Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer sign off....but you can still find me.....



As the rain drops race down the window I wonder what the summer holidays have to hold! It's always with a certain amount of trepidation for me at this time, as my space is hijacked by my two delicious monkeys!

I've noticed especially with having the work done on the house that being amongst chaos almost creates an excuse to get drawn into the eye of the storm and be a human do-ing, rather than be-ing.  I have some goals for the summer....one being to enjoy the time with my kids and when needed and possible, to take a break for me so I will be more effective with them.  But also to do some things that fill me with joy and make me feel glad to be alive; And ultimately if I keep my cup well topped up, I will be able to keep giving!

As far as the Fuss Free Foodie is concerned, I will be hanging up the blog... just for the summer and using this time to work on the website, so that it will be ready for launch late Autumn. I still plan to be extremely present in the FFF community, swapping ideas on what's seasonal and what I am cooking, shopping or eating and also posting up progress with the kitchen and hints to some of the other projects I'm working on, on the FFF Facebook page.  So I hope you will keep loving, liking and commenting, as I love to hear your thoughts!

In the Autumn I hope to spread the Fuss Free word even more and will be looking for a crack team of sharers...so if a post or thread resonates with you and you think it will interest your friends, I'd love it if you'd remember to share it with your friends too, as this will help our reach grow.  Just a couple of shares a week means a post will reach several thousands of people!

Wishing you all an awesome summer, and please keep posting up your creations and places you are loving to eat for all of us to see, wherever you are! 

Lisa 💕💗💝

Love Instagram? I'm posting things there too!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto salad

This week was like bumping into an ex but knowing that it was going to happen as I travelled back to a city where I had a whole other life. If Cardiff was an ex we didn't finish on good terms, in fact, the split was messy and caused some heart ache, which was a shame as we had some great times together!

This is all about my trip to see Coldplay this week, and it seemed I had something in common with the band, as they hadn't played a gig in Wales for 17 years, which is when I last visited properly too. 

In the build up to the gig I was acutely aware that there were some strong memories, almost mental photographs of places in the city that needed healing, as they still held some charge within me when I contemplated them.  In fact, I recognised that I had closed off from those parts of myself, as if I felt I couldn't relate to the person I was then and how she ran her life.

We were young and carefree and my lifestyle then on the surface, couldn't have been any more different to now. I'm not even sure I enjoyed it all the time but I seemed to be a rebel with a dancing cause! With superficial enjoyment, I often felt disconnected from the crew that I hung out with and the majority didn't feel like true friends. 

On reflection part of my sadness was that I didn't fully appreciate what Cardiff had to offer and that it was a missed opportunity; Despite this, the path I took was the one I was supposed to take. These photographic memories of heartache and joy had actual locations, and unknowingly I actually passed through these exact places, which felt like a changing of the guard from feeling empty to healed. I mean the chances of being sent to the wrong gate which lead me to see one place....the universe is funny like that! 

So I was there to see a band who had become the soundtrack to my life in those subsequent years of living in Cardiff. Sipping Pu'erh tea (very grounding you know, after all those years with my head in the clouds) opposite a nicknack shop called Rebel! And you know, it's funny that I didn't associate so much with the rebel me from back then, as she was dared to be different but now I feel that I'm not that different.... I'm just harnessing that inner rebel to be different in my mainstream foodie world! 

This lovely salad is one I made to take in the car to Cardiff, and was heartily enjoyed on the way to Wales, so I thought I would share it with you. Please remember if you enjoy the Fuss Free Foodie to share any posts that resonate with you with your friends, as I hope to build our following and community, and this happen with your help! So loves and likes will help us grow and help people know what the FFF is all about! (In fact today at City Hall someone knew me because he'd seen his friends like the FFF!)

Have a great weekend Lisa 💕

Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto salad

  • 3 figs
  • 1 ball mozzarella
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • 3-4 handfuls rocket or mixed leaves
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp blackberry vinegar (red wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Place the leaves over a large serving plate.
  2. Pull the tough stalk off the top of the fig. Then tear the fig into pieces and place over the leaves.
  3. Drain the mozzarella and tear into small pieces and place around the plate, and do the same with the prosciutto, tucking it in amongst the other ingredients. 
  4. In a jam jar mix the olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and shake.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
  6. This is a surprising good dish to eat in a car on the way to a Coldplay concert 😀

Join the FFF community where we inspire each other to cook here or follow my week on the FFF page here.  The new website should be here in the late Autumn!!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Sexy summer salads



I was never a fan of Star Trek, but I have to agree with The Borg that resistance is futile, as resistance can be the compass that steers us to our souls true purpose. Let me explain further.....

A week ago I was invited to be a part of a kitchen demo at St Nicks market in central Bristol.  Exciting! And this was literally my initial emotion and feeling as it's exactly where I want to be taking the Fuss Free Foodie. 

However. The next feelings that came about were fear and self doubt. Feeling overwhelmed with the work going on at home and challenges with the children had left me feeling like maybe this wasn't the right thing for me right now. Timing just wasn't right.

I had a few days to commit to the slot, and I sought counsel in friends who know me.  As one rightly said, I was just dealing with fear. And I acknowledged and recognised this. Another, stripped away my rationalisations. If your weren't overwhelmed with your kitchen and the kids would you pass up this opportunity? Of course, I wouldn't, I'd be saying yes straight away. I quickly fired off an email to say I'd do it.

And here's the thing. I listened to an interview with author of the War of Art, a couple of months ago and he talks of resistance being the very thing that stops us being the person we are meant to be. That the actions that fill us with the deepest terror ARE the very things that we should be doing. Layers of conditioning, fears of failure, success and external judgements are what stop us from being internally directed. 

I realised that this was what I was doing. The very thing I was resisting was what I needed to be moving towards, as it was closest to moving towards where I want to be. By listening to my own rationalisations I would have sabotaged this. As in the words of Steven Pressfield, our only job is to be the person who we already are. So when you feel resistance come knocking, don't fight it, run towards it with open arms! You are right on course to getting out of your own way to find your true calling. 

Let me know what you think to this weeks blog in the thread on the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook page or in the Fuss Free Foodie community, about the callings you are following or ones that you aspire to. If you would like to follow more daily what the Fuss Free Foodie is up to you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter too. Lisa 💓💓

Caerphilly cheese, cherry and walnut salad


  • Handful and a half cherries, pitted
  • Handful of walnuts (or pistachios) broken up
  • 100g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled
  • Bag of mixed leaves, rocket or spinach leaves
Dressing:
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper
  1. To make the dressing place all the ingredients in a jam jar and shake.
  2. On a serving plate lay your leaves onto the plate and tear the cherries and lay on top. 
  3. Drizzle over about half of the dressing and then sprinkle over the walnuts and Caerphilly cheese.
  4. Serve with some lovely bread or alongside an awesome BBQ.


Pesto cougetti salad with feta and almonds


  • 3 medium sized courgettes, made into strips with a veg peeler, julienner or spiralizer
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved if large
  • 3 tbsp high quality pesto
  • 100g sheeps cheese or feta
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Handful of almonds, roughly chopped (or walnuts would work too)
  • Half a lemon or tsp of white wine vinegar. 
  1. Take your courgettes and make the courgetti using whichever tool you have. If you don't have one, just use a veg peeler to make long ribbons. 
  2. Add the courgettes to a bowl, along with the parsley and tomatoes. Then add the pesto and stir through so they are all coated. Season with salt, pepper and add the lemon or vinegar. Stir again and taste for the seasoning. 
  3. Place the salad on a serving plate and sprinkle over the nuts and cheese.
  4. This is a great salad to eat in its own rite, or with a piece of grilled chicken, or even a piece of salmon. Some people don't enjoy fish and cheese, so you could leave the cheese out if serving with fish. 


Friday, 30 June 2017

Kitchen disasters....

I'm not perfect but I get stuff done.  I set goals; More often than not, I accomplish what I set my mind to and to a good enough standard.  So my psyche during this building project is that nothing much needs to change. Wrong.

I have always had a lot of irons in the fire as it were, even before we started this life changing renovation!  With an allotment, 2 kids, 1 husband (with own business), and a dream to build the Fuss Free Foodie brand and not to mention the daily grind of food, clothes and school stuff. There's plenty going on like most families.

So whilst we are actually cooking on the two ring hot plate this week, dabbling with the slow cooker and pinging the microwave where possible, my inner cook is still fighting to get out! Upon picking blackcurrants and strawberries this week at the allotment, my instinct was....make jam. I have had many kind offers of borrowing kitchens, and with my neighbour away and with her blessing to use her kitchen, I thought... let's do this.

But amidst all the other things I am trying to focus on at home deep down I felt this was something I 'should' be doing rather than something I wanted to do in the circumstances.  As with most things that you embark on without the right mindset they never quite work as planned!  The jam wasn't setting as quick as I'd hoped, one boiled over and then I have 2 pans of semi cooked jam to deal with.

First of all I felt like a failure. I'm the one who' s supposed to make it look easy! Then I felt overwhelm at the prospect of dealing with this and my growing list of 'to do's'.  Reality check needed. If I didn't do anything with the jam....is it the end of the world? And when a friend asks the same, I thought it's no big deal and to know when to stop is the learn.  Once I made this decision, life felt a lot lighter! And I thought as readers you would appreciate hearing that yes, even I, can lose the will to live when it comes to cooking sometimes!

So when the fog cleared, I thought I would blitz the blackcurrant 'jam' smooth, pour it into some of the elderflower cordial bottles and use it as ice cream sauce, and freeze some for going into prosecco.  And actually once allowed to cool down the strawberry jam was slightly looser consistency, but fine as it was! So not a total washout 😜!

So if you fancy picking some soft fruits at a local farm or have some growing at home, there are many cool things that are fuss free that you can do with them! Enjoying them in their simplest form with cream and meringues, or with ice cream is great....but if you do fancy having a go at making some jam.....


Strawberry Jam

  • 450g strawberries 
  • 400g sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. If the strawberries are large, chop them into smaller pieces
  2. In a large pan, cover the strawberries in the sugar and leave over night or an hour to soak in. 
  3. Bring the heat up and simmer the strawberries until hot and then add the lemon juice.
  4. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.*1
  5. Then spoon into sterilised jars.*2
Fuss Free Skills!

(*1) To tell whether the jam is at setting point, spoon a little of the marmalade onto a cold saucer that has been left in the freezer. Allow the jam to cool on the plate.  If the preserve is set it should wrinkle when pushed with your finger.  If it wrinkles only slightly, and boil and re-test in 1-2 minutes until it wrinkles. 

(*2) To prepare your jars, either wash the jars and lids, and place them on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes at 100℃, blitz in the microwave for 45 seconds or simmer them in a pan of boiling water for ten minutes, or put them through the dishwasher before use.

Have you got a favourite jam you like to make? Post it under the blog thread in the Fuss Free Foodie Community or FB page! Lisa 💓


Friday, 23 June 2017

Short, sweet and not a lot to eat!

The heart of our house for me is the kitchen, and this week it has felt like this integral life giving element has stopped beating!

It's been a roller coaster it has to be said. Even though this is an agreed action to pay someone to demolish part of our house it has saddened me to hear the builders knocking walls out.  And yes we are going to have this fabulous 'new' kitchen/dining area; But it made me wonder why at such an exciting time does the emotion come despite the promise of something so great?

We've lived here for 13 years and the 'old' house is a back drop for many memories. Sitting in front of the fire in bewilderment as new parents, scuffed noses from falling down the patio steps, bump watch and a surprise 40th for Chris where he stood in shock with all friends gathered, hiding in the kitchen to name just a few! 

It's also made me realise how much time I spend in my kitchen; Prepping, cooking, writing....and I love the light that comes through the windows and the space I have to work on.  Now my makeshift kitchen has no daylight and room for 1 chopping board!  It makes me appreciate how in some parts of the world this amount of kitchen space is the norm. 

It's certainly made me think that the space you cook in needs to be one that feels right to you and one that you want to spend time in. I am finding I am putting music on to make my makeshift kitchen 'feel' better and keeping the gin bottle within good reach!! If you are someone who doesn't enjoy cooking or hanging out in the kitchen, what could you do to make it more appealing to you?  A special picture, more tunes....it's worth considering adding tweaks to enhance your enjoyment of your kitchen space.

So I have only cooked one meal in the 'field' kitchen on a 2 ring hotplate, and it went well enough.  But I have to be honest I'm going to have to embrace it more next week and get myself cooking for friends! So I hope you'll follow how we get on over the next 6 weeks or so. I'm posting 'story' updates regularly on Instagram, and doing a Facebook Live from the Fuss Free Foodie Page once a week along with other bits and pieces along the way!

Remember to keep loving and liking the Fuss Free Foodie to keep me in your feed and feed me the love! 💓💓 Lisa x







Friday, 16 June 2017

Chicken, bacon and avocado salad with maple mustard dressing



A change is as good as a rest they say. That should be prefixed with *unless that comes with a crew of builders and heavy machinery! So if my latest life endeavours aren't going to bring me rest, then I wonder what will it bring? {I know, I know...a new kitchen.....!)

So the day came yesterday when the work on the house finally started, to extend our dining room and knock through to the kitchen.  And to be fair there was a part of me (for 24hrs at least) that was excited for the talk to turn to action! But I know myself, and adapting to 'change' isn't necessarily one of my strong points, so I guess with this, brings opportunity! 

Change can mean modification and we will be certainly be making plenty of those to our home; But change can also mean a shift and when things shift this can make way for new openings to occur. So over the next few months, I'm not entirely sure where the ideas for cooking and writing are going to come from as my little vantage point where I enjoy writing from and my kitchen will be non existent by next week. 



But I feel that actually the blog may be more of a continuum and not necessarily conclusive each week. As people offer support and space to me, I will for sure be inspired by things that I haven't imagined.  And to be fair this week has been a bit of a mental haze!! But as I work from my new bolt hole this afternoon at The Chiron Centre, I can already feel many great things could be on offer! I hope you will join me on the journey and see where it will go, and that you'll enjoy the most fuss free cooking of all!

If you fancy following our progress, I'm adding stories on Instagram and photos on the Fuss Free Foodie FB page ....so remember to come and join us there if you aren't already! Wish us luck!  Lisa 💕

Chicken, bacon and avocado salad with maple mustard dressing

Serves 2 (easily doubled to serve 4!)

Salad


  • 150g leftover roast chicken meat or 2 small chicken breast
  • 3 bacon rashers, cooked crispy, roughly chopped or torn
  • 100g mixed lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into thin half moons (or 6 spring onions, chopped)
  • 150g tomatoes, diced
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced (cut in half, remove the stone, quarter, scoop out the flesh and chop)
  • 4 tbsp sweetcorn


1. If using chicken leftover from a roast dinner, pick all the meat off the bones and set the carcass aside to make some stock or pop in the freezer until you are ready to. Go to step 3.
2. If you are using a chicken breast, flatten it out so that it is about 1cm thick all over.  Do this by laying the chicken in cling film on a chopping board and wacking it with a rolling pin! Then rub the chicken in a little oil, season and either grill, fry or cook on the BBQ.
3. Assemble the salad. Share the salad leaves between two plates. Sprinkle over the red onions, sweetcorn and avocado. Add the chicken and bacon.


Dressing

Make in a jam jar. Double up if you fancy having some leftover for another day...it tastes so good!!

  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or best salad oil
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Twist of salt and pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake! And pour over your lovely salad!

This is a classic recipe for using up what you have, so don't let not having one ingredient stop you giving it a go, substitute for what you have! Remember to let us know if you give the recipe a try in the comments below or on social media! Lisa 👇👇👇👇👇

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Risotto style rice and peas with salmon.



If food made with love tastes better, then surely a world filled with love would be more palatable too. In times when there are such displays of hate, it feels even more important to hold love in our hearts on a daily basis so that this echoes out to the world and we all resonate with the vibration of love. 

Last weekend saw the One Love concert for those taken in Manchester and artists talked of healing the world with love.  This has been long spoken of by pop legends like Micheal Jackson and The Beatles back in the day saying 'Love is all you need'. This is by no means a new concept, but one we still seem to struggle with.

As with everything it starts with ourselves.  Do we love ourselves? Do we take the time and care to give ourselves what we need.  Do we even create a space to hear our hearts desires? It's so easy in modern day society to do what we feel we 'should' do or to conform to the norm and do what everyone else is doing, even if deep down we may feel we are destined for something else. 

Day after day we embroil ourselves in things outside of ourselves like social media, 24/7 news, our businesses and our children. But what if we listen to our own hearts? We've all been in that situation when we have said yes to something we didn't want to do, which is saying no to ourselves.  It doesn't feel right.  It's not hearing what we need. Our hearts can give us the answers. When we listen and love ourselves we are in a far better position to be able to love and support others.  Just imagine a world where everyone did this.  

Food in Italy is often talked about being a 'labour of love'. Italian Nonnas who rule their kitchens with a rolling pin and a will of steel, who would spend all day preparing the meal for the family. Now as much as this is in my DNA and I love spending time cooking in my kitchen, I appreciate that this is not the act of love that most people choose or are able to display.  But this aside most people get huge amounts of joy and pleasure by eating delicious food.  

Risotto for me is one of those dishes.  BC (before children!) it was easy to stand stirring a risotto until the rice grain reached a prefect balance of al dente without being chalky!  But today the likelihood of being needed to referee a boxing match or a tablet tug of war means I need to be less tied to the stove. So I was really pleased that this recipe fits the fuss free criteria with labour of love results!!

So as my Italian ancestors turn in their graves, I wanted to share with you this awesome weeknight dinner, that needs just an occasional stir.  To make it more filling I added a piece of salmon and if you wanted to make it more filling for a vegetarian, you could add some grilled asparagus on the top and use a Parmesan alternative.**

Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook your tweaks....you could easily use this fuss free base for your favourite risotto recipe. So please remember to give a little like, share or comment to keep the FFF in your feed and spread the fuss free love! 

If you'd like to catch up on my videos to date, take a look on the Fuss Free Foodie FB page or subscribe to my channel on YOUTUBE. I also post more of what's going on in my week in pictures on Instagram.  Lisa 💞💕💗💖💓

Risotto style rice with peas and salmon 



Serves 3-4
  • 75-100g onion, diced
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g risotto rice (arborio is less likely to overcook!)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 400g frozen peas (or fresh if you prefer!!)
  • 1L vegetable, chicken  or ham stock, hot
  • Salt and pepper
Optional Extras: 100g of salmon or chicken breast, bundle of asparagus, handful of rocket
  1. Add 1/2 the butter and olive oil to a large saucepan on a medium heat. Once melted add the onion and saute gently for 5-8 minutes until it is translucent. 
  2. Add the rice and coat in the oil and butter, then add 3/4 of the stock and peas and bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on, giving a stir every 5 minutes or so. 
  3. After 20 minutes check the consistency.  The rice should be cooked.  If the rice is too dry add a little more stock, I like it a little runny so it falls off the spoon, rather than holding its shape like porridge. 
  4. Take off the heat, add the remaining butter and Parmesan (or Parmesan alternative), season with black pepper and a little salt (the Parmesan can be salty!). Stir and serve.
  5. Ladle onto a plate, if you are adding rocket, place a pile on top of the rice, and add salmon or asparagus.

** Vegetarian Parmesan alternatives as recommended by the vegetarian society include Bookhams Vegi Pasta Cheese, Vegusto No Moo Piquant and Brazzales Gran Moravia. 

Got a favourite recipe you're going to try with this new method.....share your thoughts on the blog or on the FB page or FFF community! Lisa