Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Christmas Food and Drink Guide

Over the past couple of months I have been sent a variety of items, as well as purchasing a fair few items myself and I have put together a mini food and drink guide to help you navigate through the Festive season! There is so much choice it can be hard to choose sometimes and please every guest but hopefully my ideas can give you some last minute inspiration!

Christmas day for us has to involve cheese - normally a nice ripe creamy Brie, some punchy Stilton and a good bodied cheddar and just as important as the cheese are the crackers! This year we have these lovely Peter's Yard Artisan Crispbreads - they are as the name suggests, crispy and wholesome. Also they come in their own little card trays, perfect to place straight on the table!

Every Christmas, my dad without fail brings me a box of Chocolate Florentines from Aldi and they normally last about an hour after being opened! We have been enjoying these florentines for many years now - perfect bite sized nutty clusters with milk, dark and white chocolate coatings! I remember shortly before properly dating my boyfriend giving him a box of these for Christmas - must of worked some magic as we started dating not long after and two years on we are still going strong!

Now the next food you will have to dust off your apron and make - but this Christmas we shall be enjoying as a nibble some of my Spicy Mushroom and Bean Sausage rolls - they are relatively easy to knock up and reheat beautifully, perfect to make ahead and keep on standby!

Next up was an item that was also in a recent giveaway on my blog - a gorgeous golden Ferrero Rocher Pyramid - I have been so good not eating a single one from my kit - its easy to build even if you are technically challenged like moi and even easier to pick a lovely little cluster off its shelves to happily nibble on! I can't wait to put this on the table at Christmas - though I do wonder how long 60 Ferrero Rocher will actually last us......

Now after all those lovely nibbles you will probably be thirsty and I have a couple of drinks and cocktail ideas for you to enjoy!

For all those drivers and non-drinkers, there is a lovely, refreshing Cloudy Lemonade made by Cracker Drinks Co - its zingy and has no added sugar, welcome after all the chocolate treats! Its made with concentrated fruit juices, water and pressed lemon juice and is found within the ambient drinks aisle, rrp at £1.50. Also if fridge space is at breaking point due to its secure packaging and reseable cap its ideal to store on the windowsill/ doorstep/ patio etc!

Next up if you are fancying something naughty but trying to be healthy is my Blissful Blueberry Cocktail -  I used Blueberry Active concentrate to make them, it appears quite pricey at first glance but a little goes a long way, plus its choc full of goodness. I have been on a bit of a health kick over the past few months, trying to cram in extra vitamins after a rough few months both physically and mentally due to the ongoing diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and I feel a lot better for it. Though it is Christmas so a little tipple is most allowed too!

Makes two Cocktails  leave the vodka out for a non-alcoholic option

½ tbsp Blueberry Active concentrate
2 tbsp blueberry vodka
350ml lemonade
Fresh Blueberries to garnish
Lots of ice

Place the Blueberry Active concentrate in a large beaker or measuring jug, swirl together with the vodka using a long spoon, top up with lemonade. Fill glasses with ice and pour over the mixture, garnishing with a few extra berries and a straw.

Last but not by any means least, it would not be a celebration time without some wine! With white wine I am quite fussy particular - I can't bear sweet wine, am not overly fond of the pinot grapes and I really do like Chardonnay, especially the Australian ones. 

I like a nice body, slightly dry and not to overpowering and recently I tried out Hardys 2013 Chardonnay and I think its one of my favourite white wines I've had this year! Its slightly oaky body and delicate vanilla notes complemented the particular risotto I made that evening (a recipe to follow!) and its definitely on the list for wine to buy for Boxing day and our potential three bird roast as I think it will suit perfectly! 

Wishing you all a very Merry (but drink responsibly) Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Disclaimer: I received no payment for items included in my guide and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Bacon and Cheese Tart

My boyfriend was away on holiday recently visiting his family in South Africa and I found myself alone with a packet of shortcrust pastry on its use by date... Obviously dangerous times cooking for one to be alone with so much pastry, however thanks to calling over to one of besties at work as to whether she would like some planned bacon and cheese tart for her lunch, to which was a yes (and an eventual can I have the recipe please as her hubby liked it too) another friend-colleague also overhead and agreed it sounded rather nice and so two pieces were instantly ‘sold’ and I only had to eat two portions myself…such hardship…!

Its quite a frugal tart meat wise, I used half a packet of ready chopped bacon trimmings so its relatively faff free too! Whilst I cook from scratch this damn cold weather plays havoc with my joints so a little less chopping is welcome! Also the cheese was the end part of a piece bought yellow stickered and the sour cream was leftover too from our beloved soured cream bundt cake, so it was great not to have the guilt of two cakes in one week, plus a good fridge raid too!

The pictures are not great as I didn't expect to like it so much but you get the idea of it!

*You will need a ready rolled shortcrust pastry sheet if you are lazy like me, or measure home made accordingly*


1x ready rolled shortcrust pastry sheet
300g cooked chopped up bacon trim, fat removed
4 large eggs
1 tsp dried oregano
75g soured cream
30g double Gloucester cheese.
2 tbsp tomato puree

Bring the pastry to room temperature if you are organised (If not spend a few minutes massaging the cracks with cold water!), gently roll out the sheet, and measure to 26cm, trimming off the excess centimetres. (Makes excellent mini jam tarts for pudding)

Gently lower the pastry sheet into a square baking dish – roughly 8 inch pan, using your fingers to mould the pastry corners.

Brush the tomato puree over the pastry base and sprinkle over the bacon pieces

Beat the eggs, ½ the cheese, oregano and soured cream, season with Salt and pepper. Pour over the prepared base, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through and golden. 

The tart was really tasty served hot, with sweet potato mash and some fried romano peppers (5 for a £1 in one of the grocers near my dad!) but also worked well cold too the next day for lunch and would be ideal for a buffet style dinner too!

As my tart is very frugal, using ready chopped bacon trim (88p a packet!) plus cheese scraps - you could use any old cheese really - it would be ideal for a quick Christmas time supper or part of your boxing day buffet, without breaking the piggy bank - I have sent my tart over to this months Credit Crunch munch, from Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All:

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Fabulous Ferrero Rocher Giveaway! 08/12/14

I can't believe 8 days has passed already! What a week of fabulous competitions, its been I think my busiest on record and I am so grateful to all the Pr companies that made it possible! I've worked really hard to bring you an amazing range of gifts and I hope you will come to my blog again too!

My show stopping finale is a gorgeous Ferrero Rocher Pyramid! It holds a whopping 60 Ferrero Rocher's and is a real celebration item, perfect for Christmas festivities! It only takes a few moments to assemble the little tower, however it does require a lot of willpower not to eat them all!!

Ferrero Rocher have an amazing range of Christmas treats this year - from the above gorgeous gold glittery Pyramid, to cute stars to hang on your Christmas tree containing either the regular (and loved!) Fererro Rocher or my other favourite coconuty Raffaello treats:

Or if you fancy something a little more exotic you can also buy a Ferrero Golden Gallery - containing ones we know and a few new treats too - including Cappuchino, Mon Cheri and Nougat!

So how do you fancy having a pyramid of Ferrero Rocher adorning your Christmas table this year? Simply enter my easy Rafflecopter form and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**T&C’s – Competition open to UK mainland addresses only. Your prize is non exchangeable and will be sent directly from the company stated above. I will contact the winner within 24 hours, if no response within 5 days the competition will be re-drawn and a new winner will be chosen.**

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Win a 500 Cupcakes Recipe Book 07/12/2014

So December and impending Christmas festivities is really all about indulging – and what could be more indulgent than an icing laden cupcake? I like some icing, not too much but not too little, and of course it must taste as good as it looks! My icing skills are certainly not professional in any shape or form but with a little guidance and hard to find patience I can achieve good things! I have finally purchased a pack of modelling tools in the sale so it might improve with time!

At Christmas time we always have my mum’s gorgeous light fruit cake and mum knows fully well that without it we would most likely disown her or perhaps sell the concert tickets I have bought for her, shh! However not everyone sadly loves fruit cake but there are lots more cakes, of all shapes sizes you can enjoy too! From show stopping tiered wonderlands to petite fairy buns there is something for everyone – and nothing is more controversial than the humble cupcake! For some of my friends they shy away in horror at the thought of one, the rest would probably devour it and not come up for air during its quick death!

To coincide with the launch of the 500 Cupcakes recipe book by Apple press, which has been written by Fergal Connolly and Judith Fertig, I have a copy of the book to giveaway to one lucky cupcake loving reader!

This chunky little book is full of inspiration and a range of exciting bakes and even more exciting toppings to play with and have some fun along the way too! There are even some savoury cupcakes - how about a Basil Pesto Cupcake? Not quite sure but sounds intriguing.......!

Where do you stand on cupcakes? Love or hate? If you are in camp love why not enter my competition to win your very own copy of 500 Cupcakes! All you need to do is enter the easy rafflecopter competition below and tell me what your most memorable cupcake was!

**T&C’s – Competition open to UK mainland addresses only. Your prize is non exchangeable and will be sent directly from the company stated above. I will contact the winner within 24 hours, if no response within 5 days the competition will be re-drawn and a new winner will be chosen.**

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Spicy Giveaway 06/12/2014 **NOW CLOSED**

Now some of you will know from last years bare your cupboards from Belleau Kitchen I am er, a bit of a spice hoarder, well nothing has changed during 2014 and when a new company approached me recently offering some intriguing sounding spice mix called Basaar I really could not say no! 

Basaar is a completely alien word to me, despite cooking a variety of cuisines its a word that doesn't roll off my tongue with an air of talking like I know what I am talking about, and I do love a new challenge! 

Borrowing a little text from Sharma Spices to help explain Basaar:- 

"Our Original Basaar has been used as a spice powder for over 50 years. It is all hand-made and compromises of ingredients of the highest-quality. The fiery kick bought out from its zest is somewhat absent from the average spice rack. 

This product is only available via Sharma Spices as it is our own, unique blend of spice. Although we cannot give out our family formula, we can promise flavour you have never experienced before. The spices originate from the Punjab region in South-East Asia, an area world renowned for its affection and distinction in spices; we are confident we have perfected a method for the ultimate spice lover. "

So do you covet new spices too? If so and you fancy trying out some of Sharma Spices Basaar mix you could win 500g Sharma Spice Original Basaar to play with!

All you need to do is enter via my easy Rafflecopter form and answer a very simple question!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 5 December 2014

Better with Brita Giveaway - 05/12/2014

We live in a particularly hard water area and after moving to our current flat I found that the tap water tasted rather nasty but after growing fed up of lugging back expensive bottles of mineral water, not to mention a little concerned over how many we were going through and throwing away, we eventually grew used to the taste of tap water providing its chilled down….

Then along came our gorgeous bright pink fuschia Brita Marella filter and now we have lovely tasting, clear and freshly filtered water, no lugging heavy bottles, no landfill with the empty bottles and its so easy to use! Though it has a different lid to one I had many years ago and the lid pops up rather than just sticking it under the tap and the water flow pushes it down, and I got soaked on the first filling oops! I have learned my lesson now!

The Marella jug is a sturdy design and yet slim enough to fit in the fridge door on most standard fridges – we have, erm, two fridges and it fits our main larder style one easily but it’s a bit of a squeeze in the under counter one. To filter the water quickly and efficiently the jug takes patented MAXTRA cartridges which have filtration technology that reduces limescale and impurities which can impair on taste in your drinking water.

I will be featuring Brita filtered water in some upcoming recipes but for now I have a Brita Marella filter, in a choice of your colour to giveaway! Though I can of course highly recommend fuschia ;-)

To enter the competition simply complete the rafflecopter form below and let me know if you use filtered water, and why! Easy as that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**T&C’s – Competition open to UK mainland addresses only. Your prize is non exchangeable and will be sent directly from the company stated above. I will contact the winner within 24 hours, if no response within 5 days the competition will be re-drawn and a new winner will be chosen.**
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