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.
 photo Spiced Sweetcorn Pancakes 4_zpscnuttmko.jpg photo Spiced Sweetcorn Pancakes 7_zpsmofv6mdb.jpg

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!
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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!

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?

Food: #WhatAStudentEats (Round 2)

Way back in October I posted a #whatastudenteats round-up, and after so long I thought it was time to do another. There’s been a lot of new meals, including some that have become firm favourites. There’s also been a few disasters, a lot of cake and a couple of very yummy burgers.

 photo Eating Lately 2_zpswhykduu4.jpgDuring exam season, what I wanted most of all was comforting meals, meals that if I couldn’t be bothered to cook a side dish would do. Casseroles were a favourite, packed with veg and just needing some greens as an accompainment if I was so inclined. Mushroom risotto was my go-to “I’m really stressed” dinner, and carbonara was a quick “in and out in 20 minutes” meal between library stints. Now I’m done, I’ve been indulging in a few too many desserts (my mum makes the best fruit crumbles, and W’s mum alwaysssss has B&Js in the freezer). And obviously, there was the excess of cheese whilst in France too…
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Quick Meals

As I’ve already mentioned, carbonara is my go-to quick meal. However I really upped the veg content (because vitamins) in my recipe, as well as reducing the washing up, with my Springtime Vegetable Recipe. So good, so yum. Other quick meals I came up with involved a take on my Chorizo-Crusted Cod – turns out blitzing toast crusts with chorizo slices and a little parmesan has pretty much the same effect. And it coats a flattened chicken breast amazingly well. Perfect with a crisp green salad as a fakeaway style meal. Oh, and my Vegan Chickpea & Spinach curry went down amazingly well too – ready in 15 minutes, it was a lovely spicy hug in a bowl!

Too Much Cheese & Wine

Being in France for a few days gave me a cheese passion I didn’t really know I had. Sure, I pretty much always have cheddar and parmesan in, but I never eat a chunk of cheese, wouldn’t really make a cheese sandwich. Now it turns out that I adore Brie, even enjoy a soft blue cheese. I’m still not quite grown up enough for goat’s cheese yet, however…
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Veggie Sausages

One of the slightly more disastrous meals, although to be fair to Granose I did enjoy the taste and texture of the Lincolnshire Sausage Mix*. The issue? They were horrendously messy to shape, stuck to whatever I tried to cook them in, and generally looked a bit off-putting. I found them quite dry with the usual mash and gravy, however loved them with a mushroom-lentil-chicken stock mix I came up with. Now that has become a regular on my menu!
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A Version of Shakshuka

Oh, how I drool a little over pictures of the classic dish. Unfortunately with a tomato-allergy it’s just not really one for me, however I did discover a little hack which means I can enjoy something similar. Having FINALLY honed my tomato-free baked bean recipe (which I need to photograph and share asap), I decided to spice it up, add a few chorizo slices lurking around, crack in a few eggs, add parmesan and see what happened. The result was the perfect big lunch, and I’m guessing with a good salad would make a pretty acceptable light dinner too.
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Other Highlights

So much good food in the past eight months or so – I went back through my recipe posts and there’s much more than I originally thought. The steak with the seriously garlicky sauce, the leftover roast lamb flatbreads, and too many burgers to be strictly acceptable. There’s been some lovely light fruity breakfasts on warmer mornings, lots of comforting dippy eggs, and many a cheeky fry-up. Oh, and an ice-cream sundae bigger than my face…

You wouldn’t have thought I have to squeeze myself into a figure-hugging graduating dress in less than a fortnight, would you?!

What foodie highlights have you had lately? Any cheap(ish) London recommendations for me?

Recipe: Ham & Egg Bread Baskets

I’m always looking for breakfast ideas – something that’s a little bit special, but still quick and easy. On days where I don’t have a 9am lecture I like to treat myself with a nice brekkie, but equally I have plenty of assignments to be getting on with; I can’t spend hours flipping pancakes! These are the perfect compromise. Yummy, not too unhealthy and super quick. The perfect pre-chocolate-coma Easter breakfast!

 photo Ham and Egg Bread Basket 9_zpsvmhkwnwj.jpg photo Ham and Egg Bread Basket 11_zpskgslqmrz.jpgEggs are my go-to treat at breakfast time, I’m much more of a savoury girl in the mornings and can’t resist a bit of #yolkporn. These bread baskets reduce the mess and washing up that comes with a cooked breakfast (in fact, if you cooked them til you had set yolks you’d do away with washing up completely), they can be made the evening before, they can be thrown in the oven and forgotten about whilst you rush around scrabbling to get ready in time. Then simply serve on the foil, eat, rinse your cutlery and head out of the door. Perfect.

These combined the richness of egg yolk with the saltiness of a little parmesan and the meatiness of ham. I like that they are lighter than the usual egg-bread combos, as you remove most of the inner from the roll, and ham is so much lighter than bacon (making bacon much more of a treat at the weekend, right?!). If you want to be indulgent, or just have some left over, I highly recommend adding a tablespoon of cream or creme fraiche before adding your cheese…

 photo Ham and Egg Bread Basket 1_zpsrnqgevo8.jpgIngredients (per person)

  • 1 bread roll – I went for homebaked wholemeal
  • 1 thin slice ham
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to just over 180C. Slice the top of your roll and pull out most of the bread (reserve for making chorizo crumb – I can confirm it is delicious as a mac’n’cheese topping!). Line the hollow roll with the ham slice, crack in your egg, season with black pepper, add cream if you’re feeling naughty, scatter over the cheese then pop the top of the roll back on. Wrap well in foil, then back for 18 for a gloriously runny yolk (medium sized egg). Baking for 25 minutes will give you a just set egg that makes a perfect on-the-go breakfast.

 photo Ham and Egg Bread Basket 2_zpshkzdvpsb.jpg photo Ham and Egg Bread Basket 6_zpsvvcs7nr0.jpgI just love the combination of crisp bread, soft egg and salty ham – just divine. It makes a weekday morning so much more enjoyable!

What’s your favourite breakfast? How do you like your eggs in the morning?!

Recipe: Steak & Mojo Verde

I’m one of those people who really doesn’t think you can go far wrong with a good hunk of steak. For date nights, “I’ve had a bad day” meals, pay day treats, a steak is my go-to. I usually go for mine smothered in a rich and creamy mushroom pepper sauce, though if W’s cooking his whisky sauce is damn near perfection.

 photo Steak with Mojo Verde 11_zpsgkxl1sh9.jpgThis recipe, however, gives my much-loved steak a pepped-up summery twist that I’ve fallen in love with. When challenged by Thomas Cook Airlines to come with up a Lanzarote-inspired recipe cooked using a volcanic rock I was initially a bit stumped. It’s been years since I’ve been to the Canary Islands, to the point it was the days of children’s hotel buffets rammed with chips and smiley faces. Whilst the sauce I’ve made is pretty potent, it’s just as delicious mixed through yoghurt for a child-friendly version – I wish this had been available to dip my smiley faces in!

I cooked the steak simply, oiling the meat (not the pan), seasoning well and searing over a smoking hot pan. Resting for a good five minutes gave an extremely juicy steak, just warm in the middle whilst still being lovely and rare. I was meant to be using a volcanic rock. Parcelforce seem to be having problems with delivered said rock, and so a pan had to do. Far less exciting, I’m pretty sure it will typically turn up today. Gives me an excuse to eat the second steak currently residing in my freezer I guess!

 photo Steak with Mojo Verde 10_zpshubj3bam.jpgBut the sauce (oh the sauce!) is the star of the show here. A little sharp, very garlicky, a good herby kick from the coriander and a creaminess from the copious use of a good olive oil. Pretty much the perfect sauce – it takes a good piece of blending to emulsify but it’s worth it. Perfect to drizzle over salads, spoon over steak – and scoop up with chips. I also enjoyed it stirred through yoghurt as a sauce for a falafel salad…

Ingredients (per person, plenty of sauce leftover!)

  • 1 large rib-eye steak
  • 1 medium potato
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful coriander
  • 2x 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 35ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil (+ 1 tsp and some for cooking the steak)

Pop six of the garlic cloves (unpeeled) into a small pan. Pop the lid on and put over a medium heat, shaking every now and then, for about five minutes. They should feel slightly soft, with the skins just beginning to blister. Let them cool for a bit.

Cube the potatoes (around 1″ square) and pop into a pan with some heavily salted water. Boil for ten minutes, drain off most of the water, add a spoon of olive oil, half a teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of turmeric (for colour, saffron would be better/traditional but student budget). Boil vigorously, tossing around, until the pan is pretty dry. Tip onto a tray and keep warm in a low oven.

 photo Steak with Mojo Verde 3_zpswrtx0qlr.jpgPeel the cooled garlic, along with the two raw cloves. Pop into a food processor with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a good pinch of salt and the vinegar. Blitz to a rough paste, then slowly drizzle in the oil, blitzing regularly. Add the coriander, then blitz for a good minute or so until thickened slightly and creamy looking.There you have it – Mojo Verde! Set aside.

Heat a pan on a high heat under almost smoking. Season your steak on both sides, drizzle with a little oil then (if you like your steak rare) cook for around 2-3 minutes on each side. Wrap in foil and rest for 4 minutes whilst you prep your salad, then slice and serve drizzled with your mojo verde.

 photo Steak with Mojo Verde 9_zpsmijakhjl.jpgA point to note, however – whilst I softened the garlic taste by roasting within the skin, it’s still pretty strong. Not a recipe for a romantic night in!

Are you a steak lover? How do you like it cooked and served?

 

Recipe: Spanish-Inspired Chorizo Crusted Fish

It’s now getting to that time of year where I’m craving lighter food, sunnier flavours, yet still wanting needing warming comfort food as it’s just so damn cold. My answer to this is usually to head towards Spain; the chorizo sausage is not only my sandwich meat of choice (see my filming for Aldi for more info on that!) but pretty much a fridge staple for me at this time of year. Adding a comforting but vibrant flavour to pretty much everything, it works in lighter dishes such as omelettes, adds a twist to a comforting classic pie, and crumbled on pizza? Yum.

 photo Chorizo Crusted Fish Recipe 3_zps7yxqjkic.jpgThen there’s this recipe. Adapted from the Hairy Bikers to consider a tight student budget (one that was already splurging out on fish) this turned out a whole lot better than expected. I rarely cook fish because (1) money, and (2) when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong. I’ve had many a piece of dry, overcooked fish and it’s nearly put me off for life. This though I reckon is pretty foolproof. The chorizo crumb both protects and bastes the fish whilst it cooks, adding flavour and texture too.

We served this with garlic roast potatoes (I’m planning one of my ‘How to Cook‘ posts on potatoes soon!), veg and charred broccoli – trust me, it’s far tastier than it looks!

 photo Chorizo Crusted Fish_zpsdtkhjuf5.jpgThis recipe definitely tasted far sunnier than most of the recipes I’ve been cooking lately, whilst still feeling relatively comforting. It doesn’t hurt that it wasn’t too unhealthy either! The Spanish flavours work really well with the fish, and the chorizo crumb is something I really want to experiment with more. A topping for a really indulgent Mac’n’Cheese perhaps…?!

Ingredients (for 2, with some crumb mixture leftover)

  • 2 thick fillets of fish, around 150g is a good weight
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (from a bottle is fine)
  • 50g chorizo sausage
  • 1 slice of bread, or 1 small roll, around 50g
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp finely grated cheese

 photo Chorizo Crusted Fish Recipe 1_zpsslasyvgb.jpg photo Chorizo Crusted Fish Recipe 2_zpscxs4lfo5.jpgPop the fish in a dish, and sprinkle with the lime/lemon. Pop in the fridge to marinade whilst you prep the crumb mixture. Cube the chorizo and pop into a dry frying pan over a low heat until the fat starts to release. Add the bread (torn into small pieces) and toss together until covered in the chorizo oil. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Once cool, tip into a food processor (I use my trusty mini chopper – which unfortunately now leaks when used with liquids) along with the garlic and cheese. Add plenty of black pepper and blitz to form crumbs. Add the fish and marinating juices to a lightly oiled baking dish, top with the crumb mixture (I found pressing it on with my hands to be the easiest) and bake at 190C for 15-20 minutes. Serve with plenty of veg.

 photo Chorizo Crusted Fish Recipe 5_zpsemgdvqx3.jpgThe leftover crumb mixture keeps well in the fridge for a few days, just crisp up in a dry pan before using. I loved using it to top my Sweet Potato & Pepper Soup, whilst W enjoyed it stirred through pasta with some extra cheese. I can imagine it being a great coating for ‘fried’ chicken too – yum!
 photo Chorizo Crusted Fish Recipe 4_zpsnlfujtw8.jpg

Disclaimer: I worked alongside Alpharooms to create this recipe, though as always all opinions are my own!

Do you shy away from cooking fish? Any good and easy recipes to share?

Lifestyle: A Sunday Well Spent

2016’s Valentines has to win the award for not only my favourite Valentines, but quite possibly my favourite way to spend a Sunday. Having attended the wedding of two fabulous guys on the Saturday we took the opportunity to book ourselves a night in the hotel venue – saving ourselves a late night two-hour trip back, and ensuring the next day would be spent simply enjoying each others’ company.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 4_zpse49ylli5.jpgA cooked breakfast, sunny countryside walk, massive Sunday lunch and my best friend, what more could a girl want?! And not a scheduling error – I just liked the title of this post despite it going up on a Saturday!

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 2_zpssmvxsk9f.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 1_zpsiaziyclf.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 3_zps81zfb61d.jpg photo 2016-02-13 15.25.48_zps8pv8n30m.jpgFirst off, the wedding was beautiful. The hotel was perfect, cosy and pretty with a criminally comfortable bed. All of the flowers were handmade out of paper, in yellow or grey tones, or out of pages of old Terry Prachett books. Even the (massive) bouquets were made of paper, with the cutest Lego-man buttonholes! We (or rather I) cried, we toasted, we danced, and generally enjoyed the day. And yep, I now want to make my own bouquet out of paper…

The next day we exchanged cards (the excitement of being a fiancée is not yet wearing off!), filled up on scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns, then headed out to Cannock Chase. Once we managed to get off the “family” trail and into the peace and quiet it was beautiful.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 12_zpsroewki4i.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 9_zpse3k3biwm.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 10_zps9ncp3lee.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 7_zpskvykx4kq.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 6_zpsv2hc62me.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 5_zpsr5xh9fse.jpgWe rarely saw another person, bar being followed by several friendly dogs (all of which I wanted to take home!), and it was so lovely just to stroll hand-in-hand, mainly chatting, sometimes in complete silence. It’s been a whirlwind few months and I sometimes feel as though it’s nice to take a deep breath and step back from it all.

We then journeyed onto Sunday lunch. We’d chosen Weston Hall for many reasons; budget (I just wanted a roast, not a fancy V-day dinner!), non-chain, good wine (for me!). Turns out we chose well, this was easily the best Sunday roast I’ve had away from home, and at £20 each for three courses felt pretty bargainous too. Particularly as the Yorkshire pudding was the size of my head…

I started Stilton & Garlic mushrooms, always a favourite. These were deliciously creamy, though the addition of a fresh pesto cut through the richness. My only complaint was that the bread roll should have been warm, as it did cool the dish very quickly. No complaints came from the Carrot & Orange soup, which was slurped up in no time. An old fashioned roast featured for both of us, with myself going for the rare beef (yum!), and him the lamb. Both delicious, coming with amazingly crispy roast potatoes and nicely cooked veg. I was a big fan of the cauliflower, complete with a mustard cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. If that wasn’t enough, we finished with pudding. I had a delicious proper brownie (gooey and chewy on the inside, crunchy on the edge), W had a crumble. Both delicious. And my Zinfandel Rose hit the spot perfectly.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 13_zps9jj4ofwc.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 14_zpse681ieba.jpgWe paused outside the hotel for a quick stroll around their gardens, and managed to take one of the best photos of us yet. We clearly need to practise before the wedding! It was a perfect Valentine’s, a perfect Sunday, and it’s made me all the more excited for (hopefully) living with this guy full-time after the summer. Because we can do this everyday, right…?!

How did you spend Valentine’s? What would be your perfect Sunday?

Recipe: The Weekday Breakfast

Breakfast is the bane of my life. I know how important it is to eat well in the morning and I love weekend brunches (as all the #yolkporn on my Instagram shows!) however the daily breakfast continues to evade me. I do have a few ‘go-to’ breakfasts though.
 photo Breakfast_zpszecel1x7.jpg

For me, the ideal weekday breakfast has to be quick, healthy, filling – and preferably warm in the winter. But equally I get bored of the same damn thing day in, day out. I like to mix it up a bit! Here’s what I’ve been loving lately…

 photo 2016-01-26 08.21.56_zps5ihyh5qh.jpg

Porridge

This is my standard breakfast, particularly with how chilly it is at the moment! I mix oats and chia seeds and cinnamon, microwave with water then stir through a mashed banana to sweeten before topping with mixed seeds, cocoa nibs, and frozen raspberries. Oh, and a sneaky small spoon of nutella…Because nutella.

I’ve also recently been experiments with adding raw cacao powder along with agave syrup. I’ve not quite got the balance of bitter and sweet right yet, but I’m loving it for more of a treat breakfast. I actually can’t believe how rich and chocolatey this stuff makes things!

“Something” & Nut Butter

Oh nut butter, where would I be without you? I’m a big fan of not only peanut butter, but almond and cashew butter too. I also received some very yummy pecan nut butter for Christmas which I’m pretty much in love with – it’s almost caramel like in flavour! I love nut butter spread on a rice cake or homemade bagel, or even onto slices of apple. And yes, I can eat it by the spoonful too…
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Overnight Oats

This is what I make for those days where I have a 9am lecture; I just hate eating whilst rushing out of the house. My fav overnight oat combo is banana and peanut butter, super creamy and filling. I could definitely eat it for desert!
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Dippy Egg & Soldiers

My all-time favourite! I always think it’s a bit extravagant to have this on a weekday, however it really does only take a few minutes and it’s like a hug on a plate…plus it definitely makes for a good Instagram. I’ve finally, finally managed to perfect the boiling of an egg so the yolk is perfectly dippable – you can have a read of my foolproof method here.

What’s your go-to weekday breakfast? And more interestingly, what’s your favourite weekend breakfast treat?

 

Lifestyle: Overload at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Canterbury

You know me, I love a good burger! My ultimate burger definitely includes cheese, quite possibly bacon, and I can’t resist some soft, beautifully caramelized onions either. Just the thought is making my mouth water to be honest!

 photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 8_zpsx5hxvgf9.jpg photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 2_zps7qg4ynqn.jpgBurgers are a pretty simple thing, but they’re rarely done right. I’ve loved offerings at Byron before, and I love Five Guys for the ‘so bad but so good’ junk food fix. Unfortunately though I’d had some really terrible burgers. Patties so overcooked they’e bypassed pink, sped past just-about-appetizing and firmly entered grey’n’tough territory. Stale bread rolls so dry they actually crunched (and nope, they weren’t toasted). Bacon that was barely fried, let alone crisp. Fridge-cold onion (raw onion is fine, cold fried onions is a no-go). Some might call me fussy, but all I want is a well-cooked burger, preferably medium but I don’t care as long as it is juicy, some gooey cheese, a fresh bun, a bit of crispy bacon, basically a bit of love going into my meal.

With my burger-love it was with some trepidation that I accepted a invitation to review the relatively-newly opened Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Canterbury. A fellow burger-love, Libby joined me (she was extremely gutted the Satay Chicken wasn’t available the day we visited, though it gives us an excuse to go back!).

 photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 5_zpslabnnqep.jpg photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 6_zpsrgb2marh.jpg photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 4_zpsryegwdjg.jpgWe both opted for a side of Sweet Potato Fries with Baconnaise. These fries are some of the better ones available (Ed’s are so far the best I’ve tried, but these are infinitely better than Bill’s!) – and the baconnaise is addictive! Salty, intensely savoury, with a mild but pungent garlic flavour. So good. 

Onto the burgers, and Libby went for a Taxidriver. Beef patty, American cheese, house onion ring, Cajun relish, smoked chilli mayo, dill pickle, salad, brioche bun. It looks amazing and she seemed to enjoy it – and I certainly wish GBK offered brioche buns on more of their burgers.

 photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 9_zpseb1vc9yr.jpg photo Gourmet Burger Kitchen Review 7_zpslnoxjgot.jpgI opted to ‘Build my Own’ using a starting point of a 6oz Patty with Smoked Applewood, and adding bacon and onion rings. Unfortunately there was a slight mix-up with my order, and despite them noting my allergy and removing the tomato it came coated in a tomato-relish – oops! They were lovely about it and quickly made me up a fresh one, though I was quite concerned to be told that it was lacking salad as that comes pre-prepared with tomatoes (I’ve always had salad in my burgers there before, so if this is the case I’ve been lucky not to have a reaction!). My burger was huge, perfectly cooked, full of melty cheese and plenty of mayonnaise (that wasn’t fridge cold either!). The bacon could have been crisper, but the extremely crunchy onion rings more than made up for it – a delicious lunch that I struggled to finish!

*Disclaimer: I was invited to review GBK and received a voucher as part-payment. The restaurant did not know I was there to review (though they may have wondered about the camera!) and all opinions are my own. I genuinely really, really, *really* love burgers…

Are you a burger fan? Where’s the best burger you’ve ever tried? What are your ultimate toppings?