Category: Food

Valentines Day: 10 gifts under £10 [for her]

chocIt’s cropped up again, yes that day that no one really likes but EVERYONE talks about… Valentines Day!

Couples hate it because its forced romance and it means forking out for a gift, and single people loath it because it reminds them the only love of their life waiting at home for them is their Netflix account.

HOWEVER I have some good news for you. I have created a guide of 10 fantastic gifts under £10 that are are awesome and also won’t break the bank either. So guys, either treat your lady, or women get sending links to your date, mate or even just buy it for yourself (you deserve it!).

These great items start with the yummy Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel chocolates (top right) that are guaranteed to have anyone drooling and are a bargain at just £3.75.

You can check out the rest of my V-day picks below…

Happy shopping & have a happy love day on Sunday please, whatever your relationship status!

Sam x

Vday collage

  1. Red Contrast Trim Lace Brazilian Briefs, New Look, £3.99 
  2. Pink Polaroid Photo Frame, New Look, £4.99
  3. Little Book Of Chat Up Lines Book, ASOS, £5.99 
  4. Valentines Glitter A5 Notebook, Paperchase, £7 
  5. Brushed Tartan Scarf, Boohoo, £4
  6. Happy Jackson Big Love Mug, Debenhams, £8
  7. Nails in Bittersweet, Topshop, £5
  8. Gold Arrow Ring, Urban Outfitters, £6
  9. Grow Your Own Birthflower, NotOnTheHighStreet.com, £7.50 

Xmas Gift Guide: £10 and under

Xmas 10

Considering it is now December, it’s time to get buying presents for your loved ones if you haven’t already…

However, with grans, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, mums, dads and friends and colleagues to buy for, it can get rather expensive! This is why I’ve created this gift guide for 10 items at £10 or under to mean you can get more pressies for your money!

It’s also the perfect solution for all those secret santas you end up getting roped into!

Happy shopping and I hope you find something you like!

Sam x

1. ‘Dream Big’ neon notebook, Topshop, £3.50

2. Jack Wills mug, £9.50

3. Photomug, Mustard, £10 

4. Hot Cookie mug warmer, Mustard, £10

5. Snap fish eye lens, Topshop, £5

6. Korres Wild Rose Mini Brightening Kit, Debenhams, £8.50

7. 12 Portly Penguins, Hotel Chocolat, £7 

8. Cubic Zirconia Triangle Necklace, Miss Selfridge, £10 

9. Alphabet scented candle, NotOnTheHighstree.Com, £6.99

10 Pug Mug, IWWOT, £7.99

Coast to Coast Christmas menu preview event

c2c7I know it’s only October and you’re all still thinking about what to wear to Halloween, however Christmas isn’t as far away as you think so you need to get prepared!

Christmas is a time when you meet up with friends and loved ones who you don’t get to see as often as you like the rest of the year, so it is important that you do this somewhere special. With literally every restaurant around offering a Christmas menu, it’s hard to know which one to pick!

That’s why Coast to Coast have been previewing their festive menu to show what they have to offer this year and I was one of the lucky few who got invited down to test it out!

I went down to the restaurant’s Portsmouth branch to do this on Tuesday of this week (Oct 7). I was greeted at the door by the lovely staff and offered a cocktail of my choice straight away. I went for the Russian Spring Punch which was recommended to me by the restaurant’s top bar tender Joyce Brabban, which was really really good!

c2c11I didn’t really need a drink off the menu though, as straight away Joyce got to work making us all the yummy cocktails from the Christmas menu. Amongst these were the Chocolate and Orange Martini, which tastes just as good as it sounds by the way and a warm cider that will warm you up a treat on those winter nights. Next up came eggnog. Now, I know what you’re thinking, eww egnog, but seriously don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It was actually probably my favourite – creamy, smooth and perfectly festive – I will definitely be drinking that again! There was also a bucks fizz-style drink, which is a perfect lighter alternative if you don’t want to be too indulgent.

Next up came the starters. Executive chef Andy Hamilton, who is one of the stars behind the Christmas menu, brought us out a plate of Goats Cheese Bruschetta Bites – which were ciabatta topped with the goats cheese, pesto and the restaurant’s special bruschetta mix. Not being a fan of goats cheese or pesto, I skipped these, but they did look amazing and everyone else at the event certainly seemed to be enjoying them! There are also many other starter alternatives on the menu, including spicy calamari, BBQ chicken tenders, chorizo & mozzarella baked mushrooms and a Christmas tomato and cannellini bean soup!

After these were devoured, it wc2c14as time for the main event – Christmas dinner! As you’d expect, it is the classic turkey breast complete with cranberry sauce and all the trimmings including roast and mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets, pork and sage stuffing, Chantenay carrots and green vegetables. It will also topped in a rich gravy which was really delicious and elevated the dish even more.

If you are a bit bored of turkey come Christmas time however, there are other options available including baked salmon fillet, mushroom risotto and sweet chilli chicken skewers. There is also a maple bacon burger, which Andy brought us out to try, however I was just too full from all the dinner and cocktails already. Other guests at the event who tried it however were delighted with it – saying the maple bacon was gorgeous.

c2c12After all, I was saving room for dessert – which was an Oreo Cookie Cheesecake. I’m not the biggest lover of cheescake ever as I sometimes feel it can be too rich, however this was light enough that I ate the whole (generous) piece – even after that big Christmas dinner! Coast to Coast definitely don’t skimp on the Oreo either considering that the while biscuit base is made from Oreos and you also get some on top too. The cheescake also comes with Oreo ice cream, which has been made especially for Coast to Coast, and a good serving of cream!

After all that I didn’t think there could be anything more, however Joyce came over and brought us yet another Christmas cocktail to try – called ‘The Snowman’. This is an extremely creamy cocktail featuring liqueur and even comes complete with a snowman face made out of Oreos, matchmakers and a little carrot nose! This is the perfect indulgent treat at the end of the meal for grown ups who like to be a bit silly (like me).

And that was it! Full to thc2c1e brim with food and drink, my belly was extremely happy. I can honestly say that you definitely won’t be disappointed if you book a Christmas meal with your family, friends or colleagues here. The food is tasty, original, perfectly festive and there is tons of choice from just the standard options you would expect.

I am also a HUGE cocktail fan and I can honestly say that the drinks I had on Tuesday were literally the best cocktails I ever had, so even if it’s just a Christmas catch-up you’re after, definitely find you’re spot in the Coast to Coast bar for drinks!

If you are after the full Christmas menu, it will coats a reasonable £24.95 for three courses or £19.95 for two. The cocktails are around the £6-7 mark each, but great value for money considering the quality and work that have been put into them. So what are you waiting for? Contact your nearest Coast to Coast today and get your Christmas party sorted!

(Early) Seasons Greetings,

Sam x

Woman Crush Wednesday: Hemsley & Hemsley

hemsleyFor my #WomanCrushWednesday this week, I have not one, but two awesome females.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, better known as Hemsley + Hemsley are the hottest new duo to hit the cookery scene.

The uber-talented pair, who are both chefs, have gained success thanks to their awesome healthy recipes, which they feature on their website. However, the health gurus have also gained fans thanks to their fun personalities, stylish fashion choices and excellent writing skills that can be seen thanks to their blog.

In fact, the two London sisters have impressed with their writing ability, food skills and fashion sense so much that they are now also writers for Vogue and The Guardian.

Being a blogger myself, I find it really inspiring that the pair have managed to achieve so much and that is why they are my #wcw this week!

You can buy the Hemsley sisters first book ‘The Art of Eating Well’ now and  can follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with their latest news. 

Diet Tip #3: Fage Total 0% Fat Free Greek Yoghurt

totalSo I haven’t written a diet tip for a while, but because I’m trying to loose weight again, I thought I would!

Basically, Fage Total O% Fat Free Greek Yoghurt was a revelation the first time I tried it. Unlike normal yoghurts, it has a really thick texture, instead of runny, so it feels you up a lot more. It is also packed with protein (10.3g per 100g), which again makes you feel full and aids weight loss. Also, as it says on the label, it is completely fat free!

It also tastes great and is extremely versatile. I often have it for dessert at lunch or dinner with fruit like I did today. You could also have it for breakfast, on its own or with some oats and honey  ormake it a healthy, but fun treat for kids by adding sprinkles to it.

You can buy the yoghurt in 170g (£1.00) or 500g pots (£2.39).

Hope you enjoy!

Sam x

 

Product Review: Frank ‘honest snacking’ snack bars

frank barsAs a nation, we are becoming more aware about our health and the food that we eat.

Considering incidents such as the horse meat scandal, people want to know what is going in their food and that it is good for them.

This is why I was so delighted when Frank food company contacted me about trying their new snack bars. These healthy treats are gluten, nut and dairy free, are suitable for vegans and are a source of protein. They also contain no ‘nasties’ – with the main ingredient dried fruit – so they basically couldn’t be more healthy if they tried.

As well as this, they come in an array of yummy flavours – ‘Double Chocolate’, ‘Orange & Chocolate’, ‘Oat & Chocolate, Blueberry & Chocolate’ and Strawberry & Chocolate’. As you can see, these all contain chocolate, which definitely pleased me, considering what a chocoholic I am.

But so they actually taste nice? Honestly my answer is yes. Considering this is my first vegan product that I’ve tried, I was extremely pleasantly surprised. Considering it is made from all healthy ingredients, it still feels like a treat. It also is a nice to not feel overwhelmed with sugar whilst eating a snack and have something that is more wholesome, but still tasty.

I would have to say that the ‘Blueberry & Chocolate’ ones are my favourite. To be honest, I didn’t think this flavour would work very well, but I was pleasantly surprised about how the two mixed and finished the bar in record time!

When it comes to the texture of the bars, I would say they a far more like a chocolate bar than a cereal bar because they are soft and crumbly whilst still being firm.

With huge celebrities, such as Beyonce, now endorsing the vegan trend, it makes products like these even more important for those who want to be healthy but still have a varied and tasty diet.

You can buy the snack bars online at Frank food company’s website, as well as Asda and other stores which you can check on their stocklist page here.

Let me know if you try the snack bars or similar products and what you think of them.

It is definitely a thumbs up from me!

Sam x

 

 

Mothers Day 2014

So today was all about the Mummies and I made sure I went all out to show how much I appreciate mine today.

I started off the day by cooking her some yummy (low fat, might I add) sausage sandwiches, then she got her presents, which included some Lindt choc, Hotel Chocolat goodies and some Sanctuary smellies. After that we took her for a countryside ride and for a pub dinner in Winchester.

It was quite packed over there and we hadn’t booked, so we found a little pub called The William Walker just around the main corner which was quite quiet. We all had a lovely chicken roast each that was extremely yummy. This came in at £10 per plate, with all the trimmings. After that, my Mum treated herself to some apple and Ameretto crumble with ice cream (which I sampled a bit of and can confirm was divine).

After this we returned home and cracked open a bottle of Prosecco to finish what was a lovely day off perfectly.

I have included some photos for you of my day below. I hope you all had fun with your Mums or loved ones and a special Happy Mothers Day to all the mummies that may be reading this!

Sam x

 

Tried & Tested: American pancake recipe

pancakes 2Pancake Day 2014 may have already come & gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have them anymore…

These doughy treats are perfect as a yummy breakfast, weekend treat or dessert and really easy to make.

They can also be quite healthy if you add low-fat toppings to them (I went for butter and syrup though, oops).

When preparing for Pancake Day, I decided that I was going to try American pancakes rather than big flat ones this year as I’m all about change in 2014.

I also had American pancakes when I visited Vegas last year and they were literally the best thing ever.

 I found a recipe on bbc.co.uk which I have included for you below.

I was going to double the mixture, because  it didn’t seem like it would make many when I read only 135g of flour was going to be used. However, I’m so glad I didn’t as it made tons! I made 14 in the end before I just couldn’t be bothered to cook anymore, but there was still a bit of the mixture left even after that.

Unlike normal pancakes, which are usually just flower, egg & milk, with American pancakes you add a bit of sugar too, so they are sweeter already, as well as butter.

The resulting pancakes (which can be seen above right)  were gorgeously fluffy and really tasty – so I can definitely recommend the recipe below.

I usually have Nutella on my pancakes, but I decided to go for traditional maple syrup  and butter, which has become my absolute new favourite (and much better than it sounds).

If you want to make it healthier though, why not adding blueberries to the pancakes or have them with strawberries and natural yoghurt?

Let me know if you try out the recipe or what you like on your pancakes!

Sam x

Ingredients

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 130ml milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 30g melted butter (allowed to cool slightly)

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a bowl
  2. Gently melt the butter over simmering water in a heat-proof bowl.
  3. In a jug, lightly whisk together the egg & milk, then whisk in the melted butter.
  4. Combine the flour mixture and milk mixture until you have a smooth batter. Let this stand for a few minutes.
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add some spray oil. Add four small dollops of mixture onto each quarter of the pan, but don’t allow them to touch. If you want to make bigger pancakes, reduce the amount you cook at a time. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm thick.
  6. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  7. Put on those yummy toppings & eat!

Healthy recipe #1: BBQ Chicken Fajita Salad

fajita saladSo currently I am trying to be extremely healthy because for once in my life I actually do want a toned summer body, rather than squirming every time I have to go near a strappy top and a pair of shorts.

This means that I am exercising every day – either a the gym or doing my exercise DVD at home. However, we all know that you can only burn so much off with exercise and that you have to eat right too.

So, it’s time for the salads again! I know what you’re thinking, BORING. Believe me, when people used to say that they were eating salad for lunch, I would literally not understand how they managed to eat a whole plate.

However, salads don’t have to be boring! There are so many yummy ingredients out there now, that they can literally be once of the most exciting and tasty dishes out there.

What you must watch out for though is that if you do start piling on too many things to your salad, it is going to be just as bad (if not worse) than having a plate of chips.

Now I am a HUGE fan of mexican food fan, so I decided that my first salad in a while would have to incorporate this, which is why I went for BBQ chicken mexican fajita.

What you will need: 

  • Chicken (One breast per person)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions (white or red)
  • Red or yellow peppers
  • Fajita seasoning
  • BBQ sauce
  • Italian-style/baby leaf salad

Method: 

First of all cut the chicken up into strips and then gently cook on a low heat using a few sprays on low-fat cooking spray oil. My favourite to use is Frylight’s sunflower oil verson. Once the strips have just started to cook, add in all of the other ingredients, plus a few more sprays of oil and gently turn until the ingredients starts to brown.

Next sprinkle some of the fajita seasoning on. Don’t add too much though, otherwise the flavour will be overpowering. Turn this down to a low heat.

Whilst the chicken and vegetables are finishing off prepare your salad. Italinan-style or baby leaf salad will come in a pre-washed bag, so there is no need to wash it again. Don’t use iceberg lettuce for this recipe, as it won’t have the same effect. You should then dress the salad with some vinegar, as well as a little sprinkle of salt.

By now, the chicken & vegetables should be fully cooked. Just place a typical serving onto the salad and t zig-zag on some of the barbeque sauce (my favourite sauce to use is Hp’s Barbecue Classic Woodsmoke Sauce).

And there you have it – your yummy and healthy meal is served!

Added extras

I wanted to be really healthy, so kept my salad quite plain. However, if you’re feeling a little more naughty or adventurous, you can also add a dollop of guacamole or creme fraiche to make your salad even more Mexican. Or why not try a few tortilla chips too – these can be crushed if you like.

Also, you will notice in the picture of my salad that there are in actual fact no peppers. This is only because I thougjt I had some at home, but I didn’t (boo). I would definitely recommend including them though.

So there you have it, a tasty BBQ chicken fajita salad! let me know what your favourite salads are & keep your eyes peeled for more healthy recipes on the blog

Sam x

Nutella Cookbook Creation #1: Orange Creme Whoopie Pies

whoopie piesSo my lovely sister Kerri got me the awesome Nutella cookbook for Christmas…

This is my first post where I am actually using it though!

Basically, I’m sure you will have guessed but this is a cookbook full of yummy treats to make, which all feature Nutella. I thought I would start from the beginning with my creations, however the first recipe was for Nutella & fruit club sandwiches, which was too easy.

The second recipe was for mini coconut Nutella palmiers, however I didn’t really fancy coconut, so on I went. Finally, third time lucky, I stumbled across the orange creme whoopie pie recipe. ‘Yes ‘ I thought, this is definitely the type of thing I am looking for.

I’ve never eaten a whoopie pie, so didn’t really know what to expect, however it looked yummy on the picture, so I was ready to give it a go!

How did I get on?

Well… I did *okay* for my first time. Basically, the recipe that I have included for you below tells you that the mixture will make 15 whoopie pies. So in my brain, I thought okay, 15 pies, means 15 spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking tray, right?

Wrong! That only makes seven (quite large) whoopie pies, when you put the two halves together. So basically, I didn’t fully read the recipe and was having a severe blonde moment (even though I’m not blonde).

So yeah, as I mentioned above, mine came out rather larger than I originally planned, which meant they were quite filling. However, they still tasted nice!

The orange creme went a bit wrong for me as well. When making it, I melted the butter, then took it off the heat before I put in the other ingredients, whereas you’re supposed to put them in whilst it is still simmering. This meant that my mixture didn’t really thicken up that well, however I just rectified this by adding in some plain flour.

Would I make it again?

Yes, I will definitely be making these whoopie pies again, because I want to see what they would be like smaller like they are actually supposed to be!

The only thing that I might do is just use chocolate or vanilla buttercream for the filling, instead of making the orange creme. I didn’t dislike the creme in the recipe, but it was very time-consuming and wasn’t really worth the wait in my opinion.

If you used your own buttercream, the whole process would be so much quicker, as the pies themselves only take 10-15 minutes to cook.

You could also just add some orange flavouring to your chocolate icing, if you still wanted an orange taste for your pies.

Could I taste the Nutella?

In all honestly, not really. However I usually slather it on or eat is straight from the jar so I’m probably immune from the taste when it is used in smaller quantities now.

It is still a nice recipe though and makes for great whoopie pies (if you get the sizing right!)

Conclusion

So yes, that was my very first baking experience with my Nutella cookbook! Not without its hiccups, but like would probably be boring if it was perfect, right?!

Let me know if you try out the recipe (included below), or if you have the Nutella cookbook too!

Until next time…

Sam x

Ingredients

Orange creme filling:

  • One orange
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • One egg
  • 75 Philadelphia-style cheese

Whoopie pies:

  • 125g plain flour
  • One teaspoon of baking powder
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • One egg
  • 100g nutella
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • pinch of salt

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (Gas 4)

2. Make the orange creme filling. First grate the orange zest and then squeeze it’s juice into a bowl. Next melt the butter in a separate bowl over a pan of simmering water. To this, add the sugar, egg and the zest & juice. Beat this mixture, still over the heat, until it thickens. Remove this from the heat and leave to cool. After this, add in the cheese and chill the mixture for at least one hour.

3. To make the whoopie pies: Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until you have a smooth mixture. Add to this, the Nutella, the egg, cocoa powder and milk. Mix this well and then add the first flour mixture to it.

4. Place THIRTY (*winks) spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper (or which has been greased). Bake for 10-15 minutes. Leave this to cool and spread on the orange creme mixture when both are ready.