Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf

I made cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago but was too afraid to document because it was my first attempt. They turned out amazingly well so I'll be making them again at some point. I thought for the time being I'd try out a cinnamon swirl loaf. I found a few recipes on pinterest  and I've taken bits of instructions from each. Here's what I did:

250g plain flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 120g mini chocolate chips (I used both dark & milk), 1 egg, 150g of dark brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 240ml buttermilk, 80ml of veg oil, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
For the cinnamon swirl: 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 65g granulated sugar

- Preheat over to 180 degrees and grease or line a non stick loaf pan. Make what will become of the cinnamon swirl but combining the granulated sugar and cinnamon then set aside.

- Whisk the egg, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until all the lumps are out. 

- Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla until well combined.

- Sieve all the dry ingredients into the wet mixture (flour, baking powder, salt) and also add the chocolate chips. Do not over mix as the loaf texture will be too tough.

- Pour half the batter into the loaf pan and then top evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Pour the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top.

- Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. Check the loaf is cooked by inserting a cocktail stick and if it's come out clean it's done.

- Allow bread to cool before eating. We ate this on the day it was baked and then finished it off the next day. It definitely tastes better the day after because all the favours have intensified. This should keep for a good few days afterwards. ENJOY!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Homemade coffee syrups

I think I'm already all Pumpkin Spice Latte'd out but we are nearing the end of October and I'm already looking forward to christmas & dreaming up ideas to dress up my house, which by the way is nearly ready to make an appearance on the ol' blog!
We don't have a Starbucks close by, we have to go into town, (although there is one at the nearby university but we went & I felt like I really shouldn't pretend to be a student!) so I decided the best thing to do for now would be to try out some homemade coffee syrups.

These are really easy & you can make practically any flavour you like. I might try some fruity syrups at some point for adding to cocktails.
I've made Vanilla, Lavender & Caramel syrups. I've done these recipes using 'cups'. I invested in some last week because so many recipes I want to try have instructions using 'cups' so get yourselves some or maybe use a ramekin - as long as the 'cup' is the same measurement I guess it doesn't really matter.

2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of caramel (shop bought like below or make your own by boiling a tin of condensed milk in a pan for a few hours).

Put the water & sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved on a low/medium setting. You'll know it has because the sugar water will become clear. Once dissolved add the caramel & mix until well combined. Dispense into your bottle.

2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Same method as above. Heat up sugar & water until dissolved then add the vanilla essence. 

Sounds like a strange flavour to make but tastes delicious in a latte!
2 cups of water, 2 cups of BROWN sugar, lavender extract.

Heat the water & sugar until dissolved. Add lavender extract and stir until combined. You can use fresh lavender buds too for this by adding a tablespoon of buds to the syrup while the sugar is dissolving. Only leave the buds in for 20-25 mins then strain using a fine sieve.

You'll want to use a funnel to put the syrups in the bottled to avoid spills. Then make some pretty labels!

Monday, 21 October 2013

FEATURED! Halloween Inspired Nail Art

Hi friends,
Head over to Amanda's blog and check out my Halloween inspired nail art. Tutorial here.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Homemade Nutella

Yeah, you read it! HOMEMADE nutella! Now, this was a bit of a faff to make but it made three large jars so we'll be all nutella-ed out by the time we get through it. I have to admit that it's not as smooth as shop brought nutella although I do love a bit of texture in this spread but anyway, it doesn't really matter because IT'S DELICIOUS! 

I used this link but I've changed it up a little. I doubled up on ingredients because I had three large jars to use.

400g hazelnuts, 2 cans of condensed milk, 500g dark chocolate (the darker the better), water.

- Roast the hazelnuts in a pan for 10-15 minutes. Once cool put them in food processor and whizz until the hazelnuts become like butter. It should look like a runny paste. This takes a long time so just be patient and keep processing, it will eventually turn to a paste. You may need to add water little by little to encourage it to become more runny.

- Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl either in the microwave or in a bowl on top of boiling water. Once melted pour in the condensed milk and mix well.

- Pour the chocolate into the food processor and mix well into the hazelnut butter. If your food processor is small like mine you will need to get a big bowl and use an electric hand whisker to combine the ingredients towards the end.

- Distribute the nutella into your jars and seal well. This should last a very long time!

- Try not to eat it all at once!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit

On Tuesday night Sam took me out to see my birthday present! Johnny Flynn! It's been a long while since I've been to a gig. I used to go to them so often in my teens so it was very strange to be in a venue standing up for half the night listening to a favourite band or artist! I think I'm flagging and I'll be with the oldens in no time trying to look for seats! 
It was really fantastic though, he played an amazing set & lots of his new songs from his most recent album. We were on the front row too so we had the best view. 

I think we're going to make an effort to see more live shows if we can. In fact I surprised Sam with a show last week. I had to keep a secret for a WHOLE week - so hard when I knew it would be something he'd absolutely die to see. We had tickets for Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly & Jerry Lee Lewis tribute act & it was incredible! We love our old stuff - all our favourite artists are either no longer performing or have died so this was as close as we'd get to seeing them. They were spot on though with looking like and sounding like the artists. It was as if we'd gone back in time & Sam was totally shocked! I just love treating him.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Sweet prune bars

It's the season to eat far too much and far too many naughty things! These colder days & evenings bring a need for something sweet to start the day. I ran out of eggs so I needed to find something for a quick sugar fix - thank the Lord for Rachel Allen's 'Bake'. I love her recipes. They are so simple & everything I've made of hers has always tasted so good. She brings the best to home baking and comforting meals!

I made these prune bars. Rachel makes them with dates but I just used what I had in my cupboard and they worked just as well. We had these hot one night for pudding but had them cold as a 'breakfast bar' the following morning.

250ml water, 200g of chopped prunes (or dates), 175g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 175g soft light brown sugar, 100g porridge oats, 175g diced butter, pinch of salt.

Use 8 x 8 square cake tin

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4). Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on the bottom of the tin and butter the sides.

- Place chopped prunes and water into a saucepan and simmer. Cook until the prunes are soft and the mixture becomes thick. It looks like too much water to start with but once the fruit softens it will thicken. Just be patient. Should only take about 10 minutes.

- Sift flour & bicarb into large bowl. Add sugar, oats and salt. Mix up well. 

- Add the butter and rub between fingers to create a crumble. Press half of this mixture into the bottom of the tin to create the base. Spread the cooked prune mixture over this and sprinkle the rest of the crumble loosely on top.

- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. They should be golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool & then cut into bars.

Monday, 7 October 2013

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Friday, 4 October 2013

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Part III

Here we finish our Studio Tour through Diagon Alley. This was pretty fun but a very short walk through. It was great looking through the windows & to see how much effort and detail they had put into these shops to make them look so real! 
After Diagon Alley we walked into this huge room that had a 'miniture' Hogwarts. It was actually huge but they used it to film scenes where they needed to pan around the whole building and catch the details to make it look so intense and giant! You were able to walk around the whole thing - it really was stunning. After a quick look into Ollivander's Wand shop we found ourselves exiting through the gift shop.

It was a great day out enjoyed by everyone. My littlest nephew was asking for an apple the whole entire day (you couldn't eat in there except for one section where you could have lunch but he didn't want it then!) so that last picture is him finally enjoying his apple. P.s. I adore holding little hands!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Part II

Here we are for part two!

Once you get through the Great Hall you walk around to see a lot of the other sets, costumes, props & special effects. There is so much information to read about how things were done & a few interactive sections you could join in with. 

They had a green screen where you could appear to be in the flying car or on a broomstick playing Quidditch. We all got into the car but then just our nephews went on the broom sticks. At that point we felt like the only adults joining in! Hahh....
Our nephews got a wand lesson (they took it so seriously!) and then we went outside to enjoy a Butterbeer outside Privet Drive...

^^ Gringotts Bank Vault ^^

^^ Voldemort, Belatrix & Malfoy family costumes ^^

^^ Ministry of Magic Statue ^^

^^ wand lessons ^^

^^ Outside Privet Drive & Butterbeer (below) ^^

^^ Hogwart's bridge, the Knight Bus ^^

We'll continue on into Diagon Alley next time in part three...