Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

It's been a while huh? I hope you can forgive me for my radio silence, I was busy growing and birthing a tiny human. In the early hours of Monday 8th December we welcomed a gorgeous little bundle into the world and became a family of three. Baby Zoe Jean was plonked into my tired arms and our whole world changed.

We have spent the last three weeks getting used to life as parents and basically staring at Zoe while she sleeps. It is so weird that this thing that was in my tummy for so long is here, but also it feels like she has never not been here. Weird.

2014 has been the best year, its the year we became a family and for that I will always look back on it as one of the best years ever! That being said I can already tell that 2015 is going to be even better. I can't wait to see baby Zoe grow and develop, smile, sit up, crawl, giggle...

I am sure you can understand that I haven't baked or cooked much recently, so recipe posts are not in the pipeline However, a few parenting/family posts are coming soon. I wanted to share my birth story, the products which have been lifesavers and those I wish I hadn't wasted my money on, and a few other bits and bobs.

So, I hope you all had a wonderful 2014, and wishing you all a very happy 2015.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 13th October

You may have noticed I've had a bit of a makeover (the blog, not me, your lucky if I remember to apply mascara these days). I have done a lot of thinking recently about the blog and my lack of posting. What it boiled down to is that the blog as it was just wasn't an accurate reflection of me any more. Yes, I still enjoy cooking and being creative in the kitchen, but my life is about so much more. Previously I felt weird blogging about anything other than food, like I was letting people down if every post didn't contain a recipe.

I realise now that this is all a bit melodramatic, and that under all this self indulgent pondering this blog is about me, and by putting it into a single category I was limiting myself. So, in conclusion; things are changing, and it is good.

Back to business, in my sudden spurt of energy and nesting that happened today, I have created a meal plan! Hooray!

Leftover roast pork egg fried rice, with peas and chilli oil.

A sort yourself out night, I will be having gnocchi with pesto, rocket and capers.

Butter chicken with brown rice, its out of a jar, but yummy non the less

Bolognese, either in a pasta bake, or with spaghetti, depending what we fancy.

Chicken enchiladas.

Quite a simple meal plan, lots of convenience, but I am usually ready for bed by 6:30pm so needs must.

I am only 6 weeks away from my due date now, people keep telling me how quickly this pregnancy is going, I cannot disagree enough! I currently feel like I have been pregnant forever and a day!

I do hope you like the new look, and enjoy some of the new things I will be sharing/posting.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 4th August

So last weeks meal plan was a roaring success, life is so much easier when you have a plan. We veered slightly off plan on Thursday and treated ourselves to a takeaway, but the salmon and BBQ thighs were the highlight of the week for me.

This week I am off work, so hoping I might feel the urge to get my bake on... Watch this space.

I am out during the day, so sticking with simple and having breaded haddock with risotto rice, the risotto is a packet one from Aldi, that I tend to add things too.

Tuna pasta bake - simples

Breaded chicken with homemade wedges, corn on the cob and coleslaw.

Homemade pizzas! Not made these in forever, so looking forward to getting the dough hook out.

I am out for dinner with my sister as it is Newcastle Restaurant Week

This is the basic plan based on what I have in the cupboards/freezer, but as I am off I might mix things up a bit, depending on my energy levels.

I'd love to see what you guys have planned for the week too, so feel free to link your own plan in the comments.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Baby Nelly - Second Trimester Update.

It feels like forever ago that I made the announcement that we are expecting, its so weird as I feel like it is flying by, but also dragging. The second trimester has been much more fun than the first, a little less worrying and a lot more buying of cute things. Although, the worry is still there. Google is not my friend.

We found out at our 20 week scan that we are having a little girl (probably). They couldn't say 100% but the sonographer seemed pretty sure, and from my inexperienced point of view it sure didn't look like a boy... So we are playing it safe and keeping the big purchases in neutral/bright colours, just in case. I couldn't resist purchasing a few girly things though.

I feel like I have got my cooking mojo back a little, but its been far too hot to cook much. I am not complaining as I know summer will be gone in the blink of an eye, but I can't wait for that autumn crispness in the air and the urge to bake pie.

While I haven't been baking/cooking much, I have still been doing some fun foodie things. I went to a lovely blogger afternoon networking event organised by Lovely Lauren from Scran on the Tyne. This was held at Gusto in Newcastle, where we got to sample their fabulous menu. Seriously, it was so delicious, platters of meats and cheeses, pizza, pasta, risotto, salad... We got to try it all. If you're looking for good italian food in a beautiful setting, Gusto is the place for you.

I was too busy scoffing at Gusto to take pictures, but I snapped this lush photo of the Quayside. Ooops *bad blogger*

I also was invited along to try out Cake Poppins new royal icing classes, where we got to experiment and decorate some biscuits. Kate from Cake Poppins is such a fantastic (and patient!) teacher, I learn't loads of techniques, which I plan to replicate as soon as I can at home.

Kate also offers other classes in cake pops, cupcakes and macarons, all of which I have been to and can not recommend enough.

So, as I type this at nearly 23 weeks I am feeling pretty darn good, well apart from the heat, heartburn and lack of sleep, but lets not mention those. The plan over the next few weeks is to get more baby things organised, I want to be well prepared as I know I will not want to do anything as I expand into the third trimester.

Any parenting/pregnancy pearls of wisdom or advice is always welcome, so please do comment below, I am a total novice here and appreciate any advice I can get!

Mother's Always Right

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 28th July

How hot has it been? I am using this photo of Ruby to illustrate how we are not at all coping well with the humidity.

So what with morning sickness and general tiredness I have been more than a little lazy where meal planning is concerned. Take aways have been had and a shocking number of "toast for dinner" days. As I am feeling better I have decided to take advantage and get a meal plan sorted.

Breakfasts are cereal or toast, and lunches are leftovers where possible, or sandwiches. I find myself grazing a lot through the day, as I get heartburn in the evening so try to eat little and often. Snacks of crackers, babybel, fruit, carrot sticks etc... are always on hand.

Veggie Stirfry for me, and chicken and risotto for him. He doesn't like vegetables and I fancy something crunchy and fresh.

BBQ chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges and corn on the cob

Beef lasagne

Salmon with homemade egg fried rice. I am trying to make myself like salmon more, by eating it at least once a week, so far its not as bad as anticipated.

I am out for a colleagues leaving drinks, so will be eating out.

A nice varied meal plan to ease me back in, lets see if I can stick to it...


Friday, 25 July 2014

Violet Madeleines

Well, my plan to continue blogging didn't quite go to plan. I suffered quite badly during the first trimester (and some of the second) with sickness and extreme tiredness.

So, sadly the blog was left to gathering dust. I do miss it though, I have found myself planning recipes in my head more and more over the last few days, so thought I would kick things off with this recipe I made earlier in the year, but never got around to blogging.

Violet Madeleines. Lovely light and delicate cakes adapted from the Skinny French Kitchen by Harry Eastwood. I love this book by the way, makes french cooking easy and a little lighter on the waistline.

print recipe
Violet Madeleines
  • 4 Medium Eggs
  • Half a teaspoon Salt
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Bakign Powder
  • 80g Ground Almonds
  • Half a teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Half a teaspoon Violet Essence
  • 50g Butter, Melted
Preheat the oven to 200C and brush a little oil into the Madeleine moulds - I used coconut oil, but standard olive or vegetable would do.Whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar until bubbly, then add the remaining ingredients and mix into a batter.Gently spoon the mixture into the moulds, filling three quarters of the way to the top, be careful not to over fill.Next, put the filled tin into the freezer, ensuring it is lying flat. Leave it for 10 minutes, and put the remaining mixture in the fridge to keep cold.After the ten minutes, put them in the oven and cook for ten minutes.Repeat the oiling, filing, freezing process for each batch until the mixture is all gone.Dust the Madeleines with icing sugar and serve. They will keep for 2 days in an air tight container, although they taste best eaten fresh.

According to the book, its the shock from cold to hot which results in the signature little bump.

The recipe above is how you should do it, however, I skipped the freezer bit for my second batch and they turned out much the same, so if you, like me have no patience, a refrigerated batter will still give you the little bump.

Thinking of doing a few baby/pregnancy related posts, as its the biggest part of my life right now. What do you think? Would you be interested in non-food related content?


Wednesday, 14 May 2014


So, as you can probably tell from the above grainy picture of my uterus... I have some news!

In around six months time we will be welcoming a new little person into our family. It has been a very long couple of months of sickness and secret keeping but finally I can tell everyone. I partly haven't been baking and blogging due to feeling rubbish and steering clear of any interesting food, but also as I am a terrible secret keeper and I would have struggled to carry on blogging without blurting it out.

So, apologies for disappearing for the last few months, I am really looking forward to getting back to it and hopefully, sickness permitting, baking again!

Luckily I do have some posts from February that I didn't get around to finishing or publishing, so look out for some recipes very soon.

Hope you all had a lovely March/April, and I am looking forward to sharing some lovely summer recipes with you.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 10th March

My one and only picture from my day in the lakes on Saturday

You may have noticed that I didn't publish a meal plan last week, there is a reason for that. I didn't eat at home at all last week, I had one of those crazy busy weeks and while I had an absolute blast, I have missed cooking. So this week I plan on being a bit more of a homebody, or at least try.

It is mine and Paul's 8th Anniversary today! We are going for coffee at the place we had our very first date, then onto dinner. I can't quite believe its been 8 years, but I am excited to celebrate us.

I am off to the cinema to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, what was I saying about being a homebody? I'm a fan of Wes Anderson films so couldn't wait to see this one.

Homemade chicken pie with mash and veggies. I had pie at work on Friday, so promised Paul I would make one for him this week.

Pasta bake, keeping it simple.

Gammon with homemade spicy potato wedges, fried egg and salad.

Still a bit of a busy week, but trying to get more balance.

Hope you all have a lovely week! Lookout for a recipe post for me later in the week. Here is a little sneak peak...

This post has been added to the Meal Planning Monday Linky, check it out for some other great meal plans!


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Traditional English Pancakes with Caramelised Bananas (and a giveaway!)

We all know it is Shrove Tuesday on the 4th March in the UK. You would be hard pushed to find a bigger pancake lover than me, but I am not a fan of Shrove Tuesday. I know that doesn't make sense but allow me to explain;

Pancakes should not be limited to just one day a year, I feel like they get neglected 364 days of the year, pancakes are for life my friends, not just for Shrove Tuesday.

There are so many different style and flavour combinations you can give to your pancakes, fluffy american one, thin crepe ones, savoury, sweet, toppings, fillings... Seriously folks, they are the most versatile vehicles for all of the best flavours and ingredients.

I decided to keep my recipe simple for this post, as it IS Shrove Tuesday, I went for crepe-style. My go-to recipe is much more fluffy and american in style, so these felt a little more special. I steered clear of the traditional lemon and sugar and opted for a caramelised banana topping.

I used coconut oil to caramelise the bananas which lifted the whole dish to something pretty spectacular!

I also cooked the pancakes them selves using coconut oil, it gives a very subtle coconut flavour to the whole dish, not overpowering at all, just a little jazz hands to the dish on a whole.

print recipe
Traditional English Pancakes with Caramelised Bananas.
  • 300ml Milk
  • 1 Egg (medium)
  • 90g Flour
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon (plus extra for the pan) Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar
Whisk the egg into the milkSift in the flour and whisk until smoothMelt a small pea-sized amount of coconut oil in a frying panPour in some batter, not too much, you should slide the batter around to coat the pan. Don't be afraid to go for a thin pancake.I slide a silicone spatular around the edge of the pancake, and shake the pan until the pancake slides around freely.Once it is sliding freely, go for the flip! Once nicely browned on both sides, start on the next pancakeThis mixture made 6-7 thin pancakes, which was perfect for a Sunday brunch for one. Once all the pancakes are done, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan and the tablespoon of sugar.Throw in the chopped coins of banana, cook for just 2 minutes, until softened, then pour the bananas and syrup over the pancakes.Scoff Immediately!

The one good thing about Shrove Tuesday is the amount of delicious pancakes toppings that are available in the shops.

So, as I love you all dearly, I wanted to give you the chance to win some delicious pancake related things, due to some TNT courier issues this is a little late for Shrove Tuesday, but hopefully my "pancakes fo' life" campaign has convinced you to eat them any day of the week.

So to win a wonderful hamper courtesy of Abra-ca-deborah, simply complete the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Vanilla & Chocolate Baked Doughnuts.

I finally did it. I bought a doughnut pan.

I've been contemplating it for a while, one has been in my amazon basket since Christmas. Finally during a late night trip to Sainsburys, I saw one, it was reduced, I couldn't not buy it. I decided to stay basic with the first recipe, keep it simple; vanilla, chocolate, BOOM!

I am not going to lie to you and tell you these taste just like Krispy Kreme, because they don't. they aren't the same, not even a little bit. You know what though? They are still pretty damn good.

I still want to tweak the recipe, try other flavour combinations, play with yeast... The possibilities are endless. Watch this space for further doughnut experiments.

This was the ideal starter recipe, a good place to start my slightly unhealthy doughnut obsession.

I'm going to be completely honest with you, I found these heart shaped sprinkles in my cupboard and thought to myself...

"These will make them valentines doughnuts, which will make me a proper blogger, blogging seasonally and all that".

I smugly sprinkled the hearts on, and then remembered it was the 23rd February and Valentines day has long gone. FAIL!

I may fail at being a proper blogger, but I win at doughnuts.

print recipe
Baked Vanilla Doughnut
This recipe is adapted from the Lakeland recipe here.
  • 155g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, medium
  • 1 tablespoon Greek Yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 80g Dark Chocolate
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl.Add the wet to the dry and stir to form a smooth batter.Spoon the batter carefully into a ring doughnut pan, about 3/4 full (allow room to rise).Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180C.Once cooled, dip the tops into a bowl of melted chocolate, shake vigorously to get rid of excess and smooth out the chocolate.Sprinkle on sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet.Et voila! Super easy and basic oven baked doughnuts.

If you have any doughnut wisdom to share, or recipes for me to try please leave a comment below


Monday, 24 February 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 24th February.

Another adorbs Ruby picture for you

It's Monday, I know, it sucks. Lets get through it together, OK?

Mini roast chicken dinner - Chicken breast, potatoes, yorkshire puddings, veggies and gravy

I am out for dinner with my sister, still undecided where. If anyone has a North East based restaurant recommendation, let me know.

Spaghetti and Meatballs, I got some venison meatballs in Aldi, quite excited to see what they are like.

Bangers and mash, I am out for drinks after work, waving farewell to a colleague. So Paul will be on cooking duty, his mash potato skills are top notch.

Both me and Paul are out after work, so no cooking once again.

It is a pretty busy week for us, so a quiet week for the kitchen. I found getting back to blogging my meal plan last week actually helped us stick to it, and remember to defrost things in time. Now, if I could just find a way to stay on top of the dishes situation, I feel like the dirty dishes in my kitchen are breeding! Its like tribbles, but way less cute.

Hope you all have a lovely week! Lookout for a recipe post for me later in the week. Here is a little sneak peak...


Monday, 17 February 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 17th February

meal planning monday
Gratuitous cat picture, because, why not?


Been a while since I did one of these Meal Planning Monday posts! To be totally honest with you its been a while since I planned anything. There has been a lot of take-aways and cereal for dinner around here and it needs to stop! I did my food shop at Asda yesterday and I am ready to plan the heck out of this week... LETS DO THIS!

Cottage pie with carrots. I bought one of those huge packets of mince for £5 which I split into 3 portions to freeze. This makes for three delicious yet budget-friendly dinners. There will also be plenty leftovers for lunch on Tuesday.

Sticky BBQ chicken thighs with crush potatoes and corn on the cob. I managed to grab some seriously reduced organic skinless and boneless thighs which I plan to marinade in a BBQ sauce and serve with my new favourite potatoes. Boiled new potatoes, which I crush slightly and roast... They are seriously tasty. Is this a recipe you'd like to see blogged?

I am out at a friends house, so no meals planned.

Bangers and Mash, an oldie but a goodie.

Beef lasagne with salad and garlic bread, if I am feeling particularly organised I might even make my own pasta dough on Thursday night in preparation!

No plans for the weekend yet.

*deep breath*

Feels good to have a plan guys! What have you got planned this week? Always on the hunt for new and interesting recipes to try. Feel free to share your ideas and blog posts in the comments! :)


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Stuff What I Did - Episode Two

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately. To be totally honest I have been in a little bit of a blogging funk. I just didn't feel like I had anything new or interesting to say. This tends to be a cyclical thing for me, this blog operates in peak and troughs and I learned a long time ago to just go with it, if I try to force posts out it only makes it worse.

I read so many wonderful blogs it can sometimes be hard to think of new and interesting things to write about, although comparing yourself to others is a dangerous game and I need to stop. I blog for me, not because I take the best pictures or come up with new recipes every day. I think sometimes I just need to slap myself and remember that.

Anyway less whining, more blogging.

On a sidenote, if there is anything you'd like to see here, recipes, reviews, more personal posts etc... Do let me know, I am always open to suggestions. I sometimes toy with the idea of branching out from writing about only food, would you like to see some other topics?

Now back to the point of this post, stuff I have done recently (and by recently I mean 2-3 months ago...)

I went on a day trip to Leeds in early December. It was on a student social trip in which I was the "responsible adult"... I know, ridiculous. I had to get up crazy early to get to the rendezvous point before 8am, there is something really beautiful (and a little scary) about an empty metro station.

I asked the people of Leeds (through the medium of twitter) for food recommendations and of course they came up trumps! I went to Reds True American BBQ which is near to the Coin Exchange in Leeds City Centre. There was a queue for tables but as there was only two of us we managed to sneak a seat at a bar by the window. I ordered the Beef Brisket with sweet potato fries, and my friend ordered the pulled pork with skin-on fries and onion rings. The meat was so tender and full of flavour, I was seriously impressed.

So if you are in Leeds, get yourselves a reservation.

The bill including non-alcoholic drinks came to £23, which was more than fare for the quality.

The day after Leeds I hit the road with fellow Newcastle foodies Lauren and Kate. We were heading to Glasgow to see James Morton (from Bake-Off fame) at The Stand comedy club. The show was called Stollen Christmas, and it was basically a baking demo. He showed us how to make a Stollen and gave us tips on all things bread. The relaxed location worked really well and we had an absolute blast!

In hindsight it may have been slightly crazy driving to and from Glasgow in one day, we spent more time in the car than in Glasgow, but it was worth it. We got to pick James' brain on baking and also came away with a signed book and a bit of his sourdough starter! I have yet to make anything with it but its on my to-do-list.

After the show we had coffee at Artisan Roast on Gibson Street, hands-down one of the best coffees I have ever had, and it has a really cute interior too.

Glasgow looks like a great city from the small section of it that I saw, definitely want to go back there soon.

The following weekend I hit the road again, this time to York for the weekend. Despite York being only an hour away I have never actually been! I headed there with a friend for a weekend full of Christmas shopping.

We had so much fun, we are making it an annual event. The shops in York are so cute and there are a lot of pubs and restaurants to chose from, although we shopped till we literally dropped and ended up back at the hotel by 9pm watching Die Hard and eating Pringles. I know, Rock n Roll.

FYI, if you are looking for an affordable place to stay in York, we stayed at the Shoulder of Mutton which is a 10 minute walk from the shops and was great! Comfortable, quiet and great breakfast (I have not been paid to say this, a genuine recommendation)

It was busy two weeks of travelling but was really fun, I definitely think more UK city breaks are needed in 2014. If you have any tips or recommendations for places to go, let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Adventures with Homemade Pasta

I got this Pasta Machine for Christmas this year. It is one of those things that I have wanted for a while but considered it a little frivolous to buy myself. I was over the moon when I found it under my tree on Christmas morning. I had read a bajillion blog posts on how easy and versatile homemade pasta was and I was eager to try it out.

Huge shout out to Carmella's Kitchen, if you want a simple to follow guide to making pasta this is the place to go.

I am not even going to attempt to give you a recipe, as Carmella's is just perfection.

I basically spent the whole day playing with this versatile dough and had so much fun! Seriously, it was like a play-doh barbers shop in my living room!

I can definitely see myself making pasta from scratch again, but I am not kidding myself to think I will be doing it everytime I want pasta, but its a hell of a lot easier than I expected.

I made spaghetti, which we had with some pesto, capers and rocket for lunch. I made lasagna sheet which I made into a lovely beef lasagna for dinner. I then popped some dough in the fridge and the next day I made some ravioli filled with cream cheese mixed with garlic and pesto.

Basically we gorged ourselves on pasta for pretty much every meal. And it was good.

I am going to play with a few different shapes, and also incorporating flavour into the dough itself. If you have any recipes to share, please do so in the comments!

Have you made pasta from scratch? What do you think? Is it worth the hassle?


Friday, 17 January 2014

Chipolte Chilli and Honey Chicken.

I am going to be honest with you for a second, OK?

I am not a very good cook, I can bake with the best of them, whip up a cake in a flash; sans recipe, fiddle with ingredients and understand the results, even create my own recipes with success! But when it comes to savoury things, sauces, meat, casseroles, stews etc... I am hopeless.

I never seem to get the flavours right, and the end results is always a little disappointing. I have a few recipes down, a basic tomato sauce, bolognese, lasagne (basically adaptations of that basic tomato sauce). But go beyond that and I struggle. On weekends when I have lots of time I tend to cook from scratch but on week nights I just don't have the time or energy to handle disappointing food.

So, I have no shame in admitting I turn to packets and spice mixes for help. My chilli and enchiladas rely heavily on Old El Paso, yes I add some extra chipolte paste for heat and some garlic, because I love garlic and add it to everything. No shame in my game.

One of my resolutions for this year is to conquer mexican food from scratch, but until then, my trusty Old El Paso friend will remain in my cupboard for those midweek burrito cravings.

I have blogged recipes with their spice mixes before (Turkey Enchiladas), and Old El Paso kindly offered to send me over some of their new casserole mixes to try out. The Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey one leaped out at me instantly, the smokey quality of chipolte chillies speaks to my soul.

I changed the recipe slightly to accommodate fussy eaters and what I had in my cupboards and it worked like a dream!

print recipe
Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey Casserole
  • 6 large Chicken Thighs
  • 2 small Sweet Potato
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 1 packet Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey Casserole mix
  • 150g Passata
  • 150ml Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 cloves, diced Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Chipolte Paste
  • A good squeeze Lime Juice
I started by browning the chicken in a hot griddle pan, this crisps up the skin a little.I placed the chicken in a casserole dish (with a lid), and scattered over the roughly chopped veggies.In a jug I mixed the spice mix, water, passata, honey, chipolte paste and garlic to form a sauce.I poured the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and placed the casserole dish (with the lid on) in a hot oven (180C) for 1 hour and 30 minutes.I took the lid off the dish and popped it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.Once cooked I topped with a good squeeze of lime juice for freshness. I served with brown rice and sour cream.

My chipolte paste was homemade by steeping dried, de-seeded chipolte chillies in boiling water then blitzing into a paste. I have seen it in sainsburys though. Its not necessary in the recipe though if you can't find any.

I got this beaut of a casserole dish from TK Maxx before Christmas, its amazing! I am scouring pinterest for more casserole recipes to try, link em up below if you have any good ones.

So, packet mixes? Yay or nay? Opinions welcome.

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