Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Very (Local) Foodie Christmas

If you are a "foodie" or have one in your life you might get a bit stumped when thinking of presents to get them.  Chances are they already have a lovely knife, mixing bowls, gadgets galore and a pretty tea towel.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Gramps' Truffles

No-bake truffles made from digestive biscuits, jam, and nuts coated in dark chocolate: height=

Many years ago when I was in elementary school in South Dakota we had to come up with a business idea.  Mine was called "The Truffle Tree" and was based entirely around a recipe my granddad made with me a few times.  I'm taking no credit for this recipe at all, altering no measurements and not even changing any of the instructions (rare for me!)

My granddad has always been a big part of my life even though I have never really lived close to him.  He used to tell me that a blue pig lived in his coal cellar in his Lancaster house.  He took me dowsing in the round circle in Avebury followed by a trip to the West Kennet Long Barrow the day after the Winter Solstice.  Gramps introduced me to "Jeeves & Wooster", Aled Jones and Roald Dahl.  I've always loved photography because I've always had Gramps around as an influence because he always seemed to have a camera in his hand.  The man seems to know something about everything but I think that has something to do with the epic amount of books he owns (also an inherited trait!).

So here it is...his recipe for truffles, in his own words with pictures from me!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Wing Tai



I work in retail so this time of year is getting busier and busier and spending any time out of the office is a real treat.  We dedicated this afternoon to visiting a couple of our local big stores to see what the products we spend so much time trying to deliver look like in real life and to also just spend a little time together as a team.  Oh, and the stores just happened to be close to Wing Yip...

While I'm happy to spend hours geeking out in stores looking at and talking about the latest Android tablets, I'm going to spend the rest of this post talking about the other part of my afternoon - food!
Remember I went to Wing Yip about 2 months ago?  Well in Wing Yip you can also find Wing Tai restaurant which has an amazing menu for standard main course, noodles and rice dishes but our goal today was to sample the dim sum menu.  

Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Daily Products

When I type "products I use every day" on Google it just comes back with ideas about how to use normal every day products in other ways  - not a bad thing at all, just not what I was looking for.

"Cheap everyday products" - Google result = some kind of wholesaler
"Budget everyday products" - Google result = cleaning with household products
"Frugal everyday products" - Google result =  ways to reuse household items

Everyone has those products that you just can't live without - these are mine!  It was quite interesting for me putting this post together because it made me realise that the products that you love and really get a lot out of don't have to cost a lot!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sweet Parsnip Loaf

Ditch the carrot cake and try a different root vegetable, parsnips, to make this sweet loaf

Let's talk about parsnips.  They kind of look like carrots but are a creamy white colour.  They are amazing with a roast chicken and are delicious in a stew.  Did you know they are an excellent source of fibre and contain all kinds of things that are good for us like potassium, iron, calcium and manganese?  On top of all this the humble parsnip also contains vitamins C, E and K!

So what to do with them?  Well it's that time of the year when I want to bake so let's stick them in a cake!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Kitchen Wish List



So the "C" word is looming ("Christmas", not the other one!) and I always get asked for present ideas but struggle because I can't remember any of the nifty things I've seen through the year.

 NOT THIS YEAR!  No.  I'm going to be organised and make a list!  Ok, so I don't really need anything but presents are nice so if I had infinite amounts of money, here's what would be in my kitchen...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Don't throw away those pumpkin seeds when you're baking or carving a Halloween pumpkin!  Use my recipe for salted chilli pumpkin seeds for a healthy and nutritious snack!


Today was disgusting!  Rain, wind, clouds...I felt a little sorry for Mr Jones this morning when I dropped him off at football.  Even though he wasn't playing it was still pretty awful weather and am glad it wasn't me standing on the side of the pitch!  As expected, he came back soaked!

When I baked the spiced pumpkin loaf on Friday I knew that I would want to do something with the seeds but hadn't quite made up my mind so kept them in a small bowl covered with cling film so they didn't dry out.  I wasn't sure if they would keep but they were still in perfect condition and ready to roast!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf - a moist loaf with olive oil, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.  A tasty cake for fall, autumn or Halloween!


I have been hanging on to summer for as long as possible but yesterday firmly put me in autumn mode thanks to the wind and drizzle and general greyness.  I took the day off work so that I could be home for the annual gas safety check (all good!) and tied it in with our food delivery, did a bit of hoovering and changed the cat litter.

Then I went into town and bought a pumpkin.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Asian Style Noodle Soup


Comfort food doesn't have to be unhealthy.  This Asian noodle soup with ginger and garlic will warm you from top to toe


It's really getting to be that time of year where all I want for dinner is comfort food but I tend to get the food guilt.  Yep, food guilt.  What I really want is something cheesy and gooey and stupidly high in calories but I know that after I eat it I'll just feel bad for stuffing my face.  It's a terrible affliction.  So what can you do?  Well, noodle soup of course!

Copycat Little Caesar's Crazy Bread


If your nearest Little Caesar's is miles away use this easy recipe for Copycat Crazy Bread to satisfy your cravings!


You know you get crazy cravings for certain random foods?  Usually from a place that is either far, far away or no longer open?

Crazy Bread from Little Caesar's (an American pizza chain) is one of my cravings from when I used to live in the States.  Ever since I randomly found a copycat recipe a few weeks ago I've not been able to get them out of my mind.  Soft, slightly chewy and laden with butter, garlic and parmesan...mmmmm....They were so good that my sister and I used to fight about who had the most breadsticks and mum had to intervene (I might add that we had the same fights about who had the biggest Yorkshire pudding...)


Monday, 30 September 2013

My Favourite Lunch





Remember a while ago I did a post on easy lunches?

I feel bad for not sharing this sooner because it's healthy, ridiculously easy and you can get it ready the night before while the rest of your dinner is cooking.  It's also what I've had for lunch for the last 4 or 5 months which says it all because I get bored of the usual lunchtime foods so quickly (sandwiches, salads...)

It's so easy to prepare the night before, doesn't involve any cooking and uses no fat or oil (except for a little sesame oil for the dressing.

Ready to eat the best and freshest lunch ever?  Read on!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Cobnuts!



I'm always up for trying new things so when I noticed these alien things in Waitrose while browsing the vegetable section I had to take them home with me to try.

What are they?  Cobnuts!  I have to admit that I've always thought they were snacks for ponies but apparently not!  So it seems they are related to the hazelnut and they are a pretty old human snack!  According to the Kentish Cobnuts Association they have been enjoyed since around the 16th century and were even used as an early version of conkers.  Apparently they taste quite like coconut and it seems like you can use it in many ways from sweet to savoury recipes.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Wing Yip Chinese Supermarket




I hate going into London (too busy, loud, stinky) and hate driving in London even more (too busy, no one seems to pay any attention to even the basic driving rules) but I was starting to run low on the stash of seaweed and other Asian delights that I picked up on my visit to Exeter this summer so a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do - jump in the car and head to the North Circular!

Now I've known about Wing Yip for some time now as my colleague/Asian food buddy told me about it a while ago and has brought in tasty seaweed snacks so I knew what I was missing by not having visited yet.  My kilner jar of wakame was looking low so thought a visit would be a good way to spend an overcast Saturday afternoon.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Bye Bye Summer, Hello Autumn!



So this weekend seemed to be a definite line in the Summer/Autumn sand - Saturday was lovely and Sunday was...well...a bit grizzly with drizzle and clouds.

Today was kind of a big full stop at the end of Summer with grey clouds and drizzle all day and then a heavy downpour this evening so I though what better way to close things down for summer than a quick trip down memory lane...

So this was my summer!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sister Challenge: Stove Top Pesto Pizza

A recipe for pizza that you can make on the stove - no oven needed!


A brief intro before the actual cooking bit...my sister lives in Finland so we usually communicate via text and a weekly Skype call. We both love food and cooking and while I'm still not a seasoned professional at blogging, I encouraged her to also write a blog.

Anyway...as an incentive for both of us to blog more I suggested a monthly recipe challenge.  The rules are:

1. Has to be something neither of us have made before
2. We have to post the results not matter how disastrous.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

My Kitchen Favourites


We live in a rented house at the moment so there's not much that we can do as far as personalising the kitchen so I have made sure it's full of things I love and thought that for this post instead of cooking something I would show the things behind the cooking...

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bank Holiday Fete



I've seen signs dotted around town for the past few weeks advertising the Lions fete here in Berkhamsted.  I love nothing more than a good fete but was worried that it'd be rained out as Saturday and Sunday were weather write-offs...

I woke up bright and early today and was glad to see the sun was out and the weather reports looked good...so went back to bed...yes, I slept through most of the morning. Mostly because I woke up at 6am and that's just stupid when you have a bonus day off!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tweet Tweet!



Super quick post - I'm on Twitter!  If you've taken a minute to visit my blog, take a minute to visit me on Twitter!

Pesto with a Twist

Mr Jones is out playing football so it's a "girl dinner" for me tonight. Something quick and easy but tasty...hmm...I know! Pesto!

Don't expect any amazing photographs this time - I used my phone and the photos look pretty rubbish!

So I made some pasta, stirred in some (shop bought) pesto sauce but felt it was missing something...out comes the seaweed!  I've raved about it before and really can't get enough of it so soaked a little wakame and mixed it with the pasta and pesto and do you know what?  It works!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Healthy Seaweed Salad

Seaweed is such a superfood - this is how to make a simple salad using wakame, laver and kelp


Mondays are alway a bit of a slog as I have to be at work for about 7.30am and Mr Jones is playing football this evening so it's something quick and easy on the menu for me tonight!  Luckily I made a big batch of gyoza this weekend so all I need to do is take some out of the freezer and let them defrost while I make this delicious and easy seaweed salad.  It's so easy you don't really need to measure anything so the list of ingredients looks a bit vague...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Welcome, New Dr!



I am not at all embarrassed to say that I am a huge Dr Who fan.  Ok, so I had a bit of a hard time when David Tennant left the show and I've only recently warmed to Matt Smith.  And now threre's a new Dr in the house!

I was a late starter on Dr Who.  It's been on TV since the 1960s and I vaguely remember watching Sylvester McCoy as the Dr in the late 80s before I moved to America but it just didn't really work for me because I was more interested in Swallows and Amazons, My Little Ponies and Enid Blyton.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Lemon & Lime Black Sesame Mini Loaves

A twist on the classic lemon and poppyseed cake - lemon, lime and black sesame seed mini loaves


I got a cute little lemon and poppy seed cake in my recent Graze box and thought "I wonder what this would be like with lemon AND lime" and then took it one step further and wondered what it would be like with my latest favourite ingredient, black sesame seeds.

Well, I've had today off work and the heavens have opened up for most of the day so thought it would be a great day to bake!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Bye, Bye, Boring Lunches!

Ok, hands up.  I eat lunch at my desk.  Every day.  There is a canteen at work but I find pretty much everything to be too greasy and/or expensive so as we have a communal fridge I prefer to bring in my own lunch which I'll usually prepare the night before.

The downside to making my own lunch is that I tend to get stuck in a rut and make the same thing day after day which after a while is, quite frankly, dull!  I am picky though - I don't want anything too heavy or else I feel the need for a nap around 3pm and am always conscious that there are people around me and I don't want to stink the office out!

So, what do I eat with all of these requirements?  Here's how I keep my lunches interesting!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Summertime!


Well helloooooo summer!  With temperatures up in the 80s (that's hot for this country!) it's been hard to feel motivated to do much except sit outside under the umbrella and enjoy our garden so cooking and baking has kind of been neglected.  This time last year we would have been sweltering in our old flat so I'm especially grateful to be able to sit outside.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Kale Pies)

Spanakopita - Greek spinach and kale pies just like Aladdin's bakery!

I think today is perhaps the hottest day of the year so what do I do?  I turn on the oven. I just couldn't help myself though.  I've been thinking about spinach pies for days and just had to make some!

I was introduced to spinach pies back in the mid-90s when I moved to Cleveland and my uncle brought home a bag of pies from Aladdin's Bakery (Cleveland plate above used in their honour!).  These hand sized triangles filled with spinach and feta became one of my favourite foods and I would wolf them down either heated up or cold.  I would regularly dream of sinking my teeth into them again after moving back to England 13 years ago and it didn't even cross my mind to make them myself.  Until now...

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Pork and Seaweed Dumplings

Pork and seaweed gyoza (Japanese dumplings


I make no secret of how much I love gyoza.  I made my first batch of gyoza last year and have never looked back.  They are so easy to make and you can make them with so many different fillings.  I've only ever really used pork with garlic, cabbage, spring onions and ginger but after my recent trip to a couple of Asian food stores in Exeter I thought that I'd branch out and try them with seaweed.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Asian Supermarkets - Food Heaven!


I spent 4 days this week in Exeter visiting my grandad which is alway a pleasure - a drive down to Sidmouth to enjoy the sea air, a wander around the city centre and a visit to the cathedral.  This visit was even better though because I found not one but TWO Asian supermarkets.

Now this might not be anything special to a lot of people if they have something like this near them but my closest Asian supermarket is in London and I am not a fan of driving around cities so have never been.  I felt like I had walked into some sort of cave full of treasure - it's a bit ridiculous just how excited I was!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

NY Style Bagels




There are times when shop bought bagels are ok and there are times when they just don't cut the mustard.  My sister sent me a picture of her homemade bagels early in the week and the craving for fresh bagels started getting out of hand by the weekend so today's the day to make my own!

As I spent 10 years in the States I've had some pretty good bagels - shiny and chewy on the outside, soft on the inside.  You can toast them, make sandwiches with them, have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner...the possibilities are endless!  The flavours are pretty endless too although I am an "everything" bagel girl all the way.  Unfortunately my local supermarkets seemed to be working against me and didn't have the onion, garlic or poppy seeds that I needed so have settled for plain.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Gluten and Wheat Free Parmesan Garlic Bread & Pizza



As I mentioned in my last post about tiramisu I am a member of BzzAgent which means that every so often I get a package in the post, get to try some amazing products and foods that I would never think to try and then let the world know what I think!

One of the latest campaigns is for Tesco's "Free From" range which includes dairy free, wheat free and gluten free products so I headed off to my local shop and decided that what would be better for a Saturday night dinner than pizza and garlic bread?!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Tiramisu

Rich and creamy tiramisu with a twist - made with instant coffee!


I joined BzzAgent over a year ago and get sent some pretty nifty things to try out.  Last week I received some "barista style" instant coffee and while talking to Mr Jones I discovered that he loves tiramisu - I thought he hated it!  So this conversation got my brain going and thought "Hey!  I can make some tasty dessert AND try out this new coffee!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Soft "Mall" Pretzels

Soft, golden and moreish pretzels just like the mall bought ones!


I lived in the States for 10 years and will never forget walking through a mall and getting a waft of buttery, salty pretzels before you could even see the shop.  Every so often I get a craving for these pretzels and have to ignore it as there's nowhere near me here in England that makes them and the odd one that I have found is nothing at all like the ones I am used to.

So...I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own!

Vegetable and Ham Egg Fried Rice

A grat recipe for using up leftovers to create a quick and delicious meal - vegetable and ham egg fried rice


After a big birthday celebration and a long week at work I need to eat something full of vegetables, light but filling so tonight's dinner is fried rice with veggies and ham.

I say it's veggies and ham but to be honest with you, once you've made the egg fried rice base you can add pretty much whatever you want so it's a great way to make either a quick and easy snack, a store cupboard/leftovers main dish or a hangover breakfast.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Birthday BBQ Success!



It doesn't seem like it was almost a week ago I was standing in my back garden surrounded by friends and wearing only a short sleeved cardigan!  When I look outside now it's grey and drizzling...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Tissue Paper Pom Poms


Fun and easy to make paper pom poms are great for birthdays, BBQs, any celebration!


As mentioned in my last post, it's my "Cinco de Mayo" birthday next weekend...the mini bunting is ready but today was all about tissue paper pom poms to hang around the garden!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mini Bunting


It's my birthday next weekend - Cinco de Mayo!  The English weather is a bit up and down at the moment but we're hoping for a sunny day on the 5th May as we're planning a BBQ with a fiesta twist.

I have a few things planned for the day - tissue paper banners, a few paper pom poms and my favourite - mini bunting.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Vietnamese Spring Rolls


It's Saturday evening and in my house that means Dr Who and something tasty for dinner. I feel like I've been eating too much easy to make but not so healthy food over the past week so decided that dinner tonight needs to be something easy but healthy so Vietnamese spring rolls are on the menu!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Cinnamon Shortbread




I am a "savoury" person but every so often get a craving to make something sweet which is what happened this afternoon.  The supermarkets here in England close at 4 so when I got this craving to bake at around 4.05pm I looked at what I had in the cupboards and decided that shortbread was the way to go.  It's a really simple recipe using things that are usually in the cupboard but I decided to add a twist...

Soy, Ginger and Garlic Drumsticks


Today has been the first spring-like day - the sun's out, the sky is almost cloudless...it got me thinking about my birthday which is in a month because I really want to be able to use our garden and invite friends over for a BBQ.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Keep it Simple aka Smoked Salmon on a Budget



Cooking a massive meal is really rewarding but sometimes it's nice to just throw something together. This is why me and Mr Jones have "girl and boy" dinners. He will usually have chicken nuggets and I tend to go with one of a few options - salmon on poppy seed rolls with lemon and a rocket salad, pizza (he hates cheese so this is never on our regular menu), filled pastas (ricotta and spinach being a favourite), gyoza...

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Shooter's Sandwich

Shooter's Sandwich - a pressed samdwich filled with steaks and mushrooms


I love cooking but have to admit that one of my favourite meals is the humble sandwich.  When Mr Jones showed me a picture of what looked like a squashed loaf of bread I wasn't convinced until I took a closer look...yes, it's a squashed loaf of bread but it's what is squashed inside that makes this a beautiful sandwich - rare steak, sauteed mushrooms, onion (or shallots), garlic and a thin layer of horseradish.  Gorgeous!  Needless to say I made it the next day!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

I'm Baaaaaack...

How awful am I?  VERY!  There's no reason at all why I've not posted for months and months but need to get back in the habit of it and as I have all of next week off, what better time?!

So since the last post I've:


  • moved into an excellent house in Berkhamsted
  • moved to a different and much more exciting area at work
  • gained a beautiful Candy Apple red Kitchenaid that seriously needs to be used more!
  • become a godmother
  • signed up for Netflix which is now fulfilling every single viewing need ever
  • optimistically bought an outdoor table and chair set
So!  I'll definitely get my act together and get writing and photographing more.  Promise!

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