The Great British Bake Off Gifts

The Great British Bake Off Gifts

I have had a good run from Mr Postman lately. One of these was an insight into the Great British Bake Off gift range currently available to buy at Debenhams. While the format for this show will almost certainly be different next year (something that we will all have to wait and see about) this is a range that is perfect for avid bakers of all ages. With fun touches such as a cute cake shaped kitchen timer and cake tins to personalise these are the sort of fun gifts that are perfect stocking fillers at Christmas (although I’m not too sure a cake tin will fit into many stockings). Who knows, it might also be a hint to your baking gift recipient to make some sort of cake or pie for your enjoyment? (A win win situation in my opinion).

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I was sent this lovely grey apron from the Debenhams range. I think it will be used in my kitchen to show who is boss! Although there’s no contest really as the last time Dane baked was about 12 months ago!

To shop the full range click here.

I was kindly sent this as a PR sample.

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Giant scone cake

Giant scone cake

I’m ready to admit it. Blogging can be a funny business. While some people do really well cooking up elaborate meals and writing about them, I always find the most success in terms of number of visitors based on recipes that are straightforward to make at home with ingredients with easy to substitute ingredients; rather than the much more elaborate cooking I originally did when writing this blog.

On that note, I can spend hours making and decorating a cake and, yes, quite a lot of people will show interest. Then on another occasion I can make a giant scone cake due to burning something else, which takes all of 45 minutes to make, bake and decorate and it gets the most interest of any cake recipe I have made. You really cannot predict blog views!

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This cake recipe as mentioned before is really quick to make. Nobody expects a pretty scone so it doesn’t need hours of elaborate decoration. This recipe is also eggless, pretty low on sugar and can be easily adapted into a vegan recipe if you switch the milk and butter for non dairy substitutes and use this gem instead of whipped cream. Pretty much a winner for several dietary requirements then.

To make a large scone cake you will need:

450g self raising flour

100g salted butter

85g caster sugar

Approx 300ml milk

50g sultanas

2-3 tablespoons raspberry jam

200ml double cream

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Heat your oven to 200°C. Line 2 cake tins with grease proof paper. In a large mixing bowl use your fingers to rub the butter into your flour. Add your sugar and sultanas. Pour in about 2/3 of your milk and then gradually add the rest of your milk until just before the point when the mixture goes too sticky and soggy. If this happens add a little flour to stiffen up.

Diving your scone mix between the two cake tine and spread the mix to the edges as scones do not really spread during baking. Bake for about 11 minutes until the scones go golden brown. Allow the scones to cool.

To decorate whip the icing sugar and cream until thick and spreadable. Spread jam on one half of the scone and spread cream on the other half. Sandwich together et voila. A giant scone!

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This is a great crowd pleaser, especially amongst my Yorkshire friends. My grandma served this cake with champagne (this cake was a moving present for her and my grandpa) but it also goes really well with tea of coffee – as scones are traditionally served with tea.

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A little homeware update

A little homeware update

I supposed this post goes slightly hand in hand with the fact that it was my birthday yesterday. Perhaps I have become a slightly more “adultier” adult? Anyway, as D was already pretty well installed into our home when I moved in, but we’re slowly making updates to little things in the decor (next stop is a new bed for us, whoopee!)

Here is a few of my favourites in case anyone is interested.

  1. Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole Dish

Le Creuset is one of my absolute favourite places to buy cookware from. We have a few things that I have picked up over the past few months. However, this one is particularly special as I saved up vouchers I got for various work awards in order to buy this and it took me months so I was delighted to finally get this. I chose the Marseille Blue version to tone in with things we have already.

If you’re balking at the thought of paying more for one of these babies consider that my parents have Le Creuset cast iron cookware from when they were first married over 30 years ago so it’s price per use is actually decent.

2. John Lewis Croft Collection Colander

Apart from the fact that this is ridiculously pretty this probably isn’t an exciting purchase. our colander was won in a raffle by my parents and needed replacing so I picked up this one as I couldn’t resist the floral pattern. I look forward to using it.

3. Cole and Mason Spice Carousel

As a keen cook I am loving my new spice carousel. This was a wonderful belated Christmas gift from my parents on Monday. We are both pretty taken with how it looks and I am enjoying being able to season our meals without having to delve into our cupboards for herbs and/or spices. Thanks parents!

4. Various pictures from On the Wall

On the wall is an independent shop on Boar Lane in Leeds which specialises in selling vintage prints, art prints and posters from cult and anime films. We have recently updated our bedroom (and have more to go into the kitchen and bedroom) with various framed pictures. This has given our bedroom such a refresh and it feels so much more ours now. Also, taking older pictures down has made everything feel more spacious and I feel like have made a stamp on our home as a couple more now. (Next post will include the print with the t-rex on it!)

5. Chicken egg basket (and heart fruit bowl), Matalan

Matalan has some great finds in its homeware section. I was really excited to find both of these. They both cost less that £10 too which was pretty cool for something I had been angling for for a while (the fruit bowl is not pictures as mine is currently housing a few sad looking apples and kiwis). I do prefer finding home things from a variety of places as it really feels more like your own home and not a direct copy of a catalogue.

6. Rose Gold Photo Frame and Mug, New look

I can’t actually find my exact mug on the New Look website but it must be said, New Look have some fantastic home finds currently. Whether you’re decorating your first university room or casually sneaking girlier kitchenware past your boyfriend, don’t forget New Look if you want to add a few feminine touches.

Here’s to a happy, healthy January

Here’s to a happy, healthy January

I think the first few days back to work after Christmas can be more than a little tiring. After time over Christmas basically sleeping, eating biscuits in front of the television and a nice amount of wine getting out of bed has been something of a struggle every morning this week. While I don’t exactly make New Years resolutions (it’s all too tempting to break them) I tend to have yearly goals. However, the main thing I try to do in January is just to be kind to myself. Well, that, and trying not to eat too many biscuits.

So anyway; instead of promising myself I will take things up, go on diets or give up sweet things here are a list of things I think will make January (and the rest of the year) bearable.

  1. Instead of dieting by cutting back on things instead try to eat more healthy meals. Try new healthy recipes, make turkey burgers, stuff a courgette. The world is your multicoloured oyster. I got sent some delicious cold pressed juice in December (its called B fresh) and now I’m a total convert. Who urges you to try this. Anyway, your skin will look better, your blood sugar will spike less and I honestly believe by enjoying healthy living you actually enjoy your food more. If you take away feelings of obligation and guilt and just enjoy your meals, enjoying the odd treat as well your mindset and your relationship with food will improve and you’ll find yourself making healthier food choices more often.

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2. Wear your slippers as much as possible. One colder days I actually wear slipper socks under my boots. Try it. Its deliciously warm and comfortable.

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3. Get outside. I know its cold and rainy yadda yadda yadda, but hear me out. I adore colder crisp days. The light its beautiful and nothing puts me in a better mood than fresh air. Who can blame me with views like this?

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4. Up your breakfast game. When D and I are both off work we tend to have brunch rather than breakfast. Ours over Christmas were particularly decadent (and delicious). However I started making fruity porridge and chia pudding and I have since remembered how delicious healthier alternatives are. So I definitely think a decent breakfast is the key to starting as you mean to go on.

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5. Have a good clearout and do the cleaning you keep putting off. Over the last few weeks D and i have been slowly reorganising our house and sorting our conservatory into a home gym. Its a work in progress but I think its already looking promising. Nothing can describe how happy it made me when our conservatory walls were scrubbed of mildew and sparkling again. To illustrate this point here is a picture of our rabbits who were banished from their usual haunt of the conservatory while we cleaned.

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Don’t they look unimpressed? They also had a fun trip to the vets and were thoroughly spoiled on their return.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Homemade Christmas Wreath

Homemade Christmas Wreath

I wish I could pretend I had a grand plan about making my own decorations this year. I am so far from organised sometimes when it comes to planning blog posts (and also how our home will look) its unreal. However, in a fit of Christmassy enthusiasm last week, D and I may possibly (definitely) have bought too many baubles for our little tree.

Anyway, credit goes out to D for suggesting that I used out smaller ones last year to “fashion some kind of wreath”. I think it looks pretty good. Very rustic and homemade, but pretty cute. As a bonus I wasn’t slaving for hours or struggling with a hot glue gun making this.

Anyway if you want to make something similar you will need:

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A plain natural rattan wreath (mine was the 30.5cm one from Hobbycraft)

Approx 25 small baubles (or other little Christmas decorations)

Craft wire

At least 60cm festive ribbon

A suction hook to attach your wreath to the door if you don’t have a knocker (see here)

 

If your baubles have any string attached, cut this off. You won’t need it and you can use the loops on your baubles to attach it to the wreath with the wire. Cut about 8cm wire and tightly twist it around one of the sticks in your wreath. Add your bauble and twist the wire to hold it in place on the wreath. Twist the wire all the way along and tuck the sharp ends into the wreath so nobody’s finger gets cut on it.

Although this looks best if its not exactly even (it adds to the homemade charm) try to make sure the baubles are relatively evently spaced and the colours aren’t grouped together too much; unless that’s what you like best, but you may need more decorations to achieve this effect.

Once the wreath is nicely covered in baubles tie your ribbon to it around some of the sticks in a bow.

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The good thing about this is that although it looks pretty natural it can be used year after year.

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I hope you’re all starting to feel nice and festive. Have a good day.

Latest favourites

Latest favourites

I’m not very good at these favourites posts am I? Sometimes I get so distracted about the thought of food, and recipes and finding time for recipe and ideas for meals I forget to share other things I enjoy in life. (Plus its nice to play around and write different posts to determine what’s most popular and what I most want to write about).

1. Kenco Millicano Whole Bean Dark Roast

So I got sent (a very generous) sample of this coffee about a month ago and its far far superior to the instant coffee I’ve had before. I don’t generally buy the instant stuff (I use my Tassimo or buy it from coffee shops at vast expense). But this stuff tastes really rich and has the slightly cleaner feeling on your tongue of better quality coffee. I took some of this into my work and the more seasoned coffee drinkers rated it highly too. Definitely try this! (In addition Kenco also do a caffeine free version if you can function without caffeine before 10am!)

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In addition, I also used this stuff to make iced coffee with coconut milk which provided me with a lovely pick me up this evening while I was wishfully looking out of the window hoping for warmer May weather. Just make a small mug full of coffee with 2tbsp of the coffee rather than one and freeze in an ice cube tray (one of my friends got me this woodland creature set for Christmas). Add to your coconut milk and let the coffee melt into the milk.

DSC_0618DSC_06212. Asda Extra Special 70% Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs.

DSC_0622D and I are both trying to make healthier eating choices in general. I stuck this into my shopping trolley last week and for once we actually did that thing doctors tell you about “eating 2 squares of chocolate”. This is decadent enough to satisfy a chocolate craving without either of us going overboard. A little of what you fancy does you the world of good.

3. Our new shelves

DSC_0624I feel positively middle ages getting excited about shelves. However, Papa Ferg found us a bit of an oak based bargain last week and then came all the way to Harrogate to build them for us. What a legend. My parents also managed to deliver my record player as well so we have another means of listening to music. (D got my a Belle and Sebastien record for my birthday that he saw me picking up and pondering buying so its lovely to finally be able to play it).

4. Hair accessories from ASOS (gold clips) and Accesorize (spotty bow)

IMG_0352    DSC_0623I’ve already formed a bit of an attachment to the bow. I adore polka dots and spotty things (a good chunk of my clothes are spotty), but these are both really pretty and cheer up outfits, even when it rains.

5. Getting the right bra fit

Cautionary tale of the month. I hadn’t been measured for a bra since I was 13 and buying my first bra. Partially due to laziness and partially due to shyness. However, none of my clothes seemed to be sitting right so I followed a friend’s recommendation and visited Fit to Bust. The lady there was a highly efficient, practical woman who took one look at me and promptly told me I was wearing a bra several cup sizes too small. Then told me I was nicely in proportion (which is always pleasing to hear). So I have since fallen in love with Curvy Kate which provides some lovely things without the ridiculous price tag associated with being a bit more curvy.

Anyway, I feel new levels of comfort and somehow wearing the right size makes me look several pounds lighter.

While I am trying to say, there’s no need to be wary or embarrassed of seeing a bra measuring lady I’m not going to post pictures of my smalls on here (or at least just yet). Instead you can have a picture of my littlest rabbit who looks very much like a chinchilla on this picture.

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BBC Good Food Show Spring 2015

So the BBC Good Food Show returned to Harrogate once more and I was lucky enough to get press tickets for the event again (a massive thank you for that, we had a very welcome day off work and very fun day today). This year the show was even more popular than last year and there was an overwhelmingly large number of foodies of all ages gathered together to buy food, kitchen gadgets, watch cookery demonstrations and of course catch a glimpse of the legendary Mary Berry.

If you live in Harrogate (or around Yorkshire) and haven’t yet been to the event, you still have opportunity to attend the Sunday! I would really recommend going, even if you went last year as there are a whole host of new trade stands, as well as a few people I have seen before at various events. This is one event where you certainly don’t leave hungry whatever your dietary requirements. There was one lady selling gluten free pork pies, while another stand served vegan pastry items. I took my favourite Kiwi DC to the event with me and together we had opportunity to try a whole host of different foods. We also managed to catch an interview with the Hairy Bikers who are hilarious and knowledgable in equal measure. It was also lovely to see Si and Dave reunited; if my memory serves correctly Dave was at the show alone last year, so it was wonderful to see Si looking pretty healthy (and flirting a lot with the interviewer, which was highly amusing)

I think the excellent thing about going to the Good Food Show is how enthusiastic everyone is about cooking and food. Just by watching cookery demonstrations I feel like I gain lots of useful tips for cooking that I take away and use day to do. Even when I don’t exactly follow a recipe given to me I take inspiration from other chefs and cooks with years of training and experience. I also enjoyed meeting lots of lovely people, both working on the trade stands and attending the event who I talked to about the show, food and my blog. It was a real privilege to meet so many lovely people and to attend the event as a food blogger. The BBC Good Food site is a regular inspiration of mine and I regularly go on their website and read the magazine (both of which I highly recommend).

Lastly, do wear your comfiest shoes, there is a lot of walking around and standing around straining to see (especially if you’re 5ft3) and I was certainly glad to be wearing my trainers. I would also talk a sturdy shopping bag, poor DC had to carry my sausage rolls as I had put on my smallest cross body bag.

For more information about the BBC Good Food Show and Upcoming Shows visit here