Muscles All Over The Place!

Hello strangers!
It has been a little while since my last post and I have missed sharing recipes and reviews. So today we will have both.

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Still to come, om nom recipe

Last week, Cian and I ordered a meat stack from Musclefood. It is exactly what it says; a pile of meat made for bodybuilders (read: lots of it and super lean) and we have been eating it all week so I can tell you about the quality and flavours too.

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It cost a total of £50 delivered to the house in a cool box with Gel ice packs and a sturdy amount of wrapping. Nice and impressed with that.

It included all of this!

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A 2.5kg pack of chicken which worked out at 12 breasts and I separated into 4-breast bags for the freezer.
We have used these in a pasta dish with tagliatelle, broccoli anda creamy tomato sauce. The meat itself claims to have no water added, but a bucketload came out during cooking.  It could possibly be because we had frozen them but I doubt it. There was virtually no trimming of fat involved though, and it was quite tasty.

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Next, there were 2x400g packets of extra lean steak mince. We used it for chilli and bolognese.
This I found to be awesome mince, no watery slick after cook and a really strong beefy flavour!

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Then we recieved 2x400g packets of diced turkey breast which went straight into a curry that very night and was perfect. Nice texture, flavour, not much fat to trim.

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This part of the pack I haven’t had a taste of yet but it is 4 chicken burgers which will be awesome for a barbecue when the weather picks up.

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And this is tonight’s dinner. 2 x Irish Grass Fed sirloin steaks, 2x Irish Grass Fed Rump steaks, 2x hache steaks (for the kiddos) and a pack of minute steaks for lunch tomorrow!
We are all craving a bit of steak tonight and this pile will do perfectly to satisfy!

It’s a really nasty winter here, no snow (boo), but it’s icy cold and wet and windy. I was after a nice warming breakfast that I can grab quickly, isn’t too calorie-heavy (a fried brekkie every day is going to do me no favours) and that is versatile enough to eat most days and not get boring.
Say hello to Porridge! Oatmeal! Whatever you call it.
My recipe which is fully customizable works out at 276 calories for a really big bowl (the bowl in the pictures is one serving, as I hate when people do healthy recipes and the pictured meal is 3 or 4 recommended servings!)

Versatile Porridge

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* 1/2 cup basic rolled oats
* 1/3 cup fat-free yoghurt or 100g
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 3 strawberries, sliced
* 1 cup blackberries

Mix water and oats in a pot, and set on a medium heat,  stirring until it looks like the picture (about 2 minutes)

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Next, stir the porridge off the heat until it is thick and sticky, about 30 seconds. And pour into a bowl.
Pour over the yoghurt (use any flavour you want, I have vanilla)

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And then heap on the fruit and enjoy!

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As you can see below, I entered all the ingredients into a calorie tracker and it works out at a mere 276 calories. And it is incredibly filling!

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So chill out at enjoy a nice hot,  delicious, guilt free breakfast.

My suggestions for toppings are
* banana and peanut butter
* raspberries and strawberry yoghurt
* chopped nuts and honey with greek yoghurt
* grapes and apples with mango yoghurt

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Peace, Love and Frosting

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Cookies and Memories

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Or singles awareness day)
I normally wouldn’t subscribe to the day, and the silly notion that you need to show extra affections when you could just do that every day! But seeing as it’s the first one since getting married, I decided to make a little box celebrating all the things we’ve done since becoming Husband and Wife and surprise Cian with it.

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This is a double whammy post as well, since I will give you my world-famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. Make these, seriously, do it now. Doooo eeet!

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So I bought this little wooden box in Sainsbury’s, with an accordion paper insert. I decided to cover it with photographs of our time together, that I wouldn’t consider “frame-worthy” but that are still part of our adventure and I want to keep them close.

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Each picture is a gorgeous little memory, and Cian really liked that it folds down into a box he can keep on his nightstand.

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And the insert can be folded to prop the lid and display whichever photo takes your fancy, but perhaps not this one above though, it’s a gloriously bad one of our wedding!

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Now let me tell you about these cookies. This recipe is my very own, made over a few years of trial and erorr. And everyone who has one dies on the spot in gushings of “mmmmmmm”.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 cups self-raising flour
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Mix everything together with your hands.
Roll into golf balls (this recipe will make about 30).
Place on a greased baking sheet, don’t squish them.
Cook in the middle of the oven at 170 celsius or equivalent for 12-15 minutes.
For soft cookies, remove when the edges are starting to brown, as they will firm up while they are cooling. Or for crunchier cookies, cook until the edges are hard to the touch, about 20 mins.

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And then just eat the hell out of them!

Peace, Love and Frosting

Wartime Stew Recipe

After the last recipe I shared that mentioned my great-grandmother’s Irish Stew, I have had a couple of messages asking for the recipe so I decided to share it here for all of you. It’s my absolute favourite gloomy day dinner and I love making it, seeing how it gets so amazing and tender, even though it’s such cheap meat.

So my Great-Grandmother was a real Dublin Lady, born and bred in wartimes. She was hardy and resourceful but proper and well-presented, and raised 11 children on relatively meager funds, especially by today’s standards. She always made sure her kids were well fed, and this recipe was one that helped her to feed 6 hungry teenage boys (not to mention the girls and parents too!)

My Nana talks so fondly of the McGarry stew, and calls it her favourite dish. She made it for her own children and my mum made it for us growing up too. That’s at least 4 generations so far, and I will feed it to my own kids one day! I actually made it for my Nana over Christmas while I stayed with her and she ate the whole pot, smiling all the while.

So to make Stew for 6 people or 4 with possible leftovers, you will need;
* 500g stewing beef/rump/chuck, diced. (Cheapest beef you can get)
* 500g meatballs
Use 300g minced beef, add an egg, 100g bread crumbs, and a knob of butter, squish and roll into golf balls.
* 6 carrots, roughly chopped
* 6 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 1 large onion, peeled and left whole
* 1l beef stock, (she would have made her own with leftover bones but I use store bought)
* 1l Oxtail soup (from a packet is fine)
* 1tbsp mixed herbs, herbs de Provence or similar
* butter

Method
To make the stew, first we brown off the meat in batches, in butter.

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The more space the meat gets in the pan, the better. It allows the juices to evaporate and to seal the meat properly with a big yummy crust.

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Don’t clean the pan in between batches, let the crust build as that will make the sauce delicious.

Take all the lovely meat and place it in a gigantic, heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium-low heat, with some butter, the carrots and the whole onion.

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Add a couple of tablespoons of water and while it is starting to steam, go back to the frying pan.

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Put the stock in the frying pan and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan and get all the lovely flavors off it. Add the herbs and cook until bubbling. Pour this into the saucepan.

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Prepare the soup with double the water recommended so it’s a bit thinner as it will need to cook for a loooong time. Pour this into the saucepan as well and simmer the stew for 30 minutes while you prepare the potatoes

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It should come along nicely, bubbling and steaming very gently.
So, season the potatoes and sit for a few minutes to draw out the excess moisture.

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Add these to the stew and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1-1/2 hours until the potatoes are almost falling apart and then season well and serve with crusty bread.

I totally forgot to take a pictured of the finished stew as we were all tucking straight away! But, judging by the silence at the table, it tasted damn good!

A few notes on the recipe;
* my Nana changed it in the 70’s to fit into the ultra-convenience trend. She used bisto gravy, tomato ketchup, HB brown sauce and an oxo cube to make the sauce. It’s absolutely not good, but try it if you dare.
* Originally, there would have been sausages in there instead of meatballs, but no-one likes boiled sausages so meatballs became muuuch preferred.
* It will taste better tomorrow, hands down. I like to double the recipe and reheat the next day, adding more potatoes as needed.
* I have no idea why we put the onion in whole, but I just follow the recipe and then chop it up after and throw it back in. It’s a little quirk and good for if you have anyone who doesn’t like onions.

Enjoy and let me know if you make it 🙂

Peace, Love and Frosting

Scrubbing Up Well

One of my “beauty secrets” (more of an indulgence) is a really nice scrub. I love the feeling of freshly scrubbed skin after a really hot shower; all rosy and slightly tender, and oh so soft. I have used countless sea salt, Epsom, and sugar based products that are all lovely.  But they cost an absolute fortune. And when you start getting into coffee scrubs, the price tag rockets because the products work so well. Screw that, let’s make our own!

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This scrub is my own recipe and I have been using it for a couple of years now.

The best thing about making your own products is that you can customise them to your taste. I love to add buckets of essential oils and have the smells completely envelope me when I use them. And I love to tailor them for the seasons; for example, adding cinnamon at Christmas for a festive pop, or orange essential oil in summer for an invigorating fresh burst!
The best thing about using a coffee based scrub is that your skin absorbs some of the caffeine so it will give you a little kick! Also, caffeine naturally reduces the appearance of celulite and the sugar is an exfoliant which encourages blood flow to the area, which provides smoother and softer skin.

Just a quick note before the recipe, you can replace the sugar with ground sea salt or epsom salts, but please don’t use that product on your delicate skin, only use it on rough areas like heels and knees (trust me).

Jumpin’ Java Sugar Scrub

Place 1/4 cup ground coffee beans (I like to use a fair trade blend) in a jug or bowl

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To this add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or any carrier oil like coconut, avocado).

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I used olive oil as it’s what I had to hand. When living in Australia I liked to use coconut as it was almost always in a liquid state at room temperature. In England it’s rock solid!

Then, dump in about 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, use brown muscovado if you have it as standard brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added back in!

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Now to mix and mix until it starts to come together like a really grainy play-doh!

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This is the point at which you would add your scents if you are using any. I haven’t bothered with this batch because it’s only a couple of months supply. You should add more of any ingredients until you get a consistency you like.

And when you are happy, pop it into a sealed container like a jam jar, body butter pot or, like me, old lush pot.

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All that is left now is to run up and have a shower!

Peace, Love and Frosting

Snap Happy

As we are building our lives from scratch again in a new country, my husband Cian and I have to gather basic things, like photographs, all over again. I decided to Trial out a mail order company for prints as they had some fab coupons and deals available for free prints and things of that nature and I found it to be a mixed bag.
Snapfish.co.uk is one of those worldwide companies that offer lots of picture based products from prints, canvases and posters to mugs and keychains. I was emailed a £5 voucher from a mailing list I’m on for use on their items and decided to use it for a poster print of a photo I took in India. When signing up to the website they also offer 20 free prints to new customers. So in all I got a free 10″x15″ poster and 26 prints posted without having to pay a penny. Happy Days!
The prints arrived first within 2 days,  and I was super pleased with them.

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They were clear and decent quality (you can get better in a kodak store, but that would cost way more than they normally do). I was pleased enough to look for another coupon, and lo, I found one for 75 free prints – just pay shipping.  The postage cost for 75 prints was only £1.99. So, for the grand price of two pounds, I got 101 standard prints and a poster. It would make you wonder how they manage to make any money.
Then the poster arrived yesterday and I was sorely disappointed. The picture that I had provided was in the wrong orientation.  So instead of a beautiful landscape of Pushkar lake at sunset I got a grainy snippet of the image, without the mountain or sunset even visible.

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What I ordered as a poster print

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This is what I received, boo!

I sent an email to customer services, explaining the issue and really was not expecting to get anywhere with it. Deciding I really wanted a replacement I called the helpline and was really pleasantly surprised. A real person answered within about 30 seconds, and after a two minute conversation they had put my issue through to the complaint resolution people and told me to await an email. 30 minutes later they emailed me to say a replacement print was on it’s way and that they had also credited a free poster print to my account for next time. Nice!

I felt a bit bad about it though as I hadn’t even paid for the first one, but free stuff is always so appreciated.

As I said yesterday, I have taken a vow to buy cruelty free as much as possible from now on, and I have already started.
I needed a new face wash and my neutrogena one that I had been using forever is, sadly, part of Johnson&Johnson, who test on animals.
So I was in Asda, a chain supermarket just browsing the cosmetic aisle and came across Nspa, or Nirvana spa, a company that have rave reviews online for their cruelty free, natural products that are claimed by some to be comparable in quality to the Body Shop. And they are priced amazingly too.

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As far as I remember, they were less than £3 each which is a steal for how nice they are. And they smell friggin’ delicious.  Don’t eat them, Meg, don’t do it.

Peace, Love and Frosting

Testing Myself

Apologies for a few days without posting, I have been busy working and reading.
I have begun re-reading Harry Potter and it’s quite engrossing. I haven’t read the first three books for about ten years! Cian found another copy of the Philosopher’s stone in my nephew’s room and we are racing each other for the only copy of the Chamber of Secrets.

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So what I have been up to over the weekend is making my mind up about cosmetics and body products. I saw a post on Facebook (from an independant news outlet) about animal testing and what companies do it and I was shocked to realize that I had quite a few products in my toiletries bag that are not cruelty free! It is so incredibly ridiculous to me that in this century we are still allowing animal testing to continue. And by such really well respected brands, it’s a disgrace.
So here it is;

I will to the best of my knowledge, never buy from or support a company that tests their products on animals.

And I urge you to do the same. It won’t be too easy to avoid the offenders, but at least the good guys are well labeled! As for the products I already have that are, to my horror, from offending companies, I am not going to toss them out. It might seem counter-productive but I feel like just throwing them away would make the suffering of those animals wouldn’t be for anything. What I plan to do is to use them up, appreciating the sacrifice that was made to create them and replace them all with cruelty free products in the future.

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Here is a nice chart to get me started and a concise list, including household items and other personal care items can be found here

It seems like I am jumping on this bandwagon slightly later than others, but I have never realized the extent of products I purchase regularly that support horrific practices!
Anyone fancy joining me?

Peace, Love and Frosting

The Chronicles of Meg

I am such a sucker for a decent notebook, and everybody knows I just swoon over Paperblanks brand. Their bindings are fabulous, the paper feels magical, and the cover designs are to die for (and historically interesting). It’s really easy to buy presents for me and as a result I have amassed quite a little collection of these beautiful books, even with my limited posessions since emigrating, but I am ever-fearful of what exactly to put inside them, in case I ruin them! For Christmas, Debbie and Colin gave Cian and I the gorgeous Charlotte Bronté one and I have been deciding ever since how best to use her.

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I love the magnetic closure and the gold detailing. It really looks quite Indian to me in it’s embellishment.

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The lovely note left for us inside the cover

It is clear we have to use this volume to document our travels and I have a cheap, beaten and battered notebook that I used as a travel journal while away. I decided to transcribe the entries in pieces and excerpts with complimentary photographs to really bring my experiences to life.

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It’s perhaps just a silly little project that I will spend more time on than I realistically should, but I picture it up there on my bookshelf in 50 years time, side by side with all the other volumes I will write for each trip I take between now and then and I love the idea of chronicalling my life’s travels to read to my grandkids one day.

So far I have been detailing Cambodia and it’s really lovely to re-live the experiences and combine the pictures from the day with the entries from my journal.

During the picture printing I added a lovely one of two of my beautiful sisters, Hannah and Sarah-Jay, and made it my first framed picture in my new home. I wanted the first photo to be something special, and this is just perfect.

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How beautiful are my little sisters!

I have strange little quirks sometimes but I do love my ways, they make even a simple thing special!

Peace, Love and Frosting