Monday 22 June 2020

Fudge Tart - Super Secret Official School Recipe

Now I have to be honest, I don't remember ever eating this at school. I did spend some of my school years in Norway so I don't know if that was the fudge tart window, but I missed it. I was asked by a friend recently to make them one as I love a bit of baking but I really didn't know where to start. There's lots of recipes on the internet so I tried some and all failed. Then I remembered I knew someone who worked in a school so I asked them and they sent me the official recipe. Now I can't say where I got this from as it feels like it's a super secret recipe that shouldn't be shared, but I am of course going to share it anyway but not give away my source. 

I will admit that I bought the pastry, I can make all kinds of pastry easily apart from shortcrust. No idea why, I'm just a bit rubbish at it and if Mary Berry buys hers, then I'm gonna be doing that too, thanks. This is the only element that needs baking, the rest is just on the hob, whisking and setting so it's really easy. The whisking part takes a long time so it's best if you have a stand mixer but if you don't just prepare to stand there for 10-15 minutes.

Let's get into it. 
Now this says it makes 20 school portions, I just used a tart dish and another time I used a medium baking tray with sides about an inch high and that worked fine. But you could always make double the mix and freeze it for a quick dessert. 

This is the tart in a baking tray compared to an official tart dish

  • Pack of shortcrust pastry or make some if you're fancy.
  • 40g semi-skimmed milk powder, this was very important apparently and to not use standard milk. I found this in the long life milk aisle and was really cheap and will also be a good back up as we're always running out of milk. 
  • 500ml water.
  • 200g butter, it did say margarine but I just couldn't do it... I'm a butter all the way girl.
  • 100g plain flour.
  • 150g caster sugar.
  • 10ml vanilla extract.
  • 1 square chocolate for grating. 
  1. Line the dish/baking tray with the pastry and crimp edges, I used baking paper for the baking tray but not for the tart dish. Prick all over with a fork and bake blind in the oven at gas mark 4/180°c degrees/350f until golden. Leave to cool.
  2. Reconstitute the milk powder with some of the water, I used about half and heat it in a saucepan with the butter until almost boiling. 
  3. Add the flour to the rest of the water and milk until thick and smooth. 
  4. Add the sugar to the milk and butter and dissolve.
  5. Now add the flour mix slowly whilst whisking continuously. You want it to be almost spreadable before setting.
  6. Flavour with the vanilla extract. 
  7. Pour this mix into your mixing bowl and whisk on a high speed until cool. This took as I said about 10-15minutes as I had a glass bowl it took a while for the bowl to cool completely. 
  8. This will get thick and delicious quite quickly so it will be hard to not pour this directly into your mouth. 

  9. Chuck the mix into your cooled pastry and smooth out with a silicon spatula. 
  10. Grate the chocolate over the top and chill for 30 minutes. 
  11. Devour and go back to childhood. 
look at it... 

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Wednesday 15 April 2020

Cooking in Quarantine - Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding

So we all know what's going on in the world at the moment with COVID-19 so I'm not going to go over it, there's enough on the news channels so we don't need it on my blog. Stuck indoors with a lot of time on our hands I thought I would start to publish some of the recipes I've been showcasing recently on my Instagram stories and grid with the hashtag #QuaranDineWithMe.

 It's going to probably be mostly baking focused if I'm honest with what I post on here, I think we all need it. I've recently dropped a few baked bits off with family who we can't see for obvious reasons and I think I will continue this to spread the love, you know?

This first recipe I'm going to start off with is my recipe for Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding, a seasonal take on the classic Bread and Butter pudding. There's also loads of hot cross buns in the shops still and lots reduced in price, so why not? You can of course make your own hot cross buns, but I need to ration my flour for other baking so decided to just buy some in on this occasion. Tell no one. Even though I just told you.

2tbsp salted butter (I know it's usually unsalted but I just think it works)
2 cups whole milk
1tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar if you're Scandinavian
1/2 cup caster sugar
pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten
6 hot cross buns
50g chocolate chips (optional)

1. Grease your tin, I use a glass dish about 8 x 8 inches, no need to line.
2. Melt the butter and whisk together with the milk, vanilla, sugar and pinch of salt. Then add in the beaten eggs.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan), gas mark 4 or 350f.
4. Cut the buns in half like you would if you were eating them and add them to the mix and leave to absorb the liquid for about 20 minutes. This will now resemble sick, do not panic, this is correct and delicious. Add the mixture to the dish and line up the buns in rows so they're kind of standing up.
5. Place the dish in the oven and bake until the custard sets and the edges go fabulous and golden, about 40 minutes. This can also be reheated later on if you want to make it ahead, takes about 20 minutes on the same heat.

You can of course now add a sauce or just cream if you'd like. I tend to get a jar of salted caramel, head that up and pour it oven. DONE.

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Tuesday 5 November 2019

Halloween! Pumpkin Picking, Painting and Sugar

It must be the most be the most basic thing to ever say, but I look Autumn. I pretty much wish that Halloween could be all year round and when I see the leaves start to fall it just makes my little dark heart happy.  

 I always like to have a few Halloween decorations up, bring me all of the pumpkins, the skeleton candles and the cute little lanterns, I’ll use them all. This year we had some of our nieces over to paint some pumpkins, we call this particular group the ‘niece babies’ as they’re the smallest ones. Girl gang goals all day. 

First we had to get some pumpkins, but this time it was my me and the bearded wonder getting it done as it was a bit wet and horrible. We always go to our local pumpkin picking farm, Freshfields. Did I think to wear proper shoes? No. Did I be sensible and let the bearded wonder go and pick them himself whilst I stayed in the car? Also no. I was not going to miss out, wellies or not. I love going to pick them yourself as you get so much more choice of size and colour which is great if you have a specific design idea. It’s usually great for kids as they have stuff going on and you go and get all of those cute pumpkin patch pictures of your kids. I was offering to take pictures of a family doing it as they didn’t have anyone else with, because let’s face it. That’s why we’re all there. Cute pumpkins, cute pictures. 

You know, I really thought it would just be cute when they came around to paint them. Get the niece babies around, do a little Halloween high tea (for the gram, of course) and let’s make some memories! Turns out, getting four little girls together, filling them with sugar and giving them paints was maybe not my best move, but it was fun and I’d like to think it’s something they’ll remember for a while. 

I did a little trick or treat board I saw on Pinterest where you will cups up with bits and bobs and glue them to a board in a pumpkin shape. I forgot about the ‘tricks’ and mostly did sweets, whoops. But it entertained them for a few minutes and was really funny to watch, counting it as a win. Is there such a thing as too much sugar? #auntieoftheyear.

Once they’d gone and we’d cleaned up the expected carnage I started to work on the Halloween treat bags for the girls in my team at work. I always love to give out some treats and make a big deal at this time of year at work. We all dress up and it’s just a little fun morale booster we love to get involved in. I did a supermarket sweep in Morrisons and got some tiny ‘ghost pumpkins’ for their desks, a chocolate apple and lots of little retro sweets. I also ordered some fabulous Hocus Pocus inspired chocolate from Chunkydunkchocs whiwh were incredible (if you don’t know you need to get to know). All packaged up into a Halloween pumpkin goodie bag and they looked pretty impressive at the end if I do say so myself. 

I wore an Interrobang skirt from a few years ago and drew a few spider webs on my face and practically skipped into work for my favourite day of the year. Does anyone else get as excited for Halloween? What do you do at home/work that makes it a bit more fun and not just for the kids?

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Friday 25 October 2019

Is It Nearly Christmas? Navabi Dress Review

Now you may say it’s too early, you may say it’s bad luck even, but I don’t care. It’s approaching the festive season and I couldn’t be more excited. Party dresses? Baileys? The Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special? Bring it to me. We’re heading into my favourite time of year so let the leaves fall, bring the cosy nights and reruns all evening, I want it all. 

What is never too early in my opinion is planning your wardrobe for the party season. Whilst I have some favourite dresses I keep and wheel out most years I also like to try something new and see what’s out there. I find this can be quite tricky when you’re plus sized as there’s not as many stores and not as much choice available for us. There are often a lot of returns, so having to fork out for several at a time to find the right one and often the quality is just lacking. Am I right? I sometimes dread going into shops only to be disappointed so I am a big fan of shopping online, even if I do have to get more than one at a time to find the right fit. 

This is a reason I was thrilled to be asked to review a dress from Navabi. I first became aware of Navabi through the fabulous plus size goddess/blogger/instagrammer Danielle Vanier. Everything she wears looks incredible and she launched her very own range with Navabi, so inspirational and is just one of her acts of showing the world that plus size fashion deserves a place and the space that every other straight size line out there has. Danielle, we thank you. 

So this is how I came to discover Navabi, I loved that there were options out there that were more designer led rather than just cheaper fast fashion. A place where you could buy some quality pieces that you weren’t worried about how many washes you’d get out of it. From my experience there aren’t that many high end high street options for us plus size ladies so Navabi really helps fill that gap in the market. 

I’m a big believer of not shying away from colour, when I was younger I wore only black. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to wear black, I love to feel like a Disney villain, but I have now embraced colour and especially contrast. Life is too short to hide in the back in something I want to hide myself in, I have bright red hair and I feel most confident when the dye is fresh and the clothes make it pop. So it seemed obvious for me to review a green dress, I’ve actually never owned a fully green dress that would make me feel like Poison Ivy, so the choice was easy. 

A few days later and the Manon Baptiste dress was here. What a thing of beauty, green cotton lace, little sleeves, nipped in at the waist with a ribbon belt and a fabulous swishy skirt that made me feel like the cute little octopus in Finding Nemo. It’s knee length which is my favourite, I struggle with floor length glam dresses and to be honest, I just love to twirl. I’m 5”2 so it was an inch or so below the knee for me. The arms are always a worry for me, I feel like plus size retailers often don’t have proper fit models so the arms are always too tight and you feel like you’re bursting out of a sausage skin. They fitted wonderfully and I feel like I could have done the macarena in ease at the office Christmas party. Winner. 

The dress isn’t too heavy so you don’t feel like you’ll end up sweating buckets on the dancefloor and end up running to the looks to put paper towels under your bra Just me? Cool. But heavy enough to still give you that swish and feel like it’ll withstand a mixed load after a night out. The dress also has 3% elastane  which I prefer as it hugs a bit more comfortably. 

The ribbon tie belt is a really nice touch, I might jazz it up with some sparkles but I’m not sure yet. It’s just a loose piece so you can adjust the tightness yourself or not use it all, because of the lace on the dress you don’t really notice the belt loops so could easily get away with not wearing it if you didn’t fancy it.

There are so many gorgeous pieces on the site but the party dress section just has to be my favourite, the Manon Baptise dress is also currently on sale at £91 also so go have a nose! Meanwhile I’ll be itching to get my decorations up, chilling the Baileys and practicing that perfect Christmas party hairstle from Pinterest...only two months to go!

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Wednesday 4 September 2019

I'm Back! Let's Catch Up.

I’m back!

So I haven’t blogged for a while now, things take over, life, decorating, Instagram stories (speaking of which, come and have a follow). So I woke up today with the fire burning to get back into it. So here I am. I need to revamp the blog a bit so I’ll be doing that little by little and changing direction. 

I now live with the bearded wonder and have done for a while actually, my current obsession is decorating. Over the past two years we’ve worked hard to transform the house of magnolia and brown to a more colourful/mid century/Jetsons inspired wonderland. I say wonderland because frankly, I think it’s fabulous. I just can’t stop. So I’ll be doing some posts to show some before and afters, some DIY jobs we’ve done and some absolute bargains we’ve found online. 

I’ll still be posting about some hairstyles that I love, my hair was so long for a while that I just couldn’t do anything with it, so I’ve had a load chopped off so this should resume. Let’s also not forget about the fashion, you know I love weird and wonderful outfit, this has not changed.

Here's a few pics from the last couple of years, have a nose, I'll be back! 

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Thursday 27 July 2017

The Riverside Biertgarden - Cambridge

I love street food, and London used to be the only place where there was a good scene for this close to me. I love London, I do, but sometimes it would be nice to know you can try new street food more locally without having to take a train. Thanks to social media I found out about a company in Cambridge which has started hosting food trucks outside their venue on Chesterton Road and also organising a German style biertgarden at the Cambridge Museum of Technology right on the riverside throughout the summer.  

We had a free weekend so the two of us decided to check it out for a little date night. Cambridge is only a short(ish) busride from us and the Cambridge Museum of Technology is only a short walk from there. This particular Saturday evening in Cambridge was lovely and warm, everyone around seemed in good spirits and we couldn't wait for some music, drinks and great food. 

We arrived fairly early, greeted by a 1986 Trabant as we came in, so got a seat right by the food trucks and immediately started planning what we were going to eat first. First though, drink. I chose a tart cider which I really enjoyed so must find it again. The bars also only accept contactless payment so you don't have to worry about taking a lot of money out with you. 

There's not always the same traders there and they keep this updated on their social media so go and give them a follow so you don't miss out. This week they had Warm and Toastie, The Proper Pizza Company and Greek Mezze Club.

 Pizza is happiness, pizza is life. Pizza was first. We LOVE making it at home in the pizza oven in the garden so we always end up basically trying to chat up these food trucks to learn their secrets. No time for that though, two minutes and the pizzas were done! I ordered the meaty one and he ordered one with mushrooms. Yes, one each. Nikki doesn't share food. Also, mushrooms and not life for me. I really liked this pizza, great ratio of sauce and toppings, hot and a good base. Ticked all of the boxes. 

You'd think we'd be full after a whole pizza each, no, just no. This is the beauty of street food, you can always force another dish in...or three. So we took a trip to the Warm and Toastie van. There's very few things that a cheese toastie doesn't fix, so if you love cheese you can't give these guys a miss. The menu was great, lots of choices and they had gluten free options too. We went for Vegan (yes, VEGAN!) rocket with tomato and chilli chutney with vegan cheese. I didn't read the vegan part when we chose it and I really didn't know the difference to be honest. That said, they had a rather lovely looking pulled pork one I might have to test out next time. 

The DJ was in full swing, the smells coming from the vans incredible, and the place was full of people out all for the same reason and finally (and incredibly) we were full. Full of excellent food, great drinks and decided to stroll back down the riverside, through the parks, back to the bus to finish the evening outside in the garden. 

I'm now just waiting for the next evening we can go back to Cambridge to check out who will be trading that week, I think a third course is in store next time! 

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Sunday 16 July 2017

Cherry Dollface Photo Shoot at Le Keux!

Some people say you should never meet your heroes, WRONG! I'm glad I didn't listen to them, meeting Cherry was one of the best experiences I've had. So forgive me, this post is two years in the making. I'm not entirely sure why it's actually taken me so long.  I've shared these images on my Instagram so it's about time I show them off properly. Cherry Dollface was my gateway into the vintage/pinup scene. I'd always loved it but didn't realise there was a whole world of people out there who lived this life daily, that is until Instagram and Youtube. Since discovering this wonderful world I've met some of the most wonderful women you could imagine, empowering, encouraging and inspiring. It all started for me because I wanted to do my eyebrows in a pinup style and I found Cherry's channel

Then I realised she also did videos about how to style your hair, and so the interest grew. I've kept up to date with her videos and posts ever since and I found out she was doing a UK tour and offering photo shoot packages with hair and make up done by her lovely self, I couldn't turn it down so I signed up and patiently waited. 

The shoot took place at Le Keux Vintage Salon in Birmingham, a place I had been wanting to visit for a while actually. They do photo shoots, hair, make up and offer lots of different packages so it's definitely worth a visit. I arrived with a dress I had made especially for this occasion, a leopard and cherry print dress with a huge skirt and underskirt. It was the most complicated dress I've ever made and it was by no means perfect but I loved it. I found the fabric in a little shop in Lyme Regis called Sew-La-Di-Da Vintage and I managed the buy the last of the stock they had of it so I had to make sure I turned it into something fabulous and I feel like I did it justice.

The salon is wonderful and the staff were amazing. Lynsey looked after me and talked me through what would be happening and really put me at ease. Not having done anything like this before I was a bit nervous and really excited to meet Cherry. You could hear her before you could see her, bouncing around and chatting excitedly with the lady she was shooting with before me. Before it was turn I had a little look around at the rooms available to use for shoots. Spoiler - they're all great.

So it was turn, meeting Cherry was lovely, she was so warm and full of fun you instantly felt excited. I hadn't had my make up and hair done professionally a lot so it was a real treat and I had intended to pay a lot of attention so I could replicate it at home. Unfortunately I was too caught up in conversation with Cherry to pay proper attention to all the processes so styling my hair successfully with heat still remains a mystery to me. 

Make up close up (excuse the millions of filters)

I love how she did my make up, I used to always use eyeliner on the bottom of my lids but she didn't and I couldn't believe how big it made my eyes look. She gave me a bright red lip also, I love red lips but never felt too confident with them like I couldn't quite pull them off because my lips were big and I felt I looked like I'd just pushed my face into jam. But then Cherry said something that has forever changed how I feel about my lips, she said I only feel like that because I have big lips, this doesn't mean I can't wear it and basically that my big lips were wonderful. Since then I've worn lipstick almost every day and love when they look big and bold rather than shying away from them. Big lips embraced. Tick.

I have no idea how she did what she did to my hair, she did tell me, and the products she used. But I can never re-create this, it looked perfect. The curls were so silky and defined, and the set held for a couple of days. When I use heat my curls drop in a matter of hours and can use get success from doing wet sets.

A few sneaky dressing room snaps before the shoot began
Suddenly I was ready to get dressed. I really wasn't sure what to expect as I've never looked like this before, but I couldn't have felt more confident and couldn't wait to get started. I had a few sets to shoot in and I wasn't a natural, at all! But soon I felt more at ease and didn't want it to end. Lynsey took the pictures and was great at giving me direction and tips which helped me so much.  It was a wonderful day, I made some great memories which I'm now ready to fully share.

 Ignore the dodgy hem...
Above is probably my favourite 

I feel like this one is perfect for my blog name, I also love how it shows off my dress

If you're thinking of doing a shoot like this but haven't done one before and feel nervous - do it anyway. Give it a try, I see bloggers who do this all the time and I wish I could afford to do it more. I can't recommend Cherry or Le Keux enough.
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