Friday, 13 April 2018

Salted Caramel & Salted Pretzel Tiffin

Hey everyone :)

Someone I work with has recently been bring in some kind of salted pretzel tiffin made by Tesco - it's those little bitesize party ones you get in a party bag and it's amazing! It got me thinking that I could make something like it - so after searching on Google for half an hour - I came across this amazing recipe - which I have tweaked a little:

Ingredients (for base):
200g dark chocolate
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g butter
125g digestive biscuits
135g salted pretzels

salted caramel (either make your own or Tesco do a jar/bottle of it)

Ingredients (for topping):
200g milk chocolate
2 teaspoons golden syrup
25g butter
2 tablespoons whole milk

1. Line a 20 x 20 baking tin (like a brownie tin, preferably non-stick) with baking parchment. I also spray the sides with that oil spray or non-stick baking spray if you have it.
2. Either in the microwave (but do short bursts) or over a pan of simmering hot water melt the dark chocolate, golden syrup and butter.
3. While the chocolate is melting - use a food processor or a bag and rolling pin and smash up the digestive biscuits.
4. Similarly with the pretzels bash them up too but leave some chunky bits.
5. Once the chocolate is melted, dump in the digestive crumbs and the pretzel crumbs and mix until all coated in the chocolate.
6. Tip into the baking tin and smooth out so even.
7. This step is purely optional but I got a jar of salted caramel and a teaspoon and took big dollops and just plopped it into random places and pushed it down into the mix. I think I did about 9 blobs.
8. Set aside to start cooling down.

9. Get a fresh bowl and add the topping ingredients - so milk chocolate, golden syrup and butter and put back above the simmering water.
10. Once melted add the milk and it should go lovely and glossy.
11. Tip over the base mixture in the tin and shake the tin gently from side to side to help the mixture spread. If needed us a spatula/spoon to help it to the edges.
12. Cover with cling film loosely and pop in the fridge.

Note: If you feel uncomfortable about putting it in fridge still quite warm just leave out till its cooled down and then put it in. I never have much other food in the fridge so it doesn't bother me.

Let me know in the comments if you have made something similar or tried the Tesco variation.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

Hi everyone :)

Continuing on from my "gaming" posts - after completing A Realm Reborn and Heavensward - I had to buy Stormblood - mainly because I hit the level cap near the end of Heavensward and I didn't want to loose all the experience.

Stormblood takes players to both Ala Mhigo and Doma. The main focus is to regain control of Ala Mhigo from the Garlean Empire. 

Stormblood brought big changes to the FFXIV world including:

- Level cap is increased from 60 to 70
- New jobs - Red Mage (ranged DPS) and Samurai (melee DPS)
- End of PlayStation 3 support
- More actions for each job to go with the new level cap
- Overhaul of the battle system
- Additional skill system to be overhauled
- Reassessment of unused/ineffective actions, adjustment to "tiered" actions
- Adding new UI elements for jobs
- New areas introduced, comparable in size to Heavenswards areas
- Swimming and Diving added
- New Beatment Tribes
- New Primals
- New Dungeons
- New high-end raid
- The Forbidden Land of Eureka (similar to the Diadem)
- New gear and recipes
- Item inventory expansion

and lots lots more!

So far I have managed to complete the main story questions and the patches that are released at the moment. I have started on Eureka and levelling up other classes and my gathering classes too.

Let me know if you are on FFXIV - I'm on the Ragnorak server :)


Sunday, 8 April 2018

27 Things I've Learnt Now That I'm 27!

Hey everyone :)

I turned 27 last year in December and I didn't do much for it as I was in the middle of moving and everything was a mess! I thought I'd do a quick little post on 27 things I've learn now that I'm 27.

1. I constantly complain about "how old I am".

2. People I know are getting married, having kids or getting mortgages.

3. I'm starting to realise I can't categorize myself as "early or mid-twenties".

4. I don't drink often but if I do my hangovers last up to 3 days.

5. I sometimes lie about my age.

6. Bills, Bills, Bills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (enough said).

7. My friends talk about politics and I have no clue!

8. Some foods are my enemies but I don't want them to be!

9. I'm trying to watch what I eat (I don't, but I should).

10. I shouldn't worry so much about little things.

11. Paying of that year-old debt does lift that imaginary weight from my shoulders.

12. I have a savings account - that I use!

13. I've started "planning" for the future.

14. Admitting my mother was right (was difficult).

15. I try to not care what other people think.

16. I try (and fail) to drink more water each day.

17. Some friends come, and other go ...

18. I enjoy napping as an activity.

19. I understand that not everyone is going to like me.

20. Ah ... GAMING!

21. It's amazing to travel (if you have the money).

22. Learning to smile more, even on those sad days.

23. Waiting before clicking send on that angry email.

24. Learning as much as I can.

25. Being jealous is okay.

26. A good haircut changes everything.

27. Keeping in touch with those old friends!

Hope you enjoy it!


Monday, 2 April 2018

Mary Berry's Panna Cotta with Pineapple & Ginger

Hi everyone :)

I love the classic vanilla panna cotta, but adding the ginger and pineapple gives in a fresh punch. Smooth, creamy panna cotta with the perfect wobble.

For the panna cotta:
- Sunflower oil, for greasing
- 6 sheets of gelatine
- 600ml single cream
- 300ml double cream
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the sweet salsa:
- 200g pineapple (i used rings from a can, fresh works too)
- 4 stem ginger bulbs, diced
- 6 tbsp ginger syrup (from the jar)

1. You will need six metal pudding basins (timbale moulds). Oil the inside of each mould with sunflower oil, then leave upside down to drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

2. To make the panna cotta, soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes or until soft.

3. Pour the single and double creams into a saucepan, add the sugar and gently bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until just scalding (about to boil). Immediately remove from the heat.

4. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze to get rid of any excess water. Add to the warm cream and stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour into a jug. Divide the mixture among the oiled moulds, pouring almost to the top. Allow to coll a little, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours, or ideally overnight, until set and form to the touch.

5. To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

6. Carefully turn out each panna cotta and invert it into the centre of a small plate. Spoon the salsa on top and around the edges to serve.

Let me know in the comments if you have made this recipe - it was so good!


Friday, 30 March 2018

Final Fantasy 15 (XV)

Hey everyone :)

I've been a big fan ever since I discovered Final Fantasy 7 on the PS store. I loved the game and it's not just a game where you complete it - there is so much end-game content it's unreal!

The same goes for most of the Final Fantasy games - or the ones I've played at least - which would be - I think 7 all the way to 15 now. I'm currently still on 14 - finished the game but still lots to do!

I bought 15 a few months ago but got distracted with work and left it for a bit. It's such a good story and I'm keen to get back into it.

It follows Prince Noctis and his fight (with his friends) to get his homeland back from the Empire.

Let me know in the comments if you have played/bought it?!


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Posh Pancakes

Hi everyone :)

Sometimes I hate going into Tesco because I always end up in the book aisle and I always end up with one or two more books in my basket! Our bookshelf is full now - I think I need to buy another one.

I found this book just after I did my Mary Berry's Classic: Drop Scones post - I love a good pancake and when they are mini pancakes - it makes them even better.

There are so many different recipes - sweet and savoury which makes the book such a good investment. I always find that pancakes use minimal ingredients and for someone who bakes quite alot - I normally have all those ingredients (we're talking flour, sugar, egg and milk) in my cupboard.

The book has lots of great recipes and colour images which just make you want to make every recipe!!


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Mary Berry Classic: Celeriac & Watercress Soup

Hi everyone :)

I am a soup addict, my lunchtime staple all year round in fact. Avoid keeping the soup hot on the hob as the watercress will lose its vibrant green colour. If a little on the thick side, slacken with stock. Adding the celeriac to the watercress makes this lovely soup a bit more substantial and filling.

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
750g peeled celeriac, diced
1 1/2 litres vegetable or chicken soup
200g watercress, reserve a few sprigs for garnish
About 4 tbsp crème fraîche or double cream
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan. Add the onion and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes until just starting to brown. Add the celeriac and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to colour. Pour in the stock and season with salt and pepper.

2. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until completely tender.

3. Add the watercress and stir over the heat for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Blend until smooth, either with a hand blender or in a free-standing blender or food processor. Swirl through the crème fraîche or double cream and check the seasoning.

4. Serve piping got with the reserved watercress springs and a fresh muffin.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Mary Berry Classic: Apple Tart Tatin

Hi everyone :)

The classic 'upside down' French tart, usually served warm as a pudding. Do not butter the tin before pouring in the caramel otherwise the caramel will be cloudy and not clear.

175g granulated sugar
Butter, for greasing
200g peeled and cored Brambley apples
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 large easting apples
Plain flour, for dusting
1 x 375 block of all butter puff pastry

1. You will need a 23cm (9in) fixed-base cake tin with deep sides.

2. First make the caramel. Measure the granulated sugar and 6 tablespoons of water into a stainless-steel saucepan. Stir gently over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then remove the spoon and increase the heat. Boil until a golden straw colour and immediately pour into the cake tin, letting it spread evenly over the base, then set aside. Once the caramel has set (after about 30 minutes), butter the tin sides above the caramel line.

3. Meanwhile, place the Bramley apples, caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in another saucepan. Stir over a medium heat, then cover with a lid and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the apples are soft. Remove from the heat, then use a fork to mash the apples to a purèe and leave to cool.

4. Preheat the oven to 220°/200°C fan, Gas 7.

5. Peel and core the eating apples, then thinly slice so they are above 5mm (1/4in) thick. Arrange a layer over the caramel in the tin in a circular pattern. Start from the outside of the tin and work inwards, using larger pieces for the outer edge of the circle, and smaller slices for the inner ring. Scatter the remaining apples on top and press down.

6. Add the cooled apple purèe in spoonfuls over the sliced apples and carefully spread out in an even layer.

7. On a work surface lightly dusted in flour, roll out the pastry into a circle 2-3cm bigger than the tin. Cover the apples with the pastry and tuck in the edges to make a downward lip. Make a small cross in the top of the pastry with a sharp knife, to let the steam out.

8. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, with a baking tray on the shelf underneath to catch any sugary drips, until the pastry is crisp and golden and the apples are soft.

9. Carefully turn the tarte Tatin out on to a plate and spoon the syrup over the apples. Serve with cream or crème fraîche.

Let me know what you think - it was really good!


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Mary Berry Classic: Lemon Syllabub

Hi everyone :)

A forgotten favourite, so easy to do, especially for entertaining - delicate and spoiling.

1 lemon (unwaxed)
100ml sweet white wine
75g caster sugar
300ml double cream

1. You will need six martini glasses or small ceramic pots.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to thinly peel the lemon rind into long, thick strips, taking care not to cut too much of the bitter white pith, and then halve the lemon to squeeze out the juice.

3. Put the wine, lemon rind and juice in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a minimum of 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse. Alternatively, leave to infuse overnight.

4. Strain the syrup into a bowl. Retain some of the lemon peel (now nicely candied from being infused in the syrup) and cut into fine strips.

5. Pour the cream into the same bowl and whisk until it has thickened and is just holding its shape. Divide among the martini glasses or small pots and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Decorate with the strips of candied lemon peel and serve chilled.

This was really easy to make and very extravagant :)


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Mary Berry Classic: Drop Scones

Hi everyone :)

Also known as Scotch Pancakes, these were classically made on a solid metal griddle on an open fire, back in the day. Now it is more practical to use a large non-stick frying pan or if you have an Aga, the simmering plate. Server as soon as they are made with butter, syrup and jam or fruit and yoghurt.

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
40g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
1 egg
200ml milk
Sunflower oil, for frying

Serving options:
Maple syrup or honey
Natural Greek yoghurt
Blueberries or Raspberries

1. Measure the floor, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and add the orange zest. Mix together, then make a well in the centre and add the egg and half the milk. Beat well, with a whisk, until you have a smooth, thick batter, then beat in enough of the remaining milk to make a batter the consistency of thick pouring cream.
2. Heat a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Drop the batter in dessertspoonfuls into the hot pan, spacing each dollop of the mixture well apart to allow it to spread. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles start to appear on the surface, then turn over with a non-stick blunt-ended palette knife or spatula, and cook on the other side for a further 30-60 seconds or until lightly golden brown on both sides.
3. Use the palette knife to lift the scones onto a wire rack, then cover them with a clean tea towel to keep them soft and warm. Continue making scones in the same way with the remaining batter, adding a splash more oil if the pan gets too dry.
4. Server at once with butter, syrup or honey, or with Greek yoghurt and blueberries or raspberries or other seasonal fruits.


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Cupcake Jemma: Cookie & Cream Cupcake

Hi everyone :)

Ingredients for cupcakes:
85g self-raising flour
25g Horlicks or Ovaltine malt powder
15g cocoa powder
1/4 bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
125g caster sugar
135g unsalted butter, softened
2 large free range eggs
1 1/2 tbsp whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 packs of oreos

Ingredients for buttercream:
200g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar
3 tbsp whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pack oreos (blended in food processor to crumb consistency)

Method (cupcakes):
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
2. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a mixer bowl - so self-raising flour, malt powder, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt and the caster sugar.
3. Add the unsalted butter and the 2 free-range eggs.
4. Start the mixer of a slow speed until the mixture comes together and then put on a medium speed for 60 seconds.
5. Put the mixture down to a slow speed and add the whole milk and vanilla extract. Mix for another 20 seconds or so until incorporated.
6. Take your lined cupcake tray and add an oreo biscuit to each cupcake case.
7. Scoop the cupcake batter into each cupcake liner on top of each oreo biscuit.
8. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes.

Method (buttercream icing):
1. Add the butter to a mixer bowl and beat for 10 minutes - the butter should become pale and fluffy.
2. Add half the icing sugar (sifted) into the mixer bowl and beat for 5 minutes.
3. Add the last of the icing sugar (sifted) and beat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the oreos and beat for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat for a final 1-2 minutes.
6. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.
7. Pop another oreo biscuit onto the cupcake in the middle of the icing.

These cupcakes were so good and fun to make - let me know in the comments below if you have made them or if you want to make them :)


Monday, 12 March 2018

Cupcake Jemma: PB & J Cupcakes

Hi everyone :)

An old American favourite turned cupcake! Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes! YUM!

Jemma's original recipe was for 24 but I didn't want to make that many so I halved the recipe to only make 12.

Ingredients (cupcake batter):
125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
135g unsalted butter, soft
2 large free-range eggs
50g peanut butter
1 tbsp whole milk
1 jar of seedless raspberry jam
1 pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a cupcake tray 12 paper liners.
2. Sift the dry ingredients and 1 pinch of sea salt into a large mixer bowl.
3. Add the butter, eggs and peanut butter to the same bowl and mix for 60 seconds.
4. Add the milk and beat for another 20 seconds.
5. Stop, scrape down the bowl and beat for a final 20 seconds.
6. Spoon the mixture into the liners and bake for 20 minutes.

Ingredients (peanut crumb):
50g peanut butter
50g icing sugar

1. Place the peanut butter and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until it becomes a crumb-like consistency.
2. Set to one side in a bowl.

Ingredients (icing):
150g unsalted butter, softened
60g peanut butter
270g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp whole milk

1. Put the butter and peanut butter into a mixer bowl and mix for 10 minutes - it should become pale and whip-like.
2. Add half the sifted icing sugar and beat for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the last half and beat for a further 5 minutes.
4. Add the milk and beat for 3-5 minutes or until well combined.


Remove the middle of the  cupcakes and fill with jam. Put the peanut butter buttercream icing into a piping bag and pipe over the cupcake. Drizzle jam over the top and sprinkle the peanut crumb over the top.


Let me know what you think! Peanut butter is amazing!


Friday, 9 March 2018

Chilly's Bottle: Neon Green

Hey everyone :)

You know those annoying ads that pop up all over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter now ... well one for Chilly's kept popping up on my Facebook and I just had to check it out as their bottles looked so cool.

Their mission: is to accelerate the adoption and everyday use of reusable products.

Buying one-use water bottles and then throwing them away and not recycling them properly is not good for the environment - so along came Chilly's Bottle - a modern and stylish product designed to combine the convenience of a plastic water bottle, with the high performance technology and eco-friendly benefits of a traditional flask.

I went with the Neon Green option and it's really bright - the picture doesn't do it justice. There are different sizes available - the bottle I chose was 500ml - this cost me £20 via Amazon, but you can buy direct from their website.

The bottles perks of the product are:

- The Packaging
100% recycled and recycable
Colour matched packaging for each product

- The Lid
Airtight, leak-proof screw top lid

- Double Wall Vacuum Technology
24 hours cold
12 hours hot
No condensation/sweating

- High-Grade 304 Stainless Steel
Inner and outer wall
BPA free
Highly durable

- Chilly's
Distinctive style
Unrivalled performance
Founded in 2010

I think the biggest benefit of the bottle is that it can keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours and hot liquids hot for up to 12 hours! Whenever I think of a flask - I think of the big bulky plastic thing my Dad used to fill in the morning and take to work! You wouldn't think something so modern-looking can do that job while looking stylish :)

There are also many different patterns and colours available - the choices on Amazon seem limited but their website has lots more.

Let me know if you have bought a bottle such as this in the comments below!

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