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The Scrapbook: Giving it Gousto

 

Cooking is my solitude. When I've had a busy week, I cook. When I can't get my head round a shed load of worries, I cook. When nothing else will help relax me, I cook.

Usually I'm the kind of person that heads to the kitchen and throws together something with whatever's in the fridge and cupboards. Whilst it's kind of freeing to do that, sometimes you can find yourself in a bit of a rut, so when the team at Gousto asked me if I wanted to try out one of their recipe boxes my interested was definitely piqued. 

The box that arrived really impressed me. From the lean meat that arrived well packaged and cool, to the fragrant and fresh herbs and pastes, I couldn't wait to get cracking with one of the recipes.

Before I get into the recipe, here's five awesome things about the boxes:

  1. They give you all the ingredients you need, with really clear instructions
  2. The recipe cards tell you the time it will take to make the recipe 
  3. The cards include the nutritional value of the meal so you know what you're eating
  4. There's visual guides on the card to make it easy to see where you're up to
  5. The cards come hole punched so you can store them and reuse



Here's one of the recipes that I made from the box: Dean Edward's Chicken With Hasselbacks

Ingredients:

2 tbsp harissa
1 large chicken breast
1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1 spring onion
400g sweet potatoes
15g root ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
120g couscous


Recipe

The Potatoes


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees/Gas 7. Cut the sweet potatoes in half length ways and sit them skin side up. Cut narrow slices into the skin but not all the way down to the base.
  2. Mix the cumin with 2tbsp olive oil in the bottom of an oven proof dish. Rub the potatoes into the cumin oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the dish in the over and cook for an initial 35 minutes.

Meanwhile....


The Chicken
  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a bowl with the garlic, ginger, harissa paste and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Season.
  2. Slice your chicken breast in half length ways and then dip the escalopes into the marinade - leave for 15 minutes.

To finish off...

  1. Add the marinaded chicken on top of the potatoes and return to the over for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. 
  2. Add the couscous to a bowl with 200ml boiled water, cover and set aside for ten minutes, 
  3. Serve as per the below - with finely sliced spring onions and a wedge of lemon.



I'd definitely recommend checking Gousto out - they change their menus every two weeks, and the process is really easy. 

The Journal: An RnR kind of Weekend


This weekend has been the loveliest.

It was Col's birthday so I got us a room at The Palace Hotel in Manchester. When I lived in Manchester a few years ago, The Palace Hotel had always been a bit shabby, but it's had some extensive renovations of late and is so beautiful now! You can check it out here. Note: The bar in the hotel is an absolute rip off (£12 for two single spirits and mixers!) but the Crunchies and cold water as you check out kind of make up for it.


On the Thursday night we headed out to a couple of bars for a drinks as the night went along, but the place I was most looking forward to was El Gato Negro (The Black Cat) on Kings Street. With it being Col's birthday, we kind of got carried away with the food and didn't get any snaps of it - that man can inhale food, I tell you. However here's a delicious little cocktail that we had on the roof terrace later. The ambience of the restaurant is just perfect if you want delicious, high end food in a really relaxed environment. The top floor has a roof that they pull back to make the top floor into a roof terrace - I could have quite easily stayed there all night!


The Friday night was spent with Oscar and Col's parents, we had a family meal together which was fun. Then on Saturday our Gousto box had arrived which was super exciting! Col's parents are always cooking for us so it was nice to be able to cook for everyone. I've got a separate review coming on the box we got, but here's a sneak peak of the Gousto creation for the evening!


What did you get up to this weekend?

The Journal: 10 Reasons Why Living Alone Is Awesome


If you'd have asked me this time last year how I'd feel about living on my own, I would have curled up into a ball and rocked in a corner for a bit. As an only child for most of my childhood, I actually quite enjoy my own company, but living on my own sounded scary. Turns out, it's actually pretty awesome, and here's why:

You get really good at life admin

A term coined by my friend Niki, life admin is all the pants stuff in life that just has to be done - whether it be washing your bedding on cleaning your toilet. These mundane tasks won't do themselves. On the plus side, you get really, really good at them.

You can pretty much do whatever you want

Fancy sleeping in until 3pm and then eating ice cream for breakfast? Go ahead! Want to spend all weekend dancing in your pants to Westlife? Totally cool. You can do what (or who) you want, when you want. It's pretty awesome.

Clothes become irrelevant

Aforementioned dancing in pants comes into play here. You can literally wear whatever you want, which means if it's hot outside and you fancy being nuddy? Voila my friend, strip and be at peace, no one's going to see.

Your time is yours

This might seem like a given, but if you've got to stay late at work, you can. No guilt about missing dinner or leaving your significant other to watch GoT on their own. No worries about missing out on anything because you can do whatever you want with your time.

You can socialise when you want

Having a day where you hate all people? That's fine, because you can create a sofa cocoon and stay there for as long as you want! Want to be surrounded by people - also cool, because your space is yours and it's totally up to you who comes into it and when.

Dinner time is play time

Since I moved into my flat I've had some of the weirdest dinners. Pitta bread and mackerel anyone? May I can tempt you with oven chips and poached eggs? As long as you're full, who cares that dinnertime is sometimes like a small child has been let loose in a room full of lego?

Mess is your mess

Now I don't really like mess in my personal space. However, the thing I hate the most is cleaning up someone else's mess in my space. No people = no mess.

Sleep is undisturbed
There's no one to crawl into bed drunk, or stumbling to the loo and putting on the bathroom light in the early hours. Just eight hours of pure, undisturbed zeds.

Responsibility becomes the norm

Bills and rent all all that nonsense used to seem like a huge hassle, and was really confusing. Now it's a doddle. When you've got no choice but to sort stuff yourself, you get pretty good at it, quickly.

You learn to like your own company

As I said before, I actually quite like being on my own. However, it had been a while since I'd had prolonged periods of time on my own and not got bored. So I started to do new things and learn a lot about myself and what actually interests me. Turns out I actually quite like dancing in my pants,,,

The Journal: 2015 Year of Re-Discovery


2015. Even just attempting to sum up the year in one post is proving incredibly difficult but it's probably best started in this way: 2015 was a topsy turvy, insidey outy type of year.

After coming to the end of my long term relationship, I was faced with lots of change. A new place to live, more free time on my hands, more responsibility at work, more opportunities to meet new people. It's funny how big life changes give you two options - you either go with the flow, or you resist the change. I jumped in. Head first.

This summer has been full of travel, people, love. There's been so much going on that I decided to take 2015 for myself, to not put pressure on myself to keep up my blog but instead find out who I was, and where I was going. So Summer was full of fun things -  I went to Dublin for St Paddy's Day, I headed to Ibiza with the girls, I ploughed through Tinder and met a whole host of weird and wonderful people. I even met someone and had a little fling.

I've been very much living in the moment, taking stock of the situation every now and again but for the first time in years I've just bobbed about with the times. It's refreshing not having plans, just seeing what opportunities that come about. Here's some of my favourite things that happened in 2015 so far...


Family...

My family and I went to Bamburgh in Northumbria for a week for my dad's birthday. A week of small boys, a hyperactive dog and a beautiful beach house by the sea was just what was needed after a manic few months at work. It's such a calming place, and a super long walk on the beach with my dad was the perfect way to end the trip. My family are the single most important part of my life and who I am, this year has just reaffirmed that. Spending time with them has been a way to glue myself back together and remind myself about what is important.


Friends...

I'm pretty sure there's not a bar in Leeds I've not sunken way too many gins with this kid. I've never been the kid of gal to have a 'best friend' but when I met Phoebe, it felt like fate. We gelled instantly, and I've loved the way we've experienced the highs and lows of single (and slightly attached) life together this year.


Work...

I've given everything to my job this year. I was determined to get to where I wanted to be, and living on the doorstep of work meant that I could really push myself and try and fast track myself to where I wanted to be. I feel so passionate about what I do, but the chance to get a promotion and make proper friendships with people I work with has been one of the most important parts of 2015.

What's been your highlights so far?


The Journal: Possibilitarian


Life is a challenge. On a daily basis I'm faced with some many factors that challenge my positivity, some days its my own mind that I struggle to stay chipper with. However, the other day I came across the quote above. 

It hit a nerve. So many people comment on my general mood; friends, work colleagues always comment on how I manage to be positive and give most things a good spin, but it's not easy

It's a series of small habits that get me from day to day, I've found that over the last year I've had to consciously rebuild the way I see the world...

Cultivating a positive environment

People either drain you, or they build you up. Whilst we sometimes can't avoid people who always see the darkness, we can choose who and what fills the majority of our head space. It's not always people that influence us - even the sources of information we surround ourselves with can drag us down.

Taking Stock

Stress builds itself up. Taking a little longer to think, talk, moving around from day to day might seem like a hassle to begin with but it also means negative thoughts and the stress of rushing to fit everything in diminishes over time. 

Adding value to someone else's life

It sounds cliché, doesn't it? Making someone else happy or improving their day to day doesn't need to be something complex. Something as simple as sending a song that will cheer someone up can surprisingly make your self worth increase.

At the end of the day, it isn't easy to see possibility in every moment of the day, but its surprising how easily it becomes part of your everyday when you introduce small snippets of positivity here and there.


The Beauty Box: Neal's Yard Rose Facial Oil


Even though I have dry skin, I've always been put off using facial oils for fear that they'd leave me feeling greasy. There's always the worry that oils are too heavy or rich for my skin as it can be super sensitive. However, this little wonder product was a gift for my birthday and its safe to say a must-have product if you have dry skin.


As it's a Neal's Yard product, I automatically have high expectations. The price tag and quality of every product I've tried from them (slowly making my way through every range) is never anything less than spectacular.

This facial oil is no different. It absorbs really quickly, and rather than old grandma's rose perfume, it has a fresh, floral scent. As a natural product, it's not crammed with loads of nasty perfumes meaning it does the job it's meant to - moisturising!

After a couple of months using this oil, a couple of drops massaged into the skin after cleansing, I've noticed a really substantial difference in the moisture and overall balance of my skin tone. I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you're looking for something easy to use and simple to shake up your skin routine.

You can get it for £20, here on the Neal's Yard website. You get 30ml in a bottle which is loads, considering you only need a couple of drops per time! 

Do you use facial oils? Do you have any recommendations of others to check out?