Dorset Cereals | Happiness Challenge

“Life begins at breakfast”…

…according to Dorset Cereals – so they’ve set me a ‘Breafkast Challenge’

The lovely people at Dorset Cereals have kindly sent me a load of Dorset Cereal goodies and set me a challenge – to sit down over breakfast and ponder happiness.

Well, as The Happiness Speaker and author of ‘Recipe for Happiness‘, I had to jump at this opportunity, of course!

Dorset Cereals | Happiness Begins at Breakfast

Over the past week or so, I have tucked into the wonderful breakfast goodies Dorset Cereals kindly sent me and made a point of taking time out to savour my breakfast and reflect.

On one such morning, as it was the weekend, I sat down with my eldest daughter, Charlie, and asked her what made her happy, too.  I was delighted by her answer:

Having nothing to do now I’ve finished my exams, and being able to have lots of lie-ins!

So many other teenagers who have finished their exams are already complaining of being bored, rather than ejoying the luxury of being able to relax, see their friends, sleep in the mornings and enjoy some well-earned rest.

Dorset Cereals with Raspberry Yoghurt

Dorset Cereals Raspberry & Apple Muesly with Easiyo Raspberries & Cream Yoghurt

 

Dorset Cereals with Toffee Yoghurt

Dorset Cereals ‘Simply Delicious Muesli’ with Easiyo Toffee Yoghurt

I’ve now sampled all the cereals I was sent and have enjoyed & savoured every mouthful.  I feel like I’m cheating a little as I talk and write about happiness all the time, but here are some of my TOP HAPPINESS BOOSTERS:

  • Gratitude – writing down 3 gratitudes per day
  • Savouring the little things/moments in life
  • Injecting energy into life – dance, sing, walk, go to the gym…whatever takes your fancy!  I’ve been going to the gym 3 times per week and exercising at home twice per week for the last 10 weeks and it’s made a huge difference to my energy levels, motivation and ability to focus on my work.
  • Accept that ‘stuff happens’ – not everything is under our control and trying to change that only leaves us frustrated
  • Ask for help!  You don’t have to do everything on your own.  Delegate, ask people to help you (emotionally, practically, financially) when you need it.  Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength.
Gratitude is possibly THE most important happiness-booster, in my opinion.  Here are just a few of the gratitudes I pondered as I woke up this morning and over my delicious bowl of Dorset Cereals Honey Porridge:
  • Having wonderful friends (and having planned a fun day with a few of them and their children today)
  • Music (and having tickets to go and see Blondie live tonight!)
  • My health
  • Lovely people sending me free food to write about in my blog! 😉
  • My wonderful family
  • Having a roof over our heads and food on the table
  • My professional support network
Over to you!  What makes YOU happy?  Answers in comments, please 🙂

Disclosure: I was sent free full-size cereal packs by Dorset Cereals for the purpose of blogging about breakfast and happiness.  The opinions in this blog are my own.

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Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad | Launch of #Uniformfoodies App

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Recipe created to celebrate the launch of the #Uniformfoodies App (Uniform Dating Recipe App)*

Today, Uniformdating.com have launched a new recipe app, featuring recipes by Two-Michellin-Starred Chef Michael Caines MBEUniform Foodies App Pic | Chef Michael Caines

As part of the launch, they have asked a few selected bloggers (and I am delighted to be one of them!) to create a recipe that would appeal to Uniformed Professionals.

You can follow Uniformfoodies on Twitter.

According to research carried out by Uniformdating.com, these are the No.1 dishes from Uniformed Professionals:

Nurses: Salad

Police Officers: Fish & Chips

Armed Forces: Indian Curry

Doctors: Fish & Chips

Fire Fighters: Indian Curry

Given that it is summer and that, in my experience, people often struggle to get creative when it comes to salads, I decided to set myself the challenge to create a new and unique salad recipe that would be quick and easy to cook at the end of a long shift.  Additionally, my warm duck and pine nut salad is very easy to scale up or down, so you can cook it for just one person, as a romantic dinner for two or for a whole family without complicated calculations to adjust the quantities.

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 4 duck breasts
  • 120g “Wild & Basmati” rice
  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 4 handfuls of wild rocket leaves
  • 4 pinches of pine nuts
  • 4tbsp marmalade (use a good quality marmalade with fine shreds of orange skin)
  • 4tsp runny honey
  • a few drops of balsamic vinegar (to taste)
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly-ground black pepper

Method

Wild and Basmati RiceStart by cooking the rice according to pack instructions.  I like to add a good pinch of sea salt to the cooking water for extra flavour.  Once cooked, drain using a sieve and set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing | Scored and seasoned duck breasts

Score the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife (without cutting the meat) and season with sea salt flakes and freshly-ground black pepper.

Pre-heat a non-stick frying pan and once it’s nice and hot, place the duck breasts into the pan, skin-side down.  Season the meat with sea salt flakes and freshly-ground black pepper.

Turn down the heat and cook for a couple of minutes, then turn the duck breasts over to cook the meat side.  After about 10 minutes, turn the duck breast again to give the skins another opportunity to brown, then turn back onto the meat side.  This will allow the fat to drain from the skins and the skins to crisp up.  In total, you will be cooking the duck breasts for approximately 15 minutes.  You will have to judge this depending on how chunky they are and how pink you like your duck breast meat to be.

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing | Duck breasts cooking in the pan

Take the duck breasts out of the pan and set aside to rest for a few minutes, while you make the dressing and start assembling the salad.

To make the dressing

Turn off the heat under the pan, but while it is still warm, add the marmalade and honey to the duck fat & juices in the pan and stir in well to ensure there are no lumps.  Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar and stir in, then check for taste.  Add a few more drops if you feel the dressing needs it.

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing | Baby Spinach Leaves | Wild Rocket LeavesTo assemble the salad

Place a handful of baby spinach leaves and wild rocket leaves on each plate.  Place a quarter of the now luke-warm cooked rice on top of each little pile of leaves.

Slice the duck breasts on a slight diagonal, then lift each duck breast (all slices of one breast) and place on top of the rice and leaves on one plate.  Repeat for each plate.

Drizzle a quarter of the dressing onto each duck breast.

Sprinkle on a few pine nuts.

Serve and enjoy!

Are you feeling creative in the kitchen?  As well as using the #Uniformfoodies App to view and cook delicious recipes, you can also upload your own recipes to share them with other users.

Warm Duck and Pine Nut Salad with Wild Rice and an Orange and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

 

*For disclosure reasons, I need to point out that I was provided with a small ingredients budget to create a recipe entirely of my choosing for the launch of the Uniformfoodies App.  This recipe is also my entry into the Uniformfoodies blogger competition.

Smoked Mackerel, Black Pudding, Poached Egg and Caviar Brunch

Quick & simple Brunch

Smoked Mackerel, Black Pudding, Poached Egg &  (Lumpfish) Caviar

After 2 long days of meetings, professional speaking engagements and travelling, I longed for a hearty brunch when I got home this morning, so I would feel ready to tackle the day ahead.

Smoked Mackerel Black Pudding Caviar Brunch

Everything in this was shop-bought so it was really quick & easy to make.

  • Dry-fry 2 slices of black pudding
  • Remove the skin from half a fillet of honey smoked mackerel, then cut into large chunks
  • Poach 2 eggs
  • Warm up a ready-made hollandaise sauce
  • Meanwhile toast 1 muffin, cut in half, and lather with butter
  • Open a tin/jar of lumpfish ‘caviar’

Assemble:

Place the 2 muffin halves on a plate, top each with a slice of black pudding, then place the smoked mackerel on top.  Top with the poached eggs (1 per muffin half), pour on the hollandaise sauce, sprinkle on some ‘caviar’.  Done!

Yummilicious!!