Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whilst at home this weekend Scott and I baked gooey chocolate chip cookies and they were scrummy!
Usually when we decide to bake I end us baking and Scott fafs about, but this time he was very helpful and helped equally which made the biscuits/cookies extra special. Cookies are extra specially nice when their warm and the chocolate chips are still soft, and they remind me of break time in school where we'd all que to get the best warm cookies form the canteen!
250g (9oz) plain flour 
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
170g (6oz) unsalted butter, melted 
200g (7oz) soft brown sugar 
100g (3.5oz) caster sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
1 egg + 1 egg yolk 
250g (9oz) chocolate of your choice, chopped into small chunks
Optional - Desiccated Coconut  
Preheat your oven to 170°C / Gas mark 3-4. 
 In a big, dry bowl, sift your flour, bicarb & salt together. Set to one side.
In a separate bowl mix together your sugars & butter. 
Next beat in your eggs & vanilla extract.  Add to the dry mixture and stir thoroughly! you can add your chopped chocolate and nuts/dried fruits if you fancy (hazelnuts are good!!).
Line a baking sheet with greasproof paper and make small ball shapes out of the dough. Place on lined baking sheet quite spaced apart and cook for 10 - 13 minutes (until they are lightly bronzed at the edges). I sprinkled a little desiccated coconut on some but thats up too you!
Leave to cool on a wire rack (if you can!!)
I really like separating the yolk from the white!

I had mine once they had cooled slightly but were still soft and warm :) yum!
Scott was a big fan too and has devoured quite a few already :P...

A weekend at home..

I was lying in bed on Friday morning in Uni, and had not planned anything for the weekend. so I thought why not go for for the weekend?! It was a very spontaneous decision resulting in me packing like a maniac and hot and bothered-ly (new word) running to catch the next train at Leicester Station. But it was well worth it as I had a lovely few days with the family :) I was also glad to use a washing machine that dosnt charge me £2.50 to use each time i wash my clothes... Uni problems..
Anyway! i pulled my weight and made a lovely roast Lamb dinner for us on Sunday which was very scrummy, and went for a lovely walk with Scott, mum and the dogs.
I love the colourful orange carrot peelings! I roasted carrots and parsnips with butter, olive oil, and honey and they were DELICIOUS! Have I ever said that my favourite vegetable is a parsnip? If not i'm saying it now! Theres is no comparison to a overly roasted parsnip :)

I just drizzled a little olive oil over the lamb, seasoned it and added a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden!

Mum took a few snaps of us on the walk! This never happens.. I'm usually the irritating one that likes to take pictures of EVERYTHING ...
Scott and the dogs were quite excited to be walked ;)...

I really like this photo of Scott, and Ella running on ahead as she does :)
Molly (Seabear) patiently waiting until we turned around so she could carry her lead home ... this happens every time, and she refuses to walk unless we let her carry it :)

The girls and myself! I wasn't expecting to be snapped in my lovely painting coat and farmer wellies but this is the kind of terrible dog walking outfit I usually wear so theres no point kidding anyone I guess!
And lastly Molly basking in the delightful, stinky, Sheep poo ridden pool she manages to always find on any walk we go on....

Simple Brownies

Chocolate Brownies..... Need I say more?
They `re my ultimate cake, yes I have finally decided (for now at least) that brownies are my favoruite kind of cake. I've never been a massive sponge fan, and I'm defiantly a chocolate lover, so naturally I tend to dip towards brownies as my go-to cake when i'm out.
I've made brownies a few times myself, but never really found a recipe that worked quite right for me - until now people :)...
185g Butter
185g Dark Chocolate
85g Plain Flour
40g Cocoa Powder
100g chocolate (white,milk,or dark)
3 Large Eggs
275g Caster Sugar
Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over some hot water (on the stove/hob) or in the microwave if you prefer. Leave the melted mixture to cool.
Preheat your oven Gas Mark 4, or 180C   Line the bottom of a 20cm square tin (or the nearest size you have).
Mix together the flour and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs and caster sugar. It's best to use a hand mixer/machine so the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
Poor the egg/sugar mixture into the cooled chocolate and butter. Fold in gently (I hate this bit). Chop the 100g chocolate into chunks (I use a sharp thick knife on the chopping board to do this). Sprinkle over the mixture, along with the dry ingredients and again fold.
Poor carefully into your lined tin. I topped mine with a few chopped pistachio's! 
Bake for 25 minutes. (ours took a little longer as Scott kept opening the oven.... The mixture should be left a little gooey, but if its still wobbling when you take it form the oven, give it another 5 minutes or so!

This is the pretty marbling effect that happens when your 'gently' (Im so impatient with folding) the brownie mixture.
I drizzled a few chopped Pistachio nuts on the top for a little colour pop! But you could try and nut or dried fruit you fancied! Cranberries and freeze dried raspberries work great too.
And then it's ready :) Ideally you should leave the brownies to cool before eating as they do taste better that way and are a lot easier to cut!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Just a quickie-
Here is one of my favourite soup recipes, its dead simple and one I make quite often.
7 large carrots
1 large onion
chicken/vegetable stock (enough to cover the carrots and onions)
tsp dried coriander
1 tbsp butter
fresh coriander
salt & pepper

Chop the onions and sauté in butter until translucent. Whilst the onions are sautéing, chop the carrots and add them to the onions. Stir for 2-3 minutes and ensure carrots are coated in the butter. Pour over the stock, season and add the dried coriander. Cook on low until the carrots are soft (about 20 minutes) Remove from heat, add the fresh coriander and blend your soup. If the soup is to thick, you can thin it down with a little milk or cream, depending on how healthy your feeling....
Serve with a little chopped fresh coriander and soup bread and butter, because lets face it, what is soup with bread?!

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Years Resolutions

So the time of year has come again to start some new resolutions! I always like to have some aims to stick to, but I don't beat myself up if they all go to pot as they're just a bit of fun and usually positive :)
I've had a really great year in 2012, Distinction in my foundation course, starting Uni, the tearoom opening, and lots of lovely times with my family and Scott etc, so fingers crossed for another good year, but if not, there will always be more!!so anyway... Here are my 'resolutions' for 2013......

I've always been into art and sculpture, but never really photography, but recently i've found a new pleasure in taking photo's to document the little and big things that happen to me and I think it's wonderful to look back on and see (e.g the reason I keep the blog). The blog was intended more for DIY'S and arty things originally, but seems to have morphed into a form of photo journal which is ok with me! So this year I want to learn more about photography and make more of an effort to keep clicking away until I hopefully get better, wether it be by Canon, instax or instagram .... It's still only a hobby and something I do for fun, but I think eventually it will help with the kind of work I intend to do 'when i'm serious and have a job and that'.

The old faithful. It's pretty darn hard to not put on weight when your such a foodie like myself and surrounded by other foodies! But I want to try this year to shed a couple of the uni/christmas pounds and get back to a weight I feel comfortable in. I mean i'm never gonna be a skinny thing, nor do I want to be, but I want to feel good and eat nice things which requires a better balance than i'm currently managing..... I've recently been watching the Hairy Dieters (the hairy bikers on a diet basically) and really like the way they've managed to keep eating the food they love, but changing the way they cook it to reduce the calories. I think thats more the route I want to take here, as I still want to enjoy my food, I just need to watch out for the extra drizzle of olive oil and cut the fat off bacon etc. I've also started playing Rugby with the women's team at DMU which is super fun and will hopefully get me a little fitter!

This is one I said last year, and it remains something I really enjoy doing. Especially recently as i've been flicking back and seeing past posts which really remind me of all the happy times i've had over the year and remembering things that might have otherwise been forgotten. I'm going to post more often, and include some more DIY's and recipes etc too.

See these are not nasty scary resolutions, they're all about making time for whats important! For Christmas this year Scott and I decided not to buy each other presents, but to put some money aside in a jar so we have some money for the summer to hopefully go somewhere nice on holiday. We had THE most wonderful time in Malia last year and hopefully we can find somewhere equally as special this year. Also make more time for the caravan as we barely got to go to Abersoch this year, and it's such a wonderful escape from everything else!

Cooking programmes-
Another pleasant one, but one which I fell really teaches you a lot in a fun way and can be used almost everyday! I could sit and watch cooking/food programmes all day (what was I saying about weight..anyway) , anything from Sophie Dahl, Jamie Oliver, River cottage etc are so invaluable when it comes to improving your own cooking. They teach you about new ingredients and interesting ways to prepare them, and how to spice up recipes you already make into something new and exciting! The one I should probably avoid is Man V's Food, as it's one of those programmes that practically leaves me and Scott drooling over. But cooking is also a major hobby of mine, and combing that with beautifully presented food, and some useful knowledge, i'm on for a winner :)

Good luck to all those with resolutions :) And wishing you all the best for 2013 !

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Chester Zoo Day

Today Scott and I went to Chester Zoo and we had a wonderful time! We last went over a year ago and thought it would be something fun to do before i go back to uni next week. As you all can probably tell, I'm a little bit in love with animals, so the Zoo has always been one of my favourite days out.
Firstly we saw the elephants, They're one of my favourite animals at the Zoo, the way they plod slowly around and do little funny things. What made them extra special this time was that there was a little baby Elephant which had recently been born. He was so adorable and I spent a good 20 minutes just gawping at how cute he was!
He's so tiny in comparison to his mum!

I know I shouldn't say it, but I really love this picture of us both :) 
I really like the spectacled bears at the Zoo, but the last time, and this time they haven't been there! :( However, Scott decided to cheer me up and we both had a got at being speccy :) The problem is.... Scott can do it really well and i'm awful!
My fingers are just too small :/
I poked my self in the eye and snotted a little. The glamorous adventures we have!!! Again so flattering...
This is our hand comparison. No wonder I can't blooming do it :P
I loved these orange mushroom/fungus' growing on a log in the zoo. The colour was so vivid.
This is my awesome Satchel I got for my Birthday last month. I'm in love with it, however I'm used to having a small bag and not carrying much around but Scott now takes advantage and stuffs things in it :P But its really nice having a proper leather satchel. (Cambridge Satchel company). As i've had my cheapy version H&M one for a year now and wishing for this :) 
Flamingo's are also a favorutie of mine! They're colour is just so random compared to all the other aniamls ! Also they remind me of the plastic ones that are stereotypically in American people gardens. i really want a plastuic one too actually... but anyway! They also amuse me when they stand on one leg?! Why do they do that?!
Here's my imitation of the flamingo's ;)
I bought a 'grabber' in the shape of a flamingo form the gift shop. I've always LOVED grabbers, and they've always been my toy of choice in zoo's/ aquariums since I was young. Here is Seabear looking rather confused by the contraption. I wanted to take her to the Zoo and even googled 'Can you take dogs to the zoo' but unfortunately you can't.

Scott and the flamingo :)
The penguins are also awesome, but hard to take pictures of as they don't stand still for two minutes. Also I was a complete dope and had my camera on the wrong setting for half the walk round so I apologise for the poor photography this time!

Scott likes reading all the plaques! I liked this one showing the skulls of the zebras.

Finally the butterflies! They're very pretty but my camera steamed up in their enclosure with condensation so I couldn't take pictures. I had to use my phone which worked better than anticipated :) i'd really recommend the Zoo for a day our with families, boyfriends etc as we both thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Christmas on Instagram

Here are just a few pics from my instagram account! I'm still rather a little obsessed with Instagram and find myself taking pictures too often with it. My profile is 'BETH2852' if you're curious :)
 I was making cranberry sauce in the first two pictures, fruity curry in the bottom right and stuffing for christmas day, bottom left.

 Scott and I went to the christmas market in Manchester again this year. The mosaic floor is in the town hall, and Scotts in front of the market and town hall. Below is Alfred my cat and Seabear my lazy doggy!
Scott and I over Christmas, and below a Christmas wreath from Manchester, and to the right the most incredible english breakfast we made a couple of days after christmas.