Saturday 30 July 2016

Strawberry Cupcakes with a Strawberry Coulis

Hey everyone :)

If you saw my earlier post I mentioned that Dave and myself went to Grove Farm PYO (Pick Your Own) last week and we got lots of fruit and vegetables - it's still early in the season so we managed to get some strawberries, raspberries, courgettes, onions and spinach.

I love fruit picking - it's lots of fun and it's an enjoyable half-day out. Sometimes though we get carried away with the amount of fruit we pick and it starts to go bad. This year I didn't want to waste anything so I decided to throw the last half of my strawberries into a vanilla cupcake recipe. The result was some amazing gooey-strawberry cupcakes. I then decided that I wasn't in the mood for buttercream icing so made a cool-strawberry coulis to go on top.

They were amazing and yummy! The recipe is below:

Ingredients (cupcake batter):
125g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g soft, unsalted butter (very soft!!)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a cupcake/muffin tray with 12 cases.
2. In a sieve over the mixing bowl - add the flour, caster sugar and bicarbonate of soda and sift them.
3. Add 125g of butter.
4. Add 2 large eggs.
5. Start the mixer on a low speed until everything is just mixed and then turn up to medium to high for 1 minute.
6. With the mixer on a low speed add the milk and vanilla extract.
7. Put the mixer back up to medium to high speed for one last blast (about 30 seconds).
8. Stop the mixer, remove the paddle and get as much batter off as you can. Scrape the sides with a spatula and give a final mix with the spatula to catch anything missed by the paddle at the bottom.
9. Cut the strawberries into small-square chucks - you can decide on the amount. I used about 15 strawberries - and they were a combination of small and large.
10. Add to the batter but use a spatula to gently fold them in DO NOT use the mixer to mix them or you'll end up with a wet slushy batter.
11. Using a dessert spoon and teaspoon scoop the batter into the cupcake cases
12. Bake for 22 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Check with a skewer - it should come out clean.
13. Leave in tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Ingredients (coulis):
10 strawberries in chunks (going in a food processor)
25g caster sugar
5 strawberries cut into small square (similar to size for the cupcakes)

1. Pop the chunks of strawberries into the food processor and pulse until you have a puree and there are no chunks left.
2. Add the caster sugar and pulse until combined.
3. Pass through a sieve into a jug/bowl to remove pulp and seeds.
4. Add the chunks of smaller strawberries.

You can then plate up the cupcakes and just before serving - put a spoonful of the chunky strawberry coulis on top and if feeling fancy dust with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Let me know in the comments what you think!!


Tuesday 19 July 2016

Grove Farm: Pick Your Own (2016)

Hey everyone :)

One thing I really do enjoy is fruit (and vegetable) picking. Near where I live is a place called Grove Farm and they grow everything from strawberries to raspberries to garlic and onions ... I could go on but the list would get exhaustive.

Dave and myself try to go every year ... but I don't think we managed to go last year as we were both really busy and the strawberry season finished before we could get there. This year we did plan to go when they opened however Dave went to France on the weekend they opened - typical!

We managed to pick up some strawberries, raspberries, onions, spinach and courgettes on this trip. The strawberries were amazing (note the 'were') as I have ate most of them already. I even baked some lovely strawberry & vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry sauce yesterday which will be up soon.

Grove Farm is open 7 days a week. Monday to Saturday is 10am to 6pm and Sunday is 9am to 1pm. We managed to get there for 10am-ish and it was relatively quiet. When we left at about 11:30am the car park was full and they were stopping cars coming in and the queue was all the way to the entrance ... which is a good 5 minutes from the main road so a long, long queue and it was a hot day ... so we felt bad for the people waiting in the hot weather.

You can find Grove Farm at:

Grove Farm PYO
Great Gap
Leighton Buzzard

Do you have any 'pick your own' farms near where you live? Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday 14 July 2016

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Meringue

Hey everyone :)

I love simple and easy dishes - especially desserts! When I saw this on a television program a few weeks ago I simply had to add it to my 'i need to make this' list.

In the original recipe the meringue was sprinkled with cinnamon before baking but I have left this step out as I just didn't fancy cinnamon that day.

280g golden caster sugar
6 free-range eggs, whites only
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
350g raspberries (1 punnet will do)
100g dark chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 140°C / 275°F / GM1.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle the sugar over the top and pop it in the oven for 5-10 minutes until its warm to the touch.
3. Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl and mix on slow until small bubbles form, then put the speed up to full and wait for stiff peaks to form.
4. Start spooning the sugar in - tablespoon by tablespoon ... slowly until you have a glossy, shiny, stiff egg white.
5. Line another tray with baking paper.
6. Spoon mounds of the egg white onto the baking tray in rough shapes approximately the size of a tennis ball. (Optional: Sprinkle them with cinnamon now)
7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
8. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
9. When the meringues are cooked, flatten the tops down. Evenly distribute the raspberries on top of each one.
10. With a spoon, trickle the melted chocolate over the meringues and leave to cool until the chocolate is solid before serving.

These are so quick and easy to make and such a great dessert ... let me know in the comments below what you think!


Wednesday 13 July 2016

River Island Wishlist: Tops & Shirts

Hey everyone :)

River Island is one of my favourite shops - I remember the first item of clothing I purchased from them and it was a pair of jeans and they cost around £80 and that was the most (at that time) I'd ever spent on an item of clothing! They were light blue and slightly flared at the bottom so they sat nice on top of my DC trainers. They also had some jewels and patterns up the side of the legs - yes jewels - they were slightly girly even for a mens jeans! 

I still have a bit of an obsession with shirts and t-shirts so here are 5 of my favourite from River Island:

White Geometric Print T-Shirt - £15.00

Grey Floral Print Pocket T-Shirt - £15.00

White Side Print T-Shirt - £15.00

White Floral Print Slim Fit Shirt - £25.00

Navy Polka Dot Short Sleeve Shirt - £25.00

Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Tuesday 12 July 2016

It's Booked: Toronto, Canada

Hey everyone :)

I'm so excited ... I did this a few weeks ago and forgot to blog about it!

I've booked our holiday to Toronto - we leave on Monday 29th August and return on Sunday 4th September.

We are flying with Canada Air and the hotel we are staying at is called Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto (it's not owned by Donald Trump - a few people have noted this in the reviews).

We are going to plan what we are doing and hopefully have a plan for each day ... Dave doesn't like to 'wing it' like I suggested. I'll hopefully blog most of the trip and if I get the courage will try and daily vlog if I can remember to pick up the camera.

We are hoping to tick of the major attractions such as Niagra Falls and the CN Tower (if you can visit it) - I'm looking all over Pinterest at the moment and there are lots of boards for 'Things to do in Toronto' so I'm sure we'll be spoiled for choice!

Have you ever been to Toronto - let me know in the comments below!


Saturday 9 July 2016

Mary Berry's Chocolate Fork Biscuits

Hey everyone :)

I love Mary Berry - I think I've said this on almost every recipe and video when I talk about her. The way she cooks and the thinks she cooks and bakes are just like what my Gran and Nana used to make and this makes me happy!

I recently bought (well had on pre-order) Tanya Burr's new book: 'Tanya Bakes' and one of the recipes was 'Mary Berry's Chocolate Fork Biscuits' - it's such a quick and easy recipe and it has ingredients you just always have in your cupboard so I rushed to make it straight away!

100g unsalted butter
50g golden sugar
150g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
splash of milk (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / GM4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Add a splash of milk if the mixture appears too crumbly.
4. Flour your hands, then roll the dough into 15 small balls. Transfer them to the baking tray and press each ball down with a fork to flatten - it helps to dip the fork in flour.
5. Bake for 10-12 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Let me know what you think and if you have made these biscuits before in the comments below.


Tuesday 5 July 2016

Star Trek: Voyager

Hey everyone :)

I can't remember the first time I watched Star Trek ... I think it might have been one of the films - possibly Nemisis - and then I think Voyager was shown on BT Vision or some television channel but I was never around to catch every episode so I missed a few here and there. I then got into Enterprise but still didn't enjoy it as much as Voyager.

I then found a Star Trek community online in Second Life ... which is a computer 'game' (they don't like it when you call it a game) but you register (I called myself Brayden Navarathna), make your own character and you can visit different worlds (called sims) and there are hundreds and hundreds of them. I visited a London one and danced in a club. There are people who have made it their job - you can have online shops and people design clothes that you can buy them - it truly is amazing!

Anyway ... I found a Star Trek sim and joined immediately. At the time I was studying nursing so I opted for the medical route (in Star Trek). I made lots of friends, attended classes, passed and eventually made it to Lieutenant - you can actually get all the way to Admiral - it does take time and dedication. I eventually became part of their medical residency programme - I designed a whole training programme for cadets wanting to go down the medical route - it was great fun.

My life got a bit hectic eventually, what with exams, leaving uni, moving home etc etc ... so I went on an LOA (leave of absense) then I had to retire and give up, I did go back but had to leave again as I couldn't commit what with a full time job.

However while I was away everything changed and it's not like it was ... they merged the sim with the real Star Trek community worldwide and lots of people weren't happy about it and left to make their own sim and it divided lots of people but anyway ... I digress.

Back to Star Trek: Voyager ...

Voyager was - by far - my favourite Star Trek series - for two reasons - firstly it was a series with the first female captain - Kathryn Janeway! Secondly - it was the most advanced and newest series at the time - so the ships were high-tech and the newest. When you compare it to the first episodes of other series ... they just don't seem as good.

My two favourite characters had to be B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine. I am not even going to give reasons - they just were! A half-klingon and a liberated borg drone.

The boxset is rather pricey - I thought I'd add that ... I got it on Amazon for around £80. I also saw yesterday that Netflix has now put every series and film of Star Trek on Netflix UK - arghhhhhh!

Let me know in the comments below what series is your favourite!

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