Monday, 20 April 2015

Monday Catch Up

Hello there my lovelies!

How was everyone's weekend? Full of fun and food I hope! I got up to quite a bit this weekend, and fancied doing a chatty post, so the Monday Catch Up has been born.

Rich was away this weekend mountain biking with some friends from home, so I had the whole weekend to myself, which is the first one since he's been back from his last work trip. I don't know if other people ever feel like this when their partners work away a lot, but after a while of them being around you really look forward to the odd weekend when they're not around. That probably sounds worse than it is, sorry Rich!

So, on Saturday I headed into York with some of the people from work to finally have a go at one of the escape the room challenges which have been popping up everywhere. In case you're not all that aware of them, they're basically like a room out of the Crystal Maze, you have to solve the clues to get out of the room, all within a time limit. We went to GR8escape York, which had 2 rooms, a spy school one, and a New York diamond one. I was in the group which did the spy school one, and it was fantastic. We were shown into the room, and told that our aim was to find the code to the safe, in which would be our spy school pass certificate and a doorbell to ring which would stop the clock. Sounds simple, right? Nope! As soon as the door shut we set to work ransacking the room looking for clues (in the style of Fun House, anyone remember that show?) and they seemed very cryptic.

I don't want to give too much away so I won't say what any of the actual clues were, but there were a few red herrings, once depicted by an actual plastic red herring falling out of a coat. We did very well until we neared the end, when we spent far too long over thinking the code to the safe. But, with just over a minute and a half to go, I input what we thought could be the code and the safe opened. It felt like such an achievement, we all cheered very loudly!

It was such a fun way to spend an hour on a Saturday that we're already thinking of going back, or trying one of the ones in Leeds. I think they can get a bit addictive.

Once we finished up and all escaped the room, we were very hungry, so to Bill's we went. I did a blog post before about their amazing breakfasts, so was eager to go again for a different meal. I had the crunchy kale leaf salad in the picture above, which I had with a chocolate brownie milkshake. Contrasting I know, super healthy salad with a very naughty drink, but they were both really yummy. The salad was unusual, but very filling and satisfying, in a "I just ate something really good for me" way. 

After filling our bellies, we did a lot of wandering around York, and I finished up the day by doing a huge food shop, because I knew that I wanted to do a lot of cooking on Sunday, to try out a few recipes and stock up my freezer. 

The first thing that I had on Sunday was chia seed and banana porridge, which was quite different from my standard golden syrup porridge that I've been eating every day for the last 3 years. I mashed the banana into my overnight oats recipe, along with a shot of chia seeds and then left it overnight in my fridge. When microwaved in the morning with a drizzle of honey, it transformed into this amazingly sweet, stodgy, creamy breakfast that kept me full for hours. Amazing. Also, a brilliant way to use up those soft bananas which you know will go completely brown if you attempt to take them into work.

For lunch I made The Londoner's Pad Thai Salad which turned out a lot better than I expected! I did kind of ruin my hands trying to julienne the carrot and cucumber, but it was so worth it. Apparently, when trying to julienne a cucumber it's best to start on the outside and work your way in, like how you peel something, not doing whatever cack-handed thing I was doing. It made a huge amount, so I took some of the leftovers into work for lunch today, and it kept very well.

For tea I made my biggest hit of the weekend, Deliciously Ella's Mushroom and Chickpea Stew. This was the first recipe of hers that I've tried, having only recently discovered her blog, but I am so impressed. The stew was perfectly thick, filling and flavoursome, and I think adding chorizo to it would make a meaty addition, in case you're not a fan of eating veggie. I wasn't prepared for how much of it the recipe would make though, as it made 8 portions! My tetris skills had to come in to fit it all into the fridge overnight.

I also tried cooking quinoa again, after briefly trying it a few years ago and not really liking it. Instead of following the pack instructions this time, I used the same quantities as Ella suggests and it made all the difference, it was perfectly fluffy, and we made egg fried quinoa out of the leftovers tonight which is now my new favourite food. In case you're not aware of quinoa, you pronounce it keen-wah, and it's a grain, but packed full of protein, so not as bad for you as pasta is, and as I'm trying to get more protein in my diet at the minute, it's perfect.

So, there's my weekend in a nutshell. Yep, it was mostly food based. I did watch If I Stay though, and cried, and did an awful lot of housework. It was #photoanhour yesterday, which I took part in, and where my food photos are from. There have been a few lately that I've forgotten to blog, so I'll do some sort of round up post of those soon.

I hope you haven't minded the very long chatty post, I just had a lot to say! 10 house points and a tip of my hat if you made it all the way to the end.

Rachel x

PS - Have you noticed my new website address? I now have a .com. Exciting!!!

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