you can BYOB!

Leftovers Sandwich (or create the leftovers, if necessary, I won’t tell)

One of my favourite foods in the whole world is the humble sandwich. I often take sandwiches to work for lunch but I am not a fan of ‘boring’ sandwiches – cheese, cheese and ham, pickle, egg mayo etc…I like to make my sandwiches worth my while and they tend to be really quite special. If I take a boring sandwich to work I am often so uninspired by it by the time 1pm rolls around that I naughtily buy soup or crisps to accompany it, thus negating the whole point of bringing my own healthy lunch and saving money.

So, I spruce my sandwiches up and spend the whole morning eagerly anticipating the moment the clock reads 13.00 and I can fling open the fridge and devour my lovingly prepared meal. In my Hello Kitty bento box too of course. Wrapped in foil, not clingfilm, I have a funny thing about clingfilm. It just doesn’t look as nice.

One of my all-time top sandwich fillings is one that only presents itself to me a few times a year. When I look in the fridge and realise I have all the components available, the angels are surely smiling down at me. It is of course, the Leftovers Sandwich. Yep, it needs capitals. This particular sammie is rarely found during the spring and summer months, preferring really to lay low until the winter creeps in, the 25th of December to be exact. If you’re lucky you may stumble across this sandwich in it’s wild and unorganised form following a Sunday roast which was rather overcatered for.

This particular sandwich presented itself to me one day in late November when I was, very unusually for me, off work with a headache and cold. As I stared into the depths of the fridge, willing a lunch to form, I spotted the key components of cold turkey, brie and cranberry sauce. Almost daring not to breathe, I glanced over to the counter silently praying…yep, tiger bread. Lets do this.

First things first, we needed some carbs up in this sammie. What do you mean bread is a carb? Get out. Although we had no leftover roasties (extremely rare in my household) we did have a few new potatoes in the fridge, which to be honest looked to be on the way out so I turned the oven on and got to work slicing. Slug of olive oil, salt and pepper, they went in the oven for about 20 minutes. I sliced the bread, big old thick slices, go hard or go home. Into the toaster it goes.

Once toasted, I spread the bread with cranberry sauce and layered on a couple of slices of lovely creamy brie. Brie + cranberry sauce = The Christmas Dream. I then placed a couple of slices of turkey on the bottom slice of bread and waited very impatiently for my potatoes to be done.

After what felt like DAYS they were perfect, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I had of course cooked enough for a family of four so I saved half for a leftover-leftovers sandwich the next day, bonus! I layed the potatoes on the turkey and topped the whole thing with some lovely leaves for a bit of greenery and texture. The top slice of bread was placed carefully on top and I then pressed down on the sandwich slightly to try and encourage some kind of stickage to make for easy lifting. A swift slice down the middle and the Leftovers Sandwich was complete.

 

 

 

I very bravely ate the entire thing but felt very ill afterwards and had to lie down for an hour before I felt recovered enough to tackle the washing up. Very big lunch and I must stress this is not normally what I take for a Tuesday at work! I was off sick and Leftover Sandwiches are incredibly healing. I strongly recommend trying this sammie, really got me in the mood for Christmas!