Recipe: Peanut Butter & Jam Bakewell Tart

One of the bakes that instantly reminds me of childhood family time is a Bakewell Tart. I have no idea why really; my Grandma occasionally made one, but I was never a huge fan. Perhaps its the fact that a Bakewell Tart looks so traditionally ‘English’ that makes me feel all nostalgic? Either way, when I say that July’s theme for the Bumpkin Betty Baking Club was Family Favourites, I instantly knew I wanted to update this classic recipe. And as luck would have it, BBC Good Food Magazine featured a PBJ adaptation a few months ago. Que playing around with the recipe and coming up with this…

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 9_zpsueugsjpu.jpgAnd damn, it was good!

Crisp, bitter, chocolatey pastry. Sweet fruit jam. Moist nutty filling. Easy enough to eat outside, perhaps at a picnic. Absolutely delicious served with a dollop of yoghurt – which definitely did not form my breakfast for a few days after baking. With my love for peanut butter, I found this far more enjoyable than the standard Bakewell Tart, and considering this photos were taken at 9pm it doesn’t look half bad either!

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 10_zpsusokyej1.jpg photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 6_zpsc7pxrfen.jpgThe proportions from the original recipe have changed. The pastry was crumbly and fragile, breaking off in the oven and generally being difficult to handle; my version is a little easier, though still far more tempermental than standard shortcrust. I’ve upped the jam quantity in the filling, and reduced the icing. And the leftover egg yolk? Just use in a carbonara!

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 2_zpsmaymxbsk.jpgIngredients (Pastry)

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 150g salted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
  • 2-2½ tbsp water, very cold

Ingredients (Filling)

  • 175g smooth peanut butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120g butter, softened
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 125g seedless raspberry jam

Ingredients (Topping)

  • 20g roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp seedless raspberry jam

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 1_zpssxqwjse5.jpgStart off by prepping the pastry. Pop the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the chilled butter. Rub the mixture together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Drizzle iced water over the flour and butter mixture, and use a knife i to mix until combined and the mixture begins to hold together. Bring the pastry together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured, cool benchtop. Lightly knead the pastry until smooth and soft. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling-film and place in the fridge for around an hour to rest.

Roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin, then use to line a 23cm tart tin. Line with baking paper and weight with baking beans (uncooked rice is a storecupboard substitute, just don’t use it for eating afterwards!). Bake at 180C for 15 minutes, before removing the baking paper and baking for an additional 5 minutes. Trim the edges and leave to cool slightly.

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 12_zps00yz2v2n.jpgWhilst the pastry is baking, make the filling. Cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and baking powder – the mix should be smooth and creamy.

Spread the pastry case with the jam. You want a good thick layer (the original recipe had a major jam shortage!). Top with the filling, then bake for 45 mins. The filling will be slightly risen and golden. Allow to cool completely – to avoid a soggy bottom, cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the jam and icing sugar together, and drizzle over the tart. Roughly chop the peanuts and scatter over – and there you have it. A modern take on Grandma’s Bakewell Tart.

 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 3_zpsxupglhho.jpgI loved this tart. So often peanutty bakes can be dry, but this was lovely; moist, flavoursome and a little bit quirky. I loved the fruity kick from the jam, the crunch from the nuts and the bitterness of the pastry case. Definitely one I’ll be making again!

Have you joined in Bumpkin Betty’s Baking Club? What’s your favourite recipe from your childhood?

Fashion: Graduation Dress

Oh, how I dreaded searching for a graduation dress! I hate looking at myself in mirrors, hate being photographed, my body confidence is pretty much rock-bottom currently. The thought of having to find an outfit which will be forever displayed on grandparents walls was terrifying.

 photo IMG_2066_zpslt1zobzc.jpg photo 2016-07-11 21.19.46_zpsqsfszhwq.jpgThen there was the constraint of finding something ‘appropriate.’ Graduating in the cathedral meant I didn’t want anything revealing, wanted a decent length. I wanted something that would blend in or complement my hood colour (a soft grey – quite nice as it happened!). Oh, and I desperately wanted something that fitted. Seeing as 90% of my wardrobe doesn’t right now.

Seemed like an impossible task, right?! Turns out I was on a roll back in April – I managed to find my wedding dress (!), summer ball dress and graduation dress all within the space of a few days!

 photo 2016-07-14 12.00.10_zpsdilekjdd.jpg photo 2016-07-14 12.00.17_zpsqvpvpwqs.jpg photo 2016-07-14 11.59.39_zpsg4vsvmnq.jpgMy graduation dress came from Next, one of their featured brands called Little Mistress (also available from House of Fraser and, I think, ASOS). Originally priced at £55, it’s now much cheaper (typical) but  personally felt the material and fit to be superior even for the higher price. A silky polyester blend, fitted even to my waist, with a flattering wrap skirt, the length was perfect for my height. The colour blended with my hood, and went perfectly with my favourite makeup look. Definitely a good buy!

I accessorized with a bright pink cardigan (Tesco) and some black court shoes (Peacocks, which crippled me with a horrific blister despite wearing them in). I was also lucky enough not to have to carry a bag, however regretted this halfway through the very long (and unfortunately very boring) ceremony – how I would have loved to have my phone with me!
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What did you wear to your graduation? Did you dread finding a dress too?

University: I Graduated!

Just a quick post from me today – it seems that the past six months have finally caught up with me and I’ve now succumbed to the illness that’s been threatening for weeks. Yep, less than 48 hours after graduating my throat felt like I’d been swallowing razor blades, and I decided bed was the best option. Not great when I still had W’s graduation to get through, though I must admit it’s quite nice to be ill whilst at home with someone to look after me!

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On Monday I finally and officially ended four long years of hard work. I walked along a stage, shook a hand and collected my degree certificate. Perhaps a bit of an anticlimax, but I loved every minute and *waits for applause* I didn’t fall over! I loved seeing my friends and coursemates all dressed up, throwing our hats in the air, and giggling as the more difficult names were stumbled over during the ceremony. I loved chatting to my lecturers, informing them I finally had a job lined up, thanking them for all the advice they gave over the last few years. I loved making my parents, sister and fiance proud, seeing their faces as I walked by in the cathedral. I loved the Ed’s Diner pancakes I had for breakfast, and the Belgian Waffle I ate at 10pm instead of dinner. And of course, I loved my final Pork & Co roll the day after.

 photo IMG_2070_zpsslbvkq9c.jpgIt was such a lovely way to end my time at Kent University, and whilst I can’t quite believe it’s over, I’m now super excited for the next step!

Have you graduated recently? How was your day?

Lifestyle: Exploring Kent

It took me a while, but I finally think I’ve gotten a bit more about the fabulous county where I went to university. Get me – past tense about university because I am now officially a graduate! Me and W decide to make a mini-break out of packing up and cleaning my final year house – so we took a few days extra and made the most of having no lectures, no coursework, no exams and a car to get around.

 photo Exploring Kent 13_zpshu2vhddu.jpg photo Exploring Kent 14_zpsujztzbpy.jpg photo Exploring Kent 11_zpslbzewduy.jpg photo Exploring Kent 10_zpsegnoxxy7.jpg photo Exploring Kent 7_zpsbxahskz8.jpgOn the first day we approached Canterbury at lunchtime, hungry, hot and a little grumpy. There was only one solution – driving straight into Whitstable, parking up, filling up with food and sitting on the beach. The day was glorious, with Whitstable being one of my favourite beachside spots. Something about the waves crashing against the stones is so soothing to the soul.

With W not being a fan of Fish’n’Chips (I know…) and our previous favourite eatery no longer in business, we set about finding food. Stumbling across a sandwich shop, we found a bit of a hidden gem. My Roast Beef & Mustard sandwich was divine. Tender and rare roast beef, just the right amount of English mustard, good seeded bread. Will was equally pleased with his Ham & Cheese choice.

 photo Exploring Kent 15_zpsrdeqocrf.jpg photo Exploring Kent 2_zps0vixvevw.jpg photo Exploring Kent 4_zps6cyaxwfw.jpg photo Exploring Kent 3_zpsaogs6qko.jpgThe next day we travelled out towards Margate. I’d heard a lot of good things about this seaside town from other bloggers, plus my Nan visits regularly and raves about it. But, honestly? I was hugely disappointed! Maybe I was missing something, but the highstreet was like any other slightly grimy highstreet in the country, the beach was quite dirty with rubbish and it was all a bit ‘meh.’ Dreamland had clearly been done up nicely on the inside, but ride prices are high and it just didn’t seem worth it. We did have a ball of a time playing the two-penny slots though!

Moving on we drove around to Broadstairs, a slight improvement being a more traditional seaside time. As we parked up there was a massive flash, a crack of thunder and the heavens opened. Que eating our picnic whilst sat in the car! Eventually we ventured out under an umbrella, watched the Armed Forces Day parade, had a mooch and a wander, then retreated rapidly when the sky blackened again. I didn’t even manage to grab an ice-cream!

The day ended with a quick trip to Westwood Cross, a shopping complex that even managed to impress W. I picked up my first maxi-dress and finally hit an NYX stand.

 photo 2016-06-26 12.39.37_zpsvpyhbgir.jpgThe next few days were spent in Canterbury, completely exploring, finding some lovely hidden gems and finally, finally going on a boat tour. It honestly was the most delightful little break, the weather treated us relatively well (look at the gorgeous blue skies!) – a nice end to my time in Kent!

Was there anywhere super-special I missed in Kent? I’d love to go back for a long weekend in a year or so, so hit me with some suggestions!

Food: Blogger Recipes I’ve Loved Lately

Recently I’ve been cooking a fair few new meals. I’ve gone off using Pinterest to find meal inspiration a little, I’ve found it very difficult to find new recipes lately (the same ones seem to continuely come up in searches). What I have noticed, however, is that many of my favourite bloggers seem to be creating some yummy looking recipes. Here’s just an handful of the ones I’ve tried out lately!
 photo Roasted Nesting Chicken 5_zps46tmec6m.jpg photo Roasted Nesting Chicken 3_zpsjlncv6eh.jpg photo Roasted Nesting Chicken 6_zps0j2znite.jpg

Nested Roast Chicken – The Londoner (link)

Oh my, this was delicious! By far some of the yummiest potatoes I have ever eaten, we ate the whole lot despite cooking way too much. We just couldn’t stop! The chicken skin was crispy, the meat moist and perfumed with the lemon. The potatoes were sweet from the honey and both salty and herby from the seasoning. They were crunchy and chewy, yet some were also melting soft. Served with some simple green vegetables this was such a delightful Sunday supper – and gave us enough chicken for three further meals (two of soup, one of stir-fry).

I have a fabulous idea to turn this into a bit more of a student friendly dish (not that I’m a student anymore, though I guess I’ll still be living with one!). Less of a huge portion, shorter cooking time, less fresh ingredients. Keep your eyes peeled for this one, I’m going to enjoy developing the recipe…!

Noodle Stir-Fry – Pinch of Yum (link & photo credit)

Inspired by Lindsay’s 15 Minute Lo Mein recipe (or, more specifically, the yummy sauce), I just had to use one of her photos as ours certainly did not look nearly as appetising. Seriously girl, how to do you get a plate of noodles to look so darn good?! My comforting bowl, delicious as it was, just didn’t do her recipe justice. We skipped the mushrooms (my fiance is a shroom-hater, I’m praying for a few evenings alone next year so I can indulge in risotto!), and added lime and ginger to the sauce, simply because it was there.
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Sweetcorn Fritters – Mamacook (link)

I’ve loved fritter-type things for as long as I can remember. Courgette & Feta ‘Cakes’ is one of my favourite meals in the summer, onion bhajis are my go-to starter when I’m treating myself to an Indian (read about the best ones I’ve ever eaten here). When we picked up a packet of Bacon & Maple Syrup Sausages from Tesco (well worth a try, btw!) we wanted something a bit different to go with them, so we decided to get creative with some sweetcorn fritters. We based in on Mamacooks recipe, but spiced it up a bit lot – they were delicious. Recipe coming soon as I have to share it!

Green Vegetable Pasta – Inspired by Little Miss Katy (link)

Whilst I’ve already posted about my Spring Vegetable Carbonara, it was a few weeks ago that I remember Katy’s recipe for a Mac’n’Cheese with Baby Kale. I loved her idea of making the sauce with cottage cheese (one to remember for lazy evenings!), I just stole her addition of baby Kale into the carbonara. This worked so wonderfully well, as the slight bitter-pepperiness went perfectly with the sweet peas and smoked ham I was using. Yum!
 photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 1_zpsrezho7eu.jpg photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 10_zpsrsy8isye.jpg photo Peanut Butter Bakewell Tart 14_zps3itasjjp.jpg

Peanut Butter Bakewell – Inspired by The Lovecats Inc

Seriously, how goddamn good does Helen’s Triple Layer Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie look?! Oreos, peanut butter, chocolate, all layered up = heaven on a plate. I wanted to make something similar, but a little less torte-like and more traditional English-afternoon-tea style. A recent issue of BBC’s Good Food magazine can to the rescue with a peanutty take on the Bakewell Tart. A few tweaks here and there, and our recipe was perfection. We even enjoyed it for breakfast with yoghurt and a few raspberries – the sign of an irresistible bake!
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Other Recipes I Want to Make Soon (photo credit in links)

This could be a long, long list! However I’ll keep it brief and go with the few recipes that I have literally daydreamed about over the last few days. What can I say, I live to eat! Miss Pond’s Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies look delightfully gooey, and I have a major weakness for this type of brownie. Emma from This Little Piggy Loves Food posts a lot of quick and easy recipes which always sound delicious, her Peashoot Pasta is high on my list of ‘to make’ meals. Much as I’m not a huge fan of the Hummingbird Bakery, Charlotte’s bake of their Carrot Cake looks delicious, and I certainly do love a good carrot cake! But my must-make recipe that recently popped up in my Bloglovin feed? Anna’s Oven Fried Chicken. Her idea of part-freezing to ensure a complete and crunchy coating sounds great, so I’ll definitely be experimenting. So many things to make…

What’s the best thing you’ve cooked recently? Please leave me any links to the favourite recipes you’ve made!

Beauty: Graduation Makeup

First confession: I’ve been slowly planning my graduation makeup look for a long time, well before I even faced up to the fact that I was actually finishing university. I think this is part of the reason I got into makeup, actually, as I wanted to ensure I’d look my very best on graduation day.

Second confession: I’m also treating this as a mini-trial run for wedding ideas. Obviously it’s WAY too early to actually be planning that, but at the same time it’s at the back of my mind. I’ve always wanted to do my makeup myself, and so slowly building up a collection of ‘perfect’ products seems the best way to go about it.

 photo Graduation Makeup 1_zpsfdwdlxeu.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 6_zpsyj7jk6xh.jpgIn the end, I’m really glad the planning paid off. I was super happy with my makeup yesterday, and I think it stayed in place pretty well. I went for a slightly amped-up version of my usual look. Nothing too out there, nothing too different, and I still felt like myself. I’d highly recommend doing this – I reckon it minimises looking back at the photos and regretting. If you usually rock a bold lip, go for it. If you usually wear very little makeup, now is not the time to start piling it on. The most important thing is to be comfortable and be yourself. And with that in mind, my go-to neutral eye and berry tones got another outing.

If I’m honest, I was really stuck at first, debating whether I was going for a bold red lip or not. I’m definitely not averse to wearing it on a casual day, quite often wearing one to lectures (perfect way to make the jeans-and-t-shirt look like a bit more effort has gone into it!). However when I found my graduation dress it went well with the berry colours I love so much – problem solved!

 photo Graduation Makeup 2_zpsnbvrcgmz.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 3_zps4unzvz98.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 9_zpszfejo6sb.jpgMy base was my new favourite – Max Factor Miracle Match (full review) is the only foundation I have regularly worn since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was debating going a shade up as I still have an ever-so slightly tanned complexion, but decided against it in the end. Mainly because nowhere had that shade in stock. 17 Stay Time Concealer hid the blemish-marks leftover from exam season, and my new love hid (that’s right, completely hid) my under-eye circles. NYX Under-Eye Concealer is the only thing that has ever really worked on my dark circles, and I’ve been addicted since I picked it up a few weeks ago. I doubt the pot will last long, but I love how awake I’m looking! I topped up my base just before my ceremony, buffing on Bodyshop’s Mineral Foundation. At that point my foundation was a good 5+ hours old, but still holding strong.

 photo Graduation Makeup 7_zpsbpecmed9.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 8_zpsx1ozaaeu.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 10_zpskvfhxc1z.jpgTo add colour I went in with Nars Douceur. No amount of moaning will explain just how gutted I am that this is discontinued, though my Tarte Exposed blush is almost as good. A little Hourglass Powder as a highlight and my face is pretty much good to go!

Eyes relied on my Charlotte Tilbury Quad, something which gets a lot of use. I used the two lightest shades during the day (for my lunch and School Awards Ceremony), and then amped it up a little for the graduation ceremony by blending the grey around the outer crease and adding Rimmel’s Kajal Liner in grey. A good healthy dose of mascara (Max Factor False Lash Effect) and filling in my brows completed the look.

 photo Graduation Makeup 4_zpsorcpryt0.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 11_zpsay9ftkvz.jpgAnd then, of course, lipstick. I knew roughly the shade I wanted, having fallen in love with MAC Mehr on my trip to Switzerland. However I knew that I would sooner have a non-matte formula for the whole day, and so treated myself to Fast Play. A gorgeous shade, slightly plummier than Mehr, hydrating, and giving a natural sheen to the lips. I can see this becoming a favourite!

What makeup do you rely on for a special occasion? Good luck to all those graduating this month!

University: Final Year Thoughts

This post has been sitting in my drafts since February time. It took me until February to start writing as that was just how long it took me to get used to final year, get used to the pace of work, content, lectures, get used to being a student again. Whilst it’s possible it took me that long due to coming back from placement year, I personally found the step up to final year a huge jump.
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It’s Harder Than You Expect

Just under a year ago, I was preparing to start final year. I was coming to the end of my placement year and was preparing to move into my last ever student house. I had heard that final year was tough – I just didn’t believe it. I thought I’d be fine. I’d always been clever, I’d always got ‘good’ results despite being disappointed in my second year. I kept telling myself it would all work out. But then it happened. Final year. The work came in, and plans for blogging daily, for days out, for enjoying my last few months of university, they all went down the pan. Scrapped in favour of long days (and nights) of stress. Swapped for hours in the library.

For me, the difficulty of the content was a big jump up from second year. I found the workload, strangely (and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only ones!) lighter and far easier to cope with, but I did find the actual material more taxing. There was less immediate understanding, more work to be done on going over concepts. There was one module in particular I was dreading, as I’d really, really struggled with the first part during second year – so I spent a whole week at Christmas going over the previous module and working a little ahead. That strategy definitely worked for me, and I’m so glad I put in that extra effort.

It’s Worth It When The Results Come In

Oh, how it’s worth it. When I found out my degree classification (in the middle of a car park), I cried, I hyperventilated, I had to have help to buckle my seatbelt upon leaving. Knowing that those sleepless nights, the long hours in the library, all the stress, that it had all paid off – it was such an amazing, amazing feeling. Well worth it!

Finding A Job Takes Longer Than You’d Think

Again, this was an area I’d looked at through rose-tinted glasses. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be easy to get a job. But I knew I was well practised at interviews, I’d got a years experience, I’d got good grades. I was clearly good at the applications, attending no less than five final stages. Gaining five rejections. All for different reasons, some rather silly reasons. But it was unexpected, especially as with each interview I felt like this was ‘THE’ job, the one for me.

There were a lot of tears when those rejection phone calls came in, including a night of crying, an hours sleep, and going for a run at 6am as I needed to do something, anything, to get my mind off it.

But it did all work out. I did get a job, a job that actually blows the others out of the water in terms of what I wanted. I actually ended up with two job offers (not an ideal scenario when you’re in the middle of your busiest exam week!). What I would recommend is before final year even starts, take a look at jobs you’d like and application deadlines. I’m super glad I did this, as a lot of my deadlines to apply where November-time, with some even closing after just a few days in September. Be prepared!

Likewise, Finding A Graduation Dress Takes Forever

Ah, the graduation dress shop. In some ways I’m super thankful I started this early, in some ways its a curse as I knew I couldn’t put an ounce of weight on in the weeks preceding graduation.

I know some people who are still looking for a graduation dress, just a few days before the event. I know people who have ordered 10+ dresses online, to try on at home (this was going to be my plan, but I only ever found one potential!). I know people who have spent a fortune, people scouring charity shops, even someone whose mum is making theirs. My advice? Start looking early (it’s great for study breaks!), shop in more unusual places (mine is from Next, a place I wouldn’t usual look in), consider the colour of your gown/mortar board and don’t have too small a budget (I didn’t want to spend over £75, ended up coming in under at £55 though the damn thing is now half price!).
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You Use A LOT of Stationary

Seriously – so, so much of the stuff. Far more than in other years and I still haven’t really figured out why! I was a regular in Rymans picking up get another bag full of narrow-ruled paper, I even depleted mutliple BIC biros. I remember just a few days before my final exam, looking in my paper and seeing only half a refill pad. I finished university with two sheets of paper spare – result!

It’s A Time To Push Boundaries

I really feel that, out of all my years at university, it was final year which made me grow up more. I learnt a lot about myself in that year, I pushed myself to do more, to do better, all the time. Be it challenging myself to bake bread, or a new recipe each fortnight, or improving coursework marks with each submission. I even pushed myself to give a talk to over 200 prospective students and their parents – scary stuff.
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Say Goodbye to Nights Out. Say Hi to Nights In

Admittedly, I’ve never been a person for going out-out. I love nothing more than a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of bottles of good cider, perhaps a few nibbles, in a pub. What I don’t like is music too loud to hear the person next to you, sticky floors and feeling anything more than tipsy. However some of my absolute favourite nights throughout university have been during final year, and involved good healthy snacks (try my Banana Nutella Microwave Mug Cake) and a whole lot of giggles.

The best night? Probably the night of the Great British Bake Off final. Myself and a housemate ate so much baked goods we had to go for a lie-down by 9pm…
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 photo Room Tour Summer 2016 9_zpsobhceih8.jpg photo Room Tour Summer 2016 1_zpscbjysfmu.jpgMoving Back Home Is Daunting

This was the thing I worried about throughout my final year. With going on placement, visiting W, living in London last summer, it all transpired that I hadn’t been at home for longer than 6 days in 2 years. I was worried I wouldn’t have a job, and that I’d be stuck at home for the foreseeable future. It goes without saying that I love my family, I had an extremely good relationship with them and I do love being at home (hello dippy eggs, decent Sunday roasts and dad’s baking!) – but I didn’t want to lose my independence. After a slight paddy over my mum putting my clothes away for me, I’m just about used to it again. Though I can’t say I’m not looking forward to moving to London at the end of summer…

What tips do you have for getting through the final year of university? How did you find your final year?

 

Review: Brunch @ Goodliffes, Loughborough

I love me a good brunch, but it’s very rare I have the opportunity to go. Typically, during this summer (the last time I will have nothing to do for weeks at a time!), the place where I’m living has pretty much zilch brunch options. Certainly no-where offering the oh-so-instagrammable dishes I love so much…

 photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 6_zpsdhnf09ag.jpgWay back at the end of May, just after exams finished, I joined W and his friends for a post-university celebration. We made a strange sight, students wandering around the town pre-9am, but it was definitely worth it! Goodliffe’s in Loughborough is somewhere we’d previously only visited for dinner (their Fish Finger Sandwich is insane), but had heard great things about their brunch menu. We weren’t disappointed.

 photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 1_zpstdnaskrr.jpg photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 3_zpsuog71klc.jpg photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 2_zpsc4rd3xgw.jpgI couldn’t resist ordered my absolute favourite, Eggs Benedict. This is my idea of perfection, salty meat, freshly toasted carbs, sharp but creamy hollandaise and gorgeous runny egg yolk. However, it’s so easily done wrong. Too much vinegar in the sauce, overdone eggs (I once sent a dish back to the kitchens for this crime), burnt muffins. This was a good example of the dish, though not perfect. Whilst I appreciated the idea of bacon replacing the ham, in practice it didn’t work. The bacon needed to either be back bacon (trimmed of most of the fat), or streaky bacon grilled until crispy. Unfortunately what I was served was a bit flabby and fatty – but still delicious having trimmed it. An Eggs Royale next to me was declared to be spot on.

 photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 4_zpsbrmvp9oc.jpg photo Brunch at Goodliffes Loughborough 5_zpsl1eprfmq.jpgOther than a Vegetarian Breakfast (halloumi, pesto and eggs sound like a dream combo to me!), the rest of the table went for a full English. Despite one plate arriving with a lack of bacon, the consensus was this was a good breakfast. It certainly looked it, though again I personally think the bacon could and should be crispier. Highlights were the black pudding, local sausage and hash-brown (I ordered one on the side of my eggs – my waistline may have objected, but it was damn good!).

And the best thing? They do brunch cocktails! Mango Fizz sounds like a winner…

Are you a brunch fan? What’s your go-to dish?

Recipe: Homemade Hobnobs

If you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be?

A reportedly common interview question, albeit one that I haven’t been asked. I’m a bit gutted really, because I’d had the answer ready and waiting for a good few years. I would be a (chocolate half-covered) hobnob. Why? Sweet with a surprising twist (the subtle saltiness), grown up (no child would take a hobnob over a custard cream!) and commonly found with a cup of tea. And because chocolate covered hobnobs just happen to be my absolute favourite biscuit, and one of my only sweet-toothed weaknesses.

 photo Easy recipe for_zpswngcvq0z.jpg photo Homemade Hobnobs 2_zpst03rvxsv.jpgI try not to buy biscuits as a rule, but with W being diabetic there is a need to have something sweet, slightly carby and easy-to-eat-quickly on hand. Hobnobs will always be my biscuit of choice as they are super-yummy without being too naughty (well, they have oats!). One is also *enough* to fill a hungry tummy, though certainly not enough to satisfy as I’ll always want more. After several packets were consumed during the revision period (before I discovered an easy energy bite recipe!) I decided I wanted to make my own. And the very day that exams were over and done with, I did.

The first try wasn’t perfect. It tasted too much of golden syrup, didn’t have quite the salty kick I was after. The chocolate wasn’t right (using up a Lindt bunny made them too sweet – I found cheap Basics chocolate to be far better). They spread and amalgamated into a single large traybake. These are much better, though be warned they still spread and need to be far smaller than you’d think. They are sweet, but not tooth-achingly, with a good biscuity snap. So, so good, they didn’t last long at all!

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 5_zpssi6c0vv5.jpgIngredients

  • 125g butter, plus 15g for the chocolate topping
  • 85g soft brown sugar (don’t substitute for other types, as this type goes delicious sticky in the mix and helps bind the biscuits)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp golden syrup
  • 100g quick oats
  • 90g wholemeal flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste, plus extra sea salt flakes for sprinkling if wanted
  • 150g chocolate

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 4_zps19fi4ypc.jpgSoften the butter well, then beat together with the sugar – the mix should be pale, creamy and almost fluffy looking. Beat in the golden syrup, before stirring in the oats, flour, baking soda/powder and salt. The mix is very stiff so requires some elbow grease, but I promise it does eventually come together.

Roll small helpings of dough (I use a teaspoon) into balls and flatten on a tray lined with greaseproof, until they are about the thickness of a £1 coin. Leave room for spreading – I recommend a maximum of 6 on each tray. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 180C, until the biscuits are golden brown. Allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate together with the 15g of butter, and top each biscuit with a good helping of the mixture. If you’re being good you could leave the chocolate topping off – but I’m not a huge fan of naked hobnobs! Sprinkle with a little seasalt if you’re being fancy, then eat with a good cup of tea.

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 1_zpsdvkc95un.jpgA delicious treat, I reckon these homemade hobnobs would be a fab addition to lunchboxes – almost like a crunchier version of a flapjack. They are rather oat heavy, and have a crunchy edge with a slightly chewy middle. Perfect to dunk in a cuppa, enjoy whilst studying, or just because. I could see them making a lovely gift tied up with some ribbon too…

If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be, and why?

Personal: 2016 Resolutions Mid-Year Update

Halfway through the year already! I know I harp on about this all the time, but I honestly can’t believe how quickly it is going. It definitely doesn’t feel that long ago that I sat down and wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, but here we are doing a midyear update.

 photo 2016 Resolutions Mid Year Review_zpsx48ycuzi.jpgWhen I thought up those resolutions I was newly engaged, still high on the buzz. I was scared about the exams that were still five months away, I was stressed about how final year was going. Now I’m sitting (in exactly the same spot in W’s parents house!) a little bored, and trying to make enough plans to fill the summer without spending too much money or wasting the point of my last ever relaxing break!

I set a lot of mini-goals for myself, simply because I find these way more attainable than one or two big resolutions. The worrying thing is that I’ve had to pull up that post to see what they were, so they can’t have been going that well! Let’s see…
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Blogging

So my biggest goal here was deciding what to do with Ninegrandstudent when I graduate. Well, I graduate in five days and I do have a small plan. The only thing to do is start to execute it – so once me and W have a few spare days there will definitely be some changes afoot. My other goal was to really work on my photography, take my camera off auto and actually learn how to use it. Yet again, I’ve failed! Whilst I don’t want to use it as an excuse, I guess I’ve been hugely focused on my degree and so blogging has taken a back seat. I’m excited to get back into it!
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University/Work

This was the big area for me, the area that would shape the rest of my life. My main aim here was to make sure I graduated with a degree I am proud of, and obtain a job that I love. I still can’t actually believe it, but I’m managed to do both. I’m hugely proud of my first class degree, especially as there were a lot of moments in the last few years where I thought it wouldn’t happen. But I’ve perhaps even more proud of the job I’ve managed to obtain, the job that’s in the exact (and extremely specific) field I wanted and will enable me and W to finally live together.

The smaller parts are half done – I definitely managed to keep control of my RSI with only a few evenings where I couldn’t bear to write during the revision period. However time will tell how my jump into professional qualifications will go!
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Cooking

Definitely a mixed bag here! I definitely drank a lot more water whilst I was at university, but I’ve noticed this hasn’t continued upon moving back home. In all honest I can tell how bad this is for me, I’ve even had a migraine lingering for 6 days so I’ve got to kick my arse into gear! My diet is looking pretty good, I’ve stuck mainly to homemade bread, tried a lot of new recipes (post coming soon about this), my main aim for the next few months is to cut down on crisps and processed biscuits.

And the things I want to make? I’m still to make a decent burger, though with W’s meat grinder and Kitchen Aid being closer to a shared possession means this is looking more likely. I’ve realised baking sweet potato fries will never work, and I’m scared of deep-frying, so I doubt that one will be achieved. I’ve also managed to bake my own pitta breads (so, SO good), and I made hobnobs. Which are almost digestives..:? So I guess I’m not doing too badly!
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Lifestyle

The last section (we’ll ignore budgeting until the end of the year as I’ve had no income since!). As ever, it was a resolution of mine to take up running – I did go for a couple of jogs and still developed shin splints. I’m absolutely determined to do it one of these years though! The big one though is keeping the weight off – and I’m pleased to say I managed to do this. I’ve now stopped weighing myself at all and will be going on how my clothes fit.

And that bring me onto my next point! I have finally, finally gone through ALL my clothes and really sorted them out. The result was an embarrassing four bin-bags of bits to a charity shop, 1 bin-bag which is waiting to be Ebay-ed (it’s all unworn bits and bobs), and a plan to get rid of another load once summer is over. I decided to keep the most well-fitting bits (that are only 1 size too big!) of my summer wardrobe and then ditch that on moving to London – though I have treated myself to a few bits recently.

My most important resolution was that I try to remain positive at all times, try to concentrate on the good things, remember the parts of my days that made my smile. I personally (and I think W would agree) that I failed. I was not in a good way throughout a good few months of this year. I was struggling with rejections from job interviews, I was terrified about exams. There were definitely nights where I couldn’t remember a single positive thing about my day. And so this is my resolution for the last half of 2016 – I’ll be concentrating on writing in my line-a-day diary, talking over the good bits of my day with my fiance and making the effort to smile just that bit more. Because so far 2016 has been a good year, so I’m determined to make the most of it!

How has the first half of 2016 treated you? How are you getting on with your resolutions?