The Best of 2018

Tonight, from Manchester, I raise my bowl of salad to one heck of a memorable year.

2018 goes down in my personal history book as 100% major.  It’s been one of those years where I feel blessed far beyond what I even knew to ask for.  It’s been filled with gracious opportunity and a lot of hard work.

There have been highs and lows, lots of learning, some tears and plenty of of goodies have come out of my oven, both here and back home.

My phone has been stolen. My laptop’s hard drive has been corrupted. I got a job. I quit my job. Lots of family drama and other unpleasant stuff unfolded. But today we remember and appreciate all the nice things.

Looking through my photos made me realize how much has happened and how quickly time has gone by.

So here it is, my highlights from 2018:

#1

Oh the anticipation of traveling internationally for the very first time ALONE!

I’d been abroad before but never without my parents and siblings so you can imagine my excitement anxiety.

 

#2

Not having to share a washroom, a bedroom or any room for that matter with any of my many sisters is a MAJOR highlight for me xD

 

#3

The year I baked my first cheesecake!

And made truffles.

And ate a lot of berries.

 

#4

The Brathay trip.

The trip of a lifetime.

 

Rowing on one of the most beautiful lakes of the world, Lake Windermere, taking the ‘leap of faith’, and doing all sorts of other wild activities I never would have imagined myself doing.

#5

Meeting some awesome people and making some AMAZING friends from all over the world.

 

#6

Falling in love with the beauty of autumn.

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#7

Experiencing the magic of Christmas.

 

#8

Exploring London with my crazy Russian best friend.  

 

#9

Visiting the infamous Dominique Ansel Bakery, and FINALLY trying the mighty ‘cronut’. A moment I’d been dreaming of ever since its creation.

The first bite was magical.

I’m swooning just thinking about it.

 

#10

The day I met Cupcake Jemma!!

Major fan moment!

My heart was thumping. My palms were clammy. We talked. I told her my sisters and I were huge fans. We took a photo (which came out horrid). And then I tried some of Crumbs and Doilies mini cupcakes.

A day I can relive over and over again.

 

I might have gone and visited her again. O.o #stalkerandproud 

#11

My first roller coaster ride at the Winter Wonderland in London.

It only took about two minutes, but the experience will stay with me forever. It was raining and I was laughing and crying.

The whole experience was just exhilarating! And nauseating.

 

#12

My first football match.

Though not a sports fan, I wouldn’t mind going again and again.

I loved the electric atmosphere and the excitement you feel with every pass, tackle and goal!

#13

And the highlight that made all the above highlights possible; being awarded the British Chevening Scholarship.

I am incredibly honored to be given this opportunity, to be one among the 1800 scholars out of 65,000 individuals who applied.

It still feels surreal.

 

Every time I walk through the campus feels surreal.

 

me outside campus

Thank you Chevening for giving me Manchester.

#14

Last but not the least, the highlight of not just this year but forever; having my laser eye surgery done.

It’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s changed my life, my confidence, and my happiness. I am SO glad I took the leap and finally got it done. 

Huge thanks to my mother for pushing me to get it done (and my father for financing it :p). ❤ ❤

I am incredibly grateful for all that has come my way this year and I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me. Your response to my Instastories makes my day.

Thank you for all of the love and support.

Happy New Year.

Love,

Noor

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Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie

Happy 2018 everyone!
(let’s just pretend the last 10 days didn’t happen :p)
I hope you guys had a wonderful winter break. My sisters are back in school and I’m home alone again in an early-January post-resolutions funk.  I hope you are having better luck keeping track of your resolutions. My ‘eating healthy’ one got stumped on day one.
No surprise there.
I have been trying to get back into a somewhat balanced diet routine after gorging on waffles and carrot cake all of last week, and I have started going on regular walks with my mother, so that feels good.
My work/study perspective still needs sorting out and I still need to decide on what I want to do with my life.
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.
But other than that it’s going okay.
I have a good feeling about this year. I really do. 😀
 This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish.  #Pie #ShepherdPie

 

This bleak and dreary weather calls for some serious comfort food and starting off the blank slate of the year with something rich and indulgent just feels right.

And what could be more indulgent then a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes + macaroni + rich meat filling all together in the form of a pie.

 

 

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. #Pie #ShepherdPieThis Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my over-the-top version of the classic British Shepherd’s Pie

It has three parts to it:

  1. The meat sauce

  2. The mashed potatoes

  3. The macaroni

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

It does take time to put the entire pie together but the end result will be well worth the effort, trust me.

And it’s super customizable too! You can:

  • Add in sweet corn, mushrooms, olives, jalapenos

  • Make it more/less spicy

  • Use chicken mince instead of beef

  • Leave out the macaroni layer entirely and you’ll be left with a traditional shepherd pie instead

 

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. #Pie #ShepherdPie

This Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

If you do make it, don’t forget to share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #spatulainmypocket

Cheers!

Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Meat Sauce
¼ cup cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
½ kilo ground beef (Qeema)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
4 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoon ketchup (optional but I like it saucy)
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
Mashed Potatoes
2 large potatoes, boiled till tender
1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Macaroni
1 ½ cups boiled elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
½ cup chicken stock or water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder
2 Tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese

 

Directions

Meat sauce:
In a pan, heat the cooking oil and fry the chopped onion till golden brown.
Add in the carrot and beef. Cook, stirring constantly till the beef turns pale.
Add in the salt, black pepper, and red chilli powder. Mix well.
Cook on high heat for another minute then add in the tomato paste, flour, cornflour, and 1 ½ cup water. Mix well.
Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until the beef is fully cooked, and is thick and saucy.
Mashed Potatoes:
Mash the two boiled potatoes along with the butter and milk.
Mix in the seasonings.
Add in more milk if needed to reach a smooth consistency.
Macaroni:
In a saucepan, melt the butter.
Add in the flour, salt, black pepper and mustard powder. Mix with a wooden spoon.
Add in the milk and stock and mix constantly on a low heat.
As soon as the sauce starts thickening and bubbling, turn off heat and add in the cheese and the cooked macaroni. Mix well
Assembling:
Grease a large oven-proof casserole dish. Pour in whole of the meat sauce.
Ladle on top the macaroni.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the macaroni layer or you may pipe the potatoes with a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Top with a little cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown.

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish.  #Pie #ShepherdPie

Banana Nut Muffins

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

Kindly excuse my sporadic blogging schedule. I have been all over the place this year; the first half of which went by so quickly and the rest…excruciatingly slow.

Nothing remotely exciting happened in 2017 apart from the fact that I graduated from my university and was left at a tailspin of what to do next. Bouts of depression, tears, and heartbreaks is what tainted the last couple of months.

To say I’m looking forward to 2018 would be an understatement.

I hope it brings the much needed miracles, smiles, and opportunities.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

It’s fitting to end with a blog post featuring a recipe I found and fell endlessly in love with this year.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

A combination of sheer boredom and moldy bananas is what led me to first make these muffins.

I’ve gone on to make these many more times since then, and I can safely say my family and I are hooked!

They’re soft, not overly sweet, full of nuts and O so moist! There is simply no other way to describe how soft and delicious these banana walnut muffins are.

You won’t be able to have just one.

 

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

 

And they’re highly adaptable too. Add in a swirl of peanut butter, a giant dollop of Nutella

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

…or leave them plain.

They’re delicious either way!

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

These muffins are best served fresh out of the oven with a cup of tea.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and warmed in the microwave before serving.

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If you make these muffins, do share a picture with the hashtag #spatulainmypocket on Instagram. I’d love to see your creations 🙂

Banana Nut Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                                                        Yields: 12
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt1
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup milk, at room temperature2
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Directions:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Line a standard-size muffin pan with paper liners, set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, granulated sugar, melted butter, milk and egg. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add half of the chopped walnuts to the batter and fold gently until just combined
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining chopped walnuts.
Bake until golden brown about 20-25 minutes. They should spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in the muffin pan before devouring.
Notes:
1.       If using salted butter, omit the salt
2.       Make sure that the milk is at room temperature or even slightly warm. Cold milk will cause the butter to solidify.
Recipe adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker

Banana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat. #muffins #bananamuffins #banana #breakfast

New Year, New Blog

Happy February!

My life’s going on a bit of a tangent. I didn’t even bother with New Year resolutions this time round, because why even bother?! It’s been a month now since 2016 started, and I feel as if I weigh a bazillion pounds heavier since last year! How even?! That beautiful caramel chocolate tart is to blame, I’d say, along with a dozen other chocolate goods I’ve baked and consumed since then (guilty conscience the size of Pluto).

So, I though instead of the same old new-me resolutions, why not come up with new “blogging resolutions”! Ones that are realistically possible and which I have a chance of fulfilling.

So, the new array of posts that will be seen here on Spatula in My Pocket soon are:

  • Baking 101 posts – highly requested and coming up very very soon

  • Baking tips and tricks – just some lil bits and pieces; like substitutions, baking hacks and simple DIYs

  • Baking hauls– all the goodies I’ve bought recently or are sent to me

  • MORE Savory posts- seeing as my Chicken Karhai recipe is the most viewed, you guys obviously love savory and desi as much as you love chocolate

  • And also, Favorites – all things that I’ve been loving recently (food/kitchen related and some other random bits)

It’s a bit late to be sharing my New Year Blogging resolutions with you guys, but who is going to stop me? The blog police? The world is your pickle, my friend. Do as you please.

Look out for a new post this week. Something you’ve watched me make on Snapchat.

Regular updates of the happenings in my kitchen on Snapchat. So follow me: @noora559.

Until then, Carpe diem.

New Year Blogging resolutions