Saturday, 19 November 2016


Recipe of the week... Soprano Salad

Time taken: Quarter of an hour max

Ingredients: Rocket, yellow pepper, cherry/plum tomatoes, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, salad dressing, mozzarella, Italian red wine

Hi readers,

How are things today? How’s the weekend kicking off?? Have you had a fun start to it? There are only 2 days in a weekend so you have to use them wisely! If you’re looking back on today thinking yeahhhh great Saturday… then good for you! Keep up the good work tomorrow!

If you’re looking back on Saturday like… where did the day even go? This is meant to be ‘me time’ it doesn’t look that way?? Do not fear, readers, for there’s still time! You’ve got a whole other day to go at yet – you can turn this weekend around. Sit yourself down and form a plan for tomorrow.

My plans for Sunday tend to be either entirely things I will do – like I WILL feed the squirrels at the park, and I WILL run a bath, and I WILL do a new colouring in my colouring-in book. Or entirely things I won’t do like I WILL NOT check my work email, and I WILL NOT put on make-up, and I WILL NOT spend any money online shopping.

Will just have to see how my Sunday outlook is in the morning! Either way, on quiet weekends like this one I like to have a leisurely time on a Sunday. Often, this involves lounging around in the morning watching Sunday Brunch and then breaking out in the afternoon for some fresh air and human/squirrel contact.

And this is great! I’ve barely been in my home all week, readers, with work and family commitments. And with self-inflicted pressure to make the most of my gym membership. And then today I’ve spent the whole day trying to clean the house – to make it homely and habitable once more – and cleaning the clothes I’ve been running around in all week.

Feels good to have the chores all done. But if that were my last day alive... then I’d feel cheated.

So tomorrow is the day for fun. Guilt-free! Four things happened this week that make me realise just how important it is to take time to enjoy life…

·      First, I read an article in Grazia written about the singer Adele and the struggles she’s had, as many first-time mothers and fathers do, with becoming a new parent. She's said that not a day goes by, where she doesn’t at least once wish that she could just go back… to doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Which you can’t always do as a mum.
·      Then, after struggling for two months, one of my best friends quit the teacher training course that they were enrolled on this week, because it made them unhappy every day. They don’t know what else to do in life – but know that it isn’t teaching that will bring them happiness.
·      And my boss told me that he doesn’t care what my working hours are as long as I’m well rested and able to do a good job, working whichever hours suit me.
·      Plus, this week my grandma finally got to leave hospital after 2-3 months there. But she can’t go home and won’t ever go home again – she has to go into a care home instead. If she’d know when she left the bungalow in September that she wouldn’t ever get to go back again – would she have taken one last look back as she walked down the drive?

Readers, all of this adds up to me sitting here on a Saturday night with a large glass of wine and a wonderful plate of food, watching back-to-back episodes of The Sopranos, with nothing but fun lined up for tomorrow.
Not a terrible Saturday night in

If I want to read a Sunday newspaper on a park bench with a festive coffee? Then – so help me – that is what I will do. If I want to swim? Go see a film? Give something warm to a homeless person? Discover some place I’ve never been before? That’s what tomorrow is for.

Readers, whether you have ten children or none at all, whether you have a bath tub, receive work emails, live near a park with squirrels, own a colouring book… or just not at all. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. It’s important that you do.

So tonight, fuelled by my newfound love for The Sopranos boxset, I’ve thrown together a pretty impressive Italian-inspired insalata for my tea. Fancy rustling up your own Soprano Salad in just 10 easy steps?? Course you do. Well here’s how it’s done…

1.     Light a candle and set the table nicely. This is not on-your-knee settee fodder… this is a dish that demands Soprano-style respect.
2.     Take either half of a full-sized yellow pepper, or a few mini yellow peppers, and slice into bite-sized strips of pepper.
3.     Take a dozen cherry or plum tomatoes and chop each one in half.
4.     Fish a dozen black olives from your jar, pat them dry with some kitchen roll, and then slice each one in half.
5.     Fish half a dozen sun dried tomatoes from your jar, pat dry with kitchen roll, and then chop into bite-sized chunks.
6.     Tip a load of fresh rocket out onto a dinner plate, until the plate is covered with leaves.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you don’t have rocket, or don’t like rocket, then you can sub in any other leaf – but make sure the country of origin on the packet reads ITALY.
7.     Artistically sprinkle your pepper, tomato, olive and sun-dried tomato over your plateful of rocket.
8.     Drizzle your salad with any dressing you like – I went for a balsamic vinaigrette.
9.     Fish several mini mozzarella balls from their pot, pat dry with kitchen roll, and then top your salad with these.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you aren’t shopping in the wonder that is Lidl (finding weird and wonderful ingredients in the fridges!) then just sub-in a regular ball of mozzarella – pat dry and use your hands to tear it into bite-sized chunks of cheese.
10.  Serve your salad with a generous glass of Italian red and as you HAVE been terribly good throwing together a healthy salad… maybe raid the freezer for ice-cream and tuck into some tasty gelato for dessert??

What do you think, readers? Is this good or is this good?? No fancy or expensive ingredients required – just basic Mediterranean flavours thrown together to form a salad that defies winter. You wanted something warm, I hear? Well, feel that wine warming your belly!

So many people say Italian is their favourite kind of food to eat – but they mean pizza and pasta. When there’s so much more of the Italian cuisine that you can enjoy! From rice dishes like risotto and arancini, to a whole host of warm and cold salads options… adorned with Italian meats, cheeses and breads (for those of us who find life too short to be vegan).

I feel like Soprano Salad could fast become a favourite of mine! Such flavoursome ingredients and lots of colour on the plate. Very tempting and then very tasty once you tuck in. What do you think?? Any ideas for how we can make this even better? Fire away! If this can be bettered then Soprano Salad Take 2 it going to blow everyone away.

Readers, I’ll leave you to your boxsets. And your wine and Italian cuisine. But I hope this post has inspired you to give a winter salad a go… and to plan a super fun Sunday for yourself!

Enjoy life safely,


Give it a go! Soprano Salad

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