Sunday, 23 December 2012


I've been busy busy with this heavy workload, etc... second assignment completed and now it's time to embrace the festive season!

To start it off, Papa Wood let me join in with the annual Mince Pie baking this year.
This also means that I learnt how to make my first ever sweet shortcrust pastry (the trick is cold hands!).



450g Plain Flour
3tbsp Ground Almonds (Optional)
Pinch of Salt
225g Butter
50g Icing Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
4tbsp Iced Water
900g Mincemeat
Beaten Egg to Glaze
Icing Sugar to Dust (Optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

2. Sift flour, ground almonds and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until you have what resembles fine crumbs. Mix in the icing sugar.

3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and stir in the egg yolks.

4. Gradually stir in enough water to make a soft but not too sticky dough.

5. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

6. Roll out two thirds of the dough and cut out rounds using a 6cm fluted cutter. Use these to line yorkshire pudding/cupcake/muffin trays to make the base of the mince pie (you should get around 30).

7. Fill the pies with mincemeat (be careful not to stuff them, a heaped teaspoon should do).

8. Re-roll the rest of the pastry and either cut it into rounds with 5cm fluted cutter or get creative and make patterns or designs with the pastry. Place on top of the pie.

9. Make sure the pies are sealed with pastry and then prick two air holes in the top of each pie. Glaze with the beaten egg and then place them in the oven for 20 minutes or until pale golden brown.

10. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot with brandy butter, ice cream or cream.

This is a recipe that has been adapted from the 'Family Circle' magazine from December 1989 (it's older than me!). It's the recipe we've always used and always will continue to use.
I hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


It's definitely porridge weather this week.
I have been having my trusty bowl every morning and I thought I'd share with you a lovely variation to liven things up on these chilly mornings!

Dessert for breakfast. OH YEAH.



40g of Porridge Oats
200-300ml of water or milk depending on desired consistency (TIP: Almond milk is lovely)
1 Banana
Greek Yogurt
Dulche de Leche/Toffee Sauce (I use an Alpro caramel soya dessert)
Grated  Dark Chocolate (optional)

1.  Place the oats in a microwaveable bowl and cover with the water/milk. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.
2.  Mash half of the banana and stir it into the oats. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3.  Top with fresh slices of the leftover banana, greek yogurt and drizzle with the toffee sauce – for an extra bit of morning decadence add grated dark chocolate!

Saturday, 15 December 2012


It's probably just as well that I don't have a space of my own to decorate for Christmas.
It would be so BORING yet so simple and sophisticated like the pictures below.
I long for a beautiful grown up tree, decorated in white and gold, decadent and charming in its own right.

However... where is the fun in that?
We like to call our house at Christmas "the grotto". We do go a little bit crazy but it's worth it!
It's all about garishly flashing coloured lights.
Shabby mismatched decorations that are older than you are.
Handmade Christmas items from nursery and school years.
Complete with a wobbly off-centre star on top of the tree.

...I wouldn't want it any other way!

Sunday, 9 December 2012


D E C E M B E R .

A little late with this one - sorry!
I've been relaxing at home since Friday and allowed myself the weekend off from work and any responsibilities before I delve into the Mount Everest sized pile of assignments I have to tackle.

I love that I get a good month's break from university. It means I get to celebrate December properly!
One of my favourite months due to all things CHRISTMAS obviously.

I particularly love whacking on the Elvis Christmas album and watching my all time favourite Christmas movie 'A Christmas Story' (go and watch it NOW if you havn't seen it already!). Christmas food and baked goods are also at the top of my December list, along with a good batch of mulled wine. Mmmm.

Monday, 3 December 2012


I have waited a while to do this one.
Mainly due to the fact that I have been very busy with work and I have not been baking/having all that much fun to document via photographs! But hey, here we go.

Here is a little round up of my life the past month in INSTAGRAM (from L-R):

1.  Fake tasche's and drinks for David's birthday.

2.  A badass batch of Mulled Wine!

3.  Home made Birthday Banoffee Pie.

4.  A rather sunken attempt at an All Bran loaf.
Usually a fail-safe recipe if you DON'T forget the baking powder!

5.  My first article in print for the Leeds Student newspaper.

6.  A beautiful winter sunrise.

7.  Me being silly with tinsel prior to a Christmas Meal.

8.  Toffee Pecan Mess!

9.  My White Chocolate Granola Blondies getting their bake on!

You can see more of my instagram snaps and follow me HERE.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


My sister and I have booked a lovely little (and rather cheap!) get away to Krakow next month for three nights. It will be absolutely freezing and most definitely snowing but I do not care!

I will be returning to what I like to call my second home after being a stranger for what will have been seven months. It cannot keep me away and it already feels like that period of my life is drifting into the distant haze of all past memories and experiences.

It will be a strange experience to visit as a tourist rather than as a place that was home to me for ten months. 
I am however really looking forward to revisiting some old haunts and hopefully being surprised by some new discoveries.

I wonder if it will feel like I ever left?

Friday, 30 November 2012


One more week and then I am free.
Free to go home for a month and enjoy the Christmas period and all its fine festivities!

As much as I love my little workspace I think a change of scenery would be warmly welcomed right now.

Okay, I'm technically not free.
No... not free at all actually due to a lovely workload consisting of a 1500 word report, 3500 word project, 3000 word essay... oh and a  two hour exam to revise for too!
*and that 12,000 word dissertation but we won't go into that...

I do however have lots to look forward to! For starters...
I have a lovely family and (warm!) home to return to. Then there's the annual process of transforming our house into a tacky Christmas grotto (it gets worse every year...). Frosty winter walks in the woods. Plus I'll also be making Mince Pie's with my Nana - she is going to teach me how to make a GOOD pastry this year!

To ease myself into the spirit of all things Christmas I am hosting what will hopefully be a rather jazzy Christmas Dinner this Sunday with some of my favourite boyos and I also have a few little Christmassy themed cooking/baking sessions and projects lined up for the weeks ahead so I will be keeping you posted with those. 

But for me right now...

Bring on the home comforts and some Christmas cheer!

Sunday, 25 November 2012


There's nothing quite like a bit of good old Saturday night baking.
I've been planning on making these for about a month now but have only just got round to them!

Blondies are the brownies alter ego.
Made with brown sugar and white chocolate instead of cocoa powder and plain chocolate these are a a fun and new take on the wonderful gooey classic.

There are several rather fantastic recipes on blondie variations... peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, macadamia nut, gingerbread, toffee the list goes on!

After looking at all the above lovely recipes, I had a little mind explosion of inspiration and decided I wanted my blondies to have a bit of a CRUNCH. I chose to use up some leftover granola (I used this one) and I also went down a relatively healthy route with this recipe by substituting half of the butter for a mashed banana.



200g of White Chocolate
60g Butter
1 small ripe Banana
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
180g of Brown Sugar
180g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp of Salt
100g of Granola


1.  Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a baking tin (20x20cm).

2.  Place the butter and 100g of the White Chocolate into a microwaveable bowl and place in the microwave on a medium heat for 3 minutes or until melted.

3.  Mash the banana and add this to the melted butter/chocolate mixture along with the eggs, vanilla essence and sugar.

4.  Gradually fold the flour and salt into the mixture, then add the granola.

5.  Finally chop the rest of the white chocolate (you could also use white chocolate chips for this part) and add half of it to the mixture.

6.  Place the mixture into the baking tin and scatter the rest of the white chocolate chunks on top of the mixture.

7.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and allow to cool (you must do this as they are VERY gooey when fresh out the oven!). 

Friday, 23 November 2012


This month has gone very quickly.

Lots of work and not enough play has unfortunately sent this little one into a rather crazy spiral.
Friday nights in are now a "regular" for me...but to be honest I need them!

 During my spare time I have been trying to beat the final year uni blues by doing a spot of therapeutic diy.
It also adds as a nice distraction to covering up all the damp patches on my wall... just one little insight into how terrible a condition my apartment and room are in!

I have been taking advantage of my free printer paper (thanks Kodak!), a lovely little free programme called Poladroid (you can download it here), garden trellis's from the 99p store, balls of string and wooden pegs. I am currently the owner of two bags of wooden pegs...both different sizes!

Yes. You see what I now mean by crazy?

Friday, 16 November 2012



So much stress. So much drama. So much eurghhhhh.

My first "official" dissertation deadline is looming (3000 word hand-in) next Friday and I am running around like a headless chicken. My days are over-run by sticking to a routine fuelled by severe amounts of built-in procrastination.

Not so productive...

Anyway, sorry for being M.I.A. as of late.

To make up for it I'll share with you a little bit of my procrastination.
I did a little breakfast feature for the Leeds Student news paper on the benefits of oats...including some delicious porridge variations/recipes which you can check out online here.

This weekend is unfortunately procrasti....WORK-orientated.
I am however very much looking forward to a sneaky bit of Saturday baking tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled! Let's hope it's a bit more successful than my All-Bran loaf which I made last Saturday...

...can anyone tell I forgot to add the baking powder?!
(It was still pretty damn tasty!)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


 It's cold. It's very, very cold.
I am jumpered up to the max, thermal tights aplenty and have a hot water bottle attached to me permanently like a little kangaroo baby. I need WARMTH.

Porridge is good. Soup is good also. But sometimes I want something a little sweet y'know?
So what better way to heat up your body than embracing some lovely British seasonal produce in the form of APPLES and turning them into a winter warmer.

Pictured above is one of my favourite ways to eat apples in the winter.
Stewed with cinnamon and topped with greek yogurt or custard (AKA baby food) and a variety of crunchy toppings. A quick fix for boosting up your internal thermostat.

Below is a list of relatively, quick, cheap and simple sweet AND savoury APPLE recipes to inspire you and keep you toasty:

(If you like the sound of this then check out my Apple and Custard Bread Pudding Recipe!)

Monday, 5 November 2012


Oh HI November! ...You crept up pretty quickly didn't you.

Last week was a bit of a mad one for me.
Lots of work, appointments, sorting and ENTERTAINING to do!

I had the pleasure of my parents visiting for a few days which was just wonderful.
We got a bit stuck for finding somewhere to eat on Wednesday night as all the taxi companies were overloaded by Halloween-crazed students, so we ended up down my local pub for our evening feed.
I must admit that I wasn't initially hopeful, but, I was terribly impressed with the Hyde Park Pub's offer of two puddings for £4.15. We shared two rather generous portions of Sticky Toffee Pudding with ice cream and Toffee Apple Crumble with custard which were very obviously microwaved from frozen but really managed to hit the spot. I also tried the special edition Rekorderlig Winter Cider which is apple cider flavoured cinnamon and vanilla - everything I love in a bottle.
I am already planning on heading back there this evening after some firework/bonfire night fun for an indulgent pudding overload and some mulled cider fun (they serve the Rekorderlig warm too!).

We also went back to a favourite of mine on Thursday. Thai Aroy Dee, a remarkably cheap yet authentic Thai restaurant located between an adult superstore(!) and an oriental supermarket on Vicar Lane in Leeds.
Thai is perhaps my favourite cuisine and this place comes second (next to Horai in Krakow) on my list of the best Thai restaurants I've eaten at.

Friday night was David's birthday!
We made Banoffee Pie (sorry for the bad picture) and donned some birthday tasche's, then we headed down to A Nation of Shopkeepers for some good old times.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Oats aren't just reserved for porridge you know!

Get your dose of this wonderful wholegrain in pancake format and take advantage of the multitude of pumpkins in the supermarkets at the moment.

For this recipe I used my home made Pumpkin Butter to add a bit of ZING.



30g Plain Wholemeal Flour
30g Oats
3 tablespoons of Pumpkin Butter
100ml Milk (I used Alpro Almond Milk)
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
Extra seasoning (Cinnamon, Vanilla Essence) and Sugar/Sweetener to taste


1.  Mix the dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, salt) in a bowl.

2.  Add the egg, milk and pumpkin butter to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

3.  Heat a non-stick frying pan (medium to high heat) and use either a spray oil or butter to grease the pan.
When the pan is hot start pouring the mixture into a pan (about a tablespoon of mixture per pancake).

4.  When the pancake starts to take shape and bubbles appear evenly across the uncooked surface (around a minute of cooking) then FLIP the pancake and cook for a further 30 seconds until both sides are nicely golden brown (and not charred like mine!).

5.  Repeat until you have used all the mixture and serve with some lovely toppings!

I topped mine with some greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon, pumpkin butter, melted peanut butter, chopped almonds and dessicated coconut.
I bet this would also be yummy with some banana and maple syrup on top!