Friday, 29 August 2014

Baby Chickens


If you follow me in Instagram then you'll already know that we made 4 new additions to our family over the bank holiday weekend. On Monday, Mum, Dad and myself got up early and headed over to Derbyshire to pick up 4 little chickens to add to our hen house. And they're soo cute! I think it's time to introduce you to the girls!


We asked for a mixture of colours but ended up getting 3 black Pekins and 1 blonde Frizzle. They are so sweet, and a lot smaller than we expected having only been born in June. 


Chickens are quite territorial (hence the phrase 'pecking order') so we have kept them away from our big girls just for a few days just in case the big chickens get angry and the little ones get bullied. But the big ones have seen the babies and they're not phased by them at all so fingers crossed it should be ok tomorrow when we mix them together!

They're all very sweet but everyone is very impressed with this little lady.


Frizzy!


She's got a crazy Afro and she's a typical blonde, getting twigs stuck in her hair and beak. She's so inquisitive and is always at the front of the pack wanting to know what's going on.




She's oh so photogenic, too! I think she quite likes having her photo taken.


I like having a little cuddle. (Please excuse the lack of makeup!)



This is a good photo because you can see the Pekin's feathery feet!

It'll probably be another couple of months before these guys start laying, because they're only chicks really at the moment. 

We just hope that they will mesh well with these ladies!



But I really do think it's going to be aaaaalright. I'll keep you all updated on the poultry situation!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Caramelised Onion and Brie Quiche


This is a recipe I created up after seeing a very posh tart in the Finest section of Tesco. I love the simple but amazing combination of sweet caramelised onions and creamy brie, and after seeing them in a very posh quiche I thought I would create my own!

You will get about 10 slices.

Ingredients

6oz/170g plain flour
3oz/85g butter
5 tbsp water
1 small red onion, sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
Olive oil 
Balsamic vinegar 
4 eggs, beaten
200ml single cream
150ml milk
3oz/85g brie

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Put the onion in a saucepan and add a glug of olive oil, brown sugar and a good few glugs of balsamic vinegar. Set the pan on a medium heat, keep and eye on it and stir every now and then.

2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. In the centre, pour in the water and bring the mixture together. Flour a board, roll the pastry out thinly and line a 10 inch deep flan/pie dish, trimming off any excess.

3. In a jug or mixing bowl, beat the eggs, cream and milk until thoroughly combined. 

4. By now, the onions should be sticky, dark and all the liquid should have been incorporated. 

5. Pour the eggy mixture in to the pastry case. Using a fork drop in a few slices of caramelised onion here and there. Do the same with the brie - slice it up and drop this in throughout. 

6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. 



This lovely quiche is fab served warm as a tasty tea with chips/wedges and salad, or cold as part of a packed lunch. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Healthy Blackberry Muffins



We have this incredible bramble bush tumbling over our garden wall, and without fail every year from July to August we are gifted with a never-ending stream of fresh, big, juicy, plump blackberries. It's a struggle to eat them all! 


My family and I try to think of tasty ways to eat them, ranging from straight from the bush, in a crumble, or a jus to go on lamb steaks. I have to say my favourite is when they go in a crumble, but this isn't too healthy especially when you're having it once or twice a week. 

So I had a little think and did my research, and I've come up with a healthy fatless muffin recipe. I've used natural yoghurt instead of butter, so you can still enjoy a sweet treat, just with 0% of the guilt. They're great in a packed lunch, sat down with a coffee or as a pre-gym snack, as they're perfectly portable.

This recipe should yield 12 healthy muffins, so without further ado..!

Ingredients 

280g/10oz plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
115g/4oz caster sugar
3 eggs
250ml natural yoghurt
85g/6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g/7oz blackberries 
A few oats for sprinkling

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Put 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin. Sieve together the flour, baking powder bicarbonate of soda and stir in the sugar.

2. In a seperate bowl or large jug, beat together the eggs, yoghurt, oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and pour the liquid mixture in and stir gently until just combined. Add the blackberries, being careful not to over-mix. 


3. Spoon the mixture in to the muffin cases. Sprinkle a few oats on top of the muffins and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. 



You can also freeze them easily and whip them out as an when. Enjoy! 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bacon, Broccoli and Blue Cheese Pasta Bake



I made this yesterday for a tasty lunch for when my boyfriend popped round to see me. It's nothing fancy and it certainly doesn't win any beauty contests, but boy it's good. I just really fancied something cheesy and bacony, and I had seen a very similar recipe on a fellow blogger's twitter the night before and had major food envy!

Pasta bake is the ultimate naughty comfort food, it's dead easy to do, and it always gives great results. And this occasion is no exception. My boyfriend isn't a huge broccoli or blue cheese can but he loved this! I made a simple cheese sauce and popped a bit of Stilton in, I would have gone for more if it was just me eating but this is a tamer version. You could add more blue if it's to your taste. 

This pasta sauce teamed with the broc, bacon, garlic and onions is a winning combo! 

Serves 4

Ingredients

300g penne pasta
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 rashers bacon, rind removed and cut up
200g broccoli florets
30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
250g mature cheddar, grated (reserving a little for sprinkling)
50g Stilton, crumbled
1 ball of mozzarella

Method

1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and add the bro olly florets give minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time. Drain and set aside.

2. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/200c.  Sauté the garlic and onion in a large saucepan with a glug of olive oil until slightly softened. Then add the chopped bacon and cook until beginning to brown and crisp up. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

3. Using the same pan to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter gently. Take off the heat and slowly incorporate the flour with a little milk and stir until it forms a smooth paste. Gradually add more and more milk, getting rid of any lumps. Then put on a medium heat and keep stirring until the sauce begins to thicken (should take around 5 minutes). Once the sauce begins to get thick and bubble away, take of the heat and immediately stir in the Stilton and most of the cheddar.

4. Tip the pasta and broccoli in to the cheese sauce and then add the bacon mixture and stir until combined. Pour in to an oven proof dish, sprinkle with cheddar and arrange the sliced mozzarella on top. 

5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top.




One of the best things about this amazing PB is the crispy, cheesy top. It's also equally as good cold (or reheated) the next day for a lovely packed lunch. 

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chicken 'n' Ribs

Going out for tea is such a treat, especially when it's to my favourite place to eat in Canterbury, La Trappiste. A few days ago my boyfriend Jules and I went on a special date to celebrate 'half-Valentine's Day' (I know, I know, it doesn't exist, but any old excuse to get dressed up and spend a lovely evening together trying with good food!)

We decided to try something new, as I had spotted an advert in the restaurant the last time I had been that they do an all you can eat chicken and ribs night on the second Thursday of each month. We decided to give it a shot, and my goodness it was good!

We met up an hour or two before the feat to wander around and grab some pudding from a local supermarket, which in the end we didn't end up eating because we were so full! It was lovely just to take our time and chat nonsense to each other, as we normally do. We had a pre-dinner drink and patiently waited for 8pm to draw nearer.

We showed up early and a lovely member of the team showed us to our table right in the window. We could see the whole street going by, and they could see us. It was kind of like being in a goldfish bowl but it didn't matter, we were too busy waiting for the food to arrive.


Slowly other couples and groups of friends began to arrive and take their seats. Right on the stroke of 8, this landed in front of us.


Two pieces of chicken, a jacket spud with soured cream, and the biggest juiciest rack of ribs. We dived in and our conversation was replaced by nods and happy 'mmms'. The best bit by far were the ribs, which were juicy, tender and smothered in a delicious BBQ sauce.


The system goes like this: they deliver your first plate to get you going. Then after that if you would like more, you go up to the chef's serving station, scrape your bones in to the bin provided, and ask for more of whatever you would like. It's like a grown up school dinner system really!


I went up three more times for more ribs, which Jules matched, so we definitely got our money's worth. We both loved it and it was great fun, so we will be returning in the future for more chicken and ribs nights!


La Trappiste is such a lovely environment and I love this painted mural on the wall. 

It's £10 per head for C&R and lasts from 8-10pm, though the poster says it could go on longer if there is lots left. I would advise booking in advance because the night is very popular. 

Highly recommended for those who live in and around Canters!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Cosmic Manicure


This trend has been big in 2014. One nail painted differently to the others. I've been a little late to the party but now I'm here I'm fully involved!


I combined my favourite colour at the moment (Limited Edition Barry M polish 'Bikini') and my amazing super sparkly cosmic Nails Inc polish 'Westminster Bridge Road'). 


And the result looks something like this. 


So easy and simple to do. I love it! 

What are your favourite nail colours/tricks of 2014? 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mango Salsa


Like a lot of the things I'm inspired to make these days, I spotted the idea for this recipe on Insagram. I've consulted a number of different recipes but in the interest of keeping things nice and simple, I've paired my recipe down to just 4 ingredients. From these 4 colours you get a fresh, simple, delicious salsa that is perfect as an accompaniment to white fish or chicken. Some people have even served their mango salsa on top of BBQ'd beef burgers. It's very summery and versatile, and can be knocked together in well under 10 minutes. 

Ingredients


1 large ripe mango
1/2 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cucumber

Method

Dice all of the ingredients very finely, and combine in a large mixing bowl. 

And that's it!


Serve it straight away, or prepare it a day in advance and chill in the fridge to let all the flavours mix together. 


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spending time at home

I love living away at Uni and I am quite content pootling along by myself, coming and going as I like and making what I fancy for tea and such. But it is rather lovely going home too. These last couple of weeks I spent at home in Lincolnshire with my family. I celebrated 3 birthdays and generally caught up with everyone, and it was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and stock up on hugs and snuggles with my moggy, Bith. Here are a few snaps of home.







Thursday, 7 August 2014

Chocolate Marble Cake


I've just returned to Uni after a couple of lovely relaxing weeks at home. I'm happy to be back because I love Canterbury but also sad to leave my family behind and because I had such a lovely time.

I fitted loads in to my 2 week visit and it almost feels as though I've been away on holiday. I had my lovely friend Becky to stay who I haven't seen in a year, went to 3 family parties, caught up with my cousins, had my boyfriend to visit for a week and celebrated both my Mum's and my Dad's birthdays. 

The cake I want to share with you today was the one I made for my Dad's birthday in July, and it went down so well my Mum requested it for her birthday also. 

It's a gorgeous dark and white chocolate marble cake with silky smooth chocolate marbled icing too. It's a real special occasion kind of cake so perfect for birthdays and celebrations.

Ingredients

For the sponge:
170g/6oz softened unsalted butter or Stork
170g/6oz caster sugar
4 large eggs
120g/4oz plain flour
90g/3oz ground almonds
100g/3.5oz white chocolate
100g/3.5oz dark chocolate

For the icing:
100g/3.5oz white chocolate
100g/3.5oz dark chocolate
300ml extra thick double cream
100g/3.5oz unsalted butter

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c. Gently melt the white and dark chocolate in the microwave (in seperate bowls) on a low heat and set aside to cool. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Seperate the eggs by letting the white slip in to a seperate bowl and drop the yolks one by one in to the creamed mixture. 

2. Incorporate the flour a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition. Once all the flour is added stir in the almonds.


3. Whisk the reserved egg whites with and electric hand whisk until they form stiff white peaks. Gradually fold this in to the cake mixture, taking great care not to knock the air out. 

4. Divide the mixture equally between 2 bowls and carefully incorporate the melted chocolate. 



5. Line a 6in cake tin and using a metal spoon blob a spoonful of each mixture in.


Using a skewer or a long pointy object, swirl this around to create a marbled effect.


6. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the cake is cooked through.


To make the icing, simply melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls with half the butter and cream in each. When the cake and icing are completely cool, use the same blob and swirl technique to fill the cake and top it. 

Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder and it's all done! 



Serve hot or cold with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream. 
Heavenly!