Things I have been cooking lately #71: Enchilada Casserole

I really love Mexican flavours and this super tasty easy recipe makes a great mid-week meal. Unfortunately once again my food photography has been a disaster but I promise it tastes absolutely delicious even if it looks a bit weird in this picture. Oh… and it’s vegetarian too!

Enchilada casserole

1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper (or any combination of the above)
1/2 a red onion
2 cups of frozen or tinned sweetcorn
Hot chili powder
Smoked paprika
Ground cumin
1 tin or refried beans
2 cups cheese
1 enchilada kit – Old El Paso or similar – I used Sainsbury’s own brand
OR1 cup of enchilada sauce
8 corn wraps

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Chop the peppers and onion into 1 inch chunks.. Spread out across a baking sheet. Sprinkle with chilli, paprika, cumin and salt. I didn’t measure… I just gave it a hearty sprinkle of each. Obviously if you want it hot, put more chilli or if not, put less. Spread the corn across another baking sheet, also sprinkle with the chilli, paprika, cumin and salt. Put both baking trays in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning half way.

While the veggies are roasting, cut the wraps from your kit into 1cm wide strips. Spread a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of a medium sized oven safe baking dish and spread out a layer of the wrap strips. Put the refried beans in a bowl and mix with a little water to get a spreadable consistency.

When the veggies are done mix them together and then add half of them to the baking dish. Cover with half the remaining enchilada sauce and then another layer of wrap strips. Spread across the refried beans and half the cheese. Then another layer of wrap strips, another layer of veg and another layer of enchilada sauce. Finish with a layer of wrap strips and then the rest of the cheese and a final sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Serves 4


Outfit of the week #44: In between days

London is in that weird in between weather stage where the temperature variation during the day is vast and you’re never quite sure if it’s suddenly going to turn really cold, pour with rain or even produce a sudden blast of sunshine.  This time of year always leads to some bonkers outfits and it’s not uncommon to spot hotch potch half winter/half summer looks on the tube. Sandals with a winter coat, anyone?

I’d like to hope I’ve done a good job of managing the in between days with today’s casual look. I am wearing a blue and white long sleeved stretch t-shirt from Primark with stone washed skinny blue jeans from New Look, a bird patterned navy scarf from Oliver Bonas,  an oversize tan cardigan from River Island, a vintage beaded heart necklace from Beyond Retro and my leopard print Superga trainers via Office. No idea what is up with my crazy fringe.








My top 10 Nicolas Cage roles

Recently as part of coverage of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Josh from JJames Reviews and Ruth from Flixchatter shared their top 10 Nicolas Cage roles and I couldn’t resist joining in. After all dear old Nic is one of those bizarre Hollywood institutions that is capable of a brilliant performance given the right opportunity but instead mostly squanders his “talent” on terrible, terrible action movies. Although in recent years he’s ended up being more of a figure of fun than a serious thesp, I have picked out some of the roles that I remember loving him in… some for all the wrong reasons. Here’s my top 10.

 NICOLAS CAGE as Yuri Orlov in LORD OF WAR directed by ANDREW NICCOL
The role: Yuri Orlov, an arms dealer with conflicted morals
The film: Lord of War (2005)
Crazy eyes rating: Two spinning gun barrels out of ten.
Respectability rating: 7/10
“Yuri Orlov: Of all the weapons in the vast soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It’s the world’s most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn’t break, jam, or overheat. It’ll shoot whether it’s covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people’s greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.

Terence McDonagh
The role: Terence McDonagh, a cop with a penchant for drugs, loose women and gambling
The Film:  The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009)
Crazy eyes rating: Eight buzzing quaaludes out of ten
Respectability rating: 5/10
“Terence McDonagh: Everything I take is prescription – except for the heroin.”

The role: Seth, an angel who chooses to leave heaven after he falls in love with a doctor
The Film: City of Angels (1998)
Crazy eyes rating: One pearly pear out of ten
Respectability rating: 5/10
“Seth: I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.”

sailor ripley
The role: Sailor Ripley, a jailbird in love
The film: Wild at Heart (1990)
Crazy eyes rating: Eight glowing fag ends out of ten
Respectability rating: 6/10… depending on how you feel about David Lymch
“Sailor: Man, I had a boner with a capital “O”.

Ronny Cammareri
The role: Ronny Cammareri, a rough but passionate bakery oven attendant with a missing hand
The film: Moonstruck (1987)
Crazy eyes rating: Five glazed rolls out of ten
Respectability rating: 8/10
“Ronny Cammareri: Everything seems like nothing to me now, ’cause I want you in my bed. I don’t care if I burn in hell. I don’t care if you burn in hell. The past and the future is a joke to me now. I see that they’re nothing. I see they ain’t here. The only thing that’s here is you – and me.”

The role: H.I. McDunnough, an ex-con who desperately wants to be a dad
The film: Raising Arizona (1987)
Crazy eyes rating: Seven fizzing pineapples out of 10
Respectability rating: 9/10
“H.I.: That night, I had a dream. I drifted off thinking about happiness, birth and new life, But now I was haunted by a vision of… He was horrible. The lone biker of apocalypse. A man with all the powers of Hell at his command. He could turn turn the day into night and lay to waste everything in his path. He was especially hard on little things-the helpless and the gentle creatures. He left a scorched earth in his wake befouling even the sweet desert breeze that whipped across his brow. I didn’t know where he came from or why. I didn’t know if he was dream or vision. But I feared that I myself had unleashed him. For he was the fury that would be as soon as Florence Arizona found her little Nathan gone.

family man
The role: Jack Campbell, a selfish businessman who finds out what his life would have been like if he married the one that got away
The film: The Family Man (2000)
Crazy eyes rating: One baby sock out of ten
Respectability rating: 1/10 – I really should not like this movie
“Jack: We have a house in Jersey. We have two kids, Annie and Josh. Annie’s not much of a violin player, but she tries real hard. She’s a little precocious, but that’s only because she says what’s on her mind. And when she smiles… And Josh, he has your eyes. He doesn’t say much, but we know he’s smart. He’s always got his eyes open, he’s always watching us. Sometimes you can look at him and you just know he’s learning something new. It’s like witnessing a miracle. The house is a mess but it’s ours. After 122 more payments, it’s going to be ours. And you, you’re a non-profit lawyer. That’s right, you’re completely non-profit, but that doesn’t seem to bother you. And we’re in love. After 13 years of marriage we’re still unbelievably in love. You won’t even let me touch you until I’ve said it. I sing to you. Not all the time, but definitely on special occasions. We’ve dealt with our share of surprises and made a lot of sacrifices but we’ve stayed together. You see, you’re a better person than I am. And it made me a better person to be around you. I don’t know, maybe it was just all a dream. Maybe I went to bed one lonely night in December and I imagined it all. But I swear, nothing has ever felt more real. And if you get on that plane right now, it’ll disappear forever. I know we could both go on with our lives and we’d both be fine, but I’ve seen what we could be like together. And I choose us.

The role: Castor Troy / Sean Archer, a cop who switches identities with a master criminal
The film: Face/Off (1997)
Crazy eyes rating: Nine spinning peaches out of ten
Respectability rating: 4/10
“Castor Troy: I AM Castor Troy!”

Big daddy
The role: Damon Macready/Big Daddy, father/super hero
The film: Kick-Ass (2010)
Crazy eyes rating: Ten 44 caliber bullets out of ten
Respectability rating: 9/10
“Damon Macready: So… Have you thought a little more about what you might want for your birthday?
Mindy Macready: Can I get a puppy?
Damon Macready: [surprised] You wanna get a dog?
Mindy Macready: Yeah, a cuddly fluffy one, and a Bratz movie-star make over Sasha!
[Damon is stunned]
Mindy Macready: [laughs] I’m just fucking with you Daddy! Look, I’d love a Benchmade model 42 butterfly knife.
Damon Macready: [relieved] Oh, child… You always knock me for a loop!”

ben sanderson
The role: Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic screenwriter who arrives in Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death
The film: Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Crazy eyes rating: Three swiveling gimlets out of ten
Respectability rating: 10/10
“Ben Sanderson: We both know that I’m a drunk. And I know you are a hooker. I hope you understand that I am a person who is totally at ease with that. Which is not to say that I’m indifferent or I don’t care, I do. It simple means that I trust and accept your judgment.”

Film Friday #175

Divergent (2014)

In a dystopian future Chicago, society is divided into five factions according to its citizens virtues and values. Abnegation, who also run the overall government, believe in selflessness and service, Candor believe in truth and transparency, Amity believe in peace and kindness, Erudite in the power of knowledge and Dauntless are a wild, fearless warrior faction responsible for protecting the city from whatever it is that lurks beyond its walls. As each member of the society comes of age, they must undertake a test which will tell them conclusively which one faction they belong in. So when Abnegation teen, Tris (Shailene Woodley) receives a mixed result and discovers she is “divergent” she must hide her true identity to avoid being hunted down by Erudite purists who believe divergence threatens societal harmony. She decides to join Dauntless, enticed by the apparent freedom of their lives but finds herself subjected to a brutal and ruthless training programme at the hands of instructors, Eric (Jai Courtney) and Four (Theo James). Those who do not make it will face a fate worse than death – becoming factionless, alone and forced to beg and scrape to survive. At the same time someone is spreading rumours that Abnegation are corrupt and the Erudite are becoming progressively more aggressive in their hunt for divergents. Will Tris survive the Dauntless training programme? Will she and Four become more than just friends? What will she do if her secret comes out? And what exactly is Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the Erudite leader up to? I went into this one with very low expectations having read several less than glowing reviews so I was quite pleasantly surprised. I have read the books and although I didn’t love some of the changes, I thought for the the most part the interpretation stayed true to the essence of the story and I really enjoyed Shailene Woodley as Tris. On the downside, the character development of all the secondary characters was almost non-existent, which made it hard to care about them, the chemistry between Woodley and James was completely flat, it dragged a bit in the middle and Tris’ transformation from zero to fighting machine seemed a little too sudden. Worth a watch but no match for Hunger Games. 3/5


I know I was much hotter in the book, but just go with it

Monster-in-law (2005)

Hippie artist, Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) thinks her dating woes have come to an end when she meets Kevin (Michael Vartan), who has looks, money, charm and a big heart. Ah bless! Unfortunately Kevin’s mother, Viola (Jane Fonda) is a psycho hose beast who doesn’t believe anyone, least of all unsophisticated Charlie, is good enough for her perfect son and sets about systematically trying to ruin their relationship. There are lots of things wrong with this film. It’s utterly predictable and J-Lo plays her character as an annoying, passive and somewhat pathetic little girl. However, Fonda is actually really funny playing a devil in a designer suit and the diabolical plans her character comes up with to discredit Charlie are kind of brilliant. In the end Monster-in-Law is nothing special but it is watchable and mercifully only 101 minutes long. 2.5/5

What do you mean a tea cosy isn't appropriate wear for lunch at a country club?

What do you mean a tea cosy isn’t appropriate wear for lunch at a country club?

Ender’s Game (2013)

Years after Earth was invaded by a race of voracious, water seeking aliens called the Formics, young Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is recruited into a military programme where children and young teenagers are training for a future invasion through games and simulations. Under the watchful gaze of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender shows remarkable leadership potential but struggles to integrate with his teammates until he takes over his own team of “misfits” and he not only makes friends but also proves himself to be a force to be reckoned with. Now he will lead the attack force against the Formics but will he be able to control his aggression and are the Formics really as evil as he’s been lead to believe? Ender’s Game looks really good and the young actors do a great job but I ended up with way too many questions. If the Formics were completely unable to communicate, how did they know they were called the Formics… or did they just randomly name them that? Also the explanation that children were being used for complex military missions involving extreme violence and killing because they “played a lot of video games” wasn’t enough for me. I mean, seriously? What kind of a society is this? And then they ending was summed up in about five minutes. I know there is a YA novel behind this so I am assuming this is yet another ham fisted screen interpretation. Disappointing. 2/5

Yes, fine, you look like a giant wasp… now get on with it!

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Lance (Robin Williams) is a lonely widowed high school teacher who has trouble connecting with his rude, obnoxious, sex obsessed teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara). When Kyle dies in an autoerotic asphyxiation accident, Lance can’t bear the shame so he decides to make Kyle’s death look like a suicide, complete with heartfelt note. Unsurprisingly Lance is deluged in sympathy and he can’t help but enjoy the attention, which only becomes more intense when Kyle’s touching “suicide note” is leaked. Soon a cult of personality is built up around the late Kyle, who becomes posthumously popular when Lance releases his diaries… which he has of course written. As the obsession with Kyle increases so does the perception of Lance as a wonderful bereaved father, leading to the fame and fortune he has craved as a frustrated writer but how far is he willing to go? This is comedy of the absolute blackest order and Williams does a great job of portraying a character that is both very sympathetic and loathsome at the same time. It doesn’t seem like World’s Greatest Dad got much publicity at the time that it came out, which is unfortunate because it’s kind of great in all it’s twisted glory. Recommended for anyone who prefers their laughs on the macabre side. 3.5/5

"All these perfect fake boobies... it's enough to bring tears to your eyes."

“All these perfect fake boobies… it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.”

Things I have been cooking lately #70: Fish baps with tartare sauce and homemade mushy peas

After a bit of a hiatus where I just ate what other people were cooking (mostly Mr Osbiston who has been doing a fabulous job experimenting in the kitchen) I have finally gotten back in front of the stove and what better recipe book to go with than Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. This time I decided to try out his fish baps, which were utterly delicious. Once again this is a fast paced recipe so make sure you have all your ingredients ready.

Fish baps with tartare sauce and homemade mushy peas

Adapted from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

4 wholewheat baps
4 large white fish fillets, halved (about 480g in total) – I used pollock
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup plain flour
Olive oil
25g of Parmesan cheese
1 punnet of cress
juice of one lemon
1 medium potato
500g of frozen peas
1/2 bunch of fresh mint
3 cornichons
1/2 tablespoon of capers
1/2 a little gem lettuce
100g of natural yoghurt
1/4 bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon

Turn your oven onto 130 C and put the baps in the oven. Put a large frying pan over a high heat, put your kettle on to boil and set up your food processor with the bowl blade.

Slice the potato into 1/2cm thick slices, place in a medium pot, cover with boiling water for the kettle and place over a high heat with the lid on.

Spread out the fish on a piece of greaseproof paper and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper on both sides. Sprinkle over the flour to coat.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan, add the fish fillets and fry until golden on one side, then flip and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Add the frozen peas and the leafy part of the mint to the pot with the potatoes and replace the lid.

Add the yoghurt, cornichons, capers, lettuce and parsley to the food processor , squeeze in the lemon juice and process. Season to taste and pour into a bowl to serve.

Check the fish. If it is cooked through then take it off the heat and set aside.

Rinse out out the food processor. Drain the peas, potatoes and mint and add to the food processor. Process to a puree.

Take the baps out of the oven and cut in half.

Serve the fish fillets inside the baps with the tartare sauce, lemon wedges, a sprinkling of cress and the mushy peas on the side.

Serves 2 – 4

Fish baps


Outfit of the week #43: Club Tropicana

Carrying on from last week’s boundary pushing outfits, this week I have taken a step further and gone for my first crop top in about 17 years. Once again, I love how versatile a high-waisted bottom half can be. This skirt cuts my body at its narrowest which makes it super flattering. Thanks to my dad for letting us take these pics in his tropical garden.

I am wearing a white and baby pink palm tree print crop top with a high-waisted fit and flare denim midi skirt and a woven pastel and silver statement necklace all from Primark. I am also wearing embellished tan leather thong sandals from Topshop and a pair of white 60s sunglasses I found in the ra ra Retro stock cupboard.