Tag Archives: Pasta

Giovanni Rana Pasta

We love pasta especially Baby Gourmand who would probably eat if for every meal given the chance so when we found out about a competition that was being run over on Tots100 to win a chance to win a place at an Italian cookery masterclass I couldn’t say no.

To win a place entrants had to create and share an original Italian recipe on their blog, incorporating Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence pasta.

My vouchers arrived quite late, in fact just before the closing date but thankfully a second competition was created to give those who didn’t have time to enter the first one a chance.  I spent a full week scouring shops looking for somewhere that sold both the pasta and the sauce, none of my local stores sold both so I ended up visiting one for the pasta and one for the sauce.

Giovanni Rana

I decided to combine two of my children’s favourite pasta dishes, bolognese and pesto, I cooked the pasta for 1 minute in boiling water, drained it and added the pesto stirring until all of the pasta was coated.

Baby Gourmand had his served with chopped cucumber, pepper, celery and radish and the rest of the family had a chopped salad made up of lettuce, celery, radish, pepper and cucumber dressed with a creamy dressing of sour cream, parmesan, dried basil, garlic, pepper and lemon juice.

baby pasta Giovanni Rana pasta

This is my entry into the Giovanni Rana pasta competition.


Creamy Seafood Pasta

Seafood is one of those things that you either love or hate, in our household we adore seafood in all of it’s variety.  Scallops have got to be one of my favourite ingredients to cook with and to eat, I love the sweetness of queen scallops and the fact they take very little time to cook, this whole dish took less than 10 mins to prepare and cook which is ideal if you are short on time.

I pan fried king prawns, queen scallops, crushed garlic and green beans until cooked before adding a splash of white wine, some oregano, fresh parsley, black pepper and a pinch of red chilli flakes before adding a glug of double cream to create a delicious sauce.

The end result was superb and extremely satisfying, a nice slice of warm foccacia bread would have gone down a treat with this dish but I’ll save that idea for next time.

seafood pasta

Spicy Squid Pasta







Squid is one of those ingredients that I really love but very rarely cook with, I think I have a phobia about under or over cooking as it is so easily done.  I actually cheated on this occasion and purchased my squid already cleaned and sliced from Marks and Spencers, it was never going to taste like freshly prepared squid but I had hoped that it would make a satisfying dinner.

The recipe was actually a have a look to see what’s in the fridge and throw it in the pan sort of recipe which consisted of fresh red chilli, garlic, vine tomatoes and cream.  I added the squid at the last minute to avoid over cooking it and was left with a very delicious pasta dish.

It wasn’t until I served this dish that I realised I’d cooked a pasta that resembled octopus tentacles which wasn’t intentional but rather amusing.

squid pasta

Feed The Family For £2.75

Day 4 of Feed The Family For £5 and we’re really finding it hard not to go out and purchase a sandwich for lunch, a cake while out shopping of a coffee when passing starbucks.  I’ve started to feel really grateful that I don’t usually have to penny pinch like I have been doing this week.

Breakfast was the same as each morning so far, Mr and Mini Gourmand had Shredded Wheat Summer Fruits cereal, I had Honey and Almond Special K, our breakfast worked out at £0.30.


Lunch was the same Vegetable pasta that we had yesterday, I tried to use different herbs to give a different flavour compared to yesterdays dish but it still tasted the same, maybe if I had used a different type of pasta it would have changed the dish but I had purchased a bulk packet of pasta and didn’t want to cut into my budget. Today’s lunch consisted of some peppers, a vine tomato, cream cheese, dried herbs and dried pasta.  Each portion worked out at 20p each meaning Lunch for everyone was £0.60.

mediteranian veg


Dinner was quorn fillets which were yellow sticker served with some of my Optigrill peppers, some courgettes gifted to us from a friends allotment, some cous cous mixed with fresh herbs from my balcony and raisins.  I served this with some broccoli that we had grown in a pot on our balcony. Dinner worked out at £1.85

We spent the day in the park after lunch and didn’t have any snacks today.

I spent a total of £2.75 on food today, my tip for today is to keep checking the supermarkets for yellow stickered food especially towards the end of the day when they need it to be sold.

Feed The Family For £3.21

I’m sorry that day 3-7 of my feed the family for £5 is a bit late, Grandma Gourmand came over to stay, Mini Gourmand went to Portugal with her other grandparents and I didn’t get time to write up my posts.  Although my feed the family posts are a little late I know the readers who were following them will be glad to see how I got on, they will also be glad to hear that I have pictures!!

Breakfast was the same as each morning so far, Mr and Mini Gourmand had Shredded Wheat Summer Fruits cereal, I had Honey and Almond Special K, our breakfast worked out at £0.30.


Lunch was Vegetable pasta, I had cooked up a huge bag of reduced peppers on the Tefal Optigrill to use over the next couple of days.  Today’s lunch consisted of some peppers, a vine tomato, cream cheese, dried herbs and dried pasta.  Each portion worked out at 20p each meaning Lunch for everyone was £0.60.


Dinner was Falafel with some of the Optigrill peppers, some courgettes gifted to us from a friends allotment, some baby sweetcorn left over from a reduced pack and some salad leaves from our balcony.  Dinner worked out at £2.15

Snacks were some Tesco own brand Digestive biscuits with a cup of tea costing £0.16

I spent a total of £3.21 on food today, my tip for today is to grow herbs or salad leaves at home even if you only have a small space like a windowsill.

Crab Linguine



This dish was a store cupboard throw together like a lot of my meals.  I had half a pot of cream, a red chilli, a plum tomato and some asparagus in the fridge, not very exciting and not easy to turn into a dish.

I remembered that I had a tin of white crabmeat in the cupboard along with half a pack of Linguine.  The dish took less than 20 minutes to prepare and cook which was perfect for a midweek dinner.

This was a delicious meal if I do say so myself and was received better than some of my well thought out dishes!


What’s For Dinner Tonight?

Those clever people at Schwartz have developed a new 2 in 1 range which takes the hassle out of cooking, who wants to spend hours midweek preparing rubs and herb mixes when you can prepare a dish in less than 10 mins?

We were sent two packets from the 2 in 1 range, Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken.  The new 2 in 1 range offers easy to use recipe mix sachets in one handy pack: One sachet flavours the main dish while the other contains a seasoning for a side dish or topping.

cheesy pasta

The Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping has a blend of herbs and spices which includes: Paprika, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley, Oregano, Basil and Cayenne Pepper.

The dish takes approx 10 mins to prepare and 4 mins to grill until browned.


The pasta was a delicious alternative to our usual pasta bake recipe, I don’t usually use chicken in pasta recipes but it turned out to be a very filling meal.  Vegetarians could omit the chicken and use a variety of vegetables like courgette and aubergine with the yellow pepper.  Mini Gourmand loved the crispy crumb topping and thought it was a lot more interesting than just grated cheese.

roast chicken

The Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken with Crispy Roast Potatoes are exactly what they say on the packet.  Some delicious flavours are used including Rosemary, Garlic, Paprika, Parsley, Nutmeg, Chilli, Marjoram, Cumin and Oregano.

The dish takes seconds to prepare and based on my size chicken took just over an hour to cook.


The family enjoyed this dish the most out of the two.  The rub for the chicken added a great flavour and the seasoning for the roast potatoes was subtle but delicious.

I was really worried about serving the two dishes to Mr Gourmand as he is very anti packet food, I watched his face closely while he tasted the dishes to get an idea of what he thought of the food.  He admitted that although he isn’t a fan of packet mixes, the Schwartz 2 in 1 sachets really were delicious.

*This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz.  Sign up to get your own sample at www.schwartz.co.uk/2in1freepack *

The Jug and Jester – Leamington Spa

A couple of weeks ago Grandma Gourmand was visiting and offered to babysit while myself and Mr Gourmand went out for dinner so we decided to sample another couple of dishes from the new Wetherspoons menu.

You can read about our previous visit here.


As myself and Mr Gourmand were feeling particulary peckish as well as relieved to get a few hours on our own, we thought we would go for a favourite shared starter which was the Nachos doused in salsa, sour creme, and guacamole alongside jalapenos and a healthy sprinkling of cheese. Wetherspoons states the number of calories, which for this meal was 1437 Calories, which added additional guilt to the experience! As always this was delicious and simple, albeit quite large and a bit of a struggle for even two of us to finish.


I decided to go for a main course  of Southern-fried-style Chicken Strips with coleslaw and chips which was juicy and tasty and all for 1058 Calories. Although this meal wasn’t visually outstanding, it satisfied where it counts which was the taste! My only slight gripe was that I didn’t think the Tennessee sauce suited the chicken. The coleslaw however was really nice with a light flavour that added much needed texture to the dry chicken.


Mr Gourmand decided to go healthy and went for the Superfood wholewheat pesto pasta, with chicken (770 cal) which consisted of wholewheat pasta, nut free pesto, mixed peppers, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, soya beans, broccoli, sugar snap peas, red onion and sun-dried tomatoes. He really enjoyed it and thought the option of adding chicken gave it the extra oomph which may have been missing without it. His plate was finished, licked clean, and ready to be put back on the rack before I had even finished half of what I ordered!

*Disclaimer* We were provided with Weatherspoons vouchers to use during our visit, this has not affected our opinion of the brand and as always our review is honest and impartial*

Fresh Week Day 4


Today marks day 4 of fresh week.  This evenings meal included Tuna Pasta Bake, focaccia and Carrot Cake!








250g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 sachet dried easy blend yeast

1 tbsp olive oil

200ml/ oz cold water

Rosemary or herbs of your choice

Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, herbs and 150ml of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.

Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Grease a baking sheet and place the flattened dough on then leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Drizzle the bread with oil then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

pasta bake

Carrot Cake


I will be sharing my Carrot Cake recipe after fresh week has finished!

If you are taking part in Fresh Week what dishes did you cook today?  There is still time to take part if you would like to, just head over to the Fresh Week website and make your pledge don’t forget you could win a Fresh Express and a Vegetable box!


Every day this week  I will be posting my daily meals and some recipes to give readers inspiration, why not take a look at my fellow Tefal Innovation Panellists pledges?

 Boo, Roo and Tigger TooMother GeekJacintaz3Emmy’s Mummy,Red Rose MummyRomanian MumSeasider In The CityRecipe JunkieCrazy With TwinsAttachment MummyThe Madhouse

*Disclaimer – Although I am a Tefal Innovation panelist my thoughts about fresh week and the Tefal products received are my own and any reviews will be honest and impartial. *

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that over the past couple of weeks a large number of my photos were based on wholegrain meals this was because I had undertaken a challenge set by Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness to raise awareness of the benefits of wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet, and to inspire and motivate people to eat them.

As a mother it’s very important to me that Lucie is eating balanced meals at home, she no longer takes a packed lunch as all of her friends eat from the canteen at school meaning that 5 days a week I have no idea what she is consuming (I imagine it is not healthy food).

Trying to get Lucie to eat breakfast is a difficult task as she is always rushing however if I offered her a piece of chocolate cake or a biscuit she would probably snap my hand off!   During my pregnancy I have made a conscious effort to eat breakfast (usually I would skip it).

We always sit down together for our evening meal which except for the odd occasion is always prepared by myself from scratch so I know exactly what we are eating, I know from reading my blog most readers would think I eat out an awful lot but in all honesty I don’t and when I do it is usually on a weekend after 5 days of healthy eating.

Here’s what wholegraingoodness.com say about the challenge:

“Most of us know it’s important to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, but what many of us don’t know is that we should be eating more wholegrain to keep us healthy too. Nutritionists around the world encourage eating at least three servings of wholegrain a day. But despite the nutritional benefits, national surveys show that 95% of UK adults fail to reach three servings a day. In fact, on average, most of us don’t even eat that in a week, and almost a third of us don’t eat any at all. To help us inspire mums to get more nutritious wholegrain into their family’s diet, take part in our wholegrain challenge”

The challenge lasted for two weeks, from Mon 21 Jan to 3 Feb 2013 and  was to include wholegrain in one meal or snack for the family per day for two weeks, using a variety of wholegrain foods available.  My first step was to find out what a wholegrain actually was so I headed to the Wholegrain Goodness website to get some information.


I headed to Tesco with my £10 gift voucher a picked up a variety of wholegrain foods, I already had some wholemeal flour, wholemeal self raising flour, wholegrain crackers, oats and noodles in the cupboard.

My next plan was to try and do some meal planning, I had already agreed that I would have porridge for breakfast most mornings and I would bake a loaf of wholemeal bread every couple of days rather than buying shop bought bread for snacks and sandwiches.



banana porride

For 10 of the 14 days I ate porridge for breakfast, I found it to be very filling, adding different fruits each morning ensured that I didn’t get bored of eating it.  My favourite Porridge was with some chopped banana.  Even when I woke her up earlier than normal I couldn’t get Lucie to eat a bowl before school as she always said she wasn’t hungry.

Making my own wholemeal bread was simple to make by hand and tasted so much better than store bought.  On the days that I didn’t eat porridge for breakfast I had toast made out of my bread.  I managed to get Lucie to have toast on 6 out of the 14 mornings although on 4 occasions she took it into the car to eat rather than eat it in the house.


chocolate cakecake

Whilst looking through the cupboards to see what wholegrains I already had, I came across a bag of Allinson wholemeal self raising flour so decided to make a chocolate cake to have as one of our snacks.  After posting my photographs on instagram I had a number of requests for the recipe which I will be posting to my blog in the future.  The cake didn’t rise as much as it would have done if made with a white flour, it was a little dense and only stayed moist for 2 days before cream was required but I was very happy about how this turned out.

Using the same recipe for the cake I made a batch of Chocolate cupcakes which also served as snacks.


Flapjacks were the next snack for me to make, I actually made a few different variety of flapjack including plain, raisin and dried apricot.  The three tray bakes of flapjacks made enough to last the full 14 days.


Using a non stick pan with lid I successfully managed to make popcorn using no oil, butter or sugar.  Instead of Lucie grabbing a chocolate bar, biscuit or crisps after school she had a small bowl of popcorn as a snack.  I was very surprised at how easy this was to make, it did need to be watched like a hawk in the pan as a couple of seconds too long made the popcorn burn, I found it easier to do small batches at a time.


For 11 out of the 14 days I had either wholegrain crackers, wholegrain bread or cous cous with my lunch, a friend joined me on 8 of these days.  Lucie had sandwiches made with wholegrain bread on 4 of these days.

Main Courses

Incorporating a wholegrain into our evening meal was so much easier than I had initialy thought it would be.  Lucie did complain on a couple of occasions that she didn’t like the brown rice however this did not stop her clearing her plate, not one of us could tell the difference between wholegrain pasta and white pasta and my pizza made with wholegrain flour went down just as well as the ones I make using white flour.


Lucie’s favourite dish was this Whole meal pasta with broccoli, green beans and asparagus with a touch of cream cheese, she loved it so much it was requested on 3 evenings!

chicken curry

We had this Chicken, Sweet potato and chickpea curry with brown rice on two different evenings, I found the brown rice gave the dish a nicer texture and I really liked the nutty flavour.

spag bol

I made Spaghetti bolognese twice using quorn mince and brown spaghetti, this was a big hit in the house so I then made it a third evening using brown pasta baked in the oven with mozzarella cheese.

cous cous

One evening we had homemade spicy fishcakes with giant vegetable cous cous and salad


We had a Chicken and Veg curry with mixed brown rice one evening which was delicious.


On two occasions I experimented with a wholemeal flour and polenta pizza base which went down very well with the family, I served this with cous cous salad just to add an extra bit of wholemeal into the diet.

After eating wholegrains for 14 days I have decided to switch my white rice and pasta for a wholegrain variety and to incorporate more cous cous into our diets.  I will try to use wholegrain flour whenever possible and will continue to make my own bread and snacks.

Do you eat wholegrains as part of your diet? After reading this do you think you may be persuaded to switch?
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not been paid for this post though I did receive a £10 supermarket voucher. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity