Sunday, 31 March 2013

Weekend Wishlist

The sun is out yayyy! It's been a while since I've done one of these but with the sun peaking his head out from behind the clouds and my flights to Indonesia booked I had a sneaky peak at what the shops had to offer. As you may have gathered I could live in Topshop - here are my favourites:

1. Crocheted Playsuit (here) / 2. Yellow Vest (here) / 3. Breton Stripe Midi Dress (here) /
4. Tigers T-Shirt (here) / 5. Head Over Heels Blush (here) / 6. Denim Shorts (here)

And from everywhere else:

1. H&M Jumper (here) / 2. Pieces Sunglasses (here) / 3. Asos Lace Dress (here) / 
4. New Look Maxi Skirt (here) / 5. Asos Dove Dress (here) / 6. Whistles Trousers (here) / 
7. Urban Outfitters Stripe Top (here)

Let me know the pieces you've got your eye on and as always leave your links below! x

Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Egg Cupcakes

Well Happy Easter everyone! I hope you aren't as behind on the festivities as I am. If you're making cupcakes this weekend I seriously urge to try these! Now, I warn you, they are time consuming - you need about 2 hours. But the only hard part is the icing so if you are short on time (or just can't be bothered) instead of using the meringue icing you can use the icing I used in my Butterfly Cupcakes or you can buy the stuff in the tube from Dr Oetker (shh no-one will know). 

Makes 12-16

For the cakes:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g plain flour 
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150ml soured cream
  • 75ml boiling water
Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4 and line a cupcake tray with cases - you can also do muffins, they just might need a little longer in the oven. 

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Meanwhile cream together the butter and sugar. You can do this either by hand or in an electric mixer but I like to do it by hand because it's a great workout for your arms!

Gradually add the beaten eggs and combine together. Now at this point you can either split the mix in two so you get plain and chocolate cupcakes or you can make all chocolate. Add the melted chocolate to the mix you want to be chocolately and stir until all combined. 

Sift together half the flour, half the bicarb and half the salt into one bowl and then repeat with the other mixture. Don't worry if you think the mix is really dry at this stage and looking more like dough, the water and soured cream will sort that out. Again stir half the sour cream and half the boiling water into the plain mix, then repeat again with the chocolate. Spoon into the cupcake cases, making them about two thirds full. 

Put into the oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. (Oh and don't forget to enjoy the leftovers).

For the buttercream:
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 225g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Now like I said, this is the complicated part so skip it if you want (I'm not sure I'll be doing it again). Tip the caster sugar and egg whites into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water without letting the bowl touch the water. Whisk steadily until the mixture is thick, glossy and holds soft peaks - this will take a while so don't worry if it's not working. 

Remove from the heat and scoop the mixture into an electric mixer (or in a bowl for a hand blender). Whisk for about 3-4 minutes, until cool. Gradually add the butter, mixing well. You might want to try the icing as you add the butter because depending on how messy you've been you might not need all the butter. I managed to cover myself and the kitchen in icing which my Mum was not too impressed with. Add the vanilla and whisk again. 

Fit a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle and fill with the buttercream - I got mine from Wilkinsons for 95p! Pipe generous swirls of icing onto the top of each cupcake.

For the nests:
  • 100g shredded wheat
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • A bag or two of mini eggs
Melt the chocolate, again using a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and using your hands, break up the shredding wheat - this is surprisingly therapeutic! Tip the shredded wheat into the melted chocolate a bit at a time and mix until well coated. 
Spoon on top of the icing and pop some mini eggs on top. 

Now sit back and relax! Hope you enjoy them. x

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Coconut Prawn & Mango Wraps

I've finally booked my travelling flights! At the end of May I will be off to Indonesia (and other places in South East Asia yet to be decided) and while I am super excited, the prospect of being in a bikini in less than two months is more than slightly daunting. So it's time to put down the brownies and try out some healthy, yet still delicious recipes. And this is where these bad boys come in. They are full of flavour and really good for you, especially if you can tear yourself away from the bun. 

They're great to adapt to whatever you have in your fridge as well - all you need is one or two sources of protein, plenty of healthy veggies, fruit or nuts and then something to bind it all together. Give it all a quick stir, throw in a tupperware and hi ho hi ho its off to work you go.

What I used:

  • 150g large prawns
  • 1/2 an avocado, diced
  • 1/2 a mango, diced
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves/floured bun/tortilla wrap

Makes 1-2 servings

Easy to put in a sandwich or wrap but just as yummy to throw on top of some lettuce leaves. 


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Spring Cleaning

It's Spring again! (No really, I promise you) I know its still snowing in parts of the country but with S/S collections filling Topshop, H&M and Zara I can't help of dreaming of lazy summer days - long BBQs, pub lunches and tea dresses....

But before we get too carried away the ritual task of Spring cleaning must be done. Nooo I hear you cry but don't worry, it's not all scrubbing and polishing it's also about sorting through things and getting rid of clutter. I like to think it can give you time to take stock of everything and potentially redefine your life, and most definitely your wardrobe.

Firstly start with the actual cleaning: crack open the windows, hoover under the bed and invest in a pack of baby wipes, they are great for cleaning those tea rings off chest of drawers. Don't forget to attack those skirting boards, you'll be amazed at how sparkling they can look. If you've found your window sill has got too stained with dirt/mould (a massive problem I had at uni) go to B&Q and get some testers - they're about £3.50 and one pot will last you forever if you're just repainting window sills and shelves.

Then its on to the fun part, your wardrobe: my rule is if you haven't worn it in six months, ditch it (with the exception of Christmas jumpers, summer dresses and bikinis *sigh*). If you're like me and have a small room - be ruthless. I hate standing in front of my wardrobe and not being able to find anything to wear because I can't see anything. Under-bed storage is a godsend - pack away thick jumpers and other bits and pieces with these wicker baskets from Dunelm Mill and Sainsburys.

When you've sorted the stuff that you don't want organise a clothes swap with friends, hand things down to younger (or up to older) sisters, or stick everything on eBay. It's so easy, and although you have to give a percentage of what you make to eBay (I think its 10%) you can make quite a bit of money, within reason. I have loads of stuff listed at the moment so please click here, or take a look via the 'E' button on the right and forgive the odd name. 

You can take the same approach with your make up and beauty products. If you've forgotten about it you clearly don't need it, so throw away all those half finished eye liners and eye shadows, they're probably not very hygienic either. Also, if you don't already give your brushes a good wash - you'll be surprised at the difference it makes. I use baby shampoo. Today I bought a couple of new baskets to organise a bit better, one for my perfumes and one for the lotions and potions I use everyday (here). I also have a box under my bed for stuff I haven't got round to using yet. 

So, I hope you've enjoyed the little tour of my room - If you need any more inspiration please head on over to my Pinterest. x

Ohhh PS. today I reached 100 GFC followers and have had over 3000 hits so just want to say a massive thank you to all of you who read and follow my blog. It makes this all very exciting. Why don't you all treat yourselves to some Epic Hot Chocolate, with extra marshmellows.. go onnn.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

This is definitely one for all you peanut butter lovers, I am a recent convert thanks to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and I can't get enough.

What you will need:

  • 1 and a half bananas, frozen
  • 2/3rds cup of milk
  • A spoonful of peanut butter
  • A spoonful of nutella 
  • Chocolate to grate
Firstly you want to put your banana in the freezer - an hour should be fine. This just stops the drink from feeling all smushy. Then just blitz all your ingredients apart from the chocolate, pour into a glass and sprinkle with grated chocolate. 

A perfect breakfast treat. x

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Rossella - NW5

I'm so excited that I finally get to show you this place. Rossella is my all time favourite Italian; other restaurants four times the price don't even come close to it.

Run by a Neapolitan family, they serve the most gorgeous food you've ever tasted. Don't be tempted to over order, they do not scrimp on the portions and are more than happy to box up stuff for you to take home (massive plus in my books). On top of that the staff are amazing and the authentic Italian atmosphere is something that the bigger chains just can't offer.  

I can not recommend this restaurant enough - you need to go! And if you work in the area they do a pizza/pasta and drink lunch time offer for £6, eat in or take away. 

Website and info here.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Now forget all that! Today was an important day for a special little lady in my life. It was Kira's 11th birthday. 

I've known this pup for exactly half my life and could ask for better (n'awwww). To celebrate we had a beef roast and made the naughtiest salted caramel brownies.

Recipe courtesy of The Boy Who Bakes - I highly recommend it! 

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. x

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Jessie Ware @ Shepherds Bush Empire

One of the perks of my current job is that whenever any of our clients are playing in town (or at any festivals hooray!) we are pretty much guaranteed tickets. Luckily for me this means I've only ever had to pay for one festival and have managed to sample the delights of Glastonbury, Creamfields and Wireless to name but a few. 

So this week Jessie Ware was playing at Shepherds Bush Empire and Holly and I (see a theme emerging eyy) went along.

Apologies for my poor quality snaps - I forgot my camera so these are all iphone jobbies. She has the most incredible voice I think I have ever heard, massive girl crush going on. If you ever get the chance to see her, do!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Winslow Boy @ The Old Vic

On Monday I met up with my friend Holly who has just moved down to London to start a new job at a theatre advertising agency in the West End (very jealous). She got us tickets to see The Winslow Boy so we toddled down to Waterloo and after a quick bite at Patisserie Valerie headed off to The Old Vic.

After battling our way through the crowded foyer and getting a G&T at the downstairs bar we settled in our seats. Being only 5"1 not having someone huge in front of you is always a bonus and we had perfect seats (Dress Circle C17/18).

Now on to the actual play. A short synopsis: based on a true story, The Winslow Boy follows a fathers fight to clear his son's name after is expelled from Osborne Naval College for stealing a five-shilling postal order. Not being familiar with The Winslow Boy I was expecting it to be rather grey but it was surprisingly funny. Henry Goodman's portrayal of Arthur Winslow was fantastic and 16 year-old Charlie Rowe (The Golden Compass, Never Let Me Go) really brought the role of Ronnie Winslow to life. The chemistry between Kate and Sir Robert Morton was electric. Personally I thought some of the characters were slightly overacted but this didn't at ruin the atmosphere of the play at all.

The Winslow Boy is running at The Old Vic from the 8th March until the 25th May and its definitely worth a watch.

Website and info here.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dad's Prawn Curry

This my Dad's recipe that he passed on to me and its perfect for keeping warm on these freezing evenings. I made a big batch too and have been having it for lunch with a pitta bread. Heat it for 2-3 mins in the microwave until hot all the way through and jobs a good'un!

You will need:

  •  350g prawns, peeled 
  • 500g frozen spinach
  • 75g of ghee or 90ml cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground cumin, turmeric & coriander
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt & black pepper
  • 100g tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala 
(Serves 4)

If you can, leave the spinach to defrost over 12 hours. If you're like me and can only decide what you want 5 minutes before cooking you can put it in a bowl with half a cup or so of water and defrost in the microwave. Drain and set aside. 

Heat the ghee/oil in a pan, I've used a wok. Thinly slice the garlic and onion and fry until they begin to soften. 

Add the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chilli powder and black pepper and cook for 2 mins.

Add the tomato purée and honey and cook for a further minute, mixing well. 

Add the salt and the spinach and stir well. Then add the prawns, making sure everything is well coated with the spice mixture. Continue to heat, stirring all the time and being careful not to break up the prawns.

Sprinkle in the garam masala and mix through. Cook for a further 5 mins. 

If you feel that there needs to be a little more moisture to help the cooking process add a splash of water but remember this should be a fairly dry dish. Serve with rice or a naan bread.

Enjoy! x

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Yalla Yalla - W1W

Last night I caught up with some uni friends and we headed off to Yalla Yalla on Winsley Street (just off Oxford St). Now, a small Lebanese restaurant in an alley near Soho might not have you jumping for joy but Yalla Yalla certainly delivered, and by the time we left at half 8 the queue was out the door. 

We were tucked round the corner so I couldn't get any good photos of the interior but the rustic tables and yellow printed wallpaper made it inviting and cosy. 

After a lot of debate and a few glasses of wine we decided to get some Mezze to share. We ordered four dishes and they came with complementary pitta bread and pickles - plenty for three people. 

Warm Pitta Bread with Baba Ghannouj

 Chicken Rakakat

Falafel with a Garlic Yoghurt Sauce 

Makale Samak 

I'd read incredible reviews about this place and it definitely didn't disappoint. The food was gorgeous, prices reasonable and the staff friendly and helpful. I can't fault it at all.

Website and info here. x

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Review: Bimble Organic Raw Cane Sugar Lip Scrub

I've had really dry lips this Winter so I'm constantly looking for new products to keep them conditioned. For some reason I can't wear lipstick, it doesn't go on my lips in the first place let alone stay there on a night out which is why I love lip stains like Revlon Just Bitten but I've never really looked at lip scrubs before.

I chose this one, mainly because it was fairly cheap, and I had an Amazon voucher. A 25g pot costs £3.50 on Amazon (here) or £2.95 direct from Bimble (here) plus £2.95 postage. I like the fact that they use all organic and natural ingredients. Having spot prone skin I like to keep the products I use on my face as natural as possible, especially round my mouth. 

Dispatch was quick: I ordered this on Saturday and it arrived Tuesday. No fancy packaging (or gift bag as advertised on Amazon) but it did come with sweets which is all good by me. 

So on to the application. First of all it smells great! I got the pink grapefruit but you can also choose from orange, peppermint, lemon, cocoa, vanilla, lime, violet, rose or spearmint. It's fairly messy to use so I would definitely recommend doing it in the bathroom. I just used my finger to rub a small amount on my lips and then reapplied on the areas I felt needed it. As it is all natural ingredients you can just lick it off (cheeky) and I used a face wipe just to get rid of the excess. Although it is a fairly small pot I didn't need to use much so I think it will last a few months.  

I used my trusty Burt's Bees lip balm to finish of the process. I always use this before bed as it is so moisturising. This routine has left my lips feeling wonderfully smooth - I would recommend repeating 2-3 times a week. Again the perks of having natural ingredients means you don't need to worry about putting to many chemicals on your skin.

All in all I would definitely recommend Bimble's Lip Scrub. x

Monday, 4 March 2013

Birthday Round-Up

I haven't done a round up before but as it was my birthday last Thursday I thought I'd treat you all! Turning 22 will never be as exciting as being 21 and I was feeling suitably bah humbug about the whole event. I decided not to do anything big to celebrate as being sort of in-between houses lack of space/things to do is an issue. 

This is the first birthday I have ever had to work (yawn) but my Mum surprised me by taking me out to lunch at The Dartmouth Arms and bringing me a few presents. I also got flowers delivered to work which was exciting!

On Friday I finally got my hair cut! I had about 6 inches off which is taking some getting used to but at least my birds nest is now slightly under control. I also went shopping with one of my uni housemates Sarah and treated myself to the comfiest heels I have ever worn!

One of the perks about having a huge family is that birthdays tend to go on and on. I actually started the celebrations over a week ago when I went to see my Dad, siblings and Grandma. This weekend was off to Birmingham again to see my boyfriend (kudos to him for the Zara bag and cake!) and I've still got family to see next weekend. 

On Saturday night the boy and I went to Edmunds Lounge Bar for dinner which was nice, but slightly overpriced - we'd been to their sister restaurant before, The Rectory and that was a lot nicer. However cocktails were only £4.95 and they did an Elderflower Gin & Tonic so you can't really go wrong! 

Sunday I saw another uni friend Rachel at The Overstone Arms which we chose purely because it was in the middle of where we both were. It was nice, a cheap and cheerful Sunday lunch. Then back home to London to apply for yet more jobs, so all in all a pretty hectic weekend.

What did you all get up to? x

Oh also, if you want to be spammed with all my photos of food on Instagram you can follow me here

Friday, 1 March 2013

Jamie's Duck Salad & Giant Croutons

So this is another recipe from my beloved Jamie's 30 Minute Meals (with a few adjustments) although not cooked by me I have to admit, but by my Mum. This is great when you want something light for dinner but don't want just a boring salad and the croutons are absolutely delicious.

What you'll need:
  • 4 duck breasts
  • A ciabatta loaf
  • 100g bag of mixed lettuce/rocket
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 punnet of cress
  • Chinese five-spice
  • Dried thyme
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • Small bunches of fresh mint and rosemary
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Salt, pepper & olive oil
Serves 4

Get all your ingredients and equipment ready, put a large frying pan on the heat and turn the oven to 200C / Gas 6.

Score the fat on the duck breasts (or if you've taken the fat off just this side of the breast) in a criss cross pattern and season with salt and a pinch of the chinese five spice. Rub all over with a drizzle of olive oil. Put in the frying pan, fat side down and cook for 16-18 minutes and turning every 5. If you like your meat well done cook for a little longer. 

Cut the ciabatta into 2cm thick slices and put them on a baking tray. Drizzle over some olive oil and tear over a few sprigs of rosemary. Crush the unpeeled cloves of garlic and sprinkle over the bread and scatter over the fennel seeds. Place in the middle of a hot oven and cook for around 16 minutes.

Peel the orange and cut into small chunks then do the same with the apple. Peel the carrots and pop into a large bowl with the salad leaves and fruit. Toss the salad well, either with your hands or salad servers. Snip the cress and finely chop the mint leaves and add them too. 

Get a small jug and combine the olive oil and balsamic - as much as you want. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the juice of half a lemon. 

By now your croutons and duck should almost be ready so make sure you keep an eye on them. De-seed the chilli and finely chop together with some more fresh mint. Put some to one side to garnish the duck later and then combine the rest with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of the other half of the lemon and the honey. Lay this out on a wooden board or serving dish then slice the duck and lay on top. Stack the croutons on the side.

Take the dishes to the table and let people serve themselves.