Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Special Thank You to Royal Berkshire Hospital

So I going to break my own new rule, I know this month is all about 30inute meals but I am not going to be sharing one today and I hope you don’t mind but this whole post is going to be unusual and special for me. You might have noticed there was no blog posting last week. You see I was a little too busy having a baby!!!! It was a crazy week, physically and mentally. And like many things in life it didn’t go the way I planned it. But the care I received at my unplanned hospital birth was so amazing that I hope you don’t mind but I would like to dedicate this post to thanking them.

First to my first midwife Suzanne I can’t thank you enough for being the rock and support I needed. You listened to me so that I felt heard something that I needed. You were the voice of reason when I needed to be reasoned with and you were also there to help calm me when I got too stressed. Thank you for being in my corner and helping argue my case in bringing me back to the midwife led unit. You and Laura helped us create the kind of environment that we were wanting to create at home, to be honest in the beginning it did feel more like we were on a date night then at a hospital having a baby. The aromatherapy, the relaxing environment and peace and quiet that Chris and I were able to have was so soothing and I believe it is the only reason I went into active labour on my own.
My second midwife, Laura, I hope you realize how amazing you are. You were calm and encouraging especially when you noticed things weren’t right. I was scared and I can imagine you were a bit scared too but you didn’t let that show and that helped me stay as calm as I could in the situation.

Now it gets complicated in the thanks because of the amount of people there are to thank and so I am sorry I am not able to personally name you all. To the midwives and nurses downstairs in the delivery suite the calm you all displayed in what felt like an impossible birth situation was incredible. I am aware that probably few if not no one in the room had ever witnessed a breech delivery like that, let alone assisted but handled the situation with such calm and professionalism. You helped me achieve what I won’t lie, felt like was impossible, push her out.

To the staff in Buscot Baby Care Unit, the hardest moment for me was when she was born and I couldn’t hear her cry, you rushed her to the side to work on her and I felt like time has stopped. You worked so quickly on her and as you said at times she recovered quicker then you could finish what you were doing. But you made sure she was okay after such a traumatic birth. And while no parent ever wants their baby whisked away from them I am at least grateful she was whisked away to your care. Thank you for always being happy to have me sit by her side during the night and taking her out of the incubator so I could feed her. You helped make a horrible situation a little bit easier for this scared mummy.

To the staff in Marsh ward, spending the first 5 days of my daughter’s life in a hospital was so hard and I got stir crazy and frustrated at times but the care we received was so wonderful. Everyone, from the midwives and care assistants to the sweet ladies who brought me cups of tea throughout the day. You helped make this patient feel like a person, not a patient. I have stayed at hospitals in the US many times in the past and trust me there is a big difference. You all touched our lives and helped us get home as quickly possible and I want you all to know how positive of an impact you made on our lives that crazy week in October when a little baby’s head turned out to be a bottom and all of our lives turned upside down. Thank you all.

As a thank you I am sharing these amazing Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. And yes before you ask I am delivering these beauties to the staff so they can enjoy them too.

Triple-Chocolate-Chunk-Cookies

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

227g (1 c.) butter
150g (3/4 c.) granulated sugar
150g (3/4 c.) packed soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
312g (2 1/2 c) plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
60g (1/2 c.) cocoa powder
170g (6 oz.) Milk Chocolate chunks *could use chips
170g (6 oz) White Chocolate chunks

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30 Minute Challenge – Creamy Spinach Pesto Pasta

Well I have to confess that I had hoped at this point I could be giving you the good news update that baby had arrived but sadly she is set on being late like her sister was. So I am trying to keep busy until she decides she is ready. This is the worse part for me because I am a very impatient person and the uncomfortable stage of the last part of pregnancy makes me feel a bit physically lazy while mentally wanting to be productive. If that makes sense. So I am glad this month I have challenged myself to stick to quick meals so dinner doesn’t have to be something I work too hard at.

This recipe utilizes a new addiction for me, spinach pesto. Last week when I went to the store to buy spinach all they had was a massive bag so I was stuck with more then I could use before it went bad so I hunted around for more ideas on ways to use it up. I came across a recipe for spinach pesto. I have always loved pesto but more often then not stuck to the basil version. For me this was even better, especially when used as a spread for a sandwich. The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to one week.

But warning, this dish has so much incredible flavour you might struggle sticking to correct portion sizes. This should have been enough to serve 4 people but sadly didn’t make to leftovers because we just couldn’t resist having more.

Creamy-Spinach-Pesto-Pasta

Creamy Spinach Pesto Pasta

350g dried pasta
300mL single cream
(1/2 c.) spinach pesto *see recipe bellow
60g (1/4 c.) parmesan cheese
Recipe inspired by Chow.com

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Posted in 30 Minute Meal, Challenges, Easy Meal, Main Course, Pasta, Sauce, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Minute Challenge – Chicken and Chorizo Paella

It was a little crazy to try and get back into blogging at 40 weeks pregnant but saying that I need some distraction from this slow waiting game of wondering when she will come. Between an anxious toddler who doesn’t understand why her sister isn’t here now, a sick hubby and my own body struggling with the issues of the uncomfortableness of being 40 weeks pregnant I am starting to unravel a bit at the seams. So blogging is actually something I am trying to use to keep me slightly sane.

In continuation with my 30 minute challenge this month I decided to attempt some homemade paella. Until I moved to the UK I had never tried paella, although it is similar to Jambalaya. Paella is more commonly eaten with mixed seafood but since working in the food market world for the past 2 years I have been introduced to chicken and chorizo paella which I have fallen in love with. Traditionally this would be cooked in a wide, shallow, flat-bottomed paella pan but I found it worked out well in a deep, frying pan. The flavour in this dish is fantastic and while the toddler found it too spicy hubby and I were in love.

Chicken-and-Chorizo-Paella

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried parsley
113g (4 oz) chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 onion, chopped
1 red sweet pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
300g (1-1/2 c.) Paella Rice*
750mL (3 c.) chicken stock
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 generous pinch saffron threads *optional
150g (1 c.) frozen peas, defrosted
1 lemon, juiced
*I used Arborio rice this time and it worked out well
Adapted from Healthy Delicious

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Posted in 30 Minute Meal, Challenges, Chicken, Chorizo, Easy Meal, One Pot, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Challenge Month 30 Minute Meals – Cheeseburger Pasta

I have done so much soul searching about this blog and where it needed to go. And after a much needed posting where I expressed to you my feelings I felt inspired by the responses enough to come to a decision. I am continuing to blog, doing what I love but in doing so I am going to set things up a bit different. You see my purpose for starting this blog was initially a challenge to improve our food budget and eat healthier. One of the many things I loved about this blog is how it felt to be challenged and even more so how it felt to succeed. I also loved when I would hear from readers how I had inspired them to change their spending and cooking habits.

So I have decided two things, one I won’t be blogging quite as often as I was per month so as not to overwhelm myself but secondly every month I am going to give myself personal challenges and sometimes asking you to challenge me so focusing on quality postings rather then quantity. So every month with my new challenge I will post within the rules of my challenge and push myself to grow even more. As I am about to become a mother again one recurring challenge is going to be how to make sure I continue to provide us with meals that are easy to put together so it fits into our crazy lives. Along with the new focus I am hoping to launch a new redesign which is going to be very recipe orientated to make it easier for people who use this blog as their cookbook, like I do, to find the recipes they want. Thank you everyone for your impute over the past month and I hope you enjoy the journey with Small Wallet, Big Appetite.

So Challenge number 1 for October is going to be 30 minute meals. This month I want to focus on meals that from start to finish take only 30 minutes or less because lets face it when you have a family and/or a busy career you don’t always have the time to assemble more complex meals. This pasta dish was very kid friendly and makes enough for 6 portions which for us is perfect because that means it fed us for two nights in a row which gave me a night off from cooking. Served with a different vegetable side each night it satisfied both the toddler and the adults in the family.
Cheeseburger-Pasta

Cheeseburger Pasta

500g (1 lb) lean minced beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic, clove
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
225g (8 oz) uncooked pasta any shape
750mL (3 c.) reduced-sodium beef stock
150mL (3/4 c.) milk
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard*
80g (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
*If using English mustard like I was be aware you might want to use less as it will be very hot. I use about 1/3 tsp of English mustard

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Posted in 30 Minute Meal, American, Beef, Casserole, Challenges, Easy Meal, Main Course, One Pot | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts on the direction for this blog

So I disappeared here for quite a while and I thought it was time to share my thoughts on why. I am at a cross roads related to this blog and I am not sure what to do. I have been on this blogging journey for a while and it has been inspiring to push myself and grow as a cook. I have made a lot of blogging friends along the way and watched their journeys in growing their hobby into a career that they love. But that is where I hit a bump in the road. I am not sure I can go that route myself. You see this blog was a journey of mine getting my family away from processed foods, going the route of saving money and eating healthier by not eating pre-prepared products. So I don’t feel comfortable going the direction of having companies pay me to review their products and me tell my audience to buy said products when it isn’t something I would truly buy myself. Well then don’t advertise with those companies you say? The problem isn’t just that it is this idea that every day we are bombarded with advertisements for new products that we “have to have”. Oh this new phone is so much better then your old one, this blender is the latest must have. Personally I am getting weary of it all. I have an ad block on Firefox so I don’t even see most ads and avoid any websites where there are more ads then content. Now when I see blog postings with #ad I avoid even reading it. Most of the companies that pay for bloggers to write about their stuff I don’t even like any way so I am not interested in giving it too much of my attention. So earlier this summer when tons of emails from advertising companies and such asking if I could blog about their company or allow their ads on my blog flooded my inbox I hit a wall and can’t seem to bounce back. I love blogging and sharing what I love which is food. But is there really a need for yet another blog that just shares recipes? In business the best way forward is to find a gap in the market and fill it. I see blogging the same way, whether you monetize it or not, and I just don’t know if the world needs another food blog. So the question remains, do I continue just blogging for fun or do I say I have had a great run and walk away. Blogging takes a lot of work to keep up with so as a hobby it can be a time consuming one and when you have two kids, a house to try and keep up with and your own business it is hard to find the time. But on the other hand it is a hobby that I do love so sometimes I wish I would make more of an effort to make the time.

Can you help me walk through this decision by sharing some of your thoughts?

If you are a blogger where are you in your journey? What is the driving force behind your decision to blog?

And as a reader what drives you to blogs?

Do ads annoy you as much as they do me?

I value your impute and hope you can help me walk through this decision of what to do in my own journey.

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