The Slow Cooker Recipe You Need This Winter

Hi, loves! I’ve shared this recipe (well, similar) before but I figured it needed to be brought back to your attention this Winter season. Matt and I quite literally started our year with this; he was working New Year’s Day so I prepped everything in the morning ready for him coming home, and it was such a great way to start the day! Minimal prep for this meal means it’s so easy to prepare and leave cooking whilst you’re busy during the day. Coming home from work when it’s cold and icy to a A CrockPot meal ready and waiting is one of the simple joys in life, and this one is so delicious, healthy and filling! The recipe could not be more simple and I’d say it takes maximum 10 – 15 minutes to prepare and throw everything together.

Spanish Chicken Stew

*This recipe makes around six large dinner servings and is easily refrigerated/freezer safe*

Ingredients:
– 500g chicken breast, diced
– 2 x large peppers
– 1 x large onion
– 8 x celery stalks (approx)
– 15 x plum tomatoes (approx)
– Chicken Tonight Spanish sauce (to save time) OR 600g x passata, 2 x tbsp olive oil, 3 x small chilis – blended in Nutribullet to create sauce
– salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, paprika, garlic seasoning to taste
– rice/potatoes/salad to serve

Step by step:
1. Chop peppers, onion, celery stalks and tomatoes into small chunks. We tend to keep the celery and tomato quite large as they shrink so much whilst cooking.
2. Add your chicken to the CrockPot, seasoning with whatever you prefer.
3. Stir in vegetables, mixing together everything as you go.
4. Add a little more seasoning, and stir in to ensure everything is coated.
5. Pour over pre-made Chicken Tonight sauce or homemade sauce, and stir in. You don’t need to add water as celery has a huge water content, and the rest of the veggies are super juicy.
6. Cook on medium heat for 6 – 8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
7. Serve with whatever you’d like; we love to eat with salad, roasted sweet potatoes or whole-wheat rice!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this recipe inspired you to grab the ingredients during your next grocery shop and make this soon. Matt and I really want to step up our CrockPot meal game this year – thanks to a wonderful cookbook I got from Matt’s grandma this Christmas we have lots of inspiration! – so I’d love to share more CrockPot recipes with you, too. What’s your favourite easy CrockPot meal? Have you ever tried this recipe from my previous posts? Please let me know if you give it a whirl, and what you think!

-G x

Feelin’ It Friday

Hi, loves! I’m back with another #feelinitfriday and it feels so good to just sit down and write about my week. I didn’t post last week because Matt’s parents came home from their holiday last Thursday and we spent our whole evening catching up with them, we missed them so much and are so happy they’re back! After missing out on a week’s worth of chatting with you all, I have SO MUCH to say hahaha. I’m so thankful it’s Friday and I’m very excited for this weekend, Matt is finally off work (YAY!) and we have a great weekend planned. Today’s post is a long one, so grab your morning cuppa and settle in…

What I’m happy about:
Well we’ve had a great week so I’m generally happy, but I’m so very happy to have pretty gels again! I treated myself to a little trip to the salon after work last night and I’m so happy to have my gels back. I know it probably sounds a little crazy to some but it just makes me feel good about myself, it’s such a fun self care treat now and then. I chose lilac with silver glitter, because isn’t that just the prettiest combo for Summer?

What I’m proud of:
I’m so freaking proud of my boyfriend! I know I talk about him A LOT on the blog – he’s my better half, sorry not sorry – but I just really need to sing his praises right now. Last week he was given the opportunity to manage two stores (he already managed one) and he is so deserving of success! He works so dang hard every single day and doesn’t even realise how amazing he is. I’m so excited to treat him and celebrate in a few weeks; we’re trying to get a date in the diary to go up to Edinburgh for the day and I can’t wait! He deserves the world, I just love him so much 🙂

What I’m watching:
Matt and I are now on season five of Brooklyn 99 (which we’re SO sad about, we never want it to end!) so we’re trying to watch it a little more sparingly at the moment. We watched Katherine Ryan’s new Netflix show this week and we about died laughing, she is just so hilarious! We enjoyed her original Netflix stand up so much and thought it would be hard to beat but she did it. Last night we snuggled in to watch Stacey Dooley’s new documentary (any regular readers will know how much I love her) which was amazing, I’m so excited she’s back with new episodes!

What I’m excited about:
Speaking of watching TV… we now have a TV to watch our shows again! Our old TV stopped working so we’ve been watching Netflix, Sky etc on my MacBook for the longest time, which worked fine and we had honestly got used to it. Then yesterday my mum and dad bought us a TV! We’re so grateful to them, they’re seriously so good to us. Doesn’t it look so cute with the little Diptyque candle? I never burn my fancy candles because they are the prettiest decor pieces! It’s only a small TV because it has to fit in the teeny space in the built-in wardrobes (that I designed when I was 14 and didn’t really know what I would want in the future haha) but it’s such good quality and it was SO nice to snuggle up in bed watching TV, instead of the laptop last night. We also will be able to take this TV when buy our house to use in our kitchen/spare room or something, so it’s super exciting to think about that for next year.

What I’m buying:
Autumn candles!!! I placed an order for my FAVOURITE Autumn candle (Leaves by Bath & Body Works) on Wednesday and I literally can’t wait for it to get here, I hope it arrives today! I probably buy at least five every year because Matt and I love the scent so much, it’s literally Autumn in a jar and it just makes me happy. I’ll be burning it the second it arrives in the post, and probably ordering a ton more. I’m really waiting for TK Maxx and Yankee Candle to launch their Autumn ranges for this year to pick up some more because the rainy, cold weather has truly got me in the Autumn spirit.

What I’m celebrating:
My (not so) little brother turned 21 this week! He may now legally be able to drink in the US but he’s always going to seem 12 to me, hahaha. We celebrated on his birthday, and we’re all going for a family meal this weekend in Morpeth; we had to fix a date that worked with Matt’s shifts and because he’s off all weekend it worked out perfectly. I can’t wait to eat Italian food and drink lots of gin with my favourite people!

What I’m eating:
This is super random but I’m kinda obsessed with these hummus chips, they’re so yummy!! They’re filling and tasty, and I’ve eaten SO many packets in the past few weeks without getting bored. I’ve only seen the smaller bags in the Co-Op (my favourite shop) but you can also buy huge bags at any supermarket. Of course Matt and I have been making delicious dinners each evening as always. We always sit down to eat dinner together no matter what time it is; Matt works until 9pm at least twice per week and I make dinner for him coming through the door. We really loved the steak stir fry I made on Sunday, it’s so freaking easy and I whipped it up in less than ten minutes whilst Matt was finishing up a little work. I picked up this stir fry pack and it was so good, we’ll definitely buy it again! Also, a little trick to make your stir fry taste better; use sesame oil. We get this one but I’m sure they all taste the same!

What I’ve been up to this week:
Matt and I have both been working every day as per usual, and we’ve been super busy during our evenings too. On Tuesday we celebrated Robert’s birthday so we relaxed and enjoyed being with family, but we’ve just been 100 miles per hour every other day, as always. I’ve also been spending a lot of time doing things for my blog, decluttering the heck out of the wardrobes (a LONG post will be coming on that soon!) and running errands, it’s just felt so busy. Matt and I have savoured every second of quiet time together, and we can’t wait to relax a little this weekend.

What I’m up to this weekend:
Speaking of which… we have such a fun weekend planned I can barely stand it! Tonight we’re finally going to watch The Lion King (and, you know, get popcorn and Tango ice blasts because that’s what date nights at the movies are all about. It’s tradition guys!) Tomorrow we’re sleeping in then going fruit picking at a local farm and exploring the nearby town, then we’ll be heading back to freshen up because we’re going out for my brother’s birthday meal. Sunday is a little up in the air right now but we know we’re going for breakfast at the beach – our favourite Sunday morning tradition – and then Matt may be playing golf in the afternoon. If he is I’ll work on my blog, we’re going for a run, then we so badly want a cosy evening in the house eating Indian food and watching Netflix! I’m thinking about recording another Weekend In My Life for this weekend because it’s been a while since my last one, please let me know what you think?!

What I’m reading:
Okay I just started a new book, but this week I finished reading After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and oh my gosh I was a MESS through the whole thing! I literally cried through the first thirty pages, then throughout the book I kept tearing up (and sometimes full on sobbing) because the story was written so amazingly well. I said back in May that Forever, Interrupted was the best book I’ve ever read, and this one is up there too! I highly recommend picking this up – it was so raw and honest and heartbreaking, but also filled with hope and love and joy. I said the same after reading Forever, Interrupted but it totally made me appreciate what Matt and I have even more, we’re so lucky to have found each other and I never want to take that for granted, even for a second!

What I’m listening to:
Of course I’m listening to Shagged, Married, Annoyed because I’m forever obsessed with Rosie and Chris Ramsey. No joke. I have also been listening to another podcast that I’ve just discovered (I feel like I’m cheating on SMA…) called Outspoken Beauty. If you’re into beauty blogs and vlogs this is the podcast for you; it’s like having a conversation with a friend and I’ve already laughed and learned so much! I’m just waiting for the day Shay makes a podcast because I just aspire to be her… pretty please?

What else is new:
I very briefly mentioned this in Wednesday’s post and a little bit in this one, but I’ve started doing the Couch To 5k! I was NOT planning to start, and it was so random – Matt thought I’d had an out of body experience I’m sure, hahaha. I was super inspired after watching Jade’s vlog, downloaded the app and just went out running! I’ve done two runs now, so I’ve almost completed my first week and I’m actually excited about starting the new week. I really found my first two runs challenging because I am not a runner, but I’m so excited to see how I get on with it. I don’t talk about this often on my blog but I have arthritis which affects my knees and hips the most, so I’m not sure how this will work out. I’m not putting any pressure on myself, I just want to enjoy it for as long as I can and see what happens!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you all have the most wonderful weekends and please let me know if you’d like me to record a Weekend In My Life? Now Matt’s still snoozing in bed (he’s off work today) and I’m heading to work, but there’s eight little hours between me and the weekend… let’s do this! Also, I decided to end today’s post with three of my favourite posts of the week, please go check them out and leave the girls lovely comments 🙂
What Up Wednesday-ish – Savannah is back!! She took a few days off for holiday (and was unfortunately poorly) but she is BACK. She’s my all time favourite blogger and I genuinely feel like I know her, her posts are always my go-to… please go send her all of the love and good wishes to be better!
July’s Feelings & Favourites – Chloe writes so beautifully, all of her posts are from the heart and I’m so excited she’s writing more about her personal life, those kind of posts always grab my attention more!
Summer Glow Getters – Gemma takes THE most beautiful photos in every post and this is no exception, all of these products are dreamy and I’ve added a few to my shopping list, she’s so informative about the products in this post.

-G x

Meal Planning: The How’s And Why’s

Hi, loves!

Meal planning is a huge part of Matt and I’s week, and it’s something we now do every week without fail. I love routine, I love organisation and I love being able to do things in a quick and effective way. Matt isn’t as fussed, but what we’re having for dinner each night is something I had always made the decisions on, because Matt is super indecisive! Now, through changing our habits and meal planning, this makes it a joint decision for both of us. I’ve mentioned meal planning many times on the blog, and been asked lots of times for recipe ideas and why we do it. I’d love to share a week’s worth of dinner recipe ideas, so that will definitely be up in the blog in the next month or so. Today I’m focusing on the how’s and why’s of meal planning for us, and asking some of the questions I see popping up over and over again. Is it actually beneficial to our lives? Should you be doing it? What does it even mean?

What is meal planning?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but meal planning is literally to plan – usually for the week ahead – the meals you (and your partner/family) will be eating. Some people do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however Matt and I only really focus on breakfast for Matt (I generally eat at work), dinner for both of us with leftovers for lunch the following day and healthy snacks/desserts. I’m not really a baker at all, but I made this banana bread last week before I picked Matt up from a night out with the boys and it was so good! Also, no bake desserts are great, and they’re super quick and easy when your evenings are busy.

How do you do it?
On a Sunday, Matt and I sit down for twenty minutes to talk about what we want to make the following week, and plan our shopping list(s). We look at Matt’s shifts as this has an impact on what we make; on the days he works until 9pm I make dinner ready for him coming home, so we tend to go for meals that go in the oven and can be timed perfectly (for example, cod and roasted vegetables or a good ol’ pasta bake). I make a list in the Notes app on my phone of what meal we’ll make each evening, writing underneath all of the ingredients required to make the meal. I don’t include items like sauces or spices which we use in every meal as we already have those, although if I had to re-purchase something during my shop that week then I’d write them down too. Miscellaneous items like almond milk, protein bars and bread are bought every week, so I keep a generic shopping list I buy from too. I love that I can tick off the lists as I go through my shop, and have even started writing in the order that I’d walk around the shop, that’s dedication LOL. I grocery shop twice per week, sometimes a third time if we’ve ran out of anything, and I can get round the store in fifteen minutes or less every time.

Does it save you money and/or time?
YES. As we plan ahead and have a shopping list, I literally buy to the shopping list. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sneaky bag of Haribo or Cadbury’s buttons will find their way into the trolley – I’ve no idea how – but most of the time I stick to our list. I tend to do almost all of our grocery shopping as it just works easier that way, and I enjoy buying based on a list as it saves so much time. It also cuts out any extra deliberations in store where I ring Matt and say “is X okay for dinner tonight? What do you fancy for tomorrow?” I also have the flexibility to go to more than one supermarket when I can, as I know what I need to get and we prefer certain items from certain places. Aldi and Lidl are great for freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and they also have great deals on pasta, spices and yoghurts. When it comes to chicken and meat, we always buy from Asda as I feel you get more for your money there, and we buy specific branded things like rice, almond milk, frozen goodies, and sauces there too. To be honest, I generally do most of our shopping at Asda as it’s nearby work, but I should get better at buying from various stores. However if we’re ever having a cheat night and eating rubbish, we love the Taste The Difference flatbread pizzas from Sainsbury’s (with a tub of Halo Top or Alpro ice cream thrown in, obviously)!

How do you get your ideas for recipes?
This has built up over a long time of trial and error of trying out new foods, as we now have our own little (mental) portfolio of go-to meals we love. We don’t eat much red meat and it’s something we’re actively trying to cut down on, and we generally favour chicken or fish dishes if we’re not eating vegetarian. When we’re not cooking a tried and tested favourite and want to try something new, I firstly look through our three favourite cookbooks. Our go-to’s are Pinch Of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, A Year Of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw and Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo. Whether we follow the exact ingredients and method, or take inspiration to create something else I can almost always find something that looks good. If nothing was to take our fancy from those cookbooks we’d then look online at BBC Good Food, Pinterest, Tesco Real Food and of course, social media.

Do you find it easy?
I really do, and I would advise anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, to just try it. It took us a long time to start cooking with fresh ingredients, and we were regulars at M&S Food Hall for their dine in for two offer (we ate those almost every night!) for our first year of being together, but now that’s definitely a treat and something we do on the nights we really have no time. We didn’t know how to cook at all prior to last Summer, so we’re self taught (well, with the help of Matt’s lovely mum). I hear people say all the time “I don’t know how to cook” but honestly you just have to give it a whirl and practice lots, it gets easier and now we love every aspect of it. After we got the methods down, it took us a little time to tweak how we do things each week, but after a little trial and error it works perfectly for us. We’ve also been eating way healthier since we took meal planning seriously, as it’s developed a new interest in creating new meals, and we’re forever trying new things. I’m very interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and Matt’s on board to try whatever I want to try too, which is great! We’re thinking of eating vegetarian only for a week, pretty much just to see if we can do it, and if we do I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it with you on the blog.

Does it work every week?
Yes, for us it really does. We look at the week ahead, so if we’re heading out for date night on Friday we know we don’t need to buy anything for that night, or if we have plans with friends on the Saturday we’ll more than likely grab something when we’re out. If Matt’s out for the evening with the boys I also take great pleasure in having a kid’s tea before I go pick him up (Quorn crispy nuggets, Strong Roots spinach bites and a whole lot of this amazing BBQ sauce, if you’re interested) and those are the kinds of food we always make sure to have in the freezer, and I replace without fail on an almost weekly basis (especially those spinach bites, we literally eat them with almost every meal HA). The best part of meal planning is that it works around your life and your schedule, and it’s very flexible as a result. You could definitely just do one shop per week but we buy so many fresh vegetables and fruit it means by the end of the week items are out of date or just not as good as they should be, so I’d rather not waste food and just go to the supermarket two or three times per week.

I hope this post was informative and helped in some way! I love seeing what people eat for dinner, and what must-have recipe they recommend to others. I can’t wait to share with you a week’s worth of dinners for Matt and I. If you’re wanting to get a start on meal planning, I’d really recommend the three cookbooks photographed/linked in this post! Do you meal plan? Do you have any extra tips that may help me or my readers?!

-G x