Thursday, 28 November 2013

2014 Blogger Challenge





While browsing other peoples' blogs, as you do, I came across a few doing 2014 Blogger Challenge. So after clicking on the button, I discovered it was a challenge for you to blogpost twice a month, writing about topics you may not necessarily write about.  I didn't need to think twice about this challenge as I figured it would encourage me to write more frequently and (hopefully) learn new things about certain topics.  Also this would be a fantastic way to read new blogs and meet other bloggers.  All it involves is an email being sent to you on the first and third week of the month giving you the post topic to write about.  It's that easy.........I say this now, whether I will be saying that when I get my first email, may be a different story :)!

This challenge was organised by Gaby from Another Girly Blog, if you want to join in or find out more about this challenge, I have included a link to Gaby's blog!


Ps You need to sign up before the 9th December 2013.







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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Christmas Tag!



It's only 29 days and 28 sleeps until the big day and I am already getting excited about it! Probably too excited for someone of my age but never mind :). There was a post on Lemonade Budget's blog about a Christmas Tag so I decided to join in as well. It was originally started by Makeup-pixi3. I have included links to their blogs for you to check them out.

1. Do you prefer a real Christmas tree or synthetic?

Growing up we had a variety of synthetic trees and even after moving out I carried on using synthetic trees in my own home, but when we moved into the house we are in now we decided to get a real one as we have a large window. When buying a real tree I didn't consider that choosing a tree in a large open space would make a tree look smaller, so after we managed to drag it indoors and put it where we wanted it, I discovered it obscured part of the television and left a small gap to get in and out of the room. I am hoping to get a real one again this year (will pay more attention to the size this time) as the smell is lovely and I think it looks far better than a synthetic tree.

2. You're in a coffee shop, it's December, what do you pick?

I'm not a coffee drinker, I like the smell of coffee but not the taste so it would have to be a Hot Chocolate. With marshmallows. Without cream. Although the festive flavours they sell do sound nice, I still don't think I could drink one.

3. What's your favourite colour scheme for decorating the tree?

In the first year in our home, I decided to co-ordinate the tree with the plum colour of the Living room. So I went out and bought new decorations and the tree was decorated in Plum and Silver. The following year I decided to go for colour so I bought ummm more new decorations, these were blues, oranges, pinks and also a few woodland animals such as a squirrel, deer, a raccoon, a cat from Accessorize (love their decorations)and I will use these ones again this year.

4. Giving or receiving?

Now I am not going to lie and say giving as I do like to open a present or two on Christmas day but I do enjoy giving presents and seeing the recipient's face when it is something that they love.

5. To mince pie or not to?

Hmmmm I'm not a massive lover of mince pies and have only came across a few that I like. Mr Kipling's is one of the better kinds and I have made some of my own that tasted ok but I will probably say not (unless someone knows of a really nice kind to try?)

6. What's your traditional Christmas lunch?

Over the years it's been Prawn Cocktail for starters (my favourite), then it's been either been turkey, pork, beef, beef Wellington, mushroom Wellington with roast potatoes, croquette potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots and Brussels sprouts. Oh and also pigs in blankets and stuffing as well. By time for dessert I am usually to full to eat anything else but I might have some Ben & Jerry's ice cream later on as I don't like Christmas pudding but this year I have already bought a Toffee and Pecan Roulade from Sainsburys....yum!

7. Christmas Day fashion

I always dress up on Christmas Day, even if it's in my own house. Something sparkly is a must have so if it's not on my clothes then I will put on some bling. This year I have bought a black sparkly strapless dress which I will wear with my black heels. I am going to my Parents' this year so if there is snow on the ground I will need a pair of boots to travel there in.

8. What's your favourite Christmas song?

I have quite a few Christmas CDs that I listen to in the car but when "Fairytale of New York" by Kirsty McColl and The Pogues comes on, I do tend to blast that one and screech along with the words.

9. What's your favourite Christmas film?

There is quite a few that I love such as The Holiday, Love Actually, Bad Santa, Home Alone, Muppets' Christmas Carol but my absolute favourite is Elf! Love that film so much! I've bought Arthur Christmas to watch this year which I haven't seen yet but looking forward to that one.

10. Open presents before or after lunch?

Before! Now that I am an adult I have progressed from the 5am Christmas morning wake up to see what Santa has given me but I still get up early (about 7.30am) to open my presents.



If you have done this tag then let me know as I'd love to read them. I enjoy reading how others celebrate Christmas :)!

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Traditional Christmas Cake

It's only 36 sleeps until Christmas so I decided I had better get a move on and make my Christmas cake! I don't like rich fruit cake such as Wedding cake or Christmas cakes but I do love this one.  The recipe is by the original Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella and it tastes delicious.  Unfortunately if you have a nut allergy then this cake won't be for you.

Ingredients:

Raisins 350g
Currants 150g
Glacé Cherries 50g
Chopped Pecans or Walnuts 75g
Bourbon or Brandy 200mls
Butter 150g
Dark Brown Sugar 90g
Grated Lemon Zest 1 Teaspoon
Large Eggs 2
Black Treacle or Molasses 1 Tablespoon
Almond essence 1/2 Teaspoon
Plain flour 150g
Ground almonds 75g
Ground cloves 1/4 Teaspoon
Ground cinnamon 1/2 Teaspoon
Ground ginger 1/4 Teaspoon

Method:
Place all the dried fruit in a saucepan and add the alcohol, I used Brandy.  Bring to the boil, then take it off the heat.  Once the fruit has cooled, cover with a saucepan lid and let it steep overnight.  Take the eggs and butter out of the fridge so that they will be at room temperature in the morning.

Next day, preheat your oven to 150 degrees/gas mark 2 and prepare your tin by greasing it and then lining the sides and bottom of the cake tin (I used an 18cm round, loose bottomed cake tin) with grease proof paper.  Allow extra to come up the sides of the tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together, before adding the lemon zest.



Add the eggs one at a time, beating well before adding the next one.  Beat in the black treacle and almond essence.


Sift all the dry ingredients together and add them into the mixture a bit at a time, alternating with the soaked fruit. Once everything is mixed in, transfer into the lined cake tin and place into the pre-heated oven for approx 1hr 45mins. Test by inserting a skewer into the cake to see if ready (if there is cake mixture stuck to the skewer then bake for longer.


When the cake has cooled put it in an airtight tin and feed it alcohol by brushing the Brandy over the cake once a week until it is ready to be iced and decorated. I will post later on how to ice the cake.










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Monday, 18 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday

It's Monday again and we are now more than halfway through November, Christmas is coming scarily too soon.....I want to know where is the time flying to?!

This week doesnt involve too much cooking, yaaayyy!! It was my friend's birthday last week and she was the big 3-0 so I am going out for a meal tonight with her to celebrate. We are going to a local Indian restaurant that was on a Groupon deal so have saved money on that too :). My meal plan for this week is as follows:

Monday
Out

Tuesday
Chicken/Vegetable Fajitas

Wednesday
Mum's

Thursday
Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Bake

Friday
Whatever I pick up while shopping

Saturday
Takeaway

Sunday
Chicken/Pork Chops, Roasted Acorn Squash & Veg


I've linked up to Mrs M's blog for meal planning Monday, why not link up too and see what other people are eating this week? Also if you are on Twitter then #mealplanningmonday

Meal Planning Monday
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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash

Autumn makes me want to eat lots of nice warming foods such as soups, stews and roasts. I am trying to increase my vegetable intake so when I came across an Acorn Squash I decided to buy it as I had never tasted it before and I really wanted to give it a try.  I had a look online to see what to do with it and the most popular way seemed to be to roast it.  Most of the recipes that I came across were American so the oven temperatures that they use are a lot different from mine so I decided to experiment with guessing a suitable temperature and time.

First of all pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (I have a fan oven so you may need to increase the temperature if your oven isn't fan assisted).

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and after washing the squash, cut it in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.

Autumn Dishes


Place the squash cut side down onto the baking tray and fill the tray with water until it comes slightly up the side of the squash. Place the tray into the oven for 40 minutes.

Autumn Food

After 40 minutes take the squash out of the oven and turn it over so the cut side is facing upwards.  Place a dollop of butter, some sea salt and two teaspoons of brown sugar into the centre of each squash and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes until the butter has melted and the sugar caramelised.

Autumn Food


Remove from oven and eat.

The flesh is very soft and sweet and makes a nice change from using potatoes as a side dish.  Will definitely make this again!

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Good Morning! How was everyone's weekend? Hope it was a good one. For me, it was busy. Well actually I have been busy since Thursday as that was Halloween and we had Trick or Treaters from 6-8.30pm, on Friday my Brother in Law came round and I made Pumpkin shaped pizzas, Hot Dog Mummies (sadly they were all eaten before I could get some photos taken!), Saturday was spent taking down and putting away the decorations and on Sunday I went to my Parent's.

So here we are back to Monday again, at least this week is much quieter. My meal plan for this week is:

Monday
Chicken and Roasted Winter Veg

Tuesday
Spaghetti Bolognaise

Wednesday
At my Mum's

Thursday
Chicken and Roast Potatoes

Friday
Will pick up something while I'm doing the shopping

Saturday
Takeaway

Sunday
Roasted Pork Belly

Hope you all have a good week :)

I've linked up to Mrs M's blog for meal planning Monday, why not link up too and see what other people are eating this week?

Meal Planning Monday

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