Category Archives: Food

Food & Drink: Adding A Twist To Classic Cocktails With Thebar.com

Posted on August 15, 2017

Hi Guys!

thebar.com recently got in touch and asked me to share my favourite classic cocktail recipe from their site, but with an added personal twist – and hopefully this will inspire you to make your own cocktails at home this summer!

I’m a big fan of cocktails, and love anything that’s particularly sweet in flavour. On the odd occasion where I do get to try a cocktail, I would usually go for a vodka or gin base, with sweet, fruity juices and flavourings. After looking at all the cocktail recipes on thebar.com, I actually found it quite hard to whittle it down to just one to try out! It was a close call between the classic Pimms and Lemonade, and the gin based English Garden cocktail. In the end, English Garden just won by a hair as I thought this was the one I’d be able to have the most fun experimenting with.

The English Garden cocktail, in case you’re not familiar with it, of course contains gin as I’ve just mentioned, as well as sweet juices, sugar syrup, mint and cucumber, combined together to make the perfect summer patio drink. I’ve been thinking how I can add my own twist to this – after trying out the original cocktail (which I love) it was quite hard to think how I could make it any better! After racking my brains thinking what I could possibly add to this that would ‘go’ with the current ingredients and also (hopefully) taste nice. I came up with a few ideas –

  • Elderflower
  • Blood orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Blackberries
  • Lemon
  • Pineapple juice
  • Edible flowers (for decoration)

So armed with my list, I took to the shops to pick up all the ingredients – I couldn’t wait to start experimenting! First of all, I couldn’t find any blood oranges, so I had to cross this off. I could have gone with normal oranges instead but I didn’t feel they were quite fancy enough so I decided to just pick up the other ingredients.

Next up was grapefruit – I’m not the biggest fan of grapefruit on it’s own, but I have had it in both cocktails and soft drinks and I’ve really enjoyed it in the past. Now this is my second fail, where you’ll be able to tell that I’m really not used to making cocktails – so I bought an actual grapefruit. Not grapefruit juice, a whole massive grapefruit. I’m not sure what was going through my head when I was in the supermarket, but I just saw it, though ‘ah I need grapefruit’ and off I went on my merry way. Once I was home and realised my error, I thought I might as well use it, so I tried mushing it up. Well as you can imagine this didn’t work out, and let’s just say the whole thing was a disaster!

So, on to the rest of the ingredients… after adding pineapple juice to the cocktail (nope this just wasn’t right) and then a splash of lemon juice (this wasn’t too bad, but just felt neither here nor there really) it just seemed like nothing was really working so far – until I tried the elderflower…

I love Elderflower cordial any way, and it just seemed like the right type of flavour to go with a gin cocktail – plus at this point I was really running low on options – so luckily, after trying a few different combinations, the obvious winner was Elderflower. I used about 20ml of my other half’s extremely tasty handmade elderflower cordial that he made a few months ago (you can pick this up cheaply at most supermarkets too) I know this isn’t the most ‘out there’ twist I could have gone with for this cocktail, but it really did taste great so I was more than happy with the outcome. I also added a sprinkle of flowers from the garden, including jasmine and daisies to really make the drink look special!

I had so much fun experimenting this weekend! If you’re a fan of cocktails yourself, definitely check out the large selection of recipes available at thebar.com for some fab summer cocktail inspiration. I hope you enjoyed my post xxx

This post is sponsored by thebar.com

Food: Easter Unicorn No Bake Rainbow Cheesecake!

Posted on April 14, 2017

Hi Guys!

I’ve had a lovely couple of weeks off for Easter with my son Freddy, and I know I don’t really do food on the blog, but I REALLY wanted to make a unicorn cheesecake and thought it’d be fun to share it with you guys. Moving forward I really want to include a bigger variety of posts sharing more of the things that I’m interested in, so I decided to give this a go – I think it came out pretty well!

Also – I’m not the best cook, so I love that this is super simple to do. So even if you’re not that great in the kitchen, there’s not much that can go wrong here! This is what you’ll need –

Ingredients:

  • 2x 280g tubs of Philadelphia or other brand soft cheese
  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 100g Sugar (I used half granulated and half soft brown sugar)
  • 200g Digestive Biscuits
  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • Vanilla Essence
  • Your Choice of Food Colouring

To Decorate:

  • Sprinkes
  • Mini Eggs
  • Anything else you like – e.g. mini marshmallows, sweets etc

First of all you need to make the cheesecake base. The easiest way to do this is to put your biscuits in a sealable plastic bag, and smash them up with a rolling pin. While you’re doing this, put the butter in the microwave to melt it (or do it in a pan on the hob if you prefer) then just mix the butter in a bowl with the biscuit crumbs until they’re well blended together.

I then grabbed my new Traditional Round Master (£24.99 from Delicake) which is basically a clear perspex ‘cake tin’ for making no-bake cakes and desserts. You just need to press the biscuit / butter mix into the base and try to make it as even as possible. You can always use a traditional cake tin for this too. Then just pop it in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the actual cheesecake, get a large bowl and add your soft cheese, sugar, and a couple of drops of Vanilla Essence and blend until it’s thoroughly mixed. Then pour in the cream and mix until it’s quite stiff nd stands up in peaks when you’re stirring.

Then you need to divide your mixture into smaller bows, and stir in your desired amount of food colouring into each bowl. I’d recommend starting with a couple of drops as a little goes a long way. You can always add more if you want a more intense colour.

Grab your base from the fridge and splodge in each colour randomly until you’ve used all the mixture up. Then grab a knife and spread it around, mixing the colours slightly whilst flattening it down against the sides and filling in any gaps.

Then you just need to add your sprinkles and toppings – I went for some cute edible iced flowers and of course mini eggs because Easter! In case you were wondering, I thought I’d include an exact list of the sprinkles and food colourings I used too. I got pretty much everything from eBay as I wanted specific colours that I couldn’t find in my local shops –

Then leave in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours to set, and voila! It was SO much fun making this, Fred had a great time and so did I, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It looked so awesome and also tasted amazing too!

I’d love to hear what you think of this, and if you’d like to see a bigger variety of posts on TSNC moving forward? Let me know!

I hope you enjoyed my post xxx

New Personalised Gifting Site: I Just Love It

Posted on October 1, 2015

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Hi Guys!

This post has been a bit of a long time coming – I had one of those #bloggerfail moments when I thought I’d deleted my photos before uploading them to my post, and by then the products had already been used. Luckily I found them lurking in a folder they had no business being in, so finally here’s my post!

I Just Love It is a brand new gifting site that specialises in personalised gifts. They kindly offered to send over some lovely gifts for my husband’s birthday. What a lucky guy!

The other half is basically into some very manly hobbies, such as eating, drinking and metal detecting. (Yes I did just say metal detecting) So I thought I could cover the first two bases very well with some lovely gifts from I Just Love It!

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My lovely husband does enjoy a fancy whisky – he also brews his own beer and makes his own wine. So I thought this Personalised Whisky Tasting Set (£38.99) would be a perfect gift for him.

Exclusive to I Just Love It, this Whisky Gift Set contains single malts from four of Scotland’s most famous whisky regions, with a limited release single malt from Wales’ award winning Penderyn distillery. Whiskies in the set include an Isle of Arran 10 year old, ‘Waves’ from Bruichladdich’s Islay distillery in the Southern Hebrides, Glen Garioch from the Scottish Highlands, Glen Moray from Speyside and Penderyn 41, the Welsh distillery’s international release.

I’m no expert, and I’m not sure what all this means, but apparently these are some pretty decent whiskies! They’re also presented in a beautiful hand-finished gift box with a personalised sleeve. Information & tasting cards in a hand-made envelopes, accompany each 30ml whisky, and a ‘how to taste whisky’ guide along with a tasting mat featuring a Scottish landscape provide the perfect way to enjoy the whiskies and record tasting notes.

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On the theme of alcohol, I thought this craft beer set would make a lovely gift from Freddy for his Daddy – Personalised D-A-D Set Three Pack Craft Beer (19.99)

The set contains three multi-award-winning pale ales. Not only are these crisp pale ales packed with American hops and citrus aromas, the labels can be personalised with a name and a message too if you wish. Mary Jane is an intensely refreshing pale ale created by Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire. The beautifully balanced beer has good body for such a low abv and is the unique craft brewery’s best-seller by a country mile!

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And of course you can’t have a birthday without chocolate! I thought this Personalised Happy Birthday Chocolate Bar for Him (£5.99) would be fun!

We have one of those relationships where we constantly take the mick and mock each other. I thought ‘Happy Birthday Old Git’ would be a lovely gesture to include on this chocolate bar. You can have any message you like printed in it though.

Personalised-Inferno-Hot-Sauce

And lastly, the Personalised Inferno Hot Sauce (£12.99)

What is it with men and hot and spicy things? My lovely other half likes to drown 90% of his meals with some form of pain inducing chilli sauce, so I thought he’d love this one. The skull in flames on the front sold it for me.

This smoky chilli sauce contains the Naga Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper (commonly known as the ghost pepper) – this is the hottest in the world!

All these awesome gifts as well as many more are available now from I Just Love It. Definitely check them out if friends and family have birhdays coming up!

I hope you enjoyed my post xxx

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Check out The Little Beauty Guide for fantastic beauty posts and reviews.

Restaurant Review: Mabel’s Bar & Kitchen, Covent Garden, London

Posted on July 7, 2015

Hi Guys!

Here’s my second restaurant review of the day – Mabel’s Bar & Kitchen at Covent Garden!

After hitting Bill’s on my first evening in London, I knew Mabel’s was going to have a lot to live up to. So off I headed on Tuesday evening with my trusty Google maps in hand, and found it quite easily.

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The entrance to the restaurant had a small seating area and bar, and it also had an awesome ‘Love Made Me Do It‘ bright pink neon sign on the wall. The decor was fantastic and right up my street!

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After a while I was then seated in The Library, a small cosy area of six tables, made to look like a home library. I was being looked after by a lovely waiter I ordered a Tarte Tatin cocktail while waiting for my dinner date to arrive. The Tarte Tatin included Sipsmith small batch vodka mixed together with Calvados from Normandy, pressed apple juice and caramel syrup – sorry I don’t have a photo of this, I was pretty thirsty and it was gone before I knew it! 🙂

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When Lex arrived, we ordered a couple of cocktails and our starters. We were both feeling particularly healthy and went for Crudites with Mabel’s remesco and teatziki dips to start, and I ordered a Lavender Love cocktail. The Lavender Love is described as – An elegant and floral cocktail shaking Absolut citron vodka with white peach purée, a touch of lavender syrup and pomegranate juice – it was SO good but pretty strong!

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For our main meal, Lex went for the Rib Eye Steak, which included a chargrilled 8oz rib eye, vine cherry tomatoes, watercress and chips, and sticking with the healthy theme, I had Honey & Soy Marinated Salmon, Asparagus, Confit Potato, Beans, Peas and Seeds. Salmon is definitely my favourite fish to eat, and this was just lovely.

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For dessert Lex was very good and decided to just watch me eat mine 🙂 I had Jude’s Hampshire Ice Cream – regarding the flavours available, the menu said ‘we’ll let you know today’s delights…‘ and when I asked the waitress what the ice cream was she replied with – ‘erm, vanilla?’ which I must admit was slightly odd.

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I really enjoyed our evening at Mabel’s Bar & Kitchen – both the food and company was fantastic! I have to be honest though as there were a couple of negative points. The waitress did seem slightly off with me, I asked Lex if she agreed and she did, and we also had a wobbly table! When Lex sawed into her steak, my cocktail went everywhere! The waiter we had at the time was very apologetic though and put something under the table leg to fix the wobble. There were also no staff around when we were ready to leave, as I wanted to thank them for my meal which was a shame. The food really was lovely and reasonably priced though, and they have a fantastic selection of cocktails on offer too.

I hope you enjoyed my post! xxx

I was offered complimentary dinner in return for this review

Restaurant Review: Bill’s, Wellington Street, London

Posted on

Hi Guys!

Following on from my Life Update post last night, I have a couple of restaurant reviews coming up today. On my first evening in London I arranged to meet up with Rachel from Beauty Queen UK, and after a quick and rather excitable tour of Covent Garden, we headed off to Bill’s Restaurant (also at Covent Garden) unfortunately there was a slight mix up and we ended up at a nearby Bill’s about 10 minutes away at Waterloo Road.

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This was no problem though, and as you can see the restaurant was quite beautiful. On first glance, Bill’s appeared to be a tiny little quaint restaurant with a couple of booths and a bar, but we were then led around the back to the main restaurant which was massive! I loved the decor which had an industrial yet homely feel.

bills-restaurant-review-tart

For starters I went for a Warm Roast Red Onion and Gruyere Tart, with a salad of watercress, red onion, basil, parsley and pomegranate and a balsamic dressing. Rachel went for Chicken in a Jar, which was chicken liver parfait, with edible flowers (it looked like a purple pansy on top but I wasn’t sure!) Bill’s orange marmalade and campagne toast. I love cheese tarts, anything like gruyere or goat’s cheese and I’m there!

bills-restaurant-review-burger

I hadn’t eaten much that day and was super hungry, so I couldn’t resist a burger for my main meal. I went for a hamburger with montery jack cheese and skin on fries, and Rachel had the Beer-Battered fish and Chips. I devoured this in record time, and the burger was cooked to perfection.

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For dessert, we were very good and decided to share some Warm Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts with fresh strawberries and warm chocolate dipping sauce. After the burger I was pretty stuffed, and I love cinnamon so the mini doughnuts seemed like the perfect choice!

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Overall we had a fantastic experience at Bill’s. We were made to feel extra special, and I received probably the best service I’ve ever have had at a restaurant. The guy that was looking after us (sorry I forgot to make a note of his name) was super sweet and made us feel so welcome. I did say to Rachel that I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home, ha ha!

I should also mention that the prices were incredibly reasonable – bearing in mind we were in central London, the starters were from £4.95 and mains were from £8.95 which really is fantastic, also considering the food was of such high quality. If you’re ever in the Covent Garden area in need of a refuel, I’d highly recommend you check out Bill’s Restaurant!

I hope you enjoyed my post xxx

I was offered complimentary dinner in return for this review

The Slim Fast Blogger Challenge Results

Posted on July 2, 2015

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Hi Guys!

It’s been a good few weeks since I started Slim Fast Challenge, and actually a little while now since I finished, so I thought it was about time I gave you a bit of an update and let you know how I got on with the products!

Just to recap, for two weeks I took part in the Slim Fast 3.2.1 plan. This involves eating up to six times a day, including three snacks, two meal replacement products and one balanced evening meal – hence the name 3.2.1. Slim Fast have a massive range of products on offer including chocolate snack bars and savoury tortillas and pretzels. I actually loved all of the snacks available, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like! For meal replacements options, Slim Fast have ready made milkshakes as well as powder shakes that you mix yourself, as well as different flavour meal bars.

Again, I loved the ready made milkshakes, the banana, vanilla and strawberry ones were especially tasty. The meal bars were great too – though it would be nice to see some savoury options available in this range. Overall I love the convenience of Slim Fast – there’s no counting calories or points like you get with other diets, this is just super straightforward, and it will be especially suited to those with a busy lifestyle as there’s no preparation involved (except for the powder shakes) I found it so handy that I could just grab a meal bar or ready made shake from the fridge and head off to work!

Apart from finding this diet easy to follow, it’s also very effective – as long as you stick to the rules. As with any diet regime really, if you break the rules, you can’t expect to see the best results. Well I started off really well, then had a couple of, erm ‘blips’, then ended up having a couple of days off the diet for my birthday. so I could have done a lot better to be honest. I know my weight fluctuated throughout this but I still ended up losing three pounds over all! I know this isn’t amazing but it still makes me feel positive, and I know if I’d have stuck to the plan I’d have easily lost more weight.

I find it’s easier to stick to a diet if you have a set routine, but if you are on the go and have lots of events coming up – like I do this month, two hen parties and two weddings actually! It does make things harder but I’m just going to try to make better decisions with my food choices. It’s so easy to over indulge, especially if it’s what you’re used to as I am. I think being on the Slim Fast plan has made me realise I can eat healthily with not much effort, and see results quite quickly which is fantastic. I’m definitely going to start the 3.2.1 plan again soon and stick to my guns this time. I’ll let you know how I get on!

I’m now off to inflate the Thomas paddling pool, set the brolly up and spend some time in the garden with my boy! I hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine! xxx

The Slim Fast Blogger Challenge

Posted on June 8, 2015

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Hi Guys!

Ok so I’ve been on the wagon and off the wagon of late when it comes to my diet. Sometimes I’ve been really good, and others, well not so much. I started off really well then my anxiety flared up again, and apart from making my life difficult, it always seems to make me quite emotional and the urge to eat my worries away stronger than ever. In the last week or so I’ve started to feel so much better though, and while I’m in this positive mental zone I’m going to make the most of it and start the blogger #SlimFastChallenge!

The challenge is a 14-day trial of Slim Fast products following their 3.2.1 Plan – which includes meal replacement bars, convenient ready-to-drink shakes, meal replacement powders (so you can get creative with flavours at home) and plenty of snacks. So basically with the 3-2-1 plan you can enjoy three snacks, two meal replacement products and one balanced (600cal) meal a day, with the aim that you will gradually lose weight. Slim Fast also have lots of tasty recipes on their site to try out, to give you inspiration for your third meal of the day.

I love the fact that you can eat up to six times a day with this plan! And the Heavenly Chocolate Delight Snack Bars look amazing! Slim Fast give you the option to Create your own plan by picking the flavours you love or download their 7 day diet plan where you’ll find a week’s worth of meals and snacks planned out for you.

It’s so simple to follow, there’s no points system or calorie counting with these products – which really appeals to me. The idea is once you reach your goal weight, you can replace one meal with a meal replacement product (instead of two) to help maintain your new weight.

I’ve just started today having a shake for breakfast and lunch, and a banana for a snack and I’m feeling good! I half expected to be hungry but I’m not at all! Fingers crossed the 3.2.1 plan will work for me and help me shift some weight! Keep your eye out for my update post in a couple of weeks’ time! xxx

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