Thursday 25 February 2016

TEA: Bluebird Tea Co.

Hey everyone :)

Following on from my post earlier in the week on Teapigs (check it out HERE) - I had also ordered some tea from another company called 'Bluebird Tea Co.' but I wanted to split the posts into two so each was about a different company. So this post is all about my second delivery of tea I ordered.

The Bluebird Tea Co. was setup and run by a young couple called Krisi and Mike who met while studying Politics at University. Krisi spent several years working in the tea industry and Mike spent some time as a ski instructor. The tea craze had kicked in across the US and they both realised that the UK hadn't and that was there entry into the gap in the market ...

The name of the company come from the term 'Bluebird Day' - now I don't know if this is a full-on snowboard/skiing term but I've heard Dave say it a few times (my boyfriend/snowboard/ski instructor) which means a lovely, perfect blue sky - no clouds or anything just a perfect, calming blue sky.

Looking through the company's website - their loose tea is much more popular than bagged tea. When you visit the main tea page you are shown lovely shots of the loose tea and the flavours available. I think loose tea is great I just find that its a hassle as you need an infuser and the like so you can drink it. They do offer lots of utensils to help you with this though from infuser baskets, infuser sacs and teapot infusers too.

They boast over 80 different tea blends and also offer different matcha variations too. They also offer a tea subscription service, hampers, gift sets and certificates and even courses on tea too.

I decided to stick with what I know and went with teabags however looking through their website again I'm wishing I hadn't ... so you may see another post later on in the year when I've bought some tea leaves and an infuser. Anyway ...

I wanted a variation of their teas available so I went with their 'mixed bag' option which gives you 10 different flavours (with 2 teabags in each). They also threw in some lovely samples too!! (who doesn't love a good sample). So the flavours I received where:

Dozy Girl - A soothing, sleepy time blend of chamomile, lavender + rose. Put those pesky sheep to bed once and for all with this soothing blend to help you get a sound nights sleep. Also nicknamed 'Mother's little helper' and 'The Girlfriend Calmer' ... it's a miracle in a cup!

Morning Kick - Energy boosting yerba mate with lemon and ginger to put a zesty zing in your day! Get a healthy hick start every morning but without the crash later on. Light and refreshing, with a kick of ginger, it's an award-winning, super-charged take on the classic lemon + ginger.

Honey Bee Beautiful - Exfoliating skin elixir rooibos tea with delicious notes of honey. No matter how extensive your beauty regime may be, this amazing honey rooibos blend not only tastes beautiful but its skin elixir properties can help you be beautiful too.

Mojitea - A super refreshing blend of green tea, peppermint + lime. The Mojito, cuban classic; tipple of choice for Caribeean island folk, but we do it with tea instead - tipple of choice for English island folk! Just as sweet and refreshing but without the rum. To be enjoyed in the sunshine, whichever island you're on!

Strawberry Lemonade - Real strawberry chunks + lemon peel, it's easy to see why this fantastically fruity infusion is our best seller. Amazing iced or hot, enjoyed by all ages, girl, boy, dog ... this versatile little number is a bit hit all-round. Why not get a pitcher on the go?

Gingerbread Chai - Award-winning gingerbread chai created as homage to the Nordic city of Bergen, who build a lifesize gingerbread city every year. Originally limited edition, we received tons of special requests to make it a permanent addition to the Bluebird collection so we did.

Skinny Minny - A 'skinny-fying' metabolism boosting, stomach calming, digestive elixir tea! A blend of Pu'erh- the composter, Oolong - the metabolism booster, Ginger - the stomach calmer, Fennel - the appetite suppressor and digestion stimulator + Ginseng - the energy booster.

Earl Grey Creme - Award-winning, fresh + fragrant Earl Grey with a hint of vanilla. Back in the good old days, PM Earl Grey was the cream of the crop. He helped abolish slavery, reformed the Commons + invented the legendary Earl Grey tea! So we've created this creamy tribute just for you old chap!

Bluebird's Great British Cuppa - Our house blend - A classic English Breakfast. We went around the world in 80 teas, on a mission to bring our native tea lovers THE BEST cuppa. Fantastic for a fry up, perfect with a Paddington (marmalade on toast!) The Great British Cuppa is right here!

Nearly Nirvana - Luxury white silver needle tea with heavenly jasmine + spiritual spearmint to help you reach nirvana. It's said tea embodies the 4 Buddhist principles and Japanese monks agree, drinking it to focus during meditation and to quieten grumbling tummies during fasts.

Do you have a favourite flavour of tea? Or a favourite company you purchase it from? Let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday 24 February 2016

TEA: Teapigs

Hey everyone :)

Hope you are all well and enjoying the the week so far! I'm on a bit of a tea binge at the moment and a couple of weeks ago I bought some tea from Teapigs - they are still a youngish company (coming up for 10 years this November) but they are a very well known company - you can find them online (like I did) or in supermarkets such as Sainsburys and even in restaurants like Wagamama.

The company was started by 2 people - Nick and Louise whom both worked for a large tea company. They realised that there was a whole world of quality teas that weren't getting the recognition and attention they deserved and so ... Teapigs was born.

They have a range of different flavoured teas available, they also have matcha and also cups, mugs, infusers, teapots and different gift sets too. The tea is available in different sizes such as 2, 15, 50 and you can also buy loose too (not all flavours have all the sizes so check that first).

I decided to purchase the little sample boxes as I didn't want to buy a flavour I have never tried and then have lots leftover. These were £1.30 each. So these were the five I picked up:

Super Fruit

Ingredients: Hibiscus, elderberries, currants, blackcurrants, natural flavouring, cranberries, blueberries

Everyday Brew 

Ingredients: Black tea

Peppermint Leaves

Ingredients: Pure peppermint leaves

Chai Tea

Ingredients: Black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cassia, cardamom pods, natural cinnamon flavouring, vanilla

Darjeeling Earl Grey 

Ingredients: Black tea, cornflowers, natural bergamot flavouring

To drink the tea you just add 1 bag to a cup of boiling water and steep for about 3 mins and then you can drink. I prefer flavoured teas without milk but my normal everyday brew tea I have with milk.

Teapig also suggest having it iced which I have never done - the flavoured ones that is! So I might try this with the leftover teabags I have!!

Let me know in the comments what flavour of tea you enjoy - do you like it plain or do you prefer a lovely, scented flavoured tea?

If you want to check out Teapigs then their website is HERE. Please note this is not a sponsored post - I just wanted to share something with you I enjoy. I have paid for these products myself.


Tuesday 23 February 2016

Apple, Cinnamon & Oat Cupcakes

Hey everyone :)

I hope you all had a good weekend and a great start to the week? I spent the weekend resting and relaxing hoping that my twitchy eye would disappear but it is still persisting. On Saturday I baked these lovely muffins I'm about to share with you ...

Now most apple and cinnamon cupcake (or muffin) recipes included raisins or sultanas ... but I'm not the biggest fan of those so I substituted with oats. I also didn't have any plain flour so I used self-raising and cut out the baking powder ... as self-raising is basically plain flour with raising agent (the baking powder). You can find the original recipe HERE if you want to take a look.

300g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
300g of grated apple
125g of oats (I used jumbo oats)
125g of melted butter, cooled
2 eggs
180ml milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a cupcake/muffin tray with 12-18 cases.

2. In a bowl - add the flour (sifted), the cinnamon, the sugar, the grated apple and oats. Mix with a spoon so that the ingredients are mixed together.

3. Using a mixer (or by bowl and wooden spoon) we are going to alternate between dry and wet ingredients. Firstly add the melted butter to the bowl and turn the mixer on slow, add some dry ingredients, then an egg, then dry, then another egg, then more dry, then the milk and then more dry until you have none left. Turn the mixer off after this as you don't want to over beat the mixture.

4. Spoon the mixture into the cases ... your supposed to get around 12 but I got 18 of them and they were filled fully.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and leave in tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

What did you bake this weekend? Let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday 17 February 2016

My Top 10 Favourite Quotes

Hey everyone :)

A few years back I went through a 'quote' phase ... which really was me just posting quote after quote on my Facebook and pissing off lots of my friends. They were just random quotes I found online, or from television shows such as Desperate Housewives (RIP) and games like Fable 2.

So I thought it would be fun to search through them all and choose my top 10 :) So here they are:

1. Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.

2. Human beings are designed for many things but loneliness isn't one of them.

3. Trust is a fragile thing. Once earned it affords us tremendous freedom, but once lost, it can be impossible to recover.Of course, the truth is we never know who we can trust. Those we're closest to can betray us ... and total strangers can come to our rescue. In the end, most people decide to trust only themselves. It really is the simplest way to keep from getting burned.

4. The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.

5. The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

6. Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

7. Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.

8. Silence is the last thing the world will ever hear from me.

9. As much as death takes from us, it also gives. It teaches us what's truly important. Like giving back after a lifetime of taking ... going after something we never should've let go of ... or looking back on what made us who we are. But sometimes the lessons we learned after a person's death aren't the ones we expected.

10. We all take the gift of life for granted, if only we could slow things down because before you know it, the gift is gone.

So those are ten of my favourite quotes I've discovered or heard over the past couple of years. Let me know if you have a favourite quote in the comments below.


Tuesday 16 February 2016

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hey everyone :)

I've been wanting to make a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes for a good few weeks now but every recipe needed odd ingredients and I do hate having to buy a massive jar or bottle of something and only need 1 tsp ... it's very annoying! But funnily enough this recipe I have chosen (one of Nigellas) is very simplistic and easy! YAY!

Firstly I want to say that the recipe states 24 cupcakes however I only got 15 ... probably because I put too much batter in the cupcake cases but who cares ... still 15 lovely cupcakes to eat :)

You can find her original recipe HERE should you want to check it out.

250g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g soft, unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 heaped tbsp of red food colouring paste/gel
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
175ml buttermilk
1 tsp cider vinegar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line 2 muffin trays (I find these better than cupcake trays) with cases. As I said above I started off with 24 cases but only used 15. You can always put some back.
2. In one bowl - sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and then stir with a spoon to mix everything together.
3. In a second bowl (or your food mixer bowl) add the butter and sugar and cream together until pale. Then add the vanilla extract and the food colouring paste/gel (unfortunately I only had 1/2 a tbsp as when I bought it I thought that would be enough). Mix again until incorporated.
4. With the mixer on slow, add some dry ingredients, followed by 1 egg, then dry, then another egg, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
5. Next add the buttermilk and the cider vinegar and mix until combined.
6. Divide the glorious mixture (jeez I sound like Nigella) into the cupcake cases and then bake in the oven for 20-ish minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin and then place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Now Nigella's recipe used a cream-cheese frosting for the top of the cupcakes however I don't really like using cream-cheese frosting because I feel like you can't leave the cupcakes out because the cheese needs to be kept cooled or it goes off (maybe I'm wrong but cream cheese in a warm kitchen just makes me feel uneasy) so I opted for just a buttercream frosting (good old butter and icing sugar).

This is just a basic buttercream frosting recipe you can find them anywhere online or in cookbooks. You can then double or half or triple to make whatever amount you need.

280g icing sugar (sifted)
140g butter (very soft, room temp)
2-3 tbsp milk (optional)
food colouring (optional)

1. Put the butter in the food mixer and beat until creamed.
2. Add a little bit of the sifted icing sugar and mix into the cream butter and keep repeating until all icing sugar is mixed in.
3. If you think the mixture is too thick (perhaps your thinking of piping) then you can add some milk to loosen it up. If you are planning just to smear it onthe cupcakes then probably no need.
4. (Optional) If you want to colour the icing just add a few drops of your chosen colour and mix in.

The only thing I will say is that they should be more red and that is a result of me having not enough 'red colouring paste/gel - so if you plan to make these be sure to have plenty before you start.

I also only iced 14 of the 15 and I crumbled one of the cupcakes up so I could sprinkle the crumbs on top as decoration.

Did you bake anything this weekend? Let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday 10 February 2016

Gousto Box

Hey everyone :)

Do you ever see those ads on Facebook for food boxes, or juice cleanses that you sign up to and they deliver to your house? My Facebook feed is full of them. I think the idea behind them is great however I can never bring myself to pay the full price - as most of them are quite expensive. I was on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and noticed that Gousto had a special price on for their food box. Instead of the full price (£35.99) I could pay £9.99 instead as a special deal. I got to choose 3 meals from their menu and then choose the date I wanted it delivered. So I opted for Monday so I could have a good start to the week.

The three meals I chose were:

Asian Beef Noodles
Curried Chicken
Tomato Risotto

The box was delivered by Yodel and if you are not in you can specify them to leave it somewhere and they will do this for you. The box is divided into two - you have a cooled section which is wrapped in thermal wool - which has your meats (chicken, beef - anything that needs to be chilled really) and then the other side has the vegetables, oils, sauces etc. You also get some menu cards and a Gousto bag (not sure if you get this all the time as this was my first order).

In this post - I'm going to show you the 'Asian Beef Noodles' - I had Dave help me with this :)

You get wonderful menu cards and on the back (not shown) are the steps to the recipe. Each ingredients is measured out exactly which means you aren't left with any wastage or extra bits.

So we pulled out all the ingredients (from the box) that we needed for the recipe.

The first step was to make the side dish which was called 'Smacked Cucumber' - so we got the 1/2 cucumber and took a rolling pin and started smacking the cucumber really hard until it split. We then cut it into bite sized chunks and added to a sieve. We then sprinkled 1 crushed garlic and some salt on top and mixed it together. The extra juice then drains from the sieve into a bowl. You leave this to one side.

For step two we need to peel the ginger and chop, de-seed the chilli and chop and add to a bowl with the soya sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and vegetable oil and stir until combined.

While you are completing the above you can put a boiling pot of water on with some salt added.

Step three requires us to add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes until soft and then drain in a colander and pop back into the pan (off the heat).

For step four we need to remove the steaks from their packaging and pat dry to remove excess blood, then rub with vegetable oil and some salt on both sides. Then cook both steaks in a hot pan for 1 minute each side (if you want them less red then cook for longer) and then remove from the pan and cover with a tea towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

For step five you need to add your sauce to the pan you cooked the steaks in and cook for 1 minute (make sure the pan isn't too hot), then add the noodles and stir so the noodles are covered in the sauce. Remove from the heat.

Step six requires us to chop the steaks into slices and add to the sauce covered noodles along with some chopped spring onion and then toss until everything is mixed together.

All that is left to do is dish up and serve with the 'Smacked Cucumber' so there you have it ... Asian Beef Noodles!

It was a really lovely dish and we kept the recipe card so we can make it again ourselves!!

If you want to check out the fully descriptive recipe on Gousto's website you can click HERE. You can also check out their main webpage HERE. As mentioned I paid £9.99 (instead of the normal price of £35.99) as this was a special offer they were doing that popped up in the ads on Facebook - this isn't a sponsored post - I just enjoyed it that much and love the idea that I wanted to blog about it.

Let me know what you think and if you would try Asian Beef Noodles in the comments below.

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