Monday 31 August 2015

Release your brighter side!

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I am no stranger to Zeo lightly carbonated drinks.   I had the opportunity to review them a couple of years ago, and so when I was given the opportunity to review some of their newer flavours I jumped at the chance!  I loved their old flavours and I have fallen in love with these new ones.  Made from natural ingredients, ZEO is an eclectic gathering of bold botanicals, fruits and fantastical flavours from nature.

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In my box was:  Peach and Grapefruit, Zesty Lime and Blood Orange and Citrus.

I popped them into the fridge right away.

Zeo's exciting crisp tastes are created by blending 32 fruits and botanicals gathered from around the world with cold, clear, refreshing, mineral-rich spring water from the heart of England. Even the deliciously colours are extracted from nature. Lightly sweetened the sweetness is gathered from natural Stevia plants from South America, which are 400 times sweeter than sugar, but have absolutely zip calories. The rest of the sweetness comes from a touch of sugar beets and natural sugar cane.

I have been enjoying the bottles I was sent over the past few nights and when I say enjoying, I really mean enjoying.  They are light, refreshing and only slightly carbonated.  If I had to pick a favourite amongst these three . . .  I think the Blood Orange and Citrus might be it, but in all honesty I have enjoyed all three.

Crafted in small batches and  distilled and blended to make each recipe from its naturally sourced ingredients, these drinks are pleasant and quite satisfying.  I don't drink tea or coffee and I don't like to drink caffeinated cold drinks, and these made a really nice and refreshing drink to sit and relax with while I've been watching the telly evenings.

If you would like to know more about them and where to buy them, do heck out their page!  Release your brighter side!

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Many thanks to Zeo for sending me these to try. If you are looking for a refreshing drink which is low in sugar and filled with natural ingredients you really can't go wrong with Zeo.  I really did enjoy them and was not required to write a positive review.

Coq au Macon Rouge, Chicken & Other Birds

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We really love chicken in this house.   It's quite an affordable meat and very adaptable, which is why I was really happy to receive the latest cookery book by Paul Gayler to review, entitled . . . "Chicken & Other Birds, from the perfect roast chicken to Asian-style duck breasts.  Photography by Kevin Summers.   This is a book that will get a lot of use.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Lemon Madeleines

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I have always wanted to bake Madeleines.   I have had a silicone Madeleine pan for quite a while now and had never used it.  Today was the day.

Ahhh  . . . .  Madeleines. That little French butter cake that most (non-French) people think of more as a cookie.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Easy Peach Cobbler

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I have always wished that I lived in a place where you could get really good fresh peaches . . .  grown locally . . . and sweetly delicious.  To be able to walk out your door and pick a fresh peach sounds like a dream.  It's just never been my reality, and the peach is one of my favourite fruits.  I have always just had to do with tinned peaches or peaches which have been shipped in from much warmer climes.  I happen to love tinned peaches.  A favourite dessert when I was growing up was a scoop of  vanilla ice cream topped with some tinned peaches.  I still love it.

Friday 28 August 2015

The Stack with Leerdammer

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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil! I also love sandwiches! This is a definite win/win situation! This is Day Five!  The final day!

Three Brownie Bites of Heaven . . .

Prior to moving back to Chester in 2010, I was employed as a person chef at a Manor house down in Kent.   I got to stretch my abilities and skills cooking for large silver service dinner parties and cocktail parties . . . and scrummy lady's luncheons . . . beautiful food and presentations . . .

I never ever got to partake of any of it, I was always the cook, and never the guest . . . kind of like always being the bridesmaid, but never the bride!

Thursday 27 August 2015

Chicken Tostadas, with a Mango & Strawberry Salsa

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 I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  I also love sandwiches!  This is a definite win/win situation!   This is Day Four!

A deliciously simple Lemon and Raspberry Dessert

We've had a really busy day here today running about here and there.   We had to go all the way up to Manchester to have the Toddster's iPad fixed and then back again, amongst all of our other duties and so today for eats . . .  easy is the order of the day.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Vegetarian Dagwoods

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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  I also love sandwiches!  This is a definite win/win situation!   This is Day Three!

Pork Chops with an Apple Relish

I had a molar pulled this afternoon and am not feeling that great tonight. I am sure glad that I got a good dinner in before I went to the Dentist, because I sure wouldn't be able to get one in at the moment . . . I want ice cream, maybe . . . or soup.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

A Lighter Tuna Melt

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 I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team.   As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running.  I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil! This is Day Two!

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

There is something deeply satisfying about a buttery, breaded and spiced breast of chicken baked until crisp . . . yet still fork tender on the insides . . . served alongside of a crisp and flavourful slaw . . . eaten out on the patio on a nice summer's evening . . . and shared with the one you love.

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

This is the perfect summer supper pour deux. The bread crumbs . . . all savoury and buttery . . . gilding the chicken breasts in a golden crisp blanket . . . with just a hint of spice. It won't smack you in the face . . . but it's there . . .

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

The chicken all tender and moist beneath that buttery blanket . . . perfectly cooked . . . juicy and still succulent. I favour cornfed organic chicken myself . . . it has lots of flavour.

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

Don't feel guilty about those buttery crumbs . . . if you are going to take off the skin, you've just got to replace it with something flavourful to help keep that delicious chicken meat from drying out . . . you won't regret it . . .

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

And that slaw . . . crisp and slightly anisey flavoured . . . fennel goes so well in a summer slaw . . . don't you think??? Save a few of the tender fronds to garnish the slaw . . . I did and it looks so perfectly pretty . . .

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

With just enough tartness from the lemon juice, which helps to cut through the richness of the mayonnaise . . . the touch of caster sugar, just taking the edge off the lemon. But . . . you can leave it out if you would rather.

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

We prefer just a bit of sweetness . . . along with that tart lemon, nippy chives, refreshing parsley . . . and rich mayo . . . perfect with the fennel. 

 Did you know that there are male and female fennel bulbs??? There are . . . the long thin ones are males . . . the short rounder ones are female.

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

Moi . . . je préfère les femmes . . . they're prettier.
Just sayin, is all . . .

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

Can you not almost taste it now??? Crisp, buttery . . . moist chicken . . . with the perfect, crunchy and tangy slaw. I'll forgive you if you lick the screen . . . just don't let anyone else catch you . . .

Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two

*Crispy Baked Chicken for Two, with Fennel Slaw*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

Crisp chicken, with a bit of a kick . . . served up with a tangy fennel slaw.

100g of soft white bread crumbs (1 1/2 cups)
50g of butter, melted (3 1/2 TBS)
1 tsp of smoked paprika with sweet red pepper and thyme * (see below)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 (200g) boneless, skinless chicken fillets (ab0ut 6 ounces each)
Fresh Lemon Wedges to serve

For the Slaw:
1 large bulb of fennel, very thinly sliced
2 TBS finely chopped fresh chives
a handful of fresh flat leaft parsley, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 TBS full fat mayonnaise
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Have a baking dish lightly buttered and ready to use.

Place the chicken breasts, one at a time into a heavy duty zip lock bag. Bash them out a bit with a rolling pin. You want them about 1/3 of an inch all over. Place into the baking dish. Sprinkle with some salt and black pepper

Mix together the bread crumbs, butter and seasoning mix. Sprinkle this over top of the chicken fillets, dividing it equally amongst them.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and the juices run clear.

Make the fennel Slaw while the chicken is cooking. Slice the fennel really thinly into a bowl. (I use my mandoline.) Tip in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Stir in the fresh herbs, just before using.

Serve each chicken breast on a plate along with a portion of the fennel slaw and a few lemon wedges for squeezing over the chicken fillets if desired.

*To make your own herb spice mixture:

1 TBS smoked paprika (Pimenton)
1 TBS dried red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Stir all together and keep in a tightly covered container in a dark place.

Monday 24 August 2015

Mexi Rolls Ups with Chunky Quacamole

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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team.   As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running.  I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  Welcome to day one!

Cooking with Very Lazy

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I wanted to tell you about an assortment of Very Lazy products which I have been using in my cooking lately.   The Very Lazy Chopped Garlic, The Very Lazy Chopped Ginger and the Very Lazy Garlic Paste.

With Very Lazy you get  an assortment of really great and quality store cupboard essentials that are easy to use and always ready when you are, with none of the fuss and muss.  I have always been a big fan of their chopped garlic and the garlic paste.   (I hate fingers that smell like garlic, what can I say!)

Very Lazy Chopped Garlic - (preserved in white wine vinegar) this convenient product takes away the fuss of peeling and crushing.  Perfect for stir fries, sauces and casseroles.   You don't really notice any vinegar flavour really and I love that my fingers stay smelling sweet.  One teaspoon replaces one clove of garlic.

Very Lazy Chopped Ginger - (preserved in white wine vinegar) it says chopped, but is more like shredded.   Drained, rinsed and chopped a bit more I have been using this in sauces and even in a really delicious chicken salad I made a few days ago.  (Watch this space for the recipe, coming soon.)  No fuss of peeling and grating involved.

Very Lazy Garlic Paste - Now this is my absolute favourite product.  I use this all the time, in sauces, in stews, in soups, etc.   Even Garlic Bread!  In short, anywhere you want a great garlic flavour but none of the texture of bits of garlic.  One teaspoon is the equivalent of one clove of garlic.

Very Lazy have a complete range of chopped store cupboard ingredients (Garlic, Ginger, Red Chillies, Smoked Garlic), pastes (Garlic, Lemongrass), Cooking Concentrates (Green Thai Curry, Chilli Con Carne) and Speciality Ingredients (Crushed Garlic with Oil, Grated Ginger with Oil, Piri Piri Chillis with Oil).   All of the hard work of prepping has been done so that you can quickly get on with the cooking to hand.

I do love their products and highly recommend!

New Limited Edition Oreos!

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I have long been a fan of Oreo Cookies . . .  I like to open them up and scrape out the creamy filling with my teeth and then each the chocolate biscuit layers . . .  and aren't they just pefect with a nice cold glass of milk?   Heaven on earth.  I also enjoy the Golden Oreo ones, which are like the total opposite of the regular ones, but equally as delicious.   The Peanut Butter lover in me is over the moon however with the new "Limited Edition"   Peanut Butter Oreos.

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Those two iconic chocolate cookies layered together with a delicious peanut butter cream filling.  Colour me loving it!   I don't think they'll ever quite replace the delight of the original Oreo Cookie, but they  are pretty good nonetheless.

Happy Birthday Cadbury Milk Tray!

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Guess who is 100 years old?   Cadbury's Milk Tray and they are celebrating 100 years with a sweet makeover!  Yes, this August Britain's iconic Cadbury Milk Tray Chocolates have undergone a  special makeover in celevration of it's 100th birthday.   From the beautifully redesigned box, to three new delicious flavours, there has never been a better time to gift a box of Cadbury Milk Tray to a loved one.

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New Cadbury Milk Tray sees the Cadbury-purple box get a striking new modern makeover with packaging that is as beautiful sa a gift wrapped present.  The newly designed case, created to celebrate this special centenary, features a series of stand-out, fun chocolat icons that represent the delicious products inside, so now you can see on the outside all the delicious treats that are within.   This extra-special box also wears its Royal Warrant on the front of the pack; extra proof of just how special Cadbury Milk Tray really is.

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Hitting the shelves this month, new Cadbury Milk Tray now also includes three new mouth watering flavours . . .

Apple Crunch - plays on the quintessentially British treat, combining the much loved flavours of apple pie with smooth Cadbury Chocolate.

Salted Caramel - A sweet treat with a chewy salted caramel layered in delicious Cadbury chocolate

Chocolate Truffle - a smooth milk chocolate truffle encased in a solid milk chocolate shell.

Ideal for any occasion new Cadbury Milk Tray comes in a variety of sizes and is now even more gift worthy than ever, making it the perfect thoughtful gift for your parter, family or friend.

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"All because the lady still loves Milk Tray."

Available box sizes:

78g   (£1)
180g (£4.25)
360g (£8.49)
530g (£12.99)

Recommended prices only.  Retailers are free to set their own prices.

Pssstt!!  Loving the new Apple Crunch!  Sooo tasty!

A delicious Picnic Cake!

Well, we have had plenty of showers this afternoon. Perfect baking weather. I just love being indoors and baking on a rainy afternoon! There's something really comforting about being in the house warm and dry, while the smell of something scrummy baking in the oven wafts through the air!
mmmmm . . .

Sunday 23 August 2015

Dutch Almond Thins

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I am quite picky when it comes to biscuits/cookies.   I love chocolate chip cookies . . .  but my chocolate chip cookies have to be crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle . . .  and have lotsa chocolate chips in them. I also love raisins and nuts in mine, although I know not everyone does.   My molasses cookies have to be soft and puffy.  Oatmeal cookies . . .  crisp, crisp, crisp.   Not all cookies are alike and not all cookies are appreciated for the same reasons.   

Saturday 22 August 2015

Peanut Butter and Banana Cake

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I had scheduled both the Elders and the Sisters for tea appointments this week, two days in a row and so I set about to do a dessert to serve them that I could actually use two days in a row and decided that a large cake would do the trick.   I could cut it into squares and serve it with ice cream both nights.   Whatever works, right?

Friday 21 August 2015

Easy Pumpkin Butter

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One of the things I missed when I first arrived here in the UK was tinned pumpkin.  It was very difficult to find and if you did find it, it cost you an arm and a leg.  I used to be able to get it at Waitrose down south and Sainsbury's.   Recently I scored big time when our local Aldi had it in as a special deal.  I bought about 20 cans!  Todd thought they would think I was crazy buying so many, but I didn't care.  If there is one thing I have learned in my years over here, it's to take advantage of a chance when you get it, because you might never get another one!  Kind of like making hay while the sun shines!

Thursday 20 August 2015

Chard and Cheese Tart

Chard and Cheese Tart 

I had another big beautiful bunch of Chard in my veggie box this week. Some people might think that is shows up altogether too often in their veggie boxes but I, for one, am always happy to see it make an appearance. 

 We just love chard . . both the leaves and the stems.

Chard and Cheese Tart 

The stems are gorgeous simply stir fried with a bit of butter and then tossed with some lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

 You can treat the leaves much in the same way as you would spinach and use many of the same flavourings as well . . . basil, garlic, cheese . . .

Chard and Cheese Tart

Chard and cheese are just beautiful together . . . with the richness of cheese and the earthy mineral flavour of the chard . . . they are a fabulous combination. 

Chard and Cheese Tart

This week I decided to bake us a scrummy Chard and Cheese Tart, making the most of that beautiful marriage of flavours . . . 

Chard and Cheese Tart

I chose to use a sharp farmhouse cheddar and some Parmesan, which together proved to be just perfect with the chard.

I then added a double whammy by infusing the crisp pastry with a touch more cheddar, some thyme leaves and a good grinding of coarse black pepper.

Chard and Cheese Tart 

Oh my but this was lovely . . . the crust so buttery and crisp . . . with just a slight hint of herb and cheese . . .

Chard and Cheese Tart 

The filling all earthy and rich . . . velvety, and cheesy too. I think I'll have the leftovers for lunch. This was good . . . plain and simple. 

Chard and Cheese Tart 

* Chard and Cheese Tart*
Serves 6 or more
Printable Recipe

Chard and cheese are such a beautiful combination, and marry beautifully in this savoury tart with it's crisp cheesy crust and luxuriously rich filling.

For the Pastry:
250g of plain flour (scant 2 1/2 cups)
100g of butter, cold and cut into small dice (6 TBS)
35g of sharp farmhouse cheddar cheese (a generous 1/3 cup)
a tsp of thyme leaves
coarse black pepper
1 large free range egg, beaten

For the filling:
270g of red or rainbow chard (1 pound)
4 thin spring onions
2 large free range eggs
300ml of double cream (1/2 pint, or slightly less than 1 1/4 cup)
50g of sharp cheddar, grated (1/2 cup, 2 ounces)
40g of Pecorino, Spenwood or Parmesan grated (about 1/3 cup)

Chard and Cheese Tart 

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour, working quickly, with your fingertips. Rub until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 

 Stir in the grated cheddar along with the thyme, a pinch of coarse black pepper and the beaten egg. Bring together to form a soft ball, adding a bit of milk if necessary.

Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Roll the pastry out in a rectangle large enough to fill a shallow jelly roll pan, about 12 by 15 inches. If you pan isn't nonstick, butter it first. Press the pastry carefully into the pan, making sure that you get it well into the corners. 

 Trim the edges and then place in the refrigerator to chill for a good half an hour. (I used the trimmings to add a bit of thickness along the edges of the pastry just because I like the edges to be a bit thicker. Just brush with a bit of milk and stick them on.

While the pastry is chilling you can cook your chard. I steamed mine over boiling water until it was soft and tender. I then drained it very well and squeezed as much water out of it as I could with my hands. Roughly chop. Place into a bowl. 

 Trim and thinly slice the spring onions. Toss in with the chard and season it with a touch of salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Preheat your oven 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.

Take your pastry from the refrigerator. Lay a piece of foil or greaseproof paper in the pastry case and weigh down with some baking beans. 

 Bake in the heated oven for 15 minutes until the pastry is firm. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes until dry to the touch.

Remove from the oven and scatter the chopped chard and onion mixture over the crust Beat together the eggs and cream. Scatter the cheeses over top of the chard in the pastry case and pour the egg and cream mixture over top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is nicely crisped and the filling is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Wash Day Mac and Cheese

This recipe is as old as the hills, hailing from a day and time when every Monday was Wash Day and women needed something quick and easy and that could basically take care of itself in the oven whilst they did the week's washing for the family.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Grilled Chicken with a Summer Berry Salsa

I am just loving summer with all of it's fresh fruit and vegetables! It is by far and away the best time of year for fruit and veg just packed with flavour!

The supermarket shelves (not to mention my garden) are a dancing parade of delicious colour and taste, and I am love, love, lovin' every moment of it!

Monday 17 August 2015

Simple Jam Biscuits

Back home in Eastern Canada, where I hail from, you can get these big soft white sugar cookies, filled with jam. Oh they are so yummy. I have been trying for years to replicate the recipe.

Sunday 16 August 2015

Cheesecake Cream Topped Summer Berries

What is it about summertime and soft fruit desserts! I just can't get enough of them! I guess that is because it's when they are readily available locally, fresh and ripe for the eating!

Saturday 15 August 2015

Pumpkin Caramel Croissants

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When I was growing up I hated pumpkin pie.  I am not sure why.  It was just not something I enjoyed.  As an adult I have come to love it however, and every time I see tinned pumpkin in the shops here in the UK, I pick up a whole whack of it.  Because you can't ever have too much tinned pumpkin can you???  And also because it is also a very rare find over here.

Friday 14 August 2015

Incredible Sandwiches using Leerdammer Toastie and Burger Slices

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I was recently invited to use some Creamy Leerdammer Toastie & Burger slices on a Pulled Pork Burger!  I love Leedammer Cheese.  Nobody had to twist my arm!

With thicker slices and a richer, creamier recipe for better melting, LEERDAMMER® Toastie & Burger is the perfect filling for a deliciously melty toasted cheese sandwich or cheese burger.