Food

Quick and easy dinner ideas

I haven’t done a recipe post in a very, very long time- but recently I’ve been really trying to cook from scratch more often, so I have control over the amount of salt, sugar etc that’s going into my meals. Here’s a few quick and easy recipes that I’ve been making over the last couple of months:

Mixed bean chilli soup with homemade guacamole

This is based on this BBC recipe for Mexican bean soup with guacamole.

Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 red pepper, 1 red chilli, tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of Tesco’s taco mixed beans, veg stock, chilli powder, coriander and cumin. Avocado and lime to make the guacamole.

Method

  • Chop up the onion, garlic clove, red pepper and 1/2 the red chilli, fry in a drop of oil
  • Once they’re starting to soften up (about 3-5 minutes) add a bit of chilli powder, coriander and cumin
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, the tin of taco mixed beans and 200-300ml of vegetable stock
  • Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes
  • To make the guacamole: One chopped avocado, with quarter of a chopped red onion, the other half of the red chilli, a sprinkle of coriander and the juice of a lime – mash it all up!

 

Pad Thai

Adapted from Miguel Barclay’s ‘One Pound Meals: Fast & Fresh’.

Ingredients: Flat rice noodles, sesame oil, garlic clove, chilli flakes, red onion, stir fry veg (or other chopped veg – carrots etc), 3-4 spring onions, cooked and frozen prawns, crunchy peanut butter, 1 egg and soy sauce.

Method

  • Cook the rice noodles according to the packet’s instructions
  • Heat some sesame oil up in a frying pan, add a couple of pinches of chilli flakes, the red onion, garlic and whatever veg you’re using
  • Stir fry for a few minutes, then add the prawns and 2-3 tbsp of peanut butter
  • I also added a dash of fish sauce at this point
  • Move the veg to one side in the pan, crack the egg in the other side. Let it start cooking, and then scramble it up as it starts to fry and mix it with the veg.
  • Add in the noodles, pour on some soy sauce and mix it all up.

 

Chorizo and butterbean stew

Ingredients: 220g chorizo sausage, garlic clove, 1 tin of butter beans, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 red onion, tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and paprika.

Method

  • Chop up the chorizo into slices and then half or quarter the slices. Stick in the frying pan with the chopped red pepper, green pepper, red onion and garlic.
  • Leave it fry and sweat for a good five minutes, adding some paprkia to taste as you go.
  • Add in the tomato puree and 2 tbsp of green pesto, cook for another couple of minutes
  • Add in the chopped tomatoe and the butter beans. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • We ate it with skin on garlic mash on the side, which was delightful.

 

Red Thai prawn fried rice

This one makes a massive amount of food, and is great for another round of leftovers the next day. I followed this BBC recipe: Thai prawn fried rice.

Ingredients: 275g uncooked rice, 2 eggs, 300g frozen prawns (I use slightly less), 1 tin of cooked green beans, 1 lime, fish sauce, red Thai curry paste

Method

  • Cook the rice as normal and set aside
  • Pour two beaten eggs into a frying pan, move the pan to form a thin omelette and cook until it sets (about 1 minute).
  • Roll the omelette up and slice into thin strips
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp of red Thai curry paste in a big pan, with a drop of water and then mix in the rice to coat it.
  • Add the prawns and the green beans and heat through
  • Pour in 1 tbsp of fish sauce (I add a little more), and the juice of 1 lime, mix in the egg strips.
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Food

Greens, Zetland Road, Bristol

Turn off the busy parade of Gloucester Road, and you find a handful of cute, independent restaurants along Zetland Road. One of my favourites for a special occasion is Greens; serving a small menu of traditional British dishes with influences from international cuisines, using high quality, local ingredients.

Greens is a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, taken over by Head Chef Martin Laurentowicz, and front of house Nick Wallace, in 2012, whose partnership began in fine dining restaurants in Scotland.

From the outside, Greens looks cute and cosy; very enticing when you walk past at night. And inside it’s decorated very simply, with a cool, intimate atmosphere. It’s the kind of place you can dress up for on date night, or pop in on the spur of the moment if there’s a spare table.

Last time we went was over the weekend between Christmas and New Year, the time when you have no real clue what day it is. There were a handful of other tables, a mix of families, friends and dates.

To start I had the wild mushroom and buffalo mozzarella arancini with aioli and truffle oil (£8.50). Mushroom and mozzarella are always a perfect combination, so these were fried delights.

This was followed traditional Cullen skink with smoked haddock, braised leeks and cripsy potatoes (£16.50). Cullen is a thick Scottish soup – the smoked haddock flavour was almost overwhelming, but the braised leeks added a little taste of sweetness. Overall, it was a little too salty for my taste, but I did enjoy it.

Finally we shared a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and cream. It was rich, decadent and amazing.

Greens is a lovely little place for an evening meal, especially if you catch their evening set menu of two courses for £17.95 or three courses for £23.95, Monday to Thursday.

Greens Restaurant. 25 Zetland Road, Bristol BS6 7AH.

Food, Travel

Las Vegas

On our whirlwind tour of California, we also managed to skip over the border into Nevada, and spend a couple of nights in Sin City – Las Vegas.

MGM Grand Las Vegas

We drove through the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which took about 5 hours and was filled with some incredible, expansive views of desert and mountains. When we got to Las Vegas, we dropped the hire car at the airport and got an Uber to our hotel, the MGM Grand.

If we were going to Vegas I wanted to get the full, vibrant, brash experience – and staying on the main strip at one of those massive hotels and casinos was essential. Nothing can quite prepare you for just the size of everything in Vegas; the MGM Grand has over 6,000 rooms, plus a sprawling casino with over 2,000 arcade games and slot machines. There’s also restaurants, shows and events, and an impressive pool complex – you could pretty much spend your whole trip inside the hotel.

However, for our first night we had a quick turn around and out to catch LA Lakers vs Golden State Warriors at the T Mobile arena. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a basketball game before, but despite watching from up in the heavens, the atmosphere was insane, and the game itself is so quick and skilled that it literally kept me on the edge of my seat.

La Salsa Cantina

Located in the depths of the Showcase Mall on The Strip, in a weird twilight, La Salsa Cantina offers probably one of the cheapest breakfasts in Las Vegas. If you’re there before midday, they have a $5 breakfast deal with eggs, bacon, tortilla and potatoes.

We however, decided to splash out on the breakfast quesadilla and the breakfast burrito.  It’s pretty much the definition of ‘cheap and cheerful’; a generous breakfast, lots of flavour, plus 99 cent Bloody Marys, what’s not to love?!

Las Salsa Cantina – 3785 S. Las Vegas Boulevard #1500, Las Vegas NV 89109

Las Vegas Strip

We started off after breakfast with a beer at the Sin City Brewing Company and a little shopping in the Miracle Mile shopping centre. Then we made our way back out to The Strip, and just wondered around all afternoon, taking in the pure excess of everything.

We checked out the flamingos at Flamingo Las Vegas, we had a drink in Caesars Palace, and we explored The Bellagio, before heading back to the MGM Grand.

Downtown Las Vegas

For our second night in Vegas, we decided to explore Downtown Las Vegas – here you can find some slightly smaller, and older, casinos such as El Cortez and the Fremont Street Experience, as well as amazing sushi.

Fremont Street is the highlight of Downtown Vegas, with the world’s largest video screen dazzling you from above, there were small stages with performers, as well as, of course, more casinos. It’s definitely worth venturing away from the main strip to explore downtown. 

Bocho Sushi, Las Vegas

One of the best meals for our entire trip, was the sushi at Bocho Sushi. We sat at the downstairs sushi bar, and ordered excessive amounts of food, it’s Vegas after all.

Starting off with 6 delightful beef gyozas ($7) and miso soup ($3), we followed up with a Spicy tuna roll ($6.50) and a California roll ($6).

We also tried one of their speciality rolls, Disco Inferno ($13) – spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, seared escolar, jalapeno, spicy mayo, spicy house sauce, eel sauce, with green onion and tobiko on top. Seriously, seriously, fiery and delicious.

Bocho Sushi – 124 S 6th St #150Las Vegas, NV89101

Find out more about our drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.