Come Dine With Us challenge – part 1

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It’s no secret that I love food and I love to cook, so when one of Dane’s friends suggested doing a Come Dine With Me style evening with a group of us I thought it was a brilliant idea.

We were the first to host, and after toying with the idea of doing some sort of roast/Christmas dinner, we settled on a somewhat Spanish themed evening and decided to make lots of different tapas style dishes. come dine with me 1

We love tapas and Spanish food in general and took inspiration from my favourite restaurant in York, Ambiente Tapas. They also have a restaurant in Leeds so check them out if you live up north! Dane also has family friends who live in Gran Canaria and has spent a lot of time there, which is why he was in charge of the Spanish tortilla and the “wrinkly” potatoes on the menu. I think the potatoes were actually one of everybody’s favourite dishes throughout the evening, but more about the menu to come later in this post.

The Spanish tortilla

The Spanish tortilla

I’d been working until midnight the evening before so preparation began at 11am sharp the next morning and I’m not joking when I say we were in the kitchen all day!

Although there was no £1,000 cash prize at stake like in the real Channel 4 show, Dane and I still wanted to win, so it was all hands on deck to make sure we prepared some awesome tapas and equally brilliant entertainment.

Our guests weren’t arriving until about 7.30pm that evening so we used the day to prepare as much as we could. We made the desserts first before moving on to the dishes that could be served cold. We prepped the wrinkly potatoes along with a hot sauce to accompany them and fried some other potatoes ready to make the Spanish tortilla later.

The 'wrinkly' potatoes with hot mojo sauce & the dates with bacon

The ‘wrinkly’ potatoes with hot mojo sauce & the dates with bacon

Aside from the food we also prepared the entertainment. We decided to do some couples head to head challenges including a Mr and Mrs style quiz like the TV programme. We decorated paddles and wrote different sets of questions specific to each couple and decided we’d ask them to write some for us when they arrived. We also did Heads Up and the Malteser game. For the Malteser game you have about 8 Maltesers on a plate at one side of the room and using just a straw you have to get them into a glass at the other side of the room. The final game was who could build the tallest and most solid structure out of raw spaghetti and marshmallows in just five minutes – let me tell you, that five minutes goes quickly!

We made the remainder of the food just before the guests arrived and had a paella cooking while we tucked in to a little starter of olives, meats and breads.

Our Spanish inspired menu

Our Spanish inspired menu

The paella

The paella

Here’s our menu in more detail:
– Board of olives, Spanish meats, cheese, bread and various dips
– Chorizo & prawn skewers which were made up of chorizo, prawns, red onion, pepper and courgette
– Judias Verdes which is essentially greens pan-fried in garlic butter, toasted pine nuts and sundried tomatoes. The greens we used were tenderstem broccoli and green beans.
– Chicken and seafood paella
– A classic Spanish tortilla
– Canarian “wrinkly” potatoes with hot mojo sauce
– Datille con bacon (dates with bacon!) on a bed of rocket. We removed the stone from the dates before stuffing them with a blanched almond, wrapping them in bacon and pan frying them. They are amazing!
– Pudding was a chocolate orange brownie (the world’s best brownie!!) served with Yorkshire ice cream or a banoffee cheesecake.

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The PUDDINGS!!!! :D

The PUDDINGS!!!! 😀

We have been given marks but we won’t see them until the other two couples have hosted their dinner party. After each evening you record your thoughts/scores in a video on your phone and keep it until the end of the competition – looking forward to seeing those already!

All in all it was a fantastic evening and we had a lot of fun! I’ll admit, we did get somewhat stressed during the day but when you’re actually sat down and enjoying the food you forget about all of that. Cooking for other people is definitely something I want to do more of in 2016 so watch this space!

The next installment of Come Dine With Us will be held next month so I’ll post about their menu afterwards.

If you’d like the recipe for any of the dishes made just comment below or Tweet me @HannahBryan91 or on Instagram @HBryan91 and I’ll post them for you!

🙂

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Nutty chocolate squares

Warning: This recipe is definitely not healthy BUT it is delicious!

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Ok, so these might not be one of the so-called clean bakes I like to create but they are so yummy and perfect if you fancy a treat or if you’ve got friends/family coming over – and who doesn’t like chocolatey treats!?

I made these for my mum who had to take some sweet treats into work for a cake sale.  I also made a batch for the whole family to devour and we all loved them. The recipe is actually one from my Grandma so I can’t take credit for this creation but I guarantee you won’t be left disappointed if you do give them a try!

You will need:
– 2 medium sized eggs
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 tsp vanilla essence
– 1 1/2 cups pecan nuts, chopped
– 1/2 cup plain flour
– 1/4 cup caster sugar
– 1/2 cup golden syrup
– 3oz plain chocolate, finely chopped
– 3 tbsp butter
– pecan nuts to decorate

Mixing together the sugar and golden syrup

Mixing together the sugar and golden syrup

To make:
– Start by whisking the eggs, vanilla and salt together.
– In a separate bowl mix the chopped nuts and flour.
– In a pan bring the sugar and golden syrup to the boil gradually then remove from the heat. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
– Once removed from the heat stir in the chocolate and the butter which should all melt in. Gradually mix in the egg, vanilla and salt mixture before folding in the pecan and flour mix.
– Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin and bake for about 35 minutes on 180 degrees.
– Once ready (you can check the squares are ready by inserting a knife into the middle of the bake & if it comes out clean, they’re ready!) decorate each square with a nut on top and drizzle with chocolate before cutting up in to squares!

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Tag me in your creations using #hannahshappypace on Twitter (@HannahBryan91) or Instagram (@HBryan91)

Yoga month: good for running, CrossFit & your abs!

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It’s that time again when another challenge month has come to an end and it’s on to the next. February was yoga month where Dane and I did at least 10 minutes of yoga every day.

We decided on ten minutes because it seemed like a manageable amount of time to fit in to our day and could easily be done in the morning, before bed or as a way to stretch after training.

We usually ended up doing more though and I downloaded two yoga apps and went on YouTube for tutorials. After a week or so though I had learnt enough combinations to create my own routine.  Check out Dane’s website – All Things Movement –  where he will soon be posting a 20 minute yoga routine guaranteed to get that blood pumping and those muscles working.

As a runner I have inevitably tight hips, tight hamstrings and poor shoulder mobility from the repetitive motion of pounding the pavements but after 28 days of yoga I saw noticeable differences.

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Here’s what I noticed:

– Positions such as classic downward dog helped me to improve the flexibility of my hamstrings and over the course of the month simple moves such as forward bends became easier and I could gradually go forward that little bit more. I do think it’s important to say that without pushing myself during some sessions I might not have improved as much and yes it is painful but like any other training the pain is worth it.

– My general mobility and range of motion improved. I noticed that my squat depth improved as I had been struggling with this after the marathon due to majorly tight hip flexors. Not only that but the range of motion in my shoulders improved too which I am thrilled about as it’s something I really need to work on. Again, I’m not going to lie this was painful at times and I had to push myself.

– Yoga isn’t painful all the time though! It gave me new ways to stretch after running, a way to relax before bed and a better way to start the day with that wonderful yoga feeling. If you’re a CrossFitter, yoga can help to counter some of that soreness after a tough metcon WOD as well. I also slept better which, although I can’t be sure, I believe was helped by yoga.

– Holding a pose or stretch and feeling that “burn” makes it easier to push through the pain of a long run – obviously don’t push through if you’re injured – but it can help you to focus and work through it when you’re struggling. It takes your mind (and body) to a place where you can access that endurance when you need it most during a race or training run.

– Practicing yoga helped me to breathe more efficiently when exercising and is something I think is particularly beneficial to runners. It can help with efficiency and eventually your breathing will naturally match your pace.

– I became more aware of where my body was/where I was placing my weight. My balance improved and I was aware of how I needed to adjust the weight to improve my balance and performance. This not only helped with my running but also in CrossFit with elements such as engaging my shoulders when doing an overhead squat and squatting in general thinking about which part of my foot I was putting my weight on.

– Yoga helps to improve strength and most definitely your core strength as you have to stay tight during each pose.

I definitely think that to keep seeing these benefits I need to keep some yoga in my training routine. I won’t do it every day but I will try and aim for one or two 30 minute sessions a week – I really enjoyed it! 

Dane and I decided to round off yoga month with some acroyoga and I’m still laughing at our attempts! My abs certainly got a good workout from all the laughing as well!

We did manage to nail a few poses though and it was so much fun! I definitely think that the 28 days of yoga prior to that helped with my strength, mobility and flexibility.

Here’s what we managed to do… (keep reading for a hilarious acroyoga fail video.)

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Acroyoga fails….(I’m still laughing now!!)

On the second one watch how quickly Dane manages to get his legs in to that lotus position!!

March is handstand month – follow @hbryan91 on Instagram and @hannahbryan91 on Twitter to see what we’re doing. I’ll post a piece soon on the handstand progressions I’ll be doing!

🙂

 

Nutella cheesecake bites

WARNING: if you’re counting calories look away now!  

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You may have noticed that most of my recipes posted on this site are paleo or have low sugar content but not these. Hannah’s Happy Pace is all about finding that balance and trust me, these are the perfect solution for when you crave a sweet treat.

You will need:

For the base:                                                                                                            `
300g biscuits – we used chocolate chip Hobnobs
100g butter

For the topping:
4 heaped tablespoons of Nutella
100g Icing sugar
400g Cream cheese

To make:

-Put the biscuits into a sandwich bag and tie tightly making sure you’ve squeezed the air out. Then take a rolling pin or something similar and bash the biscuits up until they’re really crumbly.
– Melt the butter either in a pan on the hob or in the microwave and tip in to a mixing bowl along with the biscuits and stir until well combined.
– Get a cupcake baking tray and line with cake cases. Put about 1 tbsp of the biscuit and butter base into each case, pressing down to form a firm cheesecake base.
– Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm.
– To make the Nutella topping combine the cream cheese, Nutella and icing sugar in to a mixing bowl and stir well. (It was at this point that I almost forgot about the biscuit base entirely and just began spooning the mixture in to my mouth! If you thought Nutella was good, wait until cream cheese is added to it!!)
– Add about 1 heaped tsp on to the biscuit base and then pop back into the fridge for about 40 minutes to set. Once set, remove from the cake cases and voila – mini Nutella cheesecake bites, it’s as simple as that!

To make it different, why not use Oreos as the base? Or even crumble some Reese’s peanut butter cups in to it as well. Or add some Nutella to the base mixture if you’re really a chocolate fan.

Tag #Hannahshappypace on Twitter and Instagram if you make them – I want to see your creations! 🙂

Enjoy.