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Category Archives: baking

Five Friday Favourites #8

A slightly belated Friday Favourites this week but I have been away this weekend and wanted to switch off and relax a bit, so better late than never!

Weezer’s White Album

I used to absolutely LOVE this band (the Green Album is one of my all-time favourites) but I didn’t know what to expect when I listened to their new album. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint and I have been playing it non-stop for the past week. My favourite tracks are ‘California Kids’ and ‘Jacked Up’.

A New Lasagne Recipe

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I get really excited when I discover a new twist on a classic recipe and I followed Gino D’Acampo’s lasagne recipe which adds homemade pesto to the white sauce, giving it a new flavour that really works well.

Ricky Gervais

I went to see Ricky Gervais’ new stand-up show ‘Humanity’ this week. He actually had a bit of a funny turn and had to leave the stage for a bit and we weren’t sure whether it was all part of the act or serious! As well as the live show, we had amazing pizzas beforehand at Beerd – the chestnut mushroom, truffle and parmesan one was divine!

The OA

We finished watching this Netflix series this week and whilst it wasn’t one of my all-time favourites, it was entertaining and a bit different…if a little weird.

Banana Bread

It feels like I haven’t baked anything for ages so I was really excited to try a slice of this. I made banana bread with Mini Eggs and hazelnuts and it turned out to be so delicious!

Recipe – Mince Pie Pastries

After yesterday’s blog post, I had a little notification pop up on my WordPress app informing me that it was actually my 1000th post which feels like something of a milestone! I can flit between hobbies but I am so pleased I have actually stuck with this one as it brings me real happiness to write blog posts. I know my photography is not the slickest, and there is the occasional spelling mistake or two, but I do love looking back on what I have written and seeing how much things have changed.

Today, I wanted to share a really easy festive baking recipe that is a twist on a classic mince pie and would make a perfect breakfast pastry if you have family staying over Christmas.

Ingredients

A sheet of puff pastry (feel free to make your own but I always buy puff pastry!)

A jar of mincemeat (again, you can make your own. I bought some from Sainsburys and jazzed it up with some extra cranberries, mixed peel and a dash of orange liquor)

How to make it

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/ 180°C
  • Roll your pastry out on a floured surface
  • Spoon over the mincemeat, leaving a gap of about an inch the whole way round

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  • Gently but firmly roll the pastry up into a swiss roll-style log

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  • Slice into rounds about 2cm thick

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  • Put each round between a sheet of greaseproof paper and lightly flatten with a rolling pin or your palm

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  • Place the slices onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

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  • Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown

These went down a treat with my colleagues and were tasty warm and once cold. The filling can catch and caramelise on the bottom if you’re not careful so make sure they don’t overcook and burn.

Sunday Summary #51

Life

It has been a pretty quiet week for me but I am in full Christmas mode now and am counting down until the end of term (5 more get-ups!)

We watched Home Alone 2 through the week which is making me want to visit New York in December next year to see all the beautiful window displays. We have also been watching Billions this week – such good dialogue and actors in it.

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I also spent yesterday putting up the final Christmas decorations so the house is looking so festive and cosy.

Food

I made mince-pie pastries which I will try and write the (very simple!) recipe for this week.

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We went out for a roast dinner today at a nearby pub for my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday. I had rare roast beef which was delicious!

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I bought a little blast from the past this week – Fry’s Turkish Delight…as good as I remembered.

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Fashion

I have tried to avoid buying anything in the run-up to Christmas but I am obsessing with pleated midi skirts at the moment, especially slightly metallic ones.

Beauty

I have been enjoying my L’Occitane en Provence advent calendar each morning.

With the constant cold weather and central heating, I have pulled out the big guns with a new body butter from The Body Shop. This is the green olive scent and is so rich and moisturising.

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Finally, a duo from Eyeko that I have been loving. The FAT liquid eyeliner is a great product, and you can create either a thick or thin line with the felt tip-style applicator.

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The Black Magic mascara is also really good. It has a curved brush which helps to curl my eyelashes slightly.

 

Recipe – Grapefruit Drizzle Cake

I have a fool-proof drizzle cake recipe that I have made with lemon, lime, orange and now…grapefruit! Not everyone likes this fruit but it is floral and fragrant in this recipe and loses that sour, bitter edge.

Ingredients

175g of butter, at room temperature

275g of granulated sugar (100g of this is for the drizzle)

1 large grapefruit (you will need both the zest and the juice)

200g of self-raising flour

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

3 eggs

How to make it

  • Begin by greasing your loaf tin and preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 175g of the sugar

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  • Zest your grapefruit and add the zest and half the juice to the mixing bowl (save the rest for the glaze!)
  • Mix in the flour, baking powder and eggs and mix well

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  • Pour this batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 35 minutes until it is golden brown
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool
  • While your cake is cooling, make your grapefruit drizzle by combining the remaining juice of your grapefruit and the remaining 100g of sugar
  • Turn your cake out onto a chopping board or wire rack and pierce the top of it with a small skewer or tooth pick several times

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  • Carefully spoon over the grapefruit sugar drizzle, making sure the whole cake is covered and it starts to drip down the sides too

  • Allow enough time for the sugar drizzle to crystallise then cut into slices

Sunday Summary #39 and #40

Life

A two-week catch-up today as, quite frankly, I was exhausted last weekend! I completed the 5km Pretty Muddy at Bath Racecourse and was so filthy afterwards, I had a hot shower and a nap in the afternoon. Despite it being a nightmare to get out of the car park (over an hour and a half!), I really enjoyed it. I ran with my colleagues and it was a real laugh getting covered in mud and water.

I’ve been trying to get the work/ life balance right since term started and it’s such a balancing act! I feel as though I am on top of things at work but failing slightly at home as I haven’t been to the gym all week and have been relying on quick meals for dinner (pizza and pasta have been a lifesaver!)

In the evenings, we have been enjoying some great dramas, especially after reading that boxsets are good for relationships! We watched the whole series of Stranger Things which I surprised myself by really loving. I’m not usually a fan of anything involving aliens but I just loved the kids in this and the 80s setting was just so cool. We also watched One of Us, a British drama which was OK and the film, The Big Short, which is fascinating.

In slightly less exciting news, I’ve been on a Speed Awareness Course after getting snapped on the motorway. Annoyingly, I was rushing to get home for a takeaway curry so that will teach me to be so greedy!

I finished reading The Sister which I thought was pretty awful – I don’t usually dislike a book as I’m fairly good at picking ones I know I’ll like but this just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what to read next – my Dad has leant me an Ernest Hemmingway which I may try.

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Finally, Ian and I spent a good chunk of this weekend planning our trip to Boston in a bit more detail. I have a rough plan (it’s the teacher in me!) of places we’d like to visit and I just can’t wait!

Food

It was Ian’s birthday this month and despite claiming he didn’t want a cake, we definitely enjoyed this chocolate delight.

After my run, my Dad asked me what I fancied and a big bowl of his BBQ ribs hit the spot!

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We went out to Wagamamas this Friday to celebrate my brother getting a promotion at work. I ordered my favourite of Yaki Soba and it was perfect. I also really like ordering a fresh juice there.

Today, we both fancied a roast dinner but didn’t want to cook so we went to The Crown pub nearby where they do an amazing Sunday roast with red cabbage and huge Yorkshire puddings.

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I have made an apple crumble tonight with some apples from my friend’s garden which I am looking forward to in a bit.

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Beauty

I went for a facial yesterday and my skin feels so good today. It was meant to include some micro-dermabrasion but my skin wasn’t quite right for it which I suppose is a bit of a compliment.

My friend Lucie very kindly bought me a tube of NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in the shade Stockholm (and actually gave it to me when we were on the plane just about to land there!). It is the perfect nude for me and I love the smell of this formula too.

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Lastly, I have been really enjoying this facial spritz by This Works. It is really gentle and refreshing on the skin and smells very clean and fresh.

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Fashion

I made an ASOS order for Ian’s birthday so ended up adding a few pieces into the basket for myself too! I bought some dresses but I’m also having a real moment with hats. I know summer is over but these two straw hats caught my eye. Both the trilby and fedora have coloured stripes around the brim to add a bit of interest and will be perfect in the sun.

Today I wore my pale brown felt fedora and actually had someone tell me how much they liked it when I was shopping!

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Finally, a present from my Mum who knows how much I like copper/ rose gold. These hangers from Primark are lovely and I am always running out.

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Sunday Summary #36 and #37

Life

Hello! It’s been a while since I sat down to write but things have been pretty busy.

Firstly, we have been on a mini European cruise visiting Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Finland. I had such a great time and will be writing a blog post about each place soon.

Sadly, my summer holidays have come to an end so I have been trying to get my head back into work mode again and get my body used to 6:30am starts! I did however enjoy my last day of freedom today and met friends for a morning of food and shopping at Frome Market where I had the most amazing meatball sub too.

We’re also having our driveway done which has meant further chaos at home but it is almost finished and so worth it.

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I mentioned in my last weekly post that our village pub was closing. Well, things have moved on quite a bit and the villagers have taken over! The pub has reverted back to its previous name of The Kings Arms and will be staffed by local volunteers for drinks until a buyer is found. I am a firm believer that you should support local businesses and we will be continuing to visit on a weekly basis.

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I finished watching all 6 series of Sex and the City and even squeezed in the two films…a summer well spent!

We finished watching The Five (a good British drama with a slightly far-fetched ending) and are now watching The Night Of which is excellent!

I also finished the two books set by my book club this week and have started reading The Sister which is set in Bath.

Food

We ate really well on holiday! In Stockholm I had the most delicious traditional lunch of an open prawn and egg sandwich on rye bread followed by a cinnamon roll.

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On our ship, there was an abundance of seafood including unlimited prawns and caviar. There was also lots of pickled food and since coming home, I am addicted to gherkins!

I was quite partial to honey beer, served in Estonia.

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With the return of the Great British Bake Off, I have found an urge to bake again. I made a pink grapefruit drizzle cake last week and am planning a lemon and blueberry cake this week.

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I was browsing through my blog for some food inspiration this weekend and found the recipe for a really simple paella. I made it again and it was so tasty!

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Beauty

I raided my drawer of beauty samples and minis for our holiday and fell in love with this Verbena body lotion from L’Occitane en Provence. A fresh, lemony scent, it was a perfect summer product.

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Ian earned some serious husband points this week when he came home with a new bottle of Essie nail varnish for me. Cabana Boy is a lovely pearlescent grey which I wore all this week.

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Fashion

I bought another pair of my favourite Topshop jeans this week in a slightly darker shade for Autumn. These Lucas jeans are the perfect fit and I wore my last pair all summer.

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There’s not much else to report on the fashion front as it’s that funny time in between Summer and Autumn where you have no idea what to wear!

Recipe – Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Brownies

Even writing the title for this recipe makes me want to take a bite from one of these brownies! I have really lost my baking mojo recently so wanted to get back into it with something really delicious.

Whilst these are essentially chocolate brownies, they have an indulgent swirl of dulce de leche caramel running through them and the crunch of hazelnuts which are one of my favourite nuts to bake with.

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Ingredients

200g of dark chocolate

180g of butter

About 400g of dulce de leche

150g of hazelnuts

50g of vegetable oil

A generous teaspoon of sea salt

3 eggs

250g of light brown sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

200g of self-raising flour

50g of ground almonds

How to make it

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C/ Gas Mark 4
  • In a large bowl, add the chocolate, butter and vegetable oil
  • Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir well until the contents have melted and form a lovely glossy mixture

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  • Set aside and allow to cool
  • In a food processor, blitz 100g of the hazelnuts to a fine powder – keep the remaining 50g whole

  • In a separate bowl, mix together the dulce de leche, hazelnuts (the whole and blitzed up ones) and the sea salt

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  • In a mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract
  • Pour in the chocolate mix followed by the flour and ground almonds
  • In an ovenproof tray, line with baking paper then spoon in the chocolate mixture

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  • Add the dulce de leche mixture on top and with a chopstick or the end of a spoon, marble the two mixtures together.

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  • Bake for 35 minutes

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These are lovely cold but my favourite way of serving the brownies is to slightly warm them then add a scoop of coffee and a scoop of salted caramel ice-cream…delicious!

Sunday Summary #30

Life

I only have one week to go until the summer break and I am pretty much in holiday mode now! We’ve had a few nice sunny days too which feel long overdue.

This weekend, we went on a lovely country walk near our village and apart from a dangerous dash through some stinging nettles (!) it was great!

Last night we watched Everest and I loved it. I love a good natural disaster film and this was gripping.

I have been really enjoying this book although I can’t help but feel so sad and angry when I read about how badly women are treated in Afghanistan.

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Whilst everyone – including Ian – seems to be losing their mind over the new Pokemon app, I have fallen for the Prisma app. Based on famous paintings, it gives a cool twist to photos.

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Finally, my job for today was to clean out my car. Not the most fun task but I filled 2 bin bags full of rubbish and I found £3.44 and a necklace I thought I had lost!

Food

I always think that the more colourful your plate is, the healthier it is so I roasted a huge tray of veg this week.

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I also cooked tuna steaks – one of my favourite fish to eat.

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After dinner, I have been having a small bowl of this coffee ice cream. It reminds me of Baileys without the alcoholic taste and is a lovely way to end a meal.

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We went out for dinner this week. As it was a nice evening, we stopped by the canal for drinks and I ordered a Fruli. I drank this strawberry beer when I was at uni and it really reminded me of my student days. We ate at Smokey’s, an American-style restaurant and, of course, I went for ribs!

Finally, I baked this week…salted caramel and hazelnut brownies.

I may have had a little slice for my breakfast this morning too!

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Beauty

I have three beauty favourites to share this week. Firstly, a bright coral pink lip gloss from NYX in the shade Peach Cobbler.

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On my eyes, I have been applying this cream eyeshadow from Calvin Klein in the shade Cashmere Plum. It gives a lovely sweep of shimmery pink and lasts surprisingly well.

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Finally, I rediscovered this beautiful marble blusher in the back of my drawer. This is Corallina by Milani and has a pretty golden shimmer running through it.

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Fashion

Loving the bandana trend to hide a bad hair day…

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I wore these silk trousers to work the other day and felt to summery…I love this print!

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I also made a little La Redoute order in the sale. The other half of it hasn’t arrived yet but here is a sneak peek of some of the footwear I ordered.

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Sunday Summary #23 and #24

Life

It has been another busy few weeks with my half term just coming to an end…7 weeks to go until the summer holidays now!

I’m feeling a bit worse for wear today after my friend Cat’s wonderful wedding yesterday. Set in the most stunning grounds with peacocks wandering around, it was such a lovely day topped off with dancing to Pulp songs until midnight!

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We’ve taken a mini break to Berlin which we both loved. I’ve written a blog post on it if you want to read more but it was a perfect couple of days in the sun.

One new series that Ian and I are really enjoying (me more than him I think) is Scandal. We are onto series 2 and although it is a little unrealistic at times, I like the fast-paced, political nature of it.

We have been to see another comedian – this time Mark Watson in Bristol who was very good, as always. He didn’t have a support act which was a shame as I like to see different comedians.

I have almost finished Only We Know and, although I guessed the twist before the end, am really enjoying it. I have a few chapters to go and I’m trying to decide whether it will result in a happy or tragic ending.

Food

I think the tighter waistline on my jeans is testament to how much good food I have been indulging in lately!

Berlin was a great foodie trip and we enjoyed some amazing burgers, sausages and of course good beer!

Ian and I also ate at Souk Kitchen which was a truly incredible meal – my review is here.

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I’ve also baked for what seems like the first time in ages and we enjoyed these delicate Lady Grey Cupcakes (recipe here)

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Beauty

I’ve had my hair cut! After spending the last year growing it longer, I had it all cut off again! I want my hair to be a really cool-toned blonde so have been stocking up on purple shampoos to keep it from going too brassy.

I also went for a very summery shade on my nails this week with this pastel blue by Nails Inc.

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Fashion

The warmer weather has seen me starting to break in my summery sandals again…with a few blisters along the way! A pair of old faves I rediscovered were these anchor sandals.

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I am on the look for a summer hat that isn’t as heavy as my felt fedoras. I found this black straw boater on ASOS and feel it fits the bill perfectly…now to make an order and not get too carried away…

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Recipe – Lady Grey Cupcakes

It’s been a little while since I posted a new recipe, much less a baking one but I decided to dust off the Kitchen Aid and have a play around with some new flavours. As you know I am a tea addict and one variety I love is Lady Grey. It still tastes like tea but has a refreshing orange citrus twist to it and I wanted to use these flavours in my cupcakes.

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Ingredients

200ml of milk

3 Lady Grey teabags

120g of butter, at room temperature

225g of caster sugar

2 eggs

250g of plain flour

A teaspoon of baking powder

Another 75g of butter, at room temperature

The zest and juice of a lemon

About 250g of icing sugar

Sugared orange and lemon jellies (optional)

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a small pan, heat the milk until it is steaming then remove from the heat and add the teabags. Allow them to brew for about 5minutes then remove the bags and leave the infused milk to cool down. You will need 150ml of this liquid
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and creamy
  • Add the eggs, one at a time
  • Bit by bit, add the flour and the infused milk until all have been added and mixed well (I did it about one third at a time)
  • Add the baking powder and mix

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  • Spoon the batter into cupcake cases – I made 15 with these amounts
  • Bake for around 20 minutes then leave to cool

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  • For the icing, beat together the butter and lemon juice and add the icing sugar until smooth and creamy. You may need a little more or less than the 250g I recommended depending on how juicy your lemon is!
  • Ice the cupcakes, add some decoration and enjoy your treat