Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.18

This is one of my favourite recipes, namely because it never comes out the same way twice and it's so quick to fling together. I actually did this for dinner on the 21st January as you can leave the tatties in the oven whilst you work-out (if you're so inclined of course.) Every time I make the beans I do something a little different be it adding some smokey chipotle sauce or some fried bacon for a salty crunch. Add whatever you like, go crazy!

Patatas Bravas with Posh Beans and Fried Egg
It might not sound like much but this recipe is delicious (if I do say so), the crunchy paprika potatoes with the soft tomatoey beans, the creamy egg yolk and garlic mayo really work well together. Plus, post work-out, it's a protein packed treat.  You'll need:
  • 300g of potatoes, keep the skins on and chop these up into chunks
  • Olive oil
  • One finely chopped garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • One can of baked beans (because I'm super lazy)
  • A pinch of rosemary
  • A dash of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • One chopped red onion
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • A dash of barbecue sauce (if liked)
  • Some dried chilli flakes or a fresh chopped chilli (to taste)
First of all, preheat your oven to 200 degrees. In a dish, add some olive oil, salt & pepper and your smoked paprika. Then add your chopped potatoes and give everything a good toss around.
Pop these in the oven for 30-40 minutes until they're nice and crunchy.

While the tatties are cooking, it time to whip up the garlic mayonnaise, this will literally take you seconds. Simply mix together the mayonnaise with the chopped garlic and place this in a little dish.
Once you've done this, heat some oil in a pan. Add the onions, chilli and a little more salt and cook until they're softened. As the onions start to go translucent, add a little rosemary and balsamic vinegar to the mix.
Then plonk in your beans and give things a mix. It's at this stage that I like to add in all my extras, so in goes the barbecue sauce and anything else I feel like using. It's literally one of those things which changes depending on my mood. If I'm craving sweet things, a good teaspoon of caramelised red onions works a treat.
The final step is to fry off your eggs.

Now it's time to plate this dish! Tatties on the bottom, beans next and the egg sits proudly on top. Add the garlic mayonnaise on the side.
It's one of those dishes that you can't knock until you've tried it, I honestly wasn't convinced it would work but it's now a firm favourite! Let me know how you get on.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Some Of My Favourite Face Masks

Part of my Sunday wind-down routine involves a giving my face a (very) quick cleanse before treating my skin to face mask. Naturally this requires me to slick my hair back in an entirely un-attractive manner and plonk myself in front of the TV while it goes to work and does its thing.

This is a ritual which I've got into the habit of doing every week so it's something I always look forward to, I've actually found that if I don't make time to do this I feel a little scattered but perhaps this is just my obsession with routine!

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal - £30.
This mask promises to renew your complexion whilst the natural fruit acids (which smell wonderful by the way) work to remove dead skin cells and ease any congestion within the skin. I find this mask always give my skin and glow and leaves it feeling fantastically soft and smooth. As it only needs 10-minutes to work it's magic, it's great for those days when I'm a little tight on time. You can find my full review HERE needless to say, I love it.

Murad Clarifying Mask - £38.
This is a clay mask, so, as you'd expect it's primary purpose is to draw out impurities, calm any redness and give your skin a good old detox. Again, it only needs 10-minutes (you'll know it's ready to come off as your face will be crusty!) and it always leaves my skin feeling incredibly fresh and super clean. As a cheeky bonus, after using this mask I note that my skin is less oily for a good few days so I like to rely on this one a couple of days before I know I'm due to head out somewhere special. You can find a more in-depth viewpoint HERE.

Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask - £22.
Whilst this might be the cheapest of the bunch, don't let this fool you. This is great to use if your skin is feeling dehydrated as it helps to replenish lost moisture and build barriers to help prevent future dehydration. This mask smells wonderful and as a plus it comes with the bonus of knowing it's free of any chemical nasties as you'd expect with any Origins product. I like to leave a slightly thicker layer of product on my skin and leave this overnight (by morning everything seems to have sunk in so I obviously need it!) by morning my face is looking dewy and fresh.

Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel - £59.
This is a two-stepper so should only be used if you've got the time it's similar to the REN in that it uses chemical exfoliators but it takes things to whole new level in my opinion. First of all, you massage the vitamin-c crystals into clean skin for around 60-seconds. This means that you can control the level of exfoliation so if you've got sensitive skin, you can take things a little easier. The next steps involves applying the acid activating gel which is where the fun starts. The acid reacts with the crystals to cause a warming sensation and a light foam to appear on the skin which you then leave for around 2 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Whilst this is the most expensive mask I've featured, it not only exfoliates your skin, but with long enough use it promises to help even skin-tone. I've been lucky enough to have had this mask applied by a Philosophy Consultant (before poaching several samples so I could repeat at home!) and it really is one of my favourites. It's next up on my investment hit-list.

Do you have any favourite masks which you rely on? What would you recommend next for me to try?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rodial Stem Cell Discovery Kit - A Review

I've made no secret of my love of the Stem Cell Super-Food Cleanser from Rodial. Given I was so impressed, naturally I was keen to get my mitts on more of the range to see if the rest of the products could live up to my expectations.
I recently spotted this Stem Cell Discovery Kit for the bargain price of £21.36 on QVC and instantly jumped at the opportunity. It includes all of the Super Food skincare products which are currently on offer, namely a cleanser, a balm, a facial oil and a day cream all of which have the beautiful rose smell which I've come to love. In addition, a discovery kit offers you the opportunity to get to grips with the products without splashing the cash on the full sizes.
Firstly, this kit is incredible value for money. The sizes are generous enough that they will last you at least a month thus meaning you have more than enough opportunity to ensure they are right for your skin.

Next, let's have a proper run through of what you get shall we?
  • Rodial Stem Cell Super-Food Cleanser - 50ml. I have harped on about this cleanser so much it's scary! As a quick recap, it's packed full of coconut oil, cocoa butter and rose hip seed oil (thus giving it the rose smell) which works to remove dirt, grime and make-up whilst softening and hydrating your skin. For a full review please click HERE. The full size pot is 200ml and costs £30 making this product alone worth £7.50.
  • Rodial Stem Cell Super-Food Facial Oil - 10ml. This facial oil is packed with vitamins A, B5, C and E which work together to nourish and hydrate the skin. This oil also helps with environmental stresses, a bonus when you're living in London as the pollution can really take it's toll on your skin leaving things looking a little grey. I've been using three drops of this on my face after toning in the evenings before using my usual moisturiser or the balm which is included in the kit (much like when using the Decleor oil/balm combination if that's how you roll). I have to say it leaves my skin feeling soft and looking dewy before I head to bed. When I wake up, it certainly looked a littler perkier than usual making this a keeper! The full size bottle is £60 for 30ml so the discovery size is worth £20.
  • Rodial Stem Cell Super-Food Glam Balm Multi - 10ml. Ok, now this is a wonder product which can literally be used in pretty much any beauty related way you can think of. You can use it as a night cream (my only use to date if I'm honest), a lip plumper, around the eyes to plump out fine lines, to remove stubborn mascara, as a make-up primer, to tame unruly brows etc, the list really does go on. Anyway, I am digressing, I used this in the evening on top of my moisturiser to give an extra hydration boost and as a bit of treat to my skin. Whilst this product certainly did the job, I'm more of a serum/moisturiser kind of girl. The full size is £35 for 40ml making this worth £8.75.
  • Rodial Stem Cell Super-Food Day Cream with SPF 15 - 20ml. This is an illuminating moisturiser with CC technology which reduces any signs of imperfections. It's formulated with fillers which optically enhance your skin tone, and again, work to protect and hydrate your skin. I'll be honest and say this is the only product within the kit which I've not had the chance to try yet because I've got 4 moisturisers on the go already but I have no reason to believe it'll be less than great!. The full size is £42 for 50ml so the discovery size is £16.80.
  • Muslin cloth - Obviously this will primarily be used to remove the cleanser but it can also be used to remove the balm if you've used this as a way to remove stubborn eye make-up. 
Everything within the kit does smell of rose so if you're not a rose fan, this may not be for you. Regular readers of my blog may recall that ALL of my perfumes have rose as the base note so this set is of course, right up my street. The Stem Cell Discovery Kit has a total value of over £53 so if you're interested in giving Rodial a go or indeed looking to invest in a good skin care range but you're not sure where to start, then this is an incredible way to go! 

Now excuse me while I dash off and order another set before they all sell out!

Have you used the Stem Cell Super-Food Range yet? What did you think?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.17

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, mid-week I really do not have the time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking up something delicious to munch. Instead, I prefer quick and easy meals (which preferably make enough for lunch the following day) which are not only healthy but full of flavour. 

Quick Chicken Biryani with Spinach

As Ad grew up with the Balti Triangle on his doorstep, he's a sucker for a good curry. Whilst curry is not my forte, a good curry paste, like the one I've used here, certainly goes a long way to helping create the illusion that you know your stuff. For this recipe you'll need:
  • Olive oil
  • Chicken thighs or chicken breast - cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp of tikka curry paste
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 400ml of coconut milk
  • 125g of spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
First things first, heat the oil and brown off your chicken for around 5-6 minutes.
Once your chicken is nicely browned, add your garam masala, onion and almost all of the curry paste before giving things another stir around.
Next, plonk in your cinnamon stick, the rice, the coconut milk and around 100ml of water and bring everything to the boil before reducing the heat.
Cover the pan and leave until all the water has absorbed. As I am paranoid about burning crunchy bits I like to give it a stir every so often to see how things are doing.

When things are almost cooked, add the spinach. The residual heat should wilt this down nicely.
I like to serve mine with a sprinkle of onion seeds and some mango chutney on the side.

If you like things with more heat, you can always have with a super hot mango chutney which not only adds a fruity edge but will give the dish more fire. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 2014 Birchbox Review

Ok, so maybe I am just expecting to much but I am feeling a little less than enthusiastic about this months offering. I naturally clicked through to see some of the January spoilers and noticed my much loved Rodial and a couple of other bits and pieces which I am keen to try.  Needless to say, I appear to have drawn the short straw again.
I think part of my problem is a colleague in my office receives a beauty box from You Beauty every month which seems to be amazing and comes complete with at least one full size product every month (and is ridiculously cheap to boot). This of course means that I struggle to get quite as excited when I receive my Birchbox complete with teeny samples.

Anyway, this month I received the following goodies:
  • Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner - 20ml. Aimed at ladies like myself with very fine hair this product is designed to deliver moisture without weighing the hair down. I'm a big fan of the Elasticizer which has really helped my fine tresses in the past so I have hopes for this.
  • Benefit The POREfessional - 7.5ml. A multi-tasking primer which minimises the appearance of pores and fine lines whilst providing an ideal base for your make-up. I'll be honest and say this isn't a product I've used before, I am a massive fan of my Laura Mercier Primer and Gerda Spillman Hydro-Pearls so it'll have a tough job convincing me it's worthy of a spot in my make-up bag.
  • Rodial Glamtox Night - 15ml. This is a product packed full of retinol which is designed to fade pigmentation, reduce pore size and help to reduce any fine wrinkles which are starting to appear. I'm excited to try this as at 26, whilst I'm lacking in the blatant wrinkle department, I've started to notice some finer lines appearing around the eyes/lips (although I've been told these are expression lines).
  • Vasanti Detox Nutrient-Rich Purifying Facial Cleanser - 20ml. This claims to wash away every last trace of make-up while its nutrient rich formula nourishes skin. It's packed full of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and grape seed extract to stimulate skin cells and keep your face looking bright and refreshed. As an update, I've been using this for a few days now and whilst it does a good job of cleaning my face, it smells like very basic hand soap. This doesn't really make for an enjoyable cleansing session.
  • Premae Anatomy Nutrients Instant Renewal Body Oil - 20ml. Something to be used instead of your usual body butter this body oil claims to detoxify your skin and awaken the senses. I received a sample of the moisturising variety which is designed to help tight muscles and cellulite. This could be helpful given I've finally been able to dive back into a decent exercise routine although I can't say I'm normally the kind of girl to reach for a body oil.
  • Itsu Instant Miso Soup - 25g. Those of you familiar with the likes of Wagamama and Miso will have come across this popular soup on many occasions. Incredibly light, it's packed full of amino acids and makes for a quick and easy snack. 
Whilst I appreciate the theme for this months box was small changes which ultimately make a big difference, I think that perhaps I was just setting my sights a little to high here. I've decided that if I'm less than ecstatic with my next box I'll be cancelling my subscription in favour of a You Beauty box instead.

Did you receive this months Birchbox? What did you think?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Favourite Cleansers - Well For Now Anyways!

Rodial Stem Cell Super-Food Cleanser - £22.74 for 200ml 
I've made no secret about my love of this cleanser. It's rich, creamy, super nourishing and effortlessly dissolves dirt, grime and my make-up without so much as breaking a sweat. Over the winter-months this is a good send for hydrating my skin and protecting it from the elements. As a cheeky bonus, it can also be used as an intensive mask, just leave it on your skin for 10 minutes before wiping off the excess. You can find my full review here.
Lancome Gel Eclat - £22 for 125ml.
This is a super gentle cleanser which is suitable for all skin-types, even those with sensitive skin. Every time I use this cleanser, my skin is literally squeaky clean which is actually pretty satisfying when one lives in London. A little goes a long way owing in part to the super fine foam it produces while your massaging the product into your skin. A tube lasted me around 3 months so don't be put off by the price!

Origins Checks & Balances - £18 for 150ml.
This is aimed at those of us with combination skin. It's another multi-tasking wonder in that it keeps oil at bay whilst ensuring that any dry patches are protected and suitably nourished. This cleanser works really well with my Clarisonic owing to it's light foam and always leaves my skin feeling wonderfully refreshed without any tightness.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple - £17.50 for 240ml.
In case you haven't guessed, I have a serious soft spot for multi-tasking products. This little beauty cleanses, tones and removes eye make-up all whilst conditioning your skin. Again, a little goes a long way so a bottle will last and last (I've heard of one person making a bottle last almost a year!). Given its ability to do so many jobs at once, it has a reputation as being the lazy girls cleanser and is certainly what I turn to after a night out on the town to remove the slap.

Emma Hardie Moringa Balm - £32 for 100ml.
Yup, you guessed it, this is another multi-tasking wonder! I use this to remove make-up (even on the sensitive eye area), declog my skin and give it a boost when it's looking a little lacklustre. If my skin is really misbehaving then I'll leave this on my skin for 10 minutes and it really works wonders. It smells amazing and never fails to work its magic.

You may have noticed a slight theme with the above cleansers. Almost all of them are multi-purpose be it removing make-up whilst cleansing my skin or tackling dry spots whilst keeping oil at bay. 

Who has time to source and use numerous different products, life is to short for a one-trick pony in the cleanser department! 

What are some of your favourite cleansers?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.16

Being in unison with most of the female population, I am determined to get rid of a good chunk of the weight which I put on over Christmas and whilst I was crutch bound. I am glad to advise that I have finally been discharged from physio and am well on the way to being back to my normal fitness crazy self. As such, you might notice some healthier recipes popping up, one such recipe being below!

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Artichoke, Feta and Olives

I'll be honest and say this is the first time I have ever tried this recipe and I was surprised at how well all of the elements worked together. The olives and feta give a nice salty kick without being overpowering. You'll need:
  • Artichoke hearts - I bought a can and used all but three
  • Feta cheese - about 1/3 of a block
  • 12 pitted olives - green or black whichever you prefer
  • Dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 pork tenderloin - big enough for however many people you're serving
  • Olive oil
  • Bulgur wheat - 1 cup
  • Chicken stock
First thing you'll need to do is whack your oven onto 200 degrees. Then grab yourself an oven-proof dish which is big enough to fit your loin into.

Next, into a food processor pop your artichoke hearts, feta, olives, oregano, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Then blitz this until finely chopped, it should look like the below.
Next, it's time to get your tenderloin. I'd recommend drying this off with a little bit of paper towel before starting the next step. Using a sharp knife, you'll need to cut through your tenderloin, almost to the point it's in half and you can fold it open like a book.
Once you've almost cut it in half, bash it so it becomes flat like the above, it should be about 1/2 inch in thickness. Don't be to worried if you don't have a meat hammer, I bashed mine with a rolling pin and it certainly seemed to do the trick.
Once you've reached the desired thickness, spread some of the filling on top. Once stuffed, you will need to roll the tenderloin back up so you'll noticed I've popped mine on a wrapper to make this step easier.
After you've rolled the tenderloin up (keeping the stuffing inside as much as possible) secure with either some butchers string or make do with some skewers like me, this will ensure you don't lose to much stuffing whilst it's cooking. Pop it on your dish and bung it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Whilst the tenderloin is cooking, pour some hot chicken stock over your bulgur wheat and leave it to absorb the water. You can always add a little dried oregano for a subtle hint of flavour.

Now it's time to plate this dish! I put the remaining stuffing on one side of the plate with the bulgur wheat on the other. I then sliced the tenderloin into thick chunks and popped this on top of the cold stuffing to heat it through slightly.
Whilst it may not look like much, it was packed full of flavour and incredibly filling. It's inspired me to try different stuffings to make my dishes more exciting. How about a cranberry and orange stuffed tenderloin for starters? 

This recipe was inspired by one in the Jillian Michaels Master Your Metabolism Cookbook and modified slightly to fit with my budget.

What's your favourite healthy recipe? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Laura Wants - January Edit

As we're now in January I thought it was about time I did another What Laura Wants Edit. This month some of the items above are bits which I am hoping to buy in order to replace what was stolen over Christmas. It's another mixed bag, but this is me we're talking about so I'm sure you don't expect anything different.

As some of the jewellery taken was sentimental and thereby irreplaceable, I thought it might be nice to replace it with more modern pieces which fit more with my sense of style today. I actually spotted the Swarovski Slake Grey Bracelet on a work colleague and absolutely loved it. It's a very light grey  and looks like it's made of a suede like material with plenty of those famous Swarovski crystals. As my outfits tend to be quite simple, a gorgeous accessory like this would be a great way to bring it the next level and make things look that little bit more special.

Next, it's a brand new launch for Origins. I am a big Origins girl, their skincare is solely responsible for getting rid of my teenage acne and for that, I cannot thank them enough! Their Dr Weil range specialises in brightening skin and this eye cream is the newest addition to the range. The Mega Bright Dark Circle Minimiser targets dark circles with Japanese Ume and Molasses. As a plus, it's also super hydrating which is great news for those of us with any dry patches.

I'll be honest and say I've had two samples of the Dr Brandt Microdermabrasion and it is hands down, the BEST EXFOLIATOR I have ever used.The only negative point is the rather chunky price point which I just cannot justify spending on myself without incurring the wrath of a self-inflicted guilt trip. It uses lactic acid and aluminium oxide to slough away dead skin cells and leave you with beautifully soft skin.

I used to have one of the Babyliss curling wands which was fab, but I'm after larger, more toussled curls. This Mark Hill offering is meant to be great for us girls with long hair as it has an extra large 32mm barrel, this also means less time curling and more time hitting the pavement. I know for a fact it goes on offer in Boots every so often and I literally missed out by a couple of days. Once it's half price again, I'll be there with bells on (not literally of course, I'll look like I'm mental).

I have a slight boot obsession at the moment and I've had my eyes on these beauties for a wee while now. Marks & Spencer boots are incredibly comfortable, I've got a couple of pairs at home which I am more than happy to wear for an entire day of shopping around London without getting sore feet or those dreaded blisters!!! These Suede Strap Boots come in a beautiful charcoal grey. Plus as a cheeky bonus, they are not only waterproof but they come with Insolia which is designed to reduce the pressure on the balls of your feet whilst wearing. Wonderful for those of us who can't bear to be without our heels.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

London Bucket List - Places to Eat & Visit Before I Leave the Country!

Please don't read 'Bucket List' and think "oh my lordy, she's about to pop her clogs," as sadly for you, I don't plan on going anywhere for a while yet.

When I refer to Bucket List, I mean a list that Ad and I have put together of places which we'd like to go. Think of it as a Hit List of places on our virtual radar.

I think that when you live in London (or any big city for that matter), you tend take it for granted that there are so many amazing places on your doorstep just waiting to be discovered. I'm not just referring to the usual tourist traps of course, being one of those couples with a mutual love of good food, there are a fair few places we'd love to go to to stuff our faces and fill our bellies to bursting point.

For something a little different, I thought I'd share with you just a few of places on our list and why we'd like to go.

Places to Visit

London Bridge Experience: Who doesn't enjoy a good scare once in a while to remind us that after the drone of a 9-5 we're still (just about) human.

Madam Tussauds: Whilst this may be one of the London attractions aimed at families, it's somewhere I've always wanted to go. Being a thrifty soul I've noticed you get 2-4-1 on entry tickets if you travel by train.

Somerset House Ice Rink: I love Somerset house, it's a wonderful venue and the Film 4 Summer Screenings should be on everyone's list of things to do. Anyway, every year around the festive season there's an ice-rink complete with DJ and a Tiffany 'tuck-box'- BLISS.

Ghost Bus Tours/ Jack the Ripper Tour: I'm a bit of a fiend for horror movies so this sounds like it'd be good fun with some good scares no doubt thrown in for good measure.

Westfield at Stratford/ Blue Water: Despite living in London for going on 3 years, I have never been shopping at either venue. Apparently this is a bit of a cardinal sin for shopaholic such as myself.

Thames Clipper: In my head I imagine this as being quite a pleasant experience, it's just trying to find a time when it's not raining! Plus, it means I can finally sing-a-long to Lonely Island with some feeling, don't pretend like you don't know which song I'm on about.

Places to Scoff

Hawksmoor: I have it on good authority that if you love a good steak/a good burger then this is the place to go. Whilst the burgers are as cheap as chips, the steak is not so I'm biding my time for when I have a little more cash to play with.

Cha Cha Moon: Being a fan of Wagamama and Miso, I love noodles, ramen, miso etc. It's a bit like fast food, but good for you, well at least I like to think so. This is a Chinese Noodle Bar set in the depth of Carnaby, from a glimpse of their website, all I can say is that the food looks delicious.

Santa Maria Del Sur: This is the restaurant which was featured on the F-Word many years ago. Another place said to serve up a good steak, the difference with this place is that it's Argentine so I'm expecting good things!

Five Guys: I'm a burger fiend, need I say more?

Yalla Yalla: Lebanese street food at it's finest (apparently), I love my food with a bit of a rustic feel so I'm looking forward to going here soon. Ad has had the opportunity to go a few times with work colleagues but has turned this down as it's a place we'd love to go to together.

Home Slice: Anyone familiar with Adura (just trying it out, what do you think?) will know that every Friday since we moved in together some 5 years ago has been pizza night. Home Slice are said to do one of the best pizzas in London so naturally it's on my list of places to go.

Hard Rock Cafe: A tourist trap it may be, but I quite like the novelty behind it. I've certainly not come across any bad reviews of the restaurant itself so I'd like to give it a go, just to say I've been.

Joes Southern Kitchen: Ad and I are suckers for soul food, the Blues Kitchen in Camden deserves a shout out in this regard. This place serves up fried chicken, mac 'n' cheese, ribs and the like which sounds like my idea of heaven when I'm feeling a little bit blue!

These are just some of the places on our London Bucket List, do you think I've missed anything off?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.15

At the moment I'm in a weird place when it comes to a healthy lifestyle plan. I'm not really motivated to spend much time cooking up a super healthy meal and I'm kinda struggling to push myself into doing a workout. This last week is a prime example, in contradiction to my usual routine, I've only managed to do three workouts and I've probably eaten more treats and consumed more alcohol then I would care to admit. I've got some emotional/psychological scars (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) which will need a little time to heal.

Jerk Chicken with Rice & Beans
The whole point of my ramble above is that this has forced me to be a bit more creative when it comes to satisfying any cravings my body is having. I had almost forgotten about this one as it's been such a long time since we cooked it! It used to be one of Ads signature dishes and it never fails to disappoint.  You'll need:
  • 4 chicken thighs on the bone
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh/dried rosemary
  • Fresh coriander
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of rice (for 2 people or 2 cups for 4)
  • 300ml of chicken stock
  • 1 can of black beans
  • Fresh/dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves (stalks removed)
  • A pinch of the following: Nutmeg, cloves, allspice
  • 3 tablespoons of rum
  • 3 tablespoons of gin (trust me!)
  • A good glug of white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar if you don't have this to hand
  • 1 chopped chilli (or chilli flakes if you've got no chillies to hand!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
Whilst this is probably the most extensive ingredients list I've done, the vast majority of the above is about to be blitzed to death in a blender.

Before you do anything else though, pop your oven on at 200 degrees and grab yourself a pan big enough to fit your chicken thighs into. I like to score my meat before drizzling with some olive oil and seasoning slightly.

Heat the pan and then place your chicken skin side down and leave this for about 5 minutes so it goes nice and golden.  Once one side is done, flip them over to cook a little on the other side.
Whilst your chicken is cooking, you've got time to get together your jerk sauce. 

In a blender put 3 of the spring onions, a pinch of thyme, the bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, the rum, the gin, the vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, salt, chilli, garlic and a dash of olive oil.  Then blitz everything to a pulp. The addition of gin adds a slightly fruity note to the sauce which really compliments the chilli heat.
Pour the finished sauce into an ovenproof dish. As the chicken should now almost be cooked through,  remove from the pan and place them (skin side up) on top of the sauce.  Then drizzle with a little honey and a pinch of rosemary before sticking in the oven for 15 minutes to finish off.
While your chicken is in the oven, it's time to make the rice. Fry the remaining spring onions with  the cinnamon stick in a little olive oil for around 1 minute. Add the rice, chicken stock and the beans to the pan and leave to cook through.
Now everything should be ready to go, make sure to grab your chicken out of the oven before the honey burns!
Dish up the rice into bowls before topping with the cooked chicken and a good drizzle of that delicious sauce.  Top with a generous helping of chopped coriander.
I quite like to keep the leftover sauce to add to other dishes for an extra kick as it's packed full of flavour, be sure not to let it go to waste!!

Putting chilli in your food is a great boost for your system, don't be afraid to leave the seeds in!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Get Togethers With Friends Which Won't Cost The Earth

Regular readers of my blog will no doubt know the following about me:
  1. Ad and I are both big movie fiends. With the amount of trash on TV nowadays, is it any wonder?
  2. I love food!
  3. I love sweet food even more
  4. NYE is traditionally spent at our house, going out is incredibly over-rated.
This year, number 4 was no exception and as per tradition, we were joined by our good friend Mr Y, his presence was a welcome distraction from the unfortunate incident whilst we were away for Christmas. 

Anyways, I digress, on a visit to Bournemouth, I'd come up with an idea which would tie together points 1-3. A themed movie night with matching cocktails, I was pleasantly surprised that everything worked together really well and was actually cheap and pretty effort free to pull off!

The three movies which we (by we, I of course mean the royal we) chose were The Breakfast Club as I'd never seen it before, Fight Club and The Big Lebowski. Our evening panned out like this:
Food: Vanilla cupcakes with a peanut butter and jelly ripple frosting

As a cheat I bought pre-made vanilla cupcakes which were £1 for 12 and iced them myself using a frosting recipe which I'd found on the net. Once the frosting mix was made up, I then painted jam inside my piping bag before filling with the frosting. This created a nice rippled effect throughout the frosting.

TIP - use smooth peanut butter as chunky peanut butter will clog up your piping nozzle!!
Cocktail: The Breakfast Club. I blitzed this in a blender with ice for speed.
For one cocktail you'll need: 
  • 1 tablespoon of marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 shot of rum
  • 1 shot of orange liqueur
  • 1 shot of black tea
Food: Nothing else will do except good old fashioned bar snacks! Crisps, sausage rolls and any other nibbles you want to get your mitts on!

Cocktail: Whilst a White Russian is the Dudes cocktail of choice, I thought this would be far to easy. As such I made something called Bite Me.

Traditionally you'll need:
  • Orange Soda
  • Root Beer (Sarsaparilla is hard to find in the UK)
  • One shot of rum
However, I struggled to find root beer so, being creative (and knowing Root Beer is quite aniseed based) I soaked some star anise in the rum before topping the cocktail off with some orange Tango.
Food: Donuts! Krispy Kremes are the most fitting if you can get your mitts on them.

Cocktail: Starbucks Russian which I again blitzed up in a blender. Be warned, this one packs a serious punch!

You'll need:
  • 1 shots of vodka
  • 1 shot of coffee liqueur
  • 1 shot of coffee
  • 1 shot of baileys (or any other cream based liqueur)
  • A diddy tub of Baileys Ice Cream (which was enough to be split between three of us!)
Overall, this was incredibly reasonable to pull together as we had most of the alcohol already in my cupboard, the only thing we need to get were the nibbles which cost about £15 making it a bargain night in.

What do you do for get togethers with friends when you're on a budget?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lush Yuzu & Cocoa Bubbleroon - A Review

I'm a big fan of Lush, in a bid to help with my knee I've been having a few more baths with the hope that the heat will help reduce the swelling.  Yes, I probably could just use a heat patch, but there's something nice about running a hot bath and having a wee soak.

I spotted a couple of new bits and pieces since my last visit (which was such a long time ago, what planet have I been living on!) and the Yuzu & Cocoa Bubbleroon was one such goodie at £3.25.  The name Bubbleroon stems from the fact that the product itself is shaped like a macaroon and is part of the Lush Bubblebar range.
The smell when you take it out of the packet is amazing, an uplifting combination of grapefruit and bergamot with a hint of cocoa.  As such, I used this in the tub on a Saturday morning to perk me up post Christmas party.

I passed this over to Ad to pop in the bath, and I think he expected it to fizz so please be aware that if you were to crumble this under the tap as intended with the Bubblebars, there would obviously be considerably more bubbles.  We tried to rescue the situation by crumbling this in the water and swishing it around, alas, it wasn't meant to be.
The Bubbleroon leaves your bathwater with a washed-out orange tint and I think I've managed to capture the glisten of the coconut oil and shea butter which is hidden inside.
The second you dive in, you can feel the oils moisturising your skin so this is a great treat if you really do need a bit of pampering. 

The smell lingers on your skin for hours afterwards and I was more than happy to skip the generous lashings of body butter post soak as my skin felt lovely and nourished.  I should also point out that you don't need to use the entire Bubbleroon in one go, you could easily get at least two baths out of one product, I was just feeling frivolous.  Overall a pleasant change from my usual bubble bath!

Have you used any of the Lush Bubbleroons?  What do you think of them?

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