Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Simply Beef and Lamb - #LivePeasant - Lamb Tagine with Pomegranates

Simply Beef and Lamb are promoting their campaign #LivePeasant encouraging people to cook simple, tasty and nutritious meals for their families.

Tagine is a Moroccan style stew, cooked long and slow and often with things like apricots, dates, figs are added towards the end of the cooking. When we visited Morocco a few years back Mr R said how delicious the tagine we were having for dinner was.  He was quite surprised when I pointed out that it had dates and figs in it, both of which he had said he didn't like but the long cooking had transformed it into a great dinner experience.

The second of the #LivePeasant recipe that I have cooked is Lamb Tagine with Pomegranates.
Most of the core ingredients will be in your fridge, freezer or cupboard but you may have to source the tagine paste or tagine spice paste. I had tagine spices so mixed with a tin of chopped tomatoes and just added a bit less water.
If you want to make this recipe at home here is the complete version:-

Lamb Tagine With Pomegranates                                                   Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20-25 minutes
Cooking time: approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes

675gm lean boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 2.5cm cubes
30ml oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 x 170gm jar tagine paste or 45ml tagine spice paste
450ml hot water
Salt & freshly milled pepper
3-4 dried apricots, roughly chopped, 45ml freshly chopped coriander
30ml fresh pomegranate seeds.

1. Heat the oil in a large 1.7l ovenproof casserole/dish, add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the paste and lamb. Cook 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. You can cook this on the hob or in a low oven (170oC/325oF/Gas mark 3).
4. 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the apricots. Cover and continue to cook for the remainder of the cooking time. If it is too thick you can add a bit of very hot water to thin down.
5.Garnish with the coriander and pomegranate seeds and serve with steamed couscous or rice.
This is a sponsored post. All opinions and photos are my own.

Monday, 28 March 2016

New Baking Kits by Paul Hollywood

Take the morning off to attend a baking masterclass with Paul Hollywood? That didn't require much thinking - of course I would love to!

Some of the places I get to experience whilst attending events for my blog are so beautiful.  This event was held near Waterloo Station in a venue called The Old Violin Factory!
I loved the entrance immensely and of course the lovely displays set out for our arrival.
Paul Hollywood talked to us about his new range of baking mixes so easy to follow that everyone can bake at home and get professional results without having to buy loads of ingredients and have advanced skills.  The kits only require you to provide the fresh ingredients like butter, oil and eggs where appropriate. You can also adapt the mixes to make them your own.
We heard from Paul how he developed his love of baking, starting as a boy in his father's bakery and baking with his mother as well.
There is an extensive range of mixes however Paul only had time to demonstrate two of his baking mixes and using some help from his blogger audience he proceed to show how simple the recipes actually were. My blogger colleague and friend Nayna from Simply Sensational Food (click here to read her review) was eager to help Paul make his Garlic 7 Herb Tear-n-Share bread, first having a quick lesson on rolling the dough from Paul.
Paul was very proud of the finished product which we got to taste.
We also got to try the Bran & Coconut Flapjack mix - really soft and chewy flapjacks drizzled with chocolate on top.
And Luxurious Belgian Chocolate Brownie Mix - cakey on the outside and gooey on the inside - a classic brownie easy enough for children to make!
My granddaughter, Little Miss stayed over Easter and we did loads of cooking and baking together. The mixes are so easy to make even an 8 year old can help make them!  There are easy to read instructions on the back.
The packet also tells you what you need to add.
And with the help of Little Miss we ended up with this!!!
The full list of the range of Paul Hollywood's mixes are:-
Luxurious Belgian Chocolate Brownie
Bran & Coconut Flapjack
Luxurious Belgian Chocolate Cookie
Luxurious Belgian White Chocolate Cookie
Luxurious Belgian Chocolate Muffin
Luxurious Belgian White Chocolate Muffin
Famous Scone
Luxurious Cheese & Rosemary Scones
White Plaited Bread Roll
Barm Cake Roll
Garlic & Herb Tear-n-Share Bread
Tomato & Thyme Bloomer

I was an invited guest to the Paul Hollywood Baking Masterclass and was not expected to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Travel Tip 4 - Be Prepared (bubble wrap and zip-lock bags)

Be prepared - once a Girl Guide always a Girl Guide! I like to be ready for anything when I travel.

If I am travelling by any means other than car I always like to take care that my lotions and potions don't leak out all over my nice clothes.  To avoid this I will put shampoo and conditioners in a large, plastic zip-lock bag.  That way if they leak I won't find my nice top all covered in shampoo or conditioner! 
I also use the smaller size bags to keep things together in my cases.

And as well as taking the bags full of things I always take a handful of different sizes for bringing things home (Remember I do like to bring things home from far away places!).
Another travel must take is bubble wrap.  I get loads of parcels delivered and therefore save lots of bubble wrap through out the months - you can never have too much bubble wrap!  Bubble wrap doesn't weigh much and I use it to add extra padding on the outward leg of my journey however it is invaluable for wrapping any jars or slightly delicate items for the homeward journey.  I have used it in my hand luggage before to wrap those things too delicate to go into the checked-in baggage as well.

The one jar I bring with me everywhere is my coconut oil which I put in a zip lock bag and wrap this in bubble wrap - better be safe than covered in coconut oil!
Do you ever use bubble wrap or zip lock bags for travelling - please share your tips in the comment section below.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Simply Beef and Lamb - #LivePeasant - Beef Goulash

Simply Beef and Lamb are promoting their campaign #LivePeasant encouraging people to cook simple, tasty and nutritious meals for their families.

I shall be bringing you three of their easy #LivePeasant recipes. The first one, Beef Goulash was made for tea tonight.  It is an exotic sounding recipe based on the Hungarian Goulash I used to eat when I lived in Austria many years ago.

To begin you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen store cupboard. You also need about 500gm shin of beef or lean stewing steak.
Season the beef with salt and pepper and fry in small batches until all the meat is ready.
After taking the cubes of beef out of the pan and putting them in a bowl to one side, fry the onion and caraway seeds in the pan or casserole (adding a bit more oil).
Add the tomatoes, paprika, tomato puree and beef stock. Cover, turn the heat down and simmer for about one and a half hours.
Follow the recipe for the final steps to complete this delicious one pot meal.  Whilst the goulash was cooking I washed up all the utensils I had been using and cleaned the kitchen cutting down on the after dinner clear up.

I served the beef goulash (drizzle sour cream or quark) with buttered noodles sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley.
If you want to make this at home here is the complete recipe:-
Beef Goulash                                                                  Serves 4

Prep time: 10-15 minutes                                                Cook time: 1 - 1.5 hours
450gm lean boneless shin, stewing or braising beef, cut into 2.5cm cubes
salt and freshly milled black pepper
30ml sunflower oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (or 5ml garlic puree)
15ml ground paprika
5ml caraway seeds (optional)
600ml good, hot beef stock
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
15ml tomato puree
15ml cornflour
freshly chopped parsley - to garnish
soured cream, quark or creme fraiche - to garnish

1. Place beef in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 20ml oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the meat in batches for 3-4 minutes until brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon to another dish.  In a large casserole suitable for cooking on the hob add a little of the sunflower oil and cook the onions, garlic with the paprika and caraway seeds.

3. Add the stock, tomatoes and tomato puree.  Bring to the boil and return the beef to the casserole. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook on a low heat for 1 - 1.5 hours.

4. Mix the cornflower with 60ml cold water and stir into the goulash.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Garnish with parsley and a swirl of sour cream before serving with cooked potatoes or pasta.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and photos are my own.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

It's Spring - It's Easter - It's Aldi

If it's Spring then it must be Easter and that means a trip to my local Aldi to feed the family for Easter weekend.
It's all well and good having a lovely roast lamb on Easter Sunday with all the roast trimmings but what about Good Friday or Easter Saturday?  Aldi have a fresh casserole pack of chicken pieces and ready chopped vegetables for £2.99 and along with a pack of baby button mushrooms for £0.79 I will be making a large chicken casserole, using two packs of each which will result in enough food for those at home at supper time on Easter Saturday and anyone who comes in later.  Any left overs can be frozen for up to 3 months as well.
Of course Easter wouldn't be Easter without Hot Cross Buns.  I have made them from scratch before but that is surely a labour of love.  Sometimes you need a Hot Cross Bun now!  Aldi offer a pack of 4 with mixed fruit or chocolate pieces for £0.99 per pack.  They are moist and tasty and instant happiness!
I am not a great fan of Easter eggs however I do love to give Mr R one - I got this lovely chocolate egg with little truffles inside for £2.99.  This will look lovely on the breakfast table with Hot Cross Buns and a pot of tea for Easter breakfast!
And of course I couldn't leave the shop without a chocolate bunny (or three).  I couldn't decide if I wanted the white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate so I bought all three!! They will satisfy my evening chocolate craving for a while!
Many thanks to Aldi for the vouchers to purchase the above products.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions and photos are my own.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Book Review: Hungry Happy Healthy

Hungry Healthy Happy is a book by award winning blogger Dannii Martin. Although I have not personally met Dannii we belong to the same food blogger support groups and offer each other encouragement and support in the often cut-throat life of food blogging.  Danni’s journey has been epic and the results of her journey are here now for everyone to read and benefit from.

Overweight and unfit with an increasing number of health worries Dannii set out to change her life one bite at a time. Dannii says it is basically eat less-count your calories and exercise and throughout the book gives you loads and loads of helpful ways to do exactly this.
You can still have all the food you love but where possible make substitutions for healthier and lower fat items.

There are comforting recipes such as Sausage Casserole and Shepherd's Pie and indulgent ones including Mango and Raspberry Cheesecake and Chocolate Avocado Mousse.
Each recipe has a nutritional breakdown and there are loads of little tips to make life a bit easier too.
Losing weight and getting fit doesn't have to feel like a diet but a new way of eating - making smart choices however you don't have to give up on the food you love and the little treats.  Dannii's story is heart warming and inspiring so please take the time to read through the beginning of the book and not just jump straight to the mouth watering recipes however tempting they look!

Thanks to Dannii's publisher Jacqui Small, I was sent a copy of Hungry Healthy Happy to review. I was not expected to provide a positive review. All photos are my own.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Cook Book Giveaway - Benito's Hat

I love Mexican Food. When I visited Mexico City last year I loved trying all the sauces, cactus fruits, spices, beans and so many products made with sweet corn.
One of the things I like about the Mexican Restaurant - Benito's Hat, in London is how close to real authentic Mexican food it is.  There is always a little lost in the translation to another country but this is really the real deal!

Benito's Hat founders Felipe Fuentes Cruz and Ben Fordham have produced a beautiful cook book full of rich colours, images, recipes all taking you to the centre of Mexican cuisine.
The photos really bring you a sense of being in a Mexican kitchen.
I have a copy of the book to giveaway on the blog.  If you would like to be in with a chance to win a copy just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.  (this giveaway is only open to residents of the UK and USA) Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Travel Tip 3 - travel light cosmetics

I am sure you are like me and want to stay clean when you are travelling but also want to travel light.  Here are a few of my tips, especially for making things do more than one job.

There is no need to take full size products with you when you are only going away for a short time - up to two weeks. My main intention is to throw things away to make room for the goodies I will be buying and bringing home.  Although I rarely leave home with the full weight allowance each kilo is sacred when I travel home.

Toothpaste - I wait until the tube is almost empty and put them aside for travelling.  When you think you will not get any more out of the tube cut off the seam at the top and inside will be 5-7 days worth of toothpaste that you would ordinarily throw away!  If you do this to every tube you use throughout the year you will save a couple of tubes of toothpaste per year anyway.  Of course I always take my toothbrush with me!
I don't like shower gels. I am a soap person. You may get a bar of soap in a hotel or nowadays you tend to get shower gel.  When my current bar of soap gets to the really thin stage I let it dry and put it with a couple of others in a plastic bag.  These are perfect for travelling because I don't mind leaving them behind whereas a full bar of soap would be too much for me to leave and although doesn't weigh much on its own adds to the total coming home luggage weight!
A few years ago I realised that I was allergic to conventional deodorants and started using coconut oil as a deodorant. This is one item I take with me in it's original jar because changes in temperature can make it melt somewhat and some containers may leak.  However it must be prepared to do more than one job and it does.  (I will be writing a post just about the uses of coconut oil in this series).
I take a small baby powder with me to dust under my arms after using the coconut oil as a fine talc/powder helps to keep you dry and cooler.  It can also be used for any chafing areas or to keep shoes dry and smelling nicer.

Again with shampoo - I will wait until there is only a small amount left in the bottle and put it aside for travelling.  As each bottle is finished it can be thrown away or recycled and doesn't need to come back with me.

That is really all my essentials because they do more than one job but a few others I will take when there is space are:-

Little sample sizes of facial and bath products I get when I buy full size (I like Clarins products and usually get the smaller sizes with a purchase).

Or cleansing wipes that can clean your face as well as take off any eye makeup and can be used for a quick clean on any part of your body.

Even Mr R will take the small samples from his Clarins for Men purchases with him. 
I don't like buying small travel sizes because they work out much more expensive but occasionally it is more practical like the travel shaving foam that Mr R takes - there is enough to last the fortnight's holiday.

It may not seem like a big deal taking all the cosmetics etc that I want but I really do like to keep my luggage as lean as possible on the outward journey and as full as possible on the way home!

What is your favourite travel tip for keeping clean and cool?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Surprise with Bake Box

There seem to be so many subscription services out there these days but one that has really caught my attention is Bake Box.  Bake Box will be a bi-monthly delivery of recipes and equipment to make six really up to the minute goodies.

Bake Box comes with beautifully illustrated recipe cards, the baking equipment you will need to complete these six projects along with other important items such as the coloured icing for the cookies, silicon bundt-type baking mould to make the cake and loads more.

The boxes will be suitable for beginner bakers and more experienced as well.  The subscription will make a great gift for a new mother with limited time to think of the ideas to bake but will guide her along.  Also a newly retired mum or grandmother would love the time to get their hands on this subscription as well.

The subscription will cost £14.99 per month and will include more than £40.00 worth of equipment to help you build a fantastic collection plus you get membership to Bake Club.

Although I was excited to review this box, my daughter came to stay for the weekend and hijacked my first box. I said I didn't mind as long as she provided the review for you and here is what she had to say 

" I was so excited to try out the Bake Box! I had no idea what would be inside it so it was like getting an impromptu Birthday gift. I couldn't wait to get it open and have a look at what I had got to play with!
The Bake Box arrived in a really nice box and the contents were hidden inside some tissue paper. It was like a mini adventure! 
My first impression was I couldn't believe how much was in the box! I had all the equipment to make 6 different projects. 
There was also an envelope with the 6 recipes and pictures so you see what they should look like.
I decided to start off with a small project of the dress shaped biscuits. They looked so cute and intricate. I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to do them justice. But I had no reason to worry! The instructions were so easy to follow and included a list of all the ingredients I would need.
Instead of red, I decided to use less food colouring and make my biscuits pink. I like to be a little bit different and pink is my favourite colour!

I'm happy with how they have turned out. They look great and are super tasty! I'm looking forward to trying out another recipe from in the box!
I used to bake and cook a lot but that was pre children when I had a lot more time to get creative. This was exactly the project I needed to get my creative juices flowing again and it was so much fun! I even got the little people to help with the decorating and they loved it too! "
I was sent a Bake Box surprise box to review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are our own and so are the photos.