Sunday, 28 May 2017

Beret happy to be en Paris

Bonjour au Paris!

Beret happy to be here but... I have a favour to ask... do you have any tips or recommendations?

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Merci in advance,

XOXO
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Friday, 26 May 2017

Skinny eats: the spring salad edition

The other week I heard that you can't out train a bad diet. This really hit home for me so I've been making more of an effort with eating healthy because I'm trying to lose a bit of weight.

This past week it's been really warm weather which has been amazing, because a) yay sun! and b)when it's warm I eat healthier food. I'm not sure why but I find that when it's hot I want juices, smoothies, sorbets and salads. This is great because I'm trying to shed my winter chub ready for my summer bikini (winter weight purely gained for heat purposes, not because of hob nobs).


I thought I'd share some of the salads I've been making.

First up: Chargrilled chicken with curried spices, chorizo and a zingy hummus-lemon dressing.



So easy. Make up a spice mix (1tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, 1/2 tsp of cayenne and 1/2 tsp of paprika) and coat your chicken with it. Then add to a hot pan until the chicken is cooked through. Slice your chorizo and add to the pan until it's crisped on both sides. While the chicken and chorizo cook, thinly slice carrots and arrange your salad leaves on a plate. Then combine 1 tsp of olive oil, 1/2 tbsp of hummus and the juice of half a lemon to make the dressing. Stack your chicken and chorizo on top of the salad leaves and drizzle on the dressing. Perfection.

Next up: Chicken with parma ham, crumbly cheese, orange slices and a citrus vinaigrette



Fry the chicken in a hot pan until browned. Then slice your orange and arrange on a plate with salad leaves, 2 slices of parma ham torn into strips and the chicken. Crumble over about a matchbox sized chunk of lancashire cheese/feta/crumbly cheese of choice. Combine 1tbsp of orange juice, 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1tsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to make the vinaigrette and pour on top.

Next: Chicken, crispy parma ham, parmesan shavings and grapefruit with a spicy vinaigrette



Start by frying the chicken until browned. Put the chicken to the side and then fry two slices of torn parma ham until they become crisp. Slice as much grapefruit as you like and divide into segments. Stack your salad leaves, grapefruit, chicken and parma ham on a plate. Then slice one spring onion and scatter on the top. Grate parmesan into longish strips and artfully lay on top. Then combine 1tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar, 1/4tsp of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp of hot paprika, salt and pepper and then drizzle it over the salad.

Next up; chicken, avocado and goats cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.


Fry the chicken until cooked whilst you lay out salad leaves, a diced avocado and 3 slices of goats cheese (broken up). Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper and drizzle on the top of your salad leaves. Lay the chicken on top and enjoy.

Simple.

4 beautiful spring salads that are filling and nutritious.

Until next time,

X
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Thursday, 25 May 2017

A taste of Germany at home: Pretzels

I absolutely love pretzels. Not the small crisp ones you get at bowls on bars but the large, buttery and hot pretzels you can buy at stalls. They have a really unique flavour and are so delicious.




I had a craving for a pretzel the other day and as luck would have it, every store and bakery close to my home and workplace was sold out. In desperation I decided to make my own and they turned out so well! It did take a while because of waiting for the dough to rise, and shaping it, then having it rise again but they were so delicious that if needs must I would happily make them again.


I looked at two recipes before deciding to just do it on my own; one was an authentic sounding one from bbc good food but it took over 5 hours and I didn't have the patience and the other initially sounded good but when I took a closer look it was just bread shaped like a pretzel. I really craved that deep pretzel flavour but with minimal effort because, I'm lazy haha. Lazy, but at least I'm honest about it. Since neither recipe was really what I wanted, I gave it a go on my own and it turned out pretty great. If you want to make them you will need:

-3 mugs of strong bread flour
-lukewarm water
-100ml of milk
-dried action yeast 
-1 tbsp of sugar
-3 tbsp of butter (melted)
-3tbsp of baking soda
-rock salt

This makes 6 giant pretzels. It would probably make 10 normal ones but I'm greedy so only 6 for me haha.

Mix the sugar, yeast and lukewarm water together then leave the mix for about 5 minutes. In the mean time sift the flour and add in the butter, a pinch of salt and half of the milk. Mix everything together to form the dough and add more milk/flour as you need.


Then knead the dough for about 5 minutes. If you can be bothered, knead it for 10, but I just don't have the tolerance for that, I gave it a bit of a pummel and then gave up! 



Once you're done, shape it into a ball and put it in a floured bowl.



Cover with a tea towel and leave it somewhere cosy to rise.


I left mine for about an hour until mine had double in size but you could leave it for longer. Then take the dough out and divide it into 6 before rolling it with your hands to form long sausages. You want them to be long enough to get the pretzel shape - aim for about 40 centimetres.

To make the pretzel follow this high-tech info-graphic I made (haha):


Seal the ends of the pretzel with a bit of water then leave them on a baking tray to rise; I left them for about half an hour. Once they're risen, preheat the oven to 200 oC before the most important step of all. You can't leave this next bit out; it's what makes the pretzel taste like a pretzel instead of just regular bread. Add the baking soda (spoonful by spoonful) to a pot of hot water and let it boil. Mine foamed up quite alarmingly at first but keep stirring it to stop it from overflowing.
Then carefully lower your pretzels into the water one by one with a spatula. Let the pretzel sit in the water for about 5 seconds before taking them out. Mine looked like they had been coated in a thin layer of foam - this is fine, do not panic. 

Sprinkle them with as much rock salt as you like and put them in the oven. I had mine in for 20 minutes and then I turned them over to make them crispy at the bottom as well.  If you made smaller ones the 20 minutes would probably be fine and you might not need to turn them so just keep an eye out and make sure they tun dark brown before you take them out.


Beautiful.

Melt a little bowl with butter and tear and dip the hot pretzel in.




Or you can prepare the pretzel like a sandwich with bratwurst and pickles or even with cheese. They're delicious cold as well, if you can wait that long.


X

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Wedding guestlist wishlist

Can we just have a minute to consider how far away it is until payday? I spent all my money on flights, and now I'm eeking out my pennies for the rest of the month and feeling sorry for myself. Naturally not having any money means there are beautiful things in the shops at the moment. Just my luck haha. I thought I would put together a summer wedding guestlist of the things I would like to buy if I wasn't so terrible at frittering my money away in about 3 minutes haha...


1. This perfect beach-wedding guest dress; I love this and think it would be so nice for a trip I've got coming up soon. It's not too dressy but very pretty - ideal for the beach.
2. I think this necklace goes with every outfit here and looks quite different.
3. Bandeau bikini (so no straps show above the beach dress)
4. Braided beauties. Although I like wedges and these are flats I think on the beach it's better to have sandals that are easy to slip on and off since sand can ruin shoes so quickly.
5. Something a little smarter, perhaps for a countryside wedding.
6. With a colour-blocking clutch. The straps are clip on and off which I love in clutches because it means I get so much more use out of them.
7. A fancy maxi dress for a wedding reception in the evening.
8. A neutral clutch to mix and match; this one is so beautiful.
9. A dress I would wear again and again; I just think it looks effortless.
10. Chunky heels for comfort - although high heels are great I can't handle them at all. Especially for special occasions; I'd rather not have the night cut short because of painful heels.
11. Delicate details; again something I'd wear again and again.

X
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Cheers!

Do you remember when I was revising and super stressed about my exams?

So massively relieved to have found out I passed. I was very anxious before, during and after the test because it was really difficult and I worried I had failed. I had failed a mock exam a few weeks before which did not help my confidence at all haha! Waiting for results is not fun and I'm so relieved and happy just to have the pressure off.

I have a short break before some more exams begin.

If you're struggling with exams as well, I am sympathising with you and wish you the best of luck.

X

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Goodness Gracious, Liverpool

A weekend oop north...all the way to Liverpool.

Such a fun city with tons of secret bars, rooftop bars, museums, sights and shops - I absolutely loved it. I went with my boyfriend for a city break and I'd definitely recommended it for couples because there's so much to do.

We spent a long weekend there and spent a lot of that time in the local bars. After a wander around Albert docks, kick-off began with drinks at the Pumphouse.


Followed by a change of scene to Kazimier Gardens. This bar is fun because you just walk through an archway on a regular street and you enter this amazing lit up, beautiful beer garden. I think it's so unique and fun (as well as having a great choice of beer on tap).

kazimier

This photo ^^^ isn't mine and is from here

By this point we was pretty tipsy so we went for emergency burgers at Almost Famous then had a power nap (basically just a cooler way of saying we're feeling our age now isn't it?)

After the 'power' nap it was time for dinner...and more drinks. We met friends and went to Bakshish to order everything. It's a Lebanese restaurant; I've never had this type of food before but it was delicious, colourful and seemed relatively healthy - although possibly not in the doses we had haha. I'm so bad for ordering loads off the menu - I just want to try it all! We ordered a lot of the smaller plates and dug in to share which is my favourite way to eat. You can find the menu here.

After that, it was time for something very different! A speakeasy bar called Berry & Rye.


I've been to a few 'secret' bars before but this was so exciting. You knock on a plain door and it opens to a blacked out curtain with a bouncer. When you say you have a reservation they sweep back the curtain revealing an amazingly themed bar; old school desks with compartments filled with handwritten notes, a menu disguised into old hard-back books and incredible drinks. We had such a great time reading through all the notes and catching up.


It's not that expensive at around 9 pounds for a cocktail - a pretty average price I think. Definitely worth it for the fun factor alone.

The next day after getting up early to fit some sightseeing in like actual troopers, our hangovers were getting the better of us. Flagging, we decided desperate times called for desperate measures and headed to an incredible rooftop bar called 'Goodness Gracious' for the hair of the dog cure. The view helped...

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It's in West Africa House, opposite the three graces and above 'oh me oh my'. A chilled glass of rose and a relaxing hour sat in the sun made me feel a lot better.

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After more sightseeing; the graces, the cathedral and Liverpool one, we headed for a coffee at The Quartet on Hope Street. It's so nice there; all the houses look like they're in Notting Hill and I would love to live in them.

In the evening I didn't think I could handle another night of drinking so we opted for something a little different; a late night stroll on the beach.


Anthony Gormley's Another Place exhibition has been at Crosby beach for years now and I really enjoyed it. A beautiful art installation set alongside a warm, pink sky.


A perfect way to end a wonderful trip.

Liverpool, I'll be back.

X

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Diet friendly chocolate-peanut butter cups

Hey guys, I'm under the weather at the moment so I thought I'd write this post from my snug duvet-den on the sofa. I've been having these intense cravings for chocolate, peanuts, marshmallows...basically everything bad I want to eat. I ended up making a sort-of-healthy version of chocolate covered peanut butter cups so I could eat treats without bloating like a complete whale and they were actually pretty bloody good!




They're really tasty and not in that incredibly irritating way super-healthy people tell you that green kale smoothies are genuinely delicious, that a big apple filled them up or that banana and egg smashed together tastes just like a pancake. You know the type I mean. I hate them too.

These chocolate peanut-butter cups are not like that at all. They're really delicious treats. Definitely not super-healthy but better than having a biscuit or a chocolate bar. I'm in one of those cozy up and eat a lot moods so these are perfect.



If you want to make them this is what you're going to need:
-Dark chocolate (the darkest you can find)
-1 tbsp of honey (if you want to sweeten the chocolate)
-Peanut-butter powder - this stuff is great
-A fistful of peanuts
-1/2 mug of oats

That's it. Simple.

First you want to make the peanut mix. I blended the oats until they were almost obliterated into small pieces.


Then I dry-toasted the peanuts; this part is important to add flavour because the peanut-butter powder we're going to use doesn't taste quite the same as regular peanut-butter.


The powder has 70% less fat than regular peanut butter which is why we're using it. If you wanted you could use regular peanut butter instead of the oats, peanuts and powder but it would be a lot more calorific which is why I didn't want to do that.


Once the peanuts are toasted I blended them and added that to the oat mix. Then I measured out 1/2 a mug of peanut butter powder and mixed the lot together. The powder needs to have water added to make it into a paste. Too little and it wont bind, but too much and it will not hold its shape. To avoid this I added water tbsp by tbsp until I had a thick consistency that just stuck together and no more. It looked like this:


Next the topping. I melted the dark chocolate with a little coconut oil; you could melt it plain if you wanted but I find the process quicker if I add a little oil.



I had bought 100% dark chocolate which was really intense and bitter so I added some honey to sweeten. Depending on your purchase and preference you may want to add more, less, or no honey. I quite like adding it myself and knowing exactly how much sugar is going in- but that's an individual taste so do what you like.

Next I assembled. I accidentally bought these tiny cupcake cups a while ago when trying to get regular ones - finally I had a use haha. I mean seriously, look at these...


I had no f****** clue what I was going to use them for until I started on this recipe haha. I put about a teaspoon of the peanut mix into the cups and then pressed it down. Next I added a thick layer of chocolate on the top. The peanut mix doesn't taste exactly like peanut butter so the thick layer of chocolate is important to make it feel like a treat.




That's it. So easy. Let the chocolate harden and then the cups are done. Delicious! They go down especially well with a helping of Absolutely Fabulous on Netflix - I am in love with that show.


Nothing beats the combination of chocolate and peanuts does it? If you're feeling particularly naughty then I'd recommend trying my nutella-peanut butter stacked brownies.

Enjoy,

X

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Croque-Madame





Croque madame is a bit of a Sunday tradition. I like to get up a little later and spend a bit more time making something really delicious for brunch and I love these.


First things first, leave your waistband at the door. This is definitely not healthy, but it tastes so good that it just doesn't matter.


I started off by toasting the bread in a little oil over a hot oven-compatible pan. If you want, add some mustard now. I often do but I wasn't in the mood for it this time; I find with some strong flavours like mustard and blue cheese I have to really crave them for me to properly enjoy them. If you want to add it, I would recommend whole grain.


When the bread was a little toasted I turned the slices over and layered over some mature cheddar cheese. You want the cheese to go onto the warm side of the bread so it melts as fast as possible.


After a couple of minutes it's time to layer over some ham. I used three slices of parma-ham and folded it over the cheese before topping it with the other slice of now toasted bread.


Then I flipped the toastie over and weighed it down. I'm not sure why this picture turned out so blurry but I wanted to show you guys because it's really important to add some weight to get the toastie to squidge together (technical term there haha).


Next I turned on the grill, then flipped the toastie and weighed it down from the other side. Once the cheese had melted I put the toastie to the site whilst I cooked the egg. If you shake the egg (gently!) the yolk will be right in the middle. I waited until the whites had started to set but were not cooked through before taking the egg out, putting in on the toastie and covering the whole thing with cheese.



I put into under the grill to melt and kept a close eye on it to make sure the egg was fully cooked without setting the yolk.



Runny yolk, melting stretching cheese and salty ham - absolutely delicious. I don't tend to add salt because the ham is salty enough for me but obviously feel free to do so.





Can you see why I call it the croque ma-DAMN now? Partially because of the cheese but mainly because I'm painfully uncool haha (but srsly tho).

Enjoy,

X
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