Where Have I Been??

Hey there.

I’m sorry I haven’t been on your screens for a while guys. In all honesty, time has just flown by (I feel like I say this at some point almost every single month). I mean seriously, I have no idea how it’s almost September already?! More importantly, how is the Bank Holiday over already?!

Bank holiday weekend!

Where’ve I Been?

I looked over by blog earlier this week and realised that the only blog posts published this month were recipes that I wrote and scheduled out back in July. I’ve actually written nothing new this month. I’ve worked on several draft outlines but I’ve not been able to finish anything – I’ve been so indecisive. My lack of posting (and general interaction with you guys) has shown on my stats – they’ve been seriously bad this month! I’ve been struggling with motivation and there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen, or even a half written post. It’s kinda demoralising and you start doubting yourself as a blogger.

So, I chose to ignore the blog for a week…well I thought it was a week…turned out to be the best part of a month. It was a conscious decision not to work on Brighteyed and Bewildered for a little while for two reasons. Firstly, to give my blogging brain a bit of a break; trying to finish off my draft posts clearly wasn’t going to work. Secondly, to give myself a bit of down time. One thing people don’t realise about blogging is that it’s pretty much a lifestyle choice. Now I know that sounds crazy but it really is. I’m constantly looking for inspiration, scheduling social media posts, reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, writing and editing posts, don’t even get me started on photos! So having time to chill out in an evening, watch a film, even go to a pub quiz has been awesome.

Finally, I’ve been focusing a lot on my new project which I can tell you a bit more about now! Yay!

Flourishing Freelancer

Flourishing Freelancer

So, you probably know that I’ve been blogging for a little while now. What you probably don’t know is how tough I’ve found it! There’s so much to learn from building your blog and creating content to choosing the right plugins and deciding on the best ways to monetise your blog.

The more I researched into building a better blog and growing my following, the more I realised how much the “background stuff” interested me so I started reading and researching more and more out of interest.

The main thing I found when I was doing that research was just how much information is out there. And, rather frustratingly, how conflicting and confusing it all is. So, I decided to help people like me and create a little bit of the internet where you can find information and advice on building and growing your own blog. And that’s where Flourishing Freelancer comes in. It’s about having a community of creative minds, writers, bloggers and generally awesome people. It’s about giving readers a place to find answers to their blogging questions.

You might have also guessed from the title of the blog that freelancing will feature heavily too. It’s something I’m just starting out on and, similarly to blogging, there’s a whole world of confusing information out there. I figured that the best way to help people starting out as a freelance writer is to document my journey.

The Flourishing Freelancer site will consist of a blog, free downloads (such as plans and worksheets to help you out) and, eventually, some webinars and the Flourishing Freelancer Course. 

The site isn’t live just yet so don’t get too excited and start looking for it! I’ve got a week booked off in early September which I’m hoping will give me time to tidy up the basics and get the site launched.

So What’s Next?

I feel a bit rubbish for having neglected this blog for so long. On the plus side, I have lots of works in progress which, once I have my motivation back, will be easy to turn into new and exciting posts. It might be that I just leave it til my week off in September. I’ll see how I feel after work tomorrow!

This weekend I’ve been working on my super geeky schedule which covers this blog…I have a separate one for the new project…so hopefully be back on track shortly. 

For now, I’m going to end my bank holiday Monday by watching old episodes of Sherlock Holmes in bed (the BBC ones with Benedict Cumberbatch in), eating cheese on toast.

Baked Lemon Turkey with Tagliatelle

Baked Lemon Turkey RollsI have a confession to make here – I actually don’t know where this recipe came from. So if it’s your recipe please let me know so I can give you credit for it! Anyway, a friend emailed it to me about three years ago and I still love it. Now, I have a slight aversion to turkey (purely psychological) so I usually use chicken for this recipe but it’s up to you what you want to use.

Serves                        Two

Prep Time                 10 minutes

Cooking Time         30 minutes

Calories                      512 per portion

Ingredients

4 x 75 g thin turkey (or chicken) breast steaks

100 g reduced fat cottage cheese with onion and chives (plain works well too)

4 thin slices prosciutto ham

300 ml chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons white wine

1 lemon, sliced into wedges

4-6 garlic cloves, whole

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

120 g tagliatelle

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Handful of basil or parsley, chopped to garnish (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180 °C. Place a piece of clingfilm on the work surface and put the turkey steaks on top. Cover them with another piece of clingfilm and bash gentle with a rolling pin or frying pan, to make the steaks bigger and thinner.

2. Remove the top sheet of clingfilm and spread the cottage cheese on to the steaks. Season.

3. Roll up the turkey steaks, then roll each in a piece of prosciutto. Place the rolls in a small ovenproof dish.

4. Pour the stock and wine over the rolls and arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and tomatoes around them. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions. Drain.

6. Remove the dish from the oven. Mash the baked garlic and lemon with a fork, removing the papery garlic skins and lemon rind, and stir through the juices. Serve the turkey rolls on top of the tagliatelle and spoon over the juices. Scatter with basil or parsley, if using, and serve.

Balti Pork with Chick Peas

Balti Pork with Chick PeasI LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe. It’s another one from the Weight Watchers Just For Me book but I like to quadruple the ingredients so it feeds me and the OH for two meals. It’s also perfect just for one person too. The recipe is fairly mild (I cannot handle spice at all) so feel free to add more chilli if you like your food slightly spicier.

Serves                        One

Prep Time                 10 minutes

Cooking Time         20 minutes

Calories                      336 per portion

Ingredients

Low fat cooking spray

150 g lean pork loin steak, sliced thinly

1 small onion, sliced thinly

1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 green pepper. de-seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tablespoon tomato puree

75 g canned no-sugar chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and ground pepper

Method

1. Heat a wok or non-stick frying pan and spray with the cooking spray, add the pork and stir fry over a medium high heat for 2 minutes until browned all over. Remove to a separate plate.

2. Re-spray the wok or pan with the cooking spray, add the onion and stir fry for 5 minutes until softened. Then add the chilli, garlic and pepper and sir fry for another minute.

3. Return the pork to the wok or pan and stir in the garam masala, tomato puree, chick peas and 6 tablespoons of water. Cook over a medium low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and a little extra water, if necessary, then season and serve.

 

Like the sizzling steak stir fry, I don’t serve this with rice or anything else as my dinners are usually quite small and light on carbs but you could easily cook some brown rice to accompany this dish if you wanted.

Sizzling Steak Stir Fry

Steak Stir Fry

Steak Stir FryThis recipe is from an old Weight Watchers book I have called Just For Me. It’s full of super healthy recipes – breakfast, lunch and dinner – that you can cook for one. Or you can double up the ingredients and cook for two.

Serves                    One (or double up for two!)

Prep Time             10 minutes

Cooking Time     7 minutes

Calories                 285 per serving

Ingredients

Low fat cooking spray

2.5 cm piece of root ginger, grated finely

100 g lean fillet or sirloin beef steak, cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon tomato puree mixed with 100 ml water

4 spring onions

150 g mushrooms, sliced

100 g beansprouts

1/2 red pepper de-seeded and sliced thinly

Small bunch of coriander, chopped

Method

1. Heat a large, non-stick pan or wok and spray with the cooking spray. Stir fry the ginger for 10 seconds and then add the steak and stir fry for 2 minutes, until it begins to brown.

2. Add all the other ingredients and stir fry for 5 minutes, then serve.

To keep it healthy, I don’t serve with rice or noodles, but you can add them too if you like.

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Earl Grey CupcakesI have another confession to make….I’ve not actually tried to make these yet but it’s on the agenda for Sunday afternoon this weekend. I have however eaten LOTS of them and they taste so good!

Serves                        Makes 12 cupcakes

Prep Time                 20 minutes

Cooking Time         20 minutes

Calories                      Who cares?! These are meant to be a treat!

Ingredients

2 earl grey tea bags

Butter (for greasing)

60 ml boiling water

80 ml milk

100 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 eggs

160 g caster sugar

190 g self-raising flour

230 g icing sugar

1½ teaspoons breakfast marmalade

1½ teaspoons orange juice

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180. Brush 12 medium muffin pans with room temperature butter to lightly grease.

2. Empty the tea leaves from the tea bags into a cup and add the boiling water. Set aside for 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the milk and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter, eggs, sugar and flour to the tea mixture. Beat the mixture until pale and creamy (it may look slightly curdled).

4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased muffin pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2-3 minutes to cool.

5. Combine the icing sugar and marmalade in a small bowl. Add enough juice to make a very thick paste. Use a teaspoon dipped in hot water to spread the icing over the tops of the cooled cakes.