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Recipe – Bacon, Broad Bean and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

You know the drill by now…fake it so you don’t have to make it! I am a big fan of these ready-made quiche bases. Yes, they are cheating slightly but if you fancy a delicious midweek pastry treat, you may not always have time to mix, rest and roll out pastry from scratch.

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Seeing as the base takes little to no effort, I always think you need to make a real effort with the filling in terms of flavour. This one has salty, crispy bacon, sweet broad beans and rich tomatoes…a perfect melody of flavours and textures.

Ingredients

3-4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

About 75g of frozen broad beans

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

150ml of crème fraîche

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

A handful of fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

1 ready-made pastry case

A handful of grated Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a large pan, gently fry the bacon until it has started to go crispy
  • Pour some boiling water over the broad beans and drain
  • In a jug, whisk together the crème fraîche, eggs, milk, parsley and season well
  • Take your pastry case and layer the broad beans and tomatoes along the base

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  • Then layer on the bacon

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  • Carefully pour over the egg mixture ensuring it is evenly spread around the fillings

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  • Sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes

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  • Allow to cool slightly then whilst till warm – we had ours with a Caesar salad

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Another delicious and easy mid-week meal x

Sunday Catch-up #9

I went back to work this week which was fine for the first few days but I struggled through the latter half. However, we have had slightly lighter mornings and evenings which made it a little easier getting up and brings the promise of springtime.

This week also saw Ian run the Bath Half Marathon and I was there cheering him and our friends on. It was so inspiring to see people of all ages and levels of fitness giving it a go although I’m not quite sure it has persuaded me to sign up for one yet!

This week I have been…

Making: bowls of steaming hot soup to enjoy on cold nights

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Going: to cheer on the runners at this year’s Bath Half Marathon

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Wearing: pearls on my nails

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Eating: all the doughnuts!

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Drinking: more water in an attempt to cut down on the amount of tea I drink

Reading: marathon running and pre-running diet tips to Ian

Watching: the finale of Broadchurch – I wasn’t as taken with it this season but at least the final episode wrapped up a few loose ends

Buying: well, it’s not really buying but I have sponsored people I know for various charity events (and it kind of felt better than buying more make-up!)

Planning: a new flight route home from America now that a certain low-budget airline changed their times meaning we miss our connection…grrrrrrr

Cooking: a Sunday Roast…nothing beats it

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Baking: nothing again this week although I am feeling inspired after watching the celeb version of the GBBO. Well, I wouldn’t say ‘inspired’ but more of a feeling that I can do better!

Writing: in my journal every night – I’m really happy I’ve kept this up

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Favouriting: lots of bedroom decorating ideas for my next project – I particularly love Kate from ghost parties’ style

Working on: my stamina and upping my weekly runs

Trying to decide: what to wear to school for World Book Day #teacherproblems

Wishing: this week flies by as we have fun weekend plans in London!

Enjoying: the lighter mornings and evenings

Needing: to go to bed earlier now I am back at work

Feeling: so proud of my husband and bestie for raising so much dosh for Cancer Research

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Giggling at: Madonna’s epic fall at the Brits…didn’t we all?!

Latest Purchases #72 – Nail Dotters

Hello and Happy Saturday! I had the longest lie-in today which I very much needed after trying to adjust to getting up early again for work. I was fine for the first three days but Thursday and Friday were a real struggle!

Ian is running the Bath Half tomorrow so we are busy carb-loading today…I am being a good wife and supporting him wholeheartedly with this (ha!)

He is running for Cancer Research UK and it just so happens that it was a year ago this week that my Mum finished her final round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer the previous August. We all know someone who has been affected by cancer and I am so proud of Ian for doing this. If you wanted to donate then here is the link

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Right, onto today’s post and I wanted to share one of my nail art tools. These nail dotters were a couple of quid on ebay (you really don’t need to invest in a brand) and are so handy.

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I received a pack of five and as you can see, each end has a small silver ball of various sizes to allow you to vary your nail dots.

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They are so simple to use as dotters and here are a couple of looks I have done with these tools:

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They have also proved to be really handy when placing sequins or nail decals on my nails too when tweezers are just a bit too fiddly!

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If you want to try your hand at some really simple nail art then a pack of these dotters will give you lovely polka-dot nails for very little effort.

Restaurant Review – The Hinds Head, Bray

Restaurant Review – The Hinds Head, Bray

Ian and I were counting down the days to this meal and when we found out our friend Karen was free to join us too, were looking forward to it even more! The Hinds Head is one of Heston Blumenthal’s pubs that has been awarded a Michelin star since I last ate there a couple of years ago. It is a gorgeous 15th Century building that keeps that cosy pub feel without any pretentiousness.

I started with a G&T made with Hendricks, my favourite gin. It was served beautifully with cucumber, black pepper and a rose…stunning!

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The three of us decided to share a few starters which included a hash of snails (delicious!), a Scotch Egg, Devils on Horseback and potted shrimps. I think starters are often one of the best courses and these were a great way to have a little taste of everything. I know snails may not be everyone’s cup of tea but these were gently cooked in garlic butter and served on a lovely slice of sourdough bread.

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For my main course I had a fish pie with ‘sand and sea’. I was slightly puzzled when I was told this can come lukewarm with the fish still slightly uncooked and translucent or piping hot. Now I would always order my meat rare when offered but rare fish was a first for me and just didn’t appeal! Anyway, my ‘piping hot’ pie arrived and it was packed with fish (smoked pollock, cured salmon and prawns) and the ‘sand and sea’ turned out to be a creamy foam and crunchy breadcrumbs, both of which added a lovely texture.

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My friend Karen opted for the fillet of stonebass with crushed Jerusalem artichokes, mussels and a cider butter sauce.

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Ian had the duck which was served pink with beetroot, barley and turnips. We couldn’t resist a side order of the infamous triple cooked chips too!

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I was so glad I saved room for pudding as this was a good ‘un. I was torn between a few options but the waitress recommended this warm chocolate melt-in-the-middle pudding served with an amazing orange marmalade ice cream. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I didn’t share a mouthful of this either!

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Karen and Ian had a cheeseboard but were much kinder than me and let me try some too.

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I absolutely loved our evening here and for a Michelin restaurant, it was really reasonable considering we had three courses. It is the second time we have eaten at the Hinds Head and I would return without hesitation. In fact, our friend rebooked to go back there within a few weeks’ time!

Beauty Review – A Hand and Heel Duo

A beauty review today of a hand and foot cream from Soap and Glory that I have been using and loving.

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During my half-terms, I really treat myself to lovely scrubs and serums each morning and night but as soon as I am back at work, this beauty routine can slip somewhat. However, one thing I have found that works for me is to keep my bedtime routine beauty products by my bed so as I am writing in my journal, reading or listening to a podcast before bed, I can slather on various potions.

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I have kept these two pink tubes on my bedside table and used them religiously for the past few weeks and have noticed a real difference.

First up is the Soap and Glory Hand Food. This contains shea butter and macadamia oil which are really moisturising but don’t leave a horrible greasy residue. This has a lovely sweet smell to it in their ‘Pink’ fragrance and has kept my mitts soft over these cold months.

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Heel Genius is easily my new favourite foot cream. It has a lovely refreshing scent that also sinks in really quickly. It is non-greasy and boasts a whole range of ingredients that are known for their moisturising qualities such as glycerine and macadamia oil. I hate it when flip flop weather arrives and you wish you had spent the winter taking a bit more care of your feet so I am using this product now to avoid the panic!

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I always get one of the huge Soap and Glory hampers around Christmas time so have about three more tubes of these hand and feet helpers in reserve (did someone say hoarder?!) but the good news is that they are really reasonably priced in Boots and usually have a 3 for 2 deal on too. x

Restaurant Review – Taplow House Hotel

It feels like I haven’t done a good restaurant review for ages! I think that’s probably because we keep eating at places I have already reviewed or just places that don’t lend themselves to a good blog post.

Anyway, today I wanted to share the amazing meal Ian and I enjoyed at Taplow House Hotel when we stayed there recently. We had a three course meal included in our hotel stay which I always like as it means you don’t have to have that argument about who will be the designated driver!

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We started with a good bottle of Merlot while we perused the menu. There were 4 or 5 options for starter, main and dessert which were a nice variety of meat, fish and veggie dishes. The dining room was beautifully decorated but I have to say there wasn’t much atmosphere…maybe that was simply because it was a Wednesday evening though.

I am going to get my other niggle out the way now because I really couldn’t find fault with the food. The night we ate at the Taplow House Hotel, there was a large party in the other room which meant the service in the restaurant suffered a bit. We actually had to wait for almost an hour for our starters which normally would really annoy me but because we were ‘on holiday’ I didn’t mind too much as we were enjoying our wine and conversation.

Onto our (much anticipated!) starters…

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I had a dish of lightly whipped goats cheese which came with salt baked and pickled beetroot, green apple, sesame seed sponge, blackberries and leaves. The pairing of goats cheese and beetroot is a favourite of mine and this was one of those perfectly balanced dishes with a lovely variety of flavours and textures.

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Ian had the grilled mackerel (which were smoked in-house) which came with avocado, celeriac remoulade, mouli, pickled mustard seeds and shiso cress. Again, this was a well-balanced dish with the rich fish matched well against the accompaniments.

I think you can usually judge how good a restaurant is after you’ve had the starters and I have to say we were both really impressed with what we had had so far.

For my main, I really fancied fish so ordered the fillet of cod. This was a huge portion (not complaining!) and it just flaked away perfectly. It was served with artichokes, cockles, mini turnips, squid ink gnocchi and a smoked herring roe butter sauce. Whilst it did look a bit messy on the plate, this dish was incredible! The rich sauce brought everything together and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful.

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Ian opted for the lamb which again looked a bit messy on the plate but more than delivered on taste. There was a braised neck of lamb fillet and loin as well as sweetbreads served with pearl barley, charred baby leeks, celeriac and a lovely rosemary gravy.

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Onto pudding now and I had the white chocolate cheesecake which turned out to be a delightful deconstructed version and one of my favourite dishes of the night. The filling part of the cheesecake part was one of the balls sat atop the biscuit crumbs, the other being a rich vanilla ice cream. Surrounding the rest of the plate was a combination of chocolate ganache, shards of milk chocolate, hazelnuts, cocoa nib sherbet and cocoa marshmallows. It was truly delicious and every mouthful was different.

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Ian doesn’t have as much of a sweet tooth as I do so opted for the cheeseboard which had a nice variety of local cheeses, crackers and a chutney.

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If this hotel was nearby, I would be back to this restaurant in a flash. Although the atmosphere and service left a bit to be desired, I absolutely loved the food here and that would be enough to tempt me back. x

Our Drinks Trolley

When we redecorated our conservatory, we were left with an awkward space where we needed a piece of furniture but I wasn’t too sure what…fast forward to an impulse purchase at IKEA and this white and silver drinks trolley came home with us!

I love the idea of having a little drinks cart to allow any guests to just help themselves to a drink meaning you don’t have to be rushing around and waiting on people all night. By having your spirits on display I think it also eradicates the chances of those weird bottles we all end up buying on holiday…watermelon schnapps anyone?!

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Here is the trolley in all its glory. Whilst it does have wheels, I can’t see myself ever using them and this is very much a stationary piece of furniture!

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As you can see, there are three shelves with a very handy sliding tray hidden underneath the top shelf.

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Ian’s parents very kindly bought us this huge Kilner jar which proved to be perfect for serving Pimms when we had people over last summer. It is quite large but pretty enough to be on display all year round and is another great way to allow people to just help themselves…I’m sounding like such a lazy hostess!

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I decided to use the bottom shelf for our large bottles of spirits, the middle shelf for small bottles and cute glasses and the top for more glasses, straws, stirrers and our cocktail shaker.

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Getting this trolley sorted and looking pretty has inspired me to start looking for some new cocktails recipes…any recommendations?! x

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