How I’ve found three months of no meat Mondays

I’m going to start this off by saying, I love meat. A lot. Bacon, chicken, lamb, literally anything. But as a New Year’s Resolution I thought it would be interesting to see how we’d cope as a family with one meat free meal a week. Here’s how we’ve got on, how I’m finding it three months down the line and a few of my favourite meatless meals.

I have to say it’s been pretty successful! For me at least. We got into a massive rut with what we were having for tea, especially on a Monday. It was a rotation of chilli and sausage and bean casserole because we had the ingredients and it was easy to shove it all in the slow cooker. By forcing ourselves to ‘go veggie’ for one day a week we’ve had loads of different meals that we probably wouldn’t have made otherwise. At first everything looked a bit same-y, curry after curry, but as the weeks have gone on we’ve found a load of different recipes which have made me excited to get home on a Monday night. So I think we might be getting into a bit of a groove now. It can be easy to just pick curries and variations of spicy butternut squash. But we’ve started to incorporate different meals each week which changes it up a bit. Here are a few of my favourite recipes we’ve cooked over the last three months.

My favourite meat free recipes

Curried vegetable patties – These were fab! From Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start book they may have been a bit of a faff to make they were really delicious. They were packed with lots of different veg and we had one patty with other veg and a really tasty mango chutney yogurt mixture. This recipe also made enough patties to have for lunches which was great and tasted just as nice cold.

Black bean enchiladas – Amazing! Another one that was a bit faffy but equally delicious this is one where I 100% don’t miss the meat. We used a recipe from a random magazine but I’ve linked one that looks similar. A tasty black bean mixture inside the tortilla topped with cheese and then a yummy tomato sauce. We also served it with a bit of guac and it was great. Writing about it is making my mouth water and I may recommend we have it next week.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake – Another one from Tom Kerridge, I think I could eat this every week. The recipe isn’t perfect and the next time we make it we will probably change a few things up, e.g put crushed chillis into it, but it was really tasty. It’s pretty much macaroni cheese but with pureed roasted butternut squash in the sauce and breadcrumbs and roasted squash sprinkled on top. Seriously delicious, really filling, probably not fab for you health wise but in my top teas to eat at the minute.

Do you have any favourite veggie recipes. I’m always open to new ones to add to my list for Mondays!

My favourite cookery books and recipes

I’m all about food. Eating out, cooking at home, 100% my vibe. over the last few years, I’ve gathered a nice little collection of recipe books to sit in and amongst the Jamie Oliver, Marcus Wareing and 1980s books that my parents have. I thought I’d share my three favourite books which we use quite a lot at home and a few of the most delicious recipes. So buckle up for a foodie post.

A Year of Beautiful Eating | Madeleine Shaw

This was the first of Madeleine’s books I bought. I searched high and low for it after I heard her on Lily and Anna’s podcast At Home With because some of the recipes sounded amazing and I wanted to give them a try. There are so many recipes that I love and the fact that it’s split up into seasons means that every year you remember recipes that you loved from the year before. My favourites are the Baked Sea Bream and Lentil Parcels, although we use salmon instead of sea bream and it works just the same (the pesto is fab). Also the Prawn Korma is delicious and the Chicken and Chickpea Curry is great because it has peanut butter in it. I could literally list every recipe in this book as my favourite but I’ll leave it there. If you want pretty easy meals with a lot of variety then I really recommend you pick this one up.

Fresh Start | Tom Kerridge

For my birthday I got the book which went alongside Tom Kerridge’s latest food show (really good btw). I went through when I first got it and bookmarked everything I wanted to try and safe to say there were A LOT of bookmarks. Not everything is that quick to make and some of it can be a bit time consuming but it’s worth it in the end. A prime example of this are the Nutty Wholemeal Pancakes. Delicious and amazing but I literally used every bowl in the house making this one. Some of my other favourites are the Beef Biryani, Peanut Butter Brownie and Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. There are a few weird ingredients but it’s nothing that a quick google can’t fix as most have a replacement you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Ready, Steady, Glow | Madeleine Shaw

I love Madeleine’s recipes (if you haven’t already noticed) and this one has some real crackers in it. The Cookies in this book are my favourites to make – even if my dad isn’t that keen – because the buckwheat flour makes them taste nutty and they’re the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, yes! This is split into quick recipes and ones that take a bit more time and does some fab ones that take no time at all. The Red Thai Salmon Curry and the Chickpea Curry are fab and so is the Chicken Stir Fry (the sauce is amazing and is literally four ingredients). This book also has yoga moves in it if you fancy a bit of a stretch when you’re cookies are baking (try the cookies, you won’t regret it).

What recipes are you loving at the minute? I’d appreciate any veggie ones because we’re doing meat free Mondays and I’m running low on ideas.

My favourite restaurants from the last 12 months

Today is my birthday! To celebrate turning 24 I thought I’d look back on some of the best places I’ve been to eat over the past 12 months. I love eating out, it’s one of my favourite things to do, and so I thought I’d put together my top picks from last year which could be helpful if you ever find yourself in these areas looking for somewhere to go!

A stand out highlight of last year was my trip to Roots in York. Probably the best meal I’ve eaten in my entire life, no exaggeration. The food was incredible, the vibe of the place was amazing and I had the best time. I went with my mum and dad back in November for lunch because I’m obsessed with Tommy Banks (and because we’ve heard very good things). It was fab. Amazing food, which is all small sharing plates, in a chilled out atmosphere. We decided to go for ten plates and they just brought the food out that was ready. Everything was so good it was hard to pick a favourite but I loved the beetroot cooked in beef fat, lamb bao buns and the apple cake.

Location: York

Perfect for you if: You love top quality dining and are willing to pay the prices but enjoy more of a chilled out vibe.

During another November trip, this time to Paris with my friends, we went to Frenchie. Super cool vibes, it felt like the worst kept secret as the place was small and intimate but packed with people. We didn’t book and had to wait about an hour for a seat but with a bottle of wine and space at the bar it wasn’t a problem. The menu was small and kind of had a sharing plate vibe but we all went for our own thing. I had the squid ink ravioli and it was amazing. So tasty. I also had the tarte tatin which was delicious! I would totally recommend giving this a go but maybe book, it was rammed on a random Tuesday in November so strikes me that it’s busy all the time.

Location:Β Rue du Nil, Paris

Perfect for you if: You want something a bit special that isn’t too pricey. Also if you need a picture for Instagram.
Just down the road from where I live, the Sun Inn at Rastrick does cracking food at a great price. Think ‘pub food’ but ten times better and two for one fish and chip Fridays. Dream! They also do two for one gins on a Saturday, so I mean you really can’t go wrong with this place.

Location: Rastrick, West Yorkshire

Perfect for you if: You don’t want to cook on a Friday night or need somewhere to chill out on a Saturday afternoon.

Potentially the most instagramable place I’ve ever stepped foot in, Red Roaster was subject to a very hungover visit when I was with my friend in Brighton. The fact that we were both feeling a little worse for wear after a major prosecco session didn’t ruin the visit though. Such an amazing breakfast was had. I went for the waffle with bacon egg and apple washed down with a latte and it was glorious. The different food options here were pretty special and interesting and I have to say I would like to go back and try some of their lunch options – especially when I’m feeling a little perkier than I did the last time.

Location: Brighton

Perfect for you if: You want breakfast with a twist or to take advantage of the marble tables and amazing lighting for your instagram.

Trips to see friends seem to constantly produce new restaurant favourites! An amazing meal that left us all full to the brim was had at Farmshop. Located in Bicester Village, I think it’s in associaton with Soho ____ (am I a real blogger yet?) and has a lot of hearty meals on offer like burgers, pies. mac and cheese, etc. We all went for chorizo and smoked mozzarella croquettes to start (sensational) and that was followed by a delish chicken burger. I’d love to go back and sample the desserts but those croquettes have definitely stuck around in my memory.

Location: Bicester Village, Oxfordshire

Perfect for you if: You want to live out your YouTuber life with a smaller price tag and delicious food.

Last but not least is where I went for my birthday meal this year, and somewhere which is probably going to become a new favourite. Eric’s Resturant in Lindley (wonderful West Yorkshire again) has everything you want and more. I’d class it as British food that’s fancy but not lacking in the portion size department. We went for the early dining menu and there was a nice selection on offer at a good price. I had chorizo gnocci (creamy goodness in a bowl), tasty pork with dauphinoise potatoes and pecan piece (HEAVEN).Not only is it great for an evening meal but there are also a number of events like afternoon tea and brunch to sink your teeth into. We went to a brunch at the end of December which was fab. Anywhere with pancakes gets two thumbs up in my book!

Location: Lindley, West Yorkshire

Perfect for you if: You’re celebrating something and you want to try somewhere a bit special that won’t totally break the bank.

What TV shows to watch for a cosy winter binge

I’m a massive TV fan. Like huge. Especially if it has something to do with murders/crime/mysteries. I also love winter with it’s snuggly blankets and giant mugs of tea (although to be fair this is me all year round). So what could be better for a TV fanatic that’s permanently cocooned in a blanket than a cosy night in with a hot chocolate and cake watching a fab box set? Nothing, that’s what. So, I thought I’d share my favourite box sets with you in case you’re in need of a good old binge and also some of my favourite things to get cosy.

First up, Bodyguard. I became OBSESSED with this after I watched it, and when I say obsessed, I mean it. Any article with it in, I’d read it, talk of a series two, mate I’m all over it. I had one last exam to take last year and when I finished, my treat to myself was to binge the entire series again (also thinking about doing this for my brithday in a few weeks – I have a problem). If you lived under a rock for the back end of 2018, here’s a run down. Man becomes bodyguard to the Home Secretary and lots of drama ensues. It’s six episodes, an hour long, and can comfortably be binged in a day. I’m a wimp when it comes to blood/gore/general crime and I was fine with it. Also what can be better than staring at Richard Madden’s face for six hours?

If you have a fair few days/weekends free then RuPaul’s Drag Race is a great one to dive into. It’s so easy watching and most importantly addictive. If, once again, you’ve been living under a rock, it’s like America’s Next Top Model but for drag queens, and there are most of the series on Netflix. Perfect if you want something that’s not too heavy, maybe you can dip in and out of it or have it on in the background that doesn’t need total concentration. I think season six is my favourite but five is also great and the later seasons are fab too. Just be warned, you may have an urge to start randomly tongue popping and say things like ‘yaaaas queen’ or ‘tens across the board’. No? Just me?

I said it once and I’ll say it again, if you haven’t already WATCH HAPPY VALLEY. It’s everything you could want in a TV police drama and more. Murder? Yes. Gripping storyline? Yes. James Norton? Yes. Also it’s set in the best place to live ever in the whole entire world, Halifax! I may be slightly biased but there is some great scenery. There are two series, six episodes each, so could be an intense day long session or a great weekend in.

This one is a little bit out of my comfort zone (which as I’ve said is very low because I am a huge wimp) but we’ve recently been watching Luther. Several things to note: 1.Don’t watch it on your own, 2. Keep a pillow handy for the gory bits, and 3. Don’t watch it on your own, especially in the dark. It’s basically another crime drama set in London with Idris Elba as Luther (he’s really great in it) who goes around solving crimes but is a bit flexible with his morals. This has been less of a programme binge and more of a series binge as we’ve been watching a series over one or two days. The amount of episodes in each series vary but the most in a single series is six, so pretty manageable. It’s really addictive so you may fall down a rabbit hole with this one, sorry in advance.

GET COSY

A blanket – I know, I know, this is just a bit cringe because 1. it’s obvious that if you want to get cosy then a soft sheet of fluff the size of Yorkshire will do the job and 2. as soon as September hits, Instagram is full of flat lays with autumn leaves and carefully place blankets. But I mean it when I say I could not live without my blanket. It’s not worthy of instagram in the slightest, I’ve had it for about six years, maybe more, and it’s a little on the sad side. But it never fails to do the job when I want to snuggle down.

A comfy spot – What I mean when I say this is, for a ‘proper’ binge (AKA at least four hours without moving) you want to sit somewhere so minimal movement is possible. My go-to seat of choice is the sofa in the lounge. Not only is it the room with the best TV in but the seat reclines and I have a table next to me so I don’t have to stretch far for my couple of tea. It’s the little things.

A giant mug – This goes back to the minimal movement thing (can you tell how lazy I am) but a massive mug means that you can get more in so don’t have to keep trailing to and from the kettle to fill up. I have an amazing mug from Morrisons which lets you have two cups worth in one massive mug. Absolute dream! Same goes for cold drinks, the bigger the better.

Something delicious – Whether it’s a tasty piece of cake or a giant pizza, having something really delicious will round of a great day-long binge perfectly. Maybe go for something that’s not too time consuming so that you can get straight back to watching but something quite stodgy and full of carbs, especially in winter, can really hit the spot. Sorry healthy eating it was nice while it lasted.

I have a fair amount on my top watch list at the minute with You and the Fyre documentary at the top. What’s top of your binging list?