28 January 2014

Recipe | Quick and Easy Fish Chowder

This is something I cooked after getting home from the gym and realised I didn't have much in the cupboards. This definitely isn't a prime example of post-gym cuisine, but it is perfect for a rainy, freezing evening in Scotland and the evening was just that!

What you'll need for 2 portions:

1tbsp Olive Oil
1tbsp flour
280ml of Fish Stock (or water).
300ml Cream
2 tbsp Sour Cream
A good glug of White Wine
1 clove of garlic (I used smoked but normal will do)
2 diced shallots
Tsp of tarragon (preferably fresh but I used dried)
200g of cooked shellfish (mussels, clams, scallops, prawns - I usually buy the mixed bags which has a bit of everything)
200g of white fish (haddock or cod for example)
Sprinkling of coriander
Salt and Pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan heat the oil on a medium heat and soften the garlic and shallots. Add the white wine and allow to reduce to about half.  Then, stir in the flour and a pinch of salt and cook for a minute or so. 

Gradually add the stock and milk, stirring to make sure there are no naughty lumps!

Break the fish into bite size pieces and add to the pot, leave to simmer for 3-4 minutes. 

Then, add in the shellfish, cream, sour cream and tarragon. Once it has boiled remove from the heat and serve with crusty rolls smothered in butter and give the dish a sprinkling of coriander for freshness. 

*Bonus Ingredients.

Bacon works wonders chucked into this mix - fry it at the start with the garlic and shallots to make the most of its flavour!

Spring Onion added in just after the shellfish gives a nice crunch and freshness to the dish - not a necessary requirement. I just love them!

24 January 2014

Fashion | Vanilla Sundae SS14

I'm dreaming of a white.... beach. Christmas has finished and yes, its still freezing outside but I'm being optimistic and looking ahead to the summer!

I can't wait for warm beaches, beer gardens and summer dresses. Until then I'm contenting myself with dreaming up my summer wardrobe.

Taking inspiration from the top here are my picks for Spring/Summer this year. 

Sarah Burton didn't want the SS14 McQueen collection to feel to anchored to a particular period or theme and this was easy to see whilst watching the show. Every piece evoked a different theme or feeling; Celtic Warriers, Picasso... I could go on! 

What really caught my eye however was the delicate cream dresses contrasted and toughened up with tribal embellishment.

Image: style.com
Topshop have a similar style on sale currently if you can't quite find the pennies for a McQueen. Hurry though, it is on sale! You can find it here.

My weakness is cream layers, so when I spotted this Alexander Wang outfit I knew the high street will fill up with cream frills, peplums and layers this summer.

Image: style.com
I can't wait!

Until then I've found a couple of pieces online that I can't wait to arrive. This is my favourite at the moment - slightly more reserved than its catwalk counterpart but still frilly enough to satisfy my cravings!

Something I love about summer is that you can get away with more. This comes into play, for me, when I've been on holiday and have lost my exercise routine. 

The boxy shapes that were seen heading down the runway's of McQueen, Adam Lippes and Prada are crucial to hiding the post-holiday bits you would rather people didn't see!

I love a simple dress and McQueen has come up trumps, if you love it as much as I do you can buy it here

If you want an alternative then topshop have this great 60's dress that has those dreamy cream layers I'm so in love with. 

And if you want to embrace the vanilla trend in the office then Harrods are selling this gorgeous McQueen peplum jacket.

If Harrods isn't in your budget then don't worry! H&M have you covered - their Tuxedo Jacket is only £24.99 and in that gorgeous shade of vanilla you'll be able to wear it with everything!

All this talk of vanilla has given me some serious ice-cream cravings, I hope the ice cream man comes round early! 

Whats your favourite piece?

22 January 2014

Recipe | Golden Snitch Guiness Cake

If you're looking for a wow factor cake, or indeed a cake for a Potter enthusiast then this is your answer! Its a little fiddly to make but baking beginners will definitely be able to cope with this recipe!

The cake is moist, the icing sweet, pairing perfectly with the Guinness undertones and the golden snitches on top add a luxury feel (when does gold not?).

Here is what you'll need to make this heavenly, incredibly indulgent treat.

The Guinness Cake

The Cake

250 ml Guinness
250 grams unsalted butter
75 grams cocoa powder
400 grams caster sugar
142 ml sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275 grams plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

The Topping
300 grams cream cheese
150 grams icing sugar
125 ml double cream (or whipping cream)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until it has melted.

Once this has happened you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the buttery, beery pan and then finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin (I also like to pop a circle of baking parchment on the bottom just to be sure) and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Keep checking from about the 35 min mark, no-one likes an overbaked cake! Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

Once the cake has cooled you can ice it. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and beat them both together.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake - not too neatly though! You want it to look like the frothy top of a pint of Guinness.

The Golden Snitch Truffles

128g semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate)
64g whipped cream
2 tbsp vanilla extract or flavor of choice.
32g unsweetened cocoa powder

43g cup dark chocolate, 60% or higher

Greaseproof Paper
Edible Gold Powder
Edible Gold Spray
Decent paint brush (I used an old make-up brush)
Pastry bag or a sandwich bag.
Whip the cream and vanilla essence until stiff peaks form. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a ban marie and let it cool. Fold in the whipped cream. (The mixture should resemble a dense mousse.)

Chill the mixture in the freezer or fridge until it’s a manageable consistency. Mix in as much of the cocoa as you need, use as you would flour, keep adding cocoa until you are able to roll balls smoothly without sticking them sticking. Return to freezer for a while if they are too sticky.

Transfer the rounded truffles to clean wax paper. You’re going to want to flatten the bottoms a little bit to make them sit better. You can either squash them down or drop them from a little height, this gives them a smooth bottom (if only it was that easy for all of us!).

Using the paint brush, dust the truffles one at a time with the gold powder/glitter. I like to also give them a quick spray with the spray on gold just to seal them.

Remove the gilded truffles from the wax paper and set aside (store in the refrigerator until you need them). Save the golden waxed paper – we’ll need this in a second for the wings!

Melt the dark chocolate and load into the sandwich bag. Snip a small hole in the corner (I just make a little hole with the end of a knife). Drizzle the chocolate onto the gilded wax paper you saved, making wings about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. As long as the wings are relatively stable any design will work, the one below is just one I found to work!

Once you’ve filled your wax paper, freeze the wings to set them (about 2 minutes). To figure out how many wings you’ll need to make, count your truffles, multiply by 2 and then add 5 or so extras because you’ll inevitably break a few or make some duds.

Spray gold on set wings, thoroughly coating but not drenching. Freeze to set. 

Carefully remove wings from the paper, the paper should just peel away from the back. The gold should stick to the bottoms and come up when you lift the wings, so both sides are golden. 

To assemble, you’ll need one truffle and two wings that look roughly the same!

Gently press the wings into the sides of the truffle. If your truffles are the right consistency, the wings should stay in place. If not, I use a little bit of left over melted chocolate. Just dab it on the inside of the wings and hold for a second.

Repeat until you have done them all, If you find your wings are melting as you go place them in the freezer for another blast of cold. 

Place them on top of the cake. Make sure you store in the fridge until the cake is needed as the wings are very heat sensitive!

20 January 2014

Update | Its been a foodie kinda week...

After a beautifully slow and lazy christmas it's been a shock to the system getting back to reality in Scotland!

Barely had my feet touched back down in Stirling and I was whisked away up north to visit my granny on her farm. What a beautiful place it is, not only has spring sprung but I woke up to one of the most incredible sunsets!

There were some rather curious animals on the farm...what are ewe looking at?

After getting covered in mud, muck and animal hair on the farm I returned to Stirling and attempted to pretend it was still Christmas by continuing the board games and drinking theme with friends...

I have also successfully discovered the makers of the largest ice cream sundae in the world... look no further folks! Its in the Beefeater in Stirling (who would've guessed it?!).

 Its also been a foodie kind week starting off with steak and peppercorn sauce...

... and finishing off with this monster, an unbelievable Saturday treat! If you want the recipe head here.  

What has been the theme of your week?

18 January 2014

Fitness | Short and Sweet

How hard is it to find the time to exercise?! 

If you're not nodding your head in agreement right now then you're a superhero. For the rest of us, there is a way of increasing the effectiveness of your time in the gym! 


Sometimes you don't need to slog away on those cardio machines for hours, its all about short, sharp and effective training - and I have the answer.

So what is this marvellous magical mystery exercise?

Tabata! 20 minutes of tabata is all you need to replace 40-60 minutes of low-moderate intensity cardio. Over six weeks it can increase your anaerobic capacity (the capacity your body has to use it's systems without oxygen) by 28%! Whereas, if you stick with your moderate intensity exercise then you won't get any significant improvement. Check out the science here.

So what is tabata?

Its 20 seconds of high intensity exercise with 10 seconds rest. Do this for four minutes (That's 8 repetitions). Repeat that set 3-4 times with a 1 minute rest inbetween and you have yourself a 12 minute-ish work out!

If you're fairly fit and a regular gym goer up the sets to 5-6. 

You can do this method on any equipment in the gym; rower, runner, bike ect. Just make sure that your high intensity sections are working hard - aim for exhaustion! 

Enjoy, and let me know how you get on!

15 January 2014

Fashion | January Jewels

I hate this time of year. Its a struggle to get back into the swing of work, up here in Scotland it is daylight for about 4 hours a day and when it is light it's raining.


I find that the only way to create some sparkle and fun in my day is to accessorize heavily, there are so many amazing pieces in the shops right now too!

Image from: whatsimonsaid.co.uk
So here I present to you lucky people, my pick of the January Jewels!

This Topshop design is a perfect beginners necklace for those of you that aren't quite confident enough to rock a full statement necklace. Silver tones were seen all over the runways during New York fashion week and they are subtle for those first timers!

I find colourful necklaces ingenious, they literally go with everything! Harrods obviously agree as they are currently featuring this one which has a smorgasbord of colours in it - perfect for pairing with any outfit. 

What a find! 

Nothing gets me through January quite like ocean blue tones, this necklace is that gorgeous Maldive-ocean colour that we all sit at our desks and dream of. Its a bargain too at  £16.50!

My absolute favourite is this mega necklace, I'm a sucker for a sparkly necklace and I'm a firm believer that nothing is too sparkly for daywear - including this little Topshop number. At £80 it may have to be my payday treat...

What is your favourite piece of jewellery to wear?

13 January 2014

Fitness | Workout Songs Of The Week

The health kicks are in full swing but I always find (one) of the hardest things about going to the gym is finding the music to keep me going!

That's why each week I'll release a few songs that I'm listening to that I hope may just inspire you to stay on that treadmill 10 more minutes (that's roughly an extra 150 calories!).

These are all available on Spotify so they're easy peasy to have on the go. 

Let me know what you think! 

What are you listening to at the moment?


12 January 2014

Fitness | Sticking to your 'Health Kick'

We're a week or two into the new year. That means we're a week or two into 'Health Kicks', 'New Year, New Me'... 

A week or two and you can probably already feel yourself slipping, that 'Exercise 5 times a week' resolution has already slipped to 3 and giving up caffeine failed that first frosty morning you had to drag yourself away from bed early. 

Never fear! Here are five steps to make sure you stay on track this year. 

(You can thanks me when you're sunning your washboard abs in St. Tropez).

Enjoy it!
This is the biggie: You will never stick to something you don't enjoy! If you can't find the motivation to drag yourself to the gym - go swimming, running, cycling - find something new! I try not to do the same exercise twice in a week, I find I get bored and don't put enough effort in. I went and tried Surfing.... in Scotland.... in a blizzard! It may not be everyone's cup of tea but the point is - always try something new, you never know you'll probably enjoy it! 

Be Social.
There is nothing worse than doing something on your own. Starting School, Walking into a full room when you barely know anyone - its all the same! Going to the gym, running, swimming (Especially Swimming) - if you're new to it its intimidating! Take a friend with you - if you think you're going to embarrass yourself at least you'll have company. You'll find having someone there will keep you going longer and harder - nothing like a healthy bit of competition - and, most importantly they'll keep you going back.

We Don't Like Losing.
Its human nature - we don't like losing! That is where Stickk comes in, what they do is offer you the chance to take out 'Commitment Contracts', to show to yourself and others the value you put on achieving your goals.You pledge your goal and, if you fail, you lose the money you put on the line. Simple!

The Write Way.
Keep a diary - write down everything you have achieved towards your goal. That way you can see where you're doing well! If you want to get really technical you could even make a spreadsheet... but we'll leave that to the tech geeks. 

Keep it Real.
Don't go hoping for a Kelly Brooke bottom or Eva Longoria legs in 12 weeks. It may not be realistic, if you aren't seeing the changes you aim for you'll get disheartened and you'll end up on the slippery slope to failure. Make small achievable targets that will keep you on ( the running) track. I know if I didn't then I would fall of the wagon too. I keep myself content knowing I'm healthier and happier doing the exercise I love and if I skip a day, its not the end of the world, there is always tomorrow!

What do you think will be your toughest challenge to sticking to your health kick this year?

10 January 2014

Recipe | Perfectly Poached Eggs

Poached eggs used to be torture for me. They are my favourite type of egg and yet, all I would get when I attempted to cook them was a saucepan of eggy, frothy water. 

Less than ideal.

That is, until I cracked it (yup, I went there).

Here's what you'll need for some perfectly poached eggs:

Fresh eggs (The fresher the better!)
1 - 2 teaspoons of vinegar (my favourite is Aspalls Cyder Vingar)

Slotted Spoon

Half fill the saucepan with water and heat the water until it is almost boiling, you want tiny bubbles to be rising to the surface and nothing more. Turn the heat down if it starts to boil. 

At this point add the vinegar, this helps keep the egg white together and stops them becoming frothy and watery! (This was the key to my poaching success, I'm not yolking!)

One by one, crack the egg into a cup and then place the cup near the surface of the water. Gently drop the egg into the water.

 You can help the egg stick together at the stage by gently nudging the eggs whites closer to their yolks using the slotted spoon.
Leave the eggs in the pan until the egg whites are cooked, this usually takes 3-4 minutes. Once cooked lift them out with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain for a minute. 

And voila! Perfect poached eggs. 

Serve with lavishly buttered toast or an english muffin, salmon and hollandaise sauce. 


5 January 2014

Update | New Year in Suffolk

After a family Christmas in Scotland I met Aidan in Edinburgh and attempted to travel 500 miles during (one of those) storms.

12 hours later we made it to the land of Aspalls, Adnams and Fairy-tale cottages.

4 January 2014

Recipe | Tempting Lemon Drizzle Cake

Aidan and I have been spending the week at home in Suffolk. Living in Suffolk there isn't a lot to do, anyone from the area will appreciate this sentiment. We have completed a grand tour of the pubs, cafes and shops and were forced to spend the afternoon watching terrible post-Christmas TV!

2 January 2014

Recipe | Caramel Shortbread Cheesecake

Warning: This recipe is not one for all the 'New Year, New Me' do-gooders out there. This is for the ones that believe that the Christmas indulgences shouldn't end yet and there is always room for one more treat.

1 January 2014

Updates | Christmas Fun

Happy New Year! 2013 was full of hard work and fun for me and 2014 looks set to be just the same, if not a better!

We had a lovely,  restful christmas full of food and board games in Scotland. I will be sharing a few of the recipes we used but in the mean time, here is a little picture update of our time.

We had a little bit of snow every day which was exciting...