Tub on the Run


Butternut Squash and Smoked Garlic Risotto

I don’t often post a recipe, but this one is worth it!  I was kindly sent a smoked garlic bulb as part of my Foodie Penpals package last month, so I went on an internet surf for a recipe.  I came across a butternut squash and smoked garlic risotto.  I included it on the meal plan for the week, and I looked forward to it all day today!

Get ready for Hurricane Tub to hit the kitchen!  Honestly, it looks like a whirlwind passed through when I cook (it’s worse when I bake though).

Without further ado…

Butternut Squash and Roast Garlic Risotto

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of smoked garlic (or 3 teaspoons Very Lazy Smoked Garlic)
½ medium sized butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes (about 375g)
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
325g risotto rice
150ml dry white wine (1 of the small bottles)
100g rounds goats’ cheese (original recipe called for 200g, but we found 100g was enough)
125g baby leaf spinach (we used two balls of frozen chopped spinach)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan (or a wok), heat the oil, then stir in the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the onion has softened.
  2. Stir in the butternut squash and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, until starting to brown. Add 4 tablespoons of the stock, cover the pan for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, then pour in the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes until absorbed. Stir in the stock, a reasonable splash at a time, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has been absorbed (be prepared for this to get quite heavy!)
  4. Roughly chop the cheese and stir in to the rice.  Season well. If more liquid is required stir in hot water. The risotto is ready, when the butternut squash and rice grains are tender.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach. Serve immediately.  If you opened for the extra cheese, top the risotto with cheese slices and freshly ground black pepper.


et voilà!

Butternut Squash and Roast Garlic Risotto

According to My Fitness Pal, per portion it is 512 kcal, 86g carbs, 10g fat, 14g protein and 11g sugar.  In Slimming World syns, I have calculated it to be 7 syns per portion  (4 syns for 25g soft goat’s cheese, 1.5 syns for the olive oil, 1.5 syns for the white wine – dry).

It makes up 4 generous (and incredibly tasty) portions.  We have it again for lunch tomorrow!

Meanwhile… I have a pretend cassoulet in the oven for tomorrow’s tea.  How organised am I!



Foodie Penpals: April 2014

This month saw me paired with Louise at the Lone Gourmet and Michelle.  Michelle doesn’t blog, but she does do a mean Foodie Penpals parcel!

I was a little late in sending my parcel to Louise – I hadn’t realised quite how busy a month April had turned in to.  Thankfully, I don’t think I was the only one having spoken to both Louise and Michelle!  Here’s hoping for a calmer May!

As always, I spend days asking Matt (who always gets up the stairs before me) if there is any post.  Honestly, it’s like waiting for Christmas!  I always look forward to breaking in to the box and discovering what I’ve been sent.  I said to Michelle that I would prefer a “leaning towards healthy” parcel, and I was sent a parcel that delivers exactly that!


From left to right, Michelle sent me a Taste #5 Unami paste, The Food Doctor’s roasted bean mix, a smoked garlic, M&S oak smoked sea salt, a very exotic sounding Moon Valley Za’atar and some amazing home baked Easter biscuits which Michelle’s children helped to make.

The biscuits were perfect with a cup of tea while I searched for recipes for the other things.  The Unami paste looks like it makes a good addition to anything Italian or Spanish, or with burgers – perfect as we head in to BBQ season.  The za’atar is a Palestinian herb blend which, by the looks of things, you can add to pretty much anything.  I plan to try both of these out of the next few weeks – wish me luck!  The smoky salt and garlic smell amazing.  I’ve found a couple of recipes that I like the sound of – smoked garlic mash and butternut squash and roast garlic risotto.

So, thank you Michelle for the parcel.  It’s definitely making me think about doing different things rather than relying on the same old recipes.

Want to get involved?  Check out This is Rock Salt (UK) or the Lean Green Bean (USA).



Foodie Penpals: March 2014

This month I was paired with Giles (sending to me) and Kelly (I sent to her).

Kelly blogs over at Interesting Thymes, and has some amazing looking recipes that I have pinned on my Pinterest board to try at a point where I can reek havoc in the kitchen!  Kelly has also been a Foodie Penpal for some time, and I really enjoyed having a scout through some of her previous posts (I am far too nosey sometimes).  After last month’s fiasco of not sending my parcel off early enough, I made sure I got my bum in gear this time.  I enjoyed shopping, and with a bit more of a spring in my Foodie Penpal step, I asked some different questions which provided me with a bit more of a challenge (and a challenge one of the things was!).

Giles is part of Our Honest Foods, and I was sent one of their products through the Foodie Penpals scheme.  I feel that I should add that I am deliberately not reviewing the concept or product of Our Honest Foods, or linking to their website as this is not a product review, just my usual Foodie Penpals write up and not an endorsement.  Anyway… I was pleased with the contents – plenty of delicious things to try.


I actually received the parcel mid-month, so all bar the Melting Pot Fudge have survived.  Annoyingly my milk intolerance is still going strong, so I can’t have the fudge yet.  The rest of it was fair game though!

I am a total convert to O Bars.  I was expecting it to be like a Nakd bar, but it was quite moist (though not soggy), and it felt a bit like a naughty treat.  Of course, everything in moderation, so it was probably a good thing that I was only sent one!  I am trying to find a local stockist of them though, but so far, I can only see them online.

I have seen Captain Tiptoes at Darts Farm, but I hadn’t tried any of their products.  I will be honest, I was never sure if I liked harissa.  To be fair, I’d never tried harissa, and always assumed that it was super spicy.  I do like chilli peanuts though.  I like chilli things generally speaking, and these almonds and peanuts did not let the side down.  Tasty and a great snack!  I don’t think I could eat more than a bag of this size at the time though, as the chilli does sneak up on you, but I now know that harissa is not super-mind-blowing spice.

Gingerbread Man!  These things always make me smile – they remind me of Shrek.  I am a big gingerbread fan, though I actually thought this guy could have been more gingery.  Tasty all the same!  I did not put him through the tea dunking test, but he would have stood up to it (if I hadn’t eaten a leg first).

The Perry Court Farm apple crisps I am sure I have had before.  If I haven’t had these, then I have had a Devonian variety at the County Show a couple of years back.  I love these.  I had the bramley apple variety which is perfect for me.  I like apples to be really tart.  Matt prefers his to be a bit more subtle, but I am all about the ones that make your face screw up a bit!  Unlike the nuts, I could eat these by the kilo.

Lastly was Willie’s Cacao Ginger Lime chocolate.  A good, solid dark chocolate with 70% cocoa.  It promised a spicy ginger with a punch of lime.  I found it to be more of a hint, but it was very pleasant nonetheless.  It’s not knocked my favourite chocolates off their top spot, but I could definitely justify eating it in the run up to giving blood!

So, another month gone, I wonder who I will be paired with next month!  Only a few more days until I find out.

Interested in taking part in the Foodie Penpals scheme?  Check out This is Rock Salt (UK and Europe) or the Lean Green Bean (USA & Canada).  Thanks to Carol Anne at Rock Salt for organising the UK arm of this great scheme!


Foodie Penpals – February 2014

Another month flown by, and I had a bit of a wake up call with Foodie Penpals this month.

I haven’t been completely engaged with the whole concept lately, so first off, my apologies go out to Helen over at Foodie Penpals.  I was due to send to her, and I did send a parcel over, but much later than I should have done.  I haven’t heard whether it has arrived yet, but I am hoping it reached her safe and sound.  It’s been a completely crazy month, and so busy, hence the lack of blogging, but even so, I should have got my act together a bit sooner!

Sending to me was the amazing Siv, who has the most gorgeous blog over at A World in My Oven.  I cannot tell you how jealous I am of her photography and cooking skills!  She was very kind and shared some of her top tips with me, which I cannot wait to put in to practice with my new toy!  I’ve finally got a grown up camera, but unfortunately it needs charging, so the photos here are on my old compact.

Anyway… without further ado – what did Siv send me?  The most amazing and thoughtful parcel!  I am genuinely open to trying most new things for food, and I love getting parcels from outside the UK – the range of foods makes life that bit more interesting!  Unfortunately, I didn’t give Siv much to work with, so she took her inspiration from the colours or a rainbow.  Such a cool idea!

DSCI0019She wrote the funniest cards, and a great recipe for breakfast bars that I am looking forward to trying to make over the weekend.  With the Lindt chocolate, I have to admit that I was a bit weary of it, as white chocolate is definitely not up there in my favourites, but as I type, I am trying very hard to make sure no bits get between the keys.  It is amazing!  The almonds help to make it less sweet and give it a great crunchy texture.  I’m wondering where I will be able to find it in the UK!  The salts look interesting, and I am going to find a recipe to try incorporating them.  I am hoping that I will be able to start eating cheese and milk again soon, otherwise the crackers are only going to be paired with peanut butter, and while I love peanut butter, I think cheese is better for crackers.

DSCI0007As my Dutch is quite poor, Siv had very kindly translated the recipe for the no-bake-cheesecake.  I feel that is going to be a weekend attempt, once I’ve found the Quark at Tesco (pretty sure it is in the cheese aisle, unless they’ve moved it again).  The rooibos tea is very welcome, as I don’t need milk with it – perfect for me at the moment.  The bottle is a Japanese melon drink.  It is really quite a strange bottle – there’s a marble in the neck!  I have never had a melon drink before, and it is quite pleasant.

So Siv, with all her thoughtfulness has breathed a bit of life back in to my Foodie Penpal experience, and I hope to be able to transfer this to my March match.  Go check out her Foodie Penpals post too – she has this whole thing nailed!

Thank you Siv!

Not sure what I am rambling on about, or why lovely Dutch people are sending me food parcels and I’m sending one up country, check out the Foodie Penpals pages over at This is Rock Salt.

(P.S. – The Lindt didn’t make it to the end of the post…  Oops…)


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Foodie Penpals – January 2014

It’s my first time back in Foodie Penpals since August 2013.  Thanks go, as always, to Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt for coordinating the European contingent of Foodie Penpals (and also, this month, for the many random emails I have fired off to her!).

My foodie penpals this month were Fikir in Leeds and Bev who blogs over at Eats For Wales.

Fikir gave me quite a wide remit for things to send, which I actually found more difficult that I have first expected.  I’d managed to combine the shopping trip with a long run which ended at Darts Farm.  I love looking around there to see what is new out (they stock a lot of seasonal items), and of course, try a couple of samples.  It is a haven for Foodie Penpal shopping as there is always something unusual, or stuff that you can’t (usually) find in supermarkets.

Foodie Penpals Jan 14

I sent Fikir some Montezuma’s Smooth Milk chocolate.  I love this stuff – my favourite being the lime and chilli milk chocolate (sadly, well, actually it’s probably a good thing, even Darts Farm don’t stock this particular flavour).  I thought the pear, apple and herb chutney would go well with the oatmeal crackers and a good cheese.  Tea’s Me are the only company that make spearmint tea that I can find, having discovered them at the County Show last year.  I haven’t come across a tea of theirs that I don’t like yet, though I haven’t tried this flavour.  Lastly, the rosemary sea salt I thought would be perfect with a squidge of lemon, and sprinkled over fish.

It’s Bev’s first time of Foodie Penpals, and I hope she enjoyed the experience.  She runs a blog over at Eats for Wales, and I really wish that Matt and I had known about her blog before we went to Cardiff as part of our honeymoon.

Bev’s parcel arrived on Thursday this week, so I haven’t had the chance to use all of the things she sent me yet or take any photos in daylight, but I wasted no time in opening the Marks and Spencer’s Anglesey smoked sea salt with chipotle chilli.  I had made a stew with chicken and it was a tad on the bland side (I should have put a chilli in it), but a sprinkling of this sea salt really perked it up.  I thought the chipotle may have been overpowering, but it was subtle and complimented the smoked salt perfectly.  Bev also sent me two other things in packets, but unfortunately I don’t know what they are as I have not come across either before (I will update when I can, as I have asked Bev to let me know what they are).  Finally, I was sent a book of Welsh recipes – plenty to try as the 6 Nations kicks off tomorrow!

Thanks Bev for my parcel this month – I hope that your first month has been good to you.


Foodie Penpals – August 2013

Another month gone, another Foodie Penpals exchange.  Foodie Penpals is a scheme, started by Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean in America.  Carol Anne from This is Rock Salt extended this to the UK and Europe, and she organises the matches for people like me.   It’s a great scheme – quite inexpensive, and it’s always interesting to see what you get each month.  Check out here for information about how to sign up.

This month I was paired with Lena (who sent to me) and Rebecca (who I sent stuff to).  Lena doesn’t have a blog for me to link to, but Rebecca blogs over at Sullen Hearts.  Lena lives in Germany, so I was quite excited to be paired with someone who has access to a whole different kind of produce to me.  I really love Germany, and M and I have both agreed that if we ever had to move from the UK , we’d look at somewhere like Munich or somewhere in Belgium.  I went to Germany twice when I was at school – once as part of our history lessons, and the second time, I went as the German interpreter when I was studying for my German A Level.  Anyway, it’s been quite a long time since I wrote any German, and I was quite pleased that I managed to compose an email (thank you Google Translate for some words!).  Doing so has made me think that I really should keep my language skills up.  Maybe it’s time to start getting Die Welt again.  Anyway, I digress.

Lena was really hot off the mark and sent her parcel in super quick time.

Foodie Penpals from Lena

I can confirm that the Haribo were very tasty, and a nice change from the star mix type things we have over here.  The other items I am going to need to crack out Google Translate to see how you make them, as my German really is very rusty.  I am also on the hunt for any sauerkraut recipes (all suggestions welcome!) as it isn’t something I have ever cooked with.

In Rebecca’s parcel, I sent the following:

Foodie Penpals sent to Rebecca 2

They arrived safely and Rebecca said she was pleased with them.  After having sent some very sweet oriented parcels lately, I think I achieved a better balance between sweet and savoury this time round.

I’m out of Foodie Penpals for September, as I’ve got a really busy month coming up, and the jury’s out on whether I’ll be back in before December, as October and November are both going to get quite hectic too.  My previous Foodie Penpal posts can all be found here.

Once again, thank you to Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt for making the UK and European arm of this scheme happen every month.


Foodie Penpals Reveal – July 2013

This month, I was paired with Tracy over at It’s not easy being greedy and Holly at My Cheshire Life.  I sent to Tracy, and Holly sent to me.

Tracy is quite new to Foodie Penpals, and I was really thrilled to be matched with her – it was great fun shopping for her.  I got a good idea of what to send from our email chats and reading her blog (check out some of my favourite recipes – Salmon and Leek Parcels and Apple Samosas, and Slow Roasted Lamb).  Pop on over to Tracy’s blog to see what I sent her.

Holly and I were a late pairing, but, I think, a very successful one.  My parcel arrived, and as usual, in my childlike love of receiving parcels, I got straight in!

Foodie Penpals July 2013

I have never received home baked goodies in the post before, and I love the salted caramel brownies – Holly’s talents are certainly put to excellent use in her business!  I’m looking forward to working my way through this parcel.  We have a bake off for charity coming up at work, so I am sure I will get good use out of the cake toppers, and I’m looking forward to making cola icing (maybe with vanilla cupcakes?).  The balsamic pearls will be perfect with a salad – I’m a real balsamic fiend and would choose that over any other salad dressing.

I’ve asked Holly for the recipe for the brownies – I may attempt them for the bake off!

Thanks to Carol Anne at This Is Rock Salt, who organises the UK arm of Foodie Penpals.  If you’d like to get involved, why not visit here.

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Stick a fork in me… I’m done

I love this advert.  Many years on, I still love this advert, and to coin a phrase – “stick a fork in me, I’m done”.

Spinning was ok tonight.  I didn’t push myself as hard as last week.  It was very warm in the studio, and I ran out of water quite quickly.  I enjoyed it though (though I am regretting asking Steph to play a Pendulum song).

Tea was one of my favourite meals – fajitas.  I received fajita spice in my foodie penpal parcel this time, so we put that to good use.  I did forget to pick up some salsa at Tesco last night, so resolved to make some myself.

In to Tub’s salsa went…

  • 1 (drained) tin of chopped tomatoes
  • half an onion
  • 1 chilli*
  • piquant peppers
  • gherkins
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • half a tsp of smoked paprika

I love this – so easy!  Bung everything except the tomatoes in a blender, whizz, add the tomatoes and whizz again (you don’t want it like a paste – lumps are fine!).

For the filling, fry off your meat of choice, along with some more onion, peppers and any other veg and spices/seasoning you want in there and plonk in a bowl.  Instead of sour cream, we used fat free fromage frais (you can always chop in some chives if you fancied it).  Then – load up your tortillas!  From looking online, most tortillas are around 6 syns each, and to be honest, I’m stuffed after two these days (gone are the times where I could polish off four in one sitting).

Safe to say, fajitas are definitely not “first date foods”.  I always get in a state – stuff splashes and inevitably I am licking my arm and chin.  Definitely attractive!

I feel much perkier today – all topped off with some super tasty fajitas.

*I put my chillis in the freezer.  That way, not only do they last longer, but you can handle them, cut them AND not have to worry about chilli finger (chilli finger takes forever to go on me – olive oil, lemon, salt, vinegar, soap… Nothing gets it gone).


Foodie Penpals – June 2013

Another month has flown by, another month of exchanging food parcels on the Foodie Penpals scheme, set up by This Is Rock Salt for the UK, and the Lean Green Bean for the USA.

This month, I was paired with Kate (to send to), and Steph at Steph Loves Cake (sending to me).  I think I can safely say that this scheme has given me the most contact with people who share the same name as me (two months on the run, I’ve been paired with Stephs).  Anyway, I digress.

Kate doesn’t have a blog, and for a change, I was actually organised enough to take a couple of photos of what I sent.

Foodie Penpals June 2013

Kate let me know that she is vegetarian, so I made sure that there were no hidden meaty things in what I sent.  She’s also a fan of baking, and is getting into cooking Japanese food at home.  Having popped my Yo! Sushi cherry last month, I thought I’d share the sushi love and also sent a recipe card for a vegetarian sushi (courtesy of Channel 4’s recipe site).  The Wasabi was in keeping with the Japanese, but I have realised that I sent quite a sweet based parcel.  In my defence, I wanted to share a new love of Reese’s Nutrageous (introduced by Alena in last month’s Foodie Penpals).  I saw the pop corn kernels, and thought they were interesting (I don’t think they’re sweet though).  Kate emailed me back to say:

Thank you so much for my foodie parcel – it arrived on Friday and provided a nice distraction from the stresses of work. The nutrageous didn’t last long (I can’t believe I’d never tried one before – peanut butter and extra peanuts in a bar is definitely a winning combination) but I managed to exercise restraint and stash the other chocolate at the back of my drawer for future bad days. We also opened the wasabi (several of my colleagues who are big fans of things with wasabi flavouring were keen to try the paste by itself and succeeded in making their eyes water).

I spent all of this weekend unpacking and arranging my kitchen and am looking forward to being able to cook again. Now that everything is sorted out I think next weekend may be the time to embark on project ‘cook Japanese food’ and, as the weather looks set to be even hotter, the sushi recipe you sent sounds very appealing. I think the biggest challenges will be cooking the rice correctly so that it will hold together when rolled!

The cupcake liners are lovely and I’m thinking of filling them with cakes in some sort of rose/pistachio or possibly rose/white chocolate combination to take in to the office to celebrate my birthday later this month.

Thank you once again for a lovely stash of foodie supplies and for providing me with a further nudge to bite the bullet and attempt home-made sushi.

Steph sent me an amazing package – a package of two halves.

First up - snacks and treats

First up – snacks and treats

First up is the snacks and treats part.  As we all know, I have a love of peanut butter, but I have never branched out into other nut butters.  Well, no excuses now – I have cashew butter and almond butter to try out!  I’ve seen the Popchips advertised, but never bitten the bullet and bought them.  I’ve actually just finished them (shared with M), and they remind me of (much less greasy) Pombars.  I was quite impressed with them, especially with a syn value of 4.5 for the 23g pack.  Definitely ones for the shopping basket in the future.  Snack-a-Jacks I’m also a fan of, and to date, I haven’t found a flavour I don’t like.  As for Munchy Seeds – I was remarkably well restrained at the County Show this year, as the Munchy Seeds man is always in the food tent, and I have always bought from him in the past (love the chilli seeds, and snaffled most of the pot of vanilla pumpkin seeds in one sitting last year), so needless to say, I will definitely enjoy these honey seeds, though having just looked up their syn value (7 syns for 25g, so a quarter of the pack), these will be reserved for my low syn days (and M will have to ration them out!).  Lastly, in this first half, is the tea – mint and spearmint tea (smells amazing!) and Numi Tea’s Chocolate Pu•Erh.  This is one of the best things about Foodie Penpals – I would never have bought a big bag of chocolate tea bags as I didn’t know if I’d like them, so getting these in my parcel means I could try them out without committing to 40 teabags worth.  After getting dressed, I popped the kettle on and made a cup of chocolate tea.  It smelled gorgeous – smooth, chocolatey (in a dark chocolate kind of way) with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and orange.  Taste wise, it was really subtle – I really enjoyed this.

For the next half?  Let’s travel to Mexico!

My Mexican half

My Mexican half

I really like Mexican food.  It’s quick, easy and social.  M and I have chilli on a regular basis, so I’m keen to use this spice mix from Spice N Tice.  Chilli, for me, is one of those “go to” foods that I’ll do when I want something filling but quite quick, and for Slimming Worlders, can be pretty much free on syn values.  Anyway, the other thing I love is fajitas – it’s so social – bung all the plates with fillings on the table, then load up.  We haven’t had fajitas for a long time actually, so I will use the Spice N Tice fajita spice mix when we next make fajitas.  The corn tortillas are interesting – it looks like you can turn them into nachos or tostadas.  You fry or bake them (having brushed them with oil).  Last, but not least, are the chipotles – a rub and a paste.  I can’t remember having chipotle before, but I know it’s spicy, so I’ll be taking it easy (or making sure there’s plenty of sour cream on side!).

So, thank you so much Steph – this is a really interesting parcel and I can’t wait to get stuck in!  Thank you too, to Carol Anne and her band of helpers this month for running the UK arm of Foodie Penpals,



As clichéd as it sounds, I can’t believe where this year is going.  It’s June.  How did June sneak around so quickly?!

In part, prompted by Lucy’s recent post, I have decided to reflect a little on where I am right now.  I started with my (now removed) Tub’s 13 in 2013 page.

My 13 list

My 13 list

I don’t think that some of the things in there are realistically achievable, given what’s happened so far this year.  Pretty much anything that requires financial commitment is out.  The important thing happening this year is marrying M.  All financial resource is being ploughed into that right now.  Some of the things of that list don’t interest me any more either, so I’ve decided to scrap the 13 goals, and focus on getting fitter, slimmer and not feeling like an oversized troll in a white dress.

So, a quick check in, a la Lucy:


I am ironically probably been in the best shape I have ever been in, in terms of fitness, just sadly not in terms of weight.  I have ticked off a fair few non-scale victories as well as being able to say I can run for longer than I had ever managed before.


I have been suffering with stress quite a bit lately, and it isn’t getting much better.  I have had the week off, and in all honesty, I think I left it too long to have some time out from work, as I haven’t recharged very much.  It is work that is probably my major stressor, and the exercise helps to keep a balance and stop me from going bonkers.  I have some things that I need to put in place to make sure I achieve a better mental/emotional health and deal with the issues.  Sadly, it’s 14 weeks until my next holiday.

Stuff I am enjoying:

  • Exercise, and strangely I feel markedly more irritable when I can’t get out, or don’t get out.
  • New friends – I’ve really started to click with some people in my Slimming World group and hope to grow those friendships more.
  • Foodie Penpals – I love receiving parcels, and it’s even better knowing it’s a (nice) surprise inside.
  • Time with my family – I’ve really enjoyed spending time with my mum and sister lately (County Show with Mum, and Dartmoor with P)

Some areas to work on:

  • Budgeting – enough said!
  • Completing my psychometric qualification (I have two assignments outstanding, and have been procrastinating quite spectacularly)
  • Tidy house, tidy mind?