Sunday, 8 January 2012

2012 Recipe Challenge: Week One - The Best Bread and Butter Pudding

First of all: Happy New Year!

Any of you who follow me on Twitter will know that the lovely Amy came up with the idea of cooking a recipe a week from her shiny new Marks and Spencer Kitchen Diary. As an aspiring domestic goddess I jumped at the chance to get involved, along with Kat.

First up was The Best Bread and Butter Pudding. Now with it being the first week of January I (along with most of the UK population) am trying to be more healthy so I was a bit disheartened to find that the first recipe was a stodgy pudding! I didn't let this put me off though and dusted off my pinny and rolled up my sleeves.



60g dried fruit
4tbsp brandy or sherry
400g slice panettone
70g unsalted butter
150g chocolate
300ml double cream
300ml whole milk
2 eggs, large
2 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
40g nuts, chopped


Place the dried fruit in the alcohol and soak overnight {if you’re short on time you can gently heat the mixture in a pan for a few minutes and leave to cool}

Take a large knob of buttter and grease a shallow 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.

Spread the remaining butter over both sides of the panettone slices.

Arrange the slices in the dish in overlapping layers, sprinkling the dried fruit and nuts between layers.

Break the chocolate in small pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and let the chocolate melt, stirring ocassionally. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool slightly.

Pour the cream and milk into a clean pan and warm gently, then whisk into the melted chocolate until evenly blended and leave to cool.

Place the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then slowly pour over the panettone.

Use your hands to press the panettone into the mixture to ensure they are completely immersed.

Preheat oven to 180c or gas mark 4 for 20-30 minutes whilst the panettone soaks up the custard mixture.

When ready to bake the pudding, place the dish in a roasting tray and pour boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish.

Bake for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving warm.

As with most recipes I tweaked it slightly and opted to use dark chocolate instead of milk (just because it's my preference), Warbuton's sliced fruit loaf in place of Pannetone and Demerara sugar because my New Years Eve cupcakes obliterated my stash of caster sugar. The recipe didn't specify which type of nuts to use, so I went with hazelnuts as chocolate and hazelnuts are a winning combination in my mind!

All in all I was happy with how the recipe turned out which is a bit of a miracle as I'm not really a fan of bread and butter pudding but it's not really the kind of thing that I would make in the future.

Monday, 10 October 2011

A Touch of the Green Eyed Monster

As most of you know I’m on a perpetual diet - a quick shifty through my old blog posts will tell you that much.  I’ve tried everything, from Slimming World to Slim Fast and calorie counting to cutting out carbs. Unfortunately I have the attention span of a goldfish so nothing ever lasts more than a couple of weeks at best. In August I decided that enough was enough. No more faddy diets, just sensible eating and unholy amounts of exercise. I even roped a couple of friends in for moral support, thinking that if we’re all in the same boat there will be fewer suggestions of a pub meal and a few drinks on Friday night, and cinema trips won’t have to come with a visit to the Ben and Jerry’s counter.


To my surprise it actually worked, we all signed up to My Fitness Pal and made a point of logging everything that passed our lips. This time nothing was negligible, not a cheeky midweek trip to Starbucks or a slab of cake that someone had brought into the office to celebrate a birthday. Everything was logged, everything. A cuppa in the morning? 11 calories. A gin and slimline tonic? 57 calories. The best (or worst) thing about the iPhone app is that it has a built barcode scanner, so I’d often find myself wandering round Sainsburys, scanning things and shouting “943 calories?!” and hastily replacing whatever I’d picked up. I’ll admit I got a few funny looks, but I bet most people in the vicinity thought twice before putting that pizza in their basket.


So far I’ve lost just over a stone by sticking religiously to my 1200 calories per day and taking up residence in the gym. A stone doesn’t sound much but I’ve been told time and time again that the best way to shed some timber is to lose it slowly – a pound of two a week is the way to lose it and keep it off. Now I was quite happy with this – I could feel my jeans becoming a bit looser and wasn’t as concerned that the buttons could pop on my work shirt at any given moment – until one of my friends started to drop two pounds a week, every week, without fail.


I should be happy for her (which I am), but at the same time its soul destroying when the needle on the scale just won’t shift. I know I should have taken measurements before I started, and I know weight isn’t everything but I’m jealous. There, I said it. I’m a terrible person. I go tot the gym 6 times a week for at least an hour at a time, I sweat like Homer Simpson in a Krispy Kreme shop at spinning twice a week and I log every last morsel and some weeks the scales just don’t move. I get up at 6 am to go to the gym for goodness sake – what kind of crazy person behaviour is that?!? My friend does a Zumba class once a week (if you’re lucky) and its absolutely falling off her. I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. If one more person says “yeah but maybe [friend] has more weight to lose than you” I think I’ll scream.


The old me would deal with this by heading straight to KFC for a Wicked Zinger box meal, but not this time. This time I’m not giving up, I just really wish I could shake off this green eyed monster.


B xx


Monday, 5 September 2011

Product Rave: Molton Brown Protecting Vitamin Lipsaver

Hello lovelies

Hope you're all keeping well?

I've just got back from my jollies in Spain and I'm not acclimatising at all well to this horrible autumnal weather - I guess summer is now officially over!

I thought I'd share my latest favourite product with you all - Molton Brown's Protecting Vitamin Lip Saver. I honestly cannot say enough lovely things about this little tube of wonderfulness! My mum gave me a sample size that she got on a BA flight a few months ago and I was impressed from the first use. The tiny tube was packed with moisturising ingredients including beeswax, honey and vitamin E and is more of an intensive lip moisturiser than normal lip balms.

Before I used the Lip Saver, my lips were chapped to within an inch of their lives, but with one use (really, just one was all it took), they were soft and smooth. I'm not sure if its just me but my lips often become used to products after a while and they stop being as effective as they were to begin with, but this just hasn't happened with the lip saver, my lips feel as good after 6 months of religious use as they did after two uses.

I really like the fact that it comes in a tube as I'm not a fan of lip balms in pots for hygiene reasons. I'm also impressed at just how long it lasts - I apply it religiously and the tiny freebie tube (7ml) lasted me about 6 weeks. The full size (15ml) tube costs £10 and lasts me around 3 months with regular, liberal applications.

Prior to trying this out, my HG lip balm was always Clinique Superbalm, and though I'd definitely use Superbalm again (and regularly do), the Molton Brown product has just pipped it for everyday use. Price-wise they're much of a muchness, however this product differs from Superbalm in that it's not glossy but rather is a more traditional kind of lip balm, which is why I prefer it for everyday use - I don't wear a huge amount of make up at work so the matte look is a bit more in-keeping.

In short, I'd say that this is the best £10 I've ever spent and I'd recommend it to everyone!


(image courtesy of google - the tube didn't photograph very well)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Desperate Times......

… call for desperate measures.


I'm not sure how its happened but my holiday has somehow crept up on me. It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I was getting on a plane to Dubai so I have no idea where the last two months have gone! I've now got two weeks until I have to wear a bikini again, and the thought is filling me with dread to say the least. I was doing really well with the whole diet/fitness thing until a couple of weeks ago when I fell off the bandwagon in spectacular style. Since then I've persevered with the salads for lunch (only these salads have incorporated potato salad, pasta, pesto, cheese and lashings of Caesar dressing) and I've been going to the gym sporadically at best. If only one spinning class and one Zumba class a week was enough!


A weekend away with the girls last weekend pushed me over the edge. We did far too much eating and drinking, though a LOT of shopping was done and that counts as exercise, right??


Anyway, now that I have only two weeks to go, I've decided to take up the Special K challenge for the two weeks before I leave. You know the one, you have a bowl of Special K for brekkie, one for lunch and a normal dinner (obviously 'normal' doesn’t include a large Domino's pizza, mores the pity). Plus you can have two 100 calorie or less snacks per day. I'm not really a snacker so I think the snacks will be a massive bonus as they'll be like treats.


I'm not expecting miracles, but if I can shift about 7 pounds I'd be very happy. I know that this is not the healthiest way to lose weight, but I don't plan on being on the diet for longer than two weeks (…if I even last that long). When I get back I'll be going back to the good old myfitnesspal app and regular gym sessions, but I thought it only fair to warn you all that there will be a lot of whingy food-related tweets coming from my account - I won't be offended if you tell me to shut up!



Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Puppy Love Part Two: The Sequel

As if last week's puppy pics weren't achingly cute I'm back with more! Turns out my mum is just as much of a soft touch as I am, and when she went to visit Toby on Sunday she ended up agreeing to take another one too.

The puppies are Working Cocker Spaniels so mist of the litter are going on to be trained as gun dogs, but unfortunately one turned out to be gun-shy, so no-one wanted him, poor little sausage!

Luckily mum and dad couldn't resist, so ladies and gents, meet Bailey......

Monday, 25 July 2011

I don't like Mondays.....

.... but then again who does??

Why is it that Mondays are always so much harder when you've had a good weekend? This weekend has mostly been spent gambling (York Races), listening to music in the sun (Tramlines), and getting mushy over puppies!

Living in Sheffield we're very lucky that we have an amazing 3 day free festival in July called Tramlines. This year was its third birthday an its safe to say that its growing in size and variety every single year! Unfortunately I missed Saturday as I'd already been signed up for the races but I made Sunday and had a great day (as always)!

There's literally something for everyone, from folk to house and pop to hardcore and the festival showcases both local talent (from Toddla T to Rolo Tomassi) and also favourites from outside of South Yorkshire. There's even a buskers bus to ferry you round toen, which given Sheffield's famous hills ia definitely a fab idea. This year's headliners were Ash who were absolutely immense - it's been a fair few years since I've seen them and I can confirm that they're as good now as they were 10 years ago (saying that makes me feel REALLY old). The organisation and effort that goes into pulling such a huge event together is amazing and it really makes me proud to be a Sheffielder! I'd definitely recommend it to everyone so get yourselves down next year!

Luckily it's only a 4 day week and I have a weekend at the seaside with the girls coming up - is it wrong that I'm already packed??

Hope everyone has had a fabulous weekend and that this week isn't too painful!


Monday, 18 July 2011

Puppy Love

Hi everyone!

Meet the latest addition to the family, Toby....

Unfortunately he won't be coming to live with me as he's my mum's but still isn't he gorgeous??

All together now: Awwwwwwwww!!


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