Strawberry and white chocolate muffins


Strawberries! Don’t you just love them?

As soon as they come into season I tend to get a little obsessed..whenever I go food shopping I can’t help myself from throwing a couple of punnets of the sweet red berries in my basket.

While I’m a firm believer that strawberries are at their very best eaten just as they are, perhaps with just a trickling of cream or a scoop of ice cream, I really do love them in these muffins. The berries go almost jammy and they marry in sweet harmony with white chocolate. Give them a try!

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins
Makes 16 (I got 12 muffins and four mini loaves)

175g soft butter
180g caster caster
3 medium eggs, beaten
120ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
240ml sour cream
320g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
200g fresh strawberries, chopped
150g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of muffin tins with liners.

In a large bowl, mix together (sieve if you really feel the need to – I’m a bit of a kitchen rebel and hardly ever have the desire do it *gasp*confession time!) the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, slowly add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the vanilla, milk and sour cream. Carefully fold in the dry ingredients, stirring gently until *just* combined. Lightly fold in the chopped strawberries and white chocolate. Spoon into your muffin liners, sprinkle with more white chocolate chips and bake for around 25 minutes or until golden and risen.

When they’ve cooled, I like to drizzle a little white chocolate over the tops. Which my boys highly recommend :-)


Happy 4th July!


Wishing all my American readers a very happy 4th July. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Feeling inspired by all the 4th July desserts on Pinterest, I made this strawberry and blueberry cheesecake tart tonight. It’s very easy – I mixed 250g crushed digestive biscuits with 100g melted butter and baked at 180c for 10 minutes, then once it was cold, topped with 150ml double cream and 75g Yeo Valley honey Greek yoghurt (whipped together until thick) and piled with fresh berries. It was so light and fresh. Perfect for an easy Summer pudding!

I’m on holiday for the next week so there’ll be plenty of posts over the next wee while. Basically a huge list of stuff I’ve wanted to share with you for ages but I haven’t had the time.

Speak soon

Nickki xx

Gluten dairy free fresh apricot and raspberry almond cake



This cake was the result of a little late night experimental baking. In all honesty I hadn’t intended to post the recipe on my blog, but the picture was pretty popular on my Instagram and Facebook pages plus I had a few requests for the recipe from colleagues.
This was my first attempt at a gluten and dairy free cake so I was pretty relieved that it was so well received. Phew!

I have been looking for any excuse to use the delicious ginger syrup I recently received in the post from the very generous and lovely ginger people. I added two tablespoons of the syrup to replace the milk – it turned out lovely, the ginger gave the cake a very gentle warmth without overpowering the other flavours.


I absolutely love this ginger syrup – I’ve poured it over my porridge, ice cream and using it to make gingerbread lattes! You can find out more about The ginger people and their lovely products on their website.

Gluten free apricot and raspberry almond cake

175ml light olive oil
175g caster sugar
4 or 5 ripe apricots
2 eggs
175g gluten free plain flour
1tsp gluten free baking powder
100g ground almonds
2 tbsp ginger syrup (if you don’t have the aforementioned ginger party brand, any other kind of ginger syrup would be fine)
150g raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm cake tin.

Lightly beat the olive oil, sugar and ginger syrup together, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is well blended.

Sift in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder and lightly fold into the oil and egg mixture until the batter is smooth. Finally, fold in 100g raspberries.

Pour this batter into the lined cake tin.

Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones.  Arrange the halved apricots, skin side down, on the top of the cake. Place the remaining raspberries on top. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is getting a little dark on top, cover with a piece of baking paper.

This cake is beautiful served warm as a pudding with extra ginger syrup and a trickling of cream if your diet allows – although bear in mind that it is quite delicate until it’s completely cooled.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Lover’s No Bake Cheesecake



If you love peanut butter but are trying to diet, you should look away now. This recipe is naughty. Very very naughty. But we all need a little indulgence in our lives, otherwise what a boring world it would be. Life is too short to count calories 24/7. Make this for the peanut butter fan in your life and they’ll love you forever!

Peanut Butter Lover’s no bake cheesecake

200g chocolate cookies (such as Bourbons, Oreos, Maryland chocolate chip)
60g butter
300g full fat cream cheese
60g caster sugar
120g crunchy peanut butter
125ml double cream
Reeces peanut butter cups, peanut butter m&ms, salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 180c.
Place the chocolate biscuits in a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Pour the melted butter over the biscuit crumbs and stir until evenly coated. Pour this into a 20cm fluted tart/cake tin. Bake for 15 minutes to set the crust, then remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together. In a small saucepan, warm the peanut butter and double cream over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before folding into the cream cheese. Pour this peanut butter cheesecake mixture onto the crust, using a spoon to level the mixture. Place in the fridge for 4-5 hours to set.
Just before serving, decorate with salted peanuts, Reeces peanut butter cups, peanut butter m&ms or a drizzle of chocolate if you like!


Rhubarb and Ginger Jam



Maincrop rhubarb is in season right now and it tends to grow like wildfire. It isn’t as pretty-pink as the forced rhubarb that you find in the shops earlier on in the year and it has a more intense flavour.

The rhubarb I used to make this jam came from my Mum’s back garden. Thanks Mum!

Rhubarb and ginger are perfect together. Spread this jam on toast, pancakes, scones or oatcakes. I like a dollop stirred into my morning porridge and it’s also extremely good with Greek Yoghurt – like a home made fruit corner – but my absolute favourite way to eat it is between two pieces of shortbread – heavenly. I guess I didn’t really lose that sweet tooth after all :-)


Rhubarb and ginger jam recipe by Nickki “Something sweet something savoury”

Makes approx 4 medium sized jars

First of all, sterilise your jars. This is very easy – all you need to do is soak them in a sink full of extremely hot water, give them a good scrub then rinse, shake off excess water and place in a very low oven (100c) to dry them. Sterilise the lids exactly the same way. Or if you have a dishwasher, just pop them in alongside your normal wash cycle.

Place a small dish in the freezer for the “wrinkle test”.

500g rhubarb, washed and cut into approx 2-3cm pieces
500g jam sugar
300ml water
3cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into very small pieces or grated
Juice of one lemon
75g crystallised ginger, chopped
One tbsp ginger syrup (optional) OR 75g stem ginger and one tbsp of the syrup from the jar

Bring all of the ingredients, except the crystallised ginger and syrup, to a boil. Turn down the heat slightly and simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring often so the mixture doesn’t catch. Don’t be tempted to walk away and leave it – the last time I did I ended up with a pan of rhubarb toffee. What a mess. Not to mention a waste! A sugar thermometer is handy here if you have one – setting point is 104C. Take the pan off the heat. Go and get the little dish from the freezer. Place a small amount of jam on the dish. Leave for about 30 seconds, then lightly push the jam with a finger – if it looks like it is forming a skin and wrinkles, it’s ready. If it isn’t wrinkling, pop back on the heat and try again in a few minutes.

Rhubarb is naturally low in pectin, so it might take a little longer to reach setting point. The jam sugar is supposed to help but I had to do the wrinkle test five times before this batch was finally ready! The end result is worth it, I promise you.

When the jam is ready, stir in the chopped crystallised ginger and syrup, if using. Decant into your prepared jars.


Pimp my Snack! Giant Empire Biscuit



Empire biscuits are something I tend to bake often. Everyone I know seems to love them – and no wonder. Soft, tender butter shortbread sandwiched together with jam, topped with icing and depending on your preference, crowned with a glace cherry or a jelly tot. Or joob joobs, as I remember them being called many years ago.

I don’t know what made me decide to make a giant version of this pretty well known bakery treat, but it was a very good idea! It was pretty much demolished this afternoon by my boys and their friends. I’ve kept a little sliver (with the cherry intact) for myself for later while I’m watching TV :-)

Giant Empire Biscuit

250g salted butter, very soft
320g plain flour
85g icing sugar
Strawberry or raspberry jam for the filling

100g icing sugar
Glace cherry or jelly tot/sweet to decorate (if you ever come across the extra large fruit jellies they would be perfect here)

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and base line two 20cm cake tins.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together until very light and fluffy. Mix in the flour until it forms a soft dough (if you’re using a stand mixer place a tea towel over it – otherwise you’ll have a flour explosion!)

Divide the dough into two equal portions and press into the cake tins, using the base of a drinking glass to smooth the dough out evenly (top tip!)

Bake for 30 minutes or until very light golden. Leave to cool in the tins completely.

When the biscuits are cold, sandwich together with jam. Mix the icing sugar with enough cool water to make a think but pourable icing. Spread over the top of the biscuit and top with a cherry or large jelly sweet.

Creamy chicken, bacon and spinach pasta


When it comes to weekday meals, like many people I tend to find myself coming home from work, opening the fridge and wondering what on earth I’m going to make that will make everyone happy. This recipe is the result of a little fridge rummaging. It’s creamy, filling, delicious and it just so happens to contain two of your five a day. Which  means it’s healthy, right?

Creamy chicken, bacon and spinach pasta
Enough for four hungry people

Penne pasta (I’m not going to tell you how much! Only you know how much pasta you and your family can eat in one sitting. I used around half a bag. I don’t do measuring)
One tablespoon garlic infused oil
4-5 large chicken breasts, cut into strips
One tsp paprika
One tsp Italian herb seasoning
About 5-6 rashers bacon, cut into small pieces and rind removed OR small packet of cubed pancetta
A good handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or 3-4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 250ml tub of creme fraiche
About half a large packet of spinach leaves
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

Place a large pot of water on the hob to boil. Heat the garlic oil in a large pan, then add the chicken pieces. Sprinkle over the Italian seasoning and paprika. Cook until the chicken is golden and cooked through. In the meantime cook your pasta and when ready, drain but keep back a small cup of the cooking water in case you need it to thin down the sauce.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and add the bacon, cook until starting to crisp around the edges. Remove bacon from the pan. Throw in your tomatoes with a pinch of sugar and the creme fraiche. Cook until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and once it has wilted, remove from the heat.

Throw your pasta into the sauce and add the cooked chicken and bacon. Grate in some parmesan, add salt and pepper place back on the heat and stir. Add some of the cooking water if the sauce is a little too thick. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and serve.

Foodie parcels and weekend bakes

    Hello! Sorry things have been a little quiet on here this past week. Work and home life has been super busy lately. I’ve also had some stupid sore throat virus for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t been able to shake off. So lately my daily routine has been get myself and the boys ready for leaving the house, go to work, come home for dinner, a bit of washing/housework/helping the kids with homework or whatever else needs my attention, bath then collapse in bed with my tablet to watch a couple of Breaking Bad episodes. I’m up to season four and totally hooked. Brilliant series.

    I’ve got a few recipes on the backburner that I will share with you the meantime here’s what’s been going on in my kitchen.


    Debbie and Andrew’s sent me this lovely package. I’ve already tried their sausages and loved them so I knew we would be in for a treat. Their gluten free caramelised red onion sausages went down an absolute storm with us. I used them in a tomato and sausage pasta recipe from the cute little booklet they sent me – there were clean plates all around. If you see these sausages in the supermarket I urge you to pick up a packet!


    Scan sent me a couple packs of their Swedish meatballs to try. I’ve never seen tried Swedish meatballs before and they were pretty tasty! I made the meatball and roasted vegetable pasta bake from the recipe booklet that came with the package and it went down very well, plus I had leftovers for lunch the next day! Scan Swedish meatballs are available to buy in Sainsburys, Ocado and Morrisons.


    I was delighted when I received this ginger syrup from the ginger party. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know all about my love of all things ginger related! I can’t wait to use this syrup in my baking.


    My cookery book obsession continues…here are a couple of recent purchases! The Works is a very dangerous place indeed…I’m sure I’ve pretty much doubled the amount of cookery books I own since they opened!


    I made these cute little Baileys glazed baked doughnuts on Sunday…who could resist these? Not me that’s for sure. You’ll find the recipe right here on Recipes from a


    Pecan tassie bars from The Hummingbird Bakery “Life is Sweet”. I love anything with pecans so these jumped out at me while reading through the book. They are quite rich but the large amount of treacle stops them from being too sweet.


    Last but certainly not least, I made this custard cream cheesecake from She Who Bakes. The ultimate treat for a custard cream lover!

Sweet cinnamon rolls with vanilla cream cheese icing



Lately I’ve had this huge thing for cinnamon rolls. Right now there’s nothing I’d rather eat for weekend breakfast. Sweet vanilla scented fluffy dough, with spirals of honey, cinnamon and brown sugar, topped with a vanilla cream cheese icing. Sigh.

Resistance is futile. Join me.


Cinnamon Rolls

350g strong white flour
7g sachet fast action yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
50g sugar
One large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
125ml milk
50g butter

For the filling:

75g very soft butter
50g soft light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Mix the sugars and cinnamon together, then stir in the honey or syrup.

Place the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Don’t place the yeast directly on or beside the salt – this could kill the yeast.

Place the milk and butter in a small pan and place on the hob over a gentle heat, stirring until the butter has almost melted. Take off the heat and leave for a minute, then stir in the egg and vanilla. Check the temperature of the milk by dipping a finger in – it needs to be only just warm before
adding it to the flour. When the milk is ready, pour over the flour and knead for at least 5 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook attachment or 10 minutes by hand. When the dough feels smooth, silky and shiny place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a neat rectangle.

Spread the butter over the dough and top with the cinnamon sugar. Lightly press the sugar into the dough. Roll up from one of the long ends as tightly as you can. Seal the end of the dough with a little melted butter. Cut into 10 equal pieces and arrange in a greased 23cm round tin. Cover with cling and leave to prove until doubled in size, about 45 minutes -1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 200C. When the
buns have doubled in size, pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.


For the icing, beat 50g soft butter, 150g icing sugar and 1/2 vanilla extract and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat until the icing is combined and smooth.

Spread the icing over the buns while they are still a little warm. Take and deep breath….and dive in!


Coconut and raspberry jam loaf



This coconut cake is another old fashioned recipe that is so easy to make yet so lovely.

This particular recipe is actually the very first cake I ever made. It came from the Hamlyn book of cakes and baking, an extensive baking book that had a picture alongside every recipe. The raspberry jam topping is my nod to the retro school dinner pudding that was a favourite of many, the square slab of sponge covered with jam, coconut and slathered in custard. Birds of course!

Coconut and raspberry jam loaf cake

2 large eggs
6 tbsp milk
100g caster sugar
75g dessicated coconut
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g butter
About one third jar raspberry jam
Dessicated coconut for sprinkling over the top

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Butter and line a loaf tin.

Crack the eggs in a measuring jug and top up with enough milk to make 200ml. Stir in the dessicated coconut and leave for 30 minutes. In a bowl, sieve together the plain flour and baking powder. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg mixture and stir everything together until well combined. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen, golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely.

When the cake is cold, spread with the raspberry jam and sprinkle with dessicated coconut.

Vanilla custard biscuits



These cute little golden tinged biscuits may look pretty unassuming but they are absolutely wonderful in their simplicity.

If you’re gentle with the dough and don’t overmix, you’ll be rewarded with biscuits that melt in your mouth.

One is never enough.

Vanilla custard biscuits

250g very soft butter
250g plain flour
70g icing sugar
70g custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, stopping as soon as you have a soft dough. (I use the KA, a food processor would do the same job. Or you could mix by hand if you aren’t as lazy as I am.)

Roll the mixture into balls and place on the baking tray, press them down with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Leave on the baking tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.

I shared this recipe over at Super Golden Bakes for #Cookblogshare

I also linked up at A Mummy Too for recipe of the week.


Mexican chilli beef and black bean soup with New Covent Garden souper booster



The lovely people at New Covent Garden Soup Company sent me their new souper boosters to review along with a veg box so I could create some tasty soup recipes.

On Sunday night we had a really lovely topside of beef for dinner, and I used the few leftover pieces to make this spicy, Mexican style black bean soup. I love spicy food and this soup really hit the spot! I used a tin of black beans with jalapenos which added even more kick, but if you can’t find them they aren’t essential to the recipe – a regular tin of black beans would do fine. If you do use the regular ones just make sure you rinse them in a sieve before cooking.

Mexican chilli beef and black bean soup

One tablespoon oil
One red onion, chopped
One stick of celery, chopped
One red pepper, chopped finely
Half a tube New Covent Garden Mexican Chilli Souper flavour booster
One tin of black beans with jalapenos (I found this in Tesco in the American food aisle – the brand is Ortega)
200ml beef stock (I use those Knorr flavour pots)
One 400g tin chopped tomatoes
One tablespoon tomato puree
A few pieces of leftover roast beef, sliced into thin strips

Heat the oil in a large pan and throw in the onion, celery and pepper. Squeeze in half a tube of New Covent Garden Mexican Chilli souper booster paste and cook for 5 minutes or so, until the veg has started to soften. Add the entire contents of the tinned black beans with jalapenos, the beef stock, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and a grinding of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. If it’s looking too thick, add some water to thin it down. Finally add the beef strips and cook for a further 5 minutes. Taste and add some more Souper booster if you like. Serve with plenty of sour cream, fresh chopped chilli and nachos.

You can read more about the souper boosters and order them right here on the New Covent Garden website!

Lemony chickpea and smoked mackerel salad



I’ve been trying to find different, quick to prepare and healthy lunch ideas and this salad ticks all the boxes for me – it’s very simple to put together and all the flavours go together very well. I love smoked mackerel – it’s so good for you and pretty easy on the purse strings.

Lemony chickpea and smoked mackerel salad

Serves two generously

One packet ready to eat smoked mackerel fillets
One 400g tin chickpeas
Finely grated zest of one lemon
5 spring onions, finely sliced
A packet of mixed salad leaves – I used rocket and spinach
Half a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh basil
Sea salt and pepper
One tablespoon rapeseed oil
The juice of half a lemon

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add the lemon zest. Empty the salad leaves into a bowl and add the chickpeas. Tear the mackerel into chunks and add to the bowl along with the spring onions, tomatoes and basil leaves. Mix the oil and lemon in a small bowl and add a good grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Pour over the salad and using your hands, mix to coat everything in the dressing.


Hot cross bun bread and butter pudding



I used to think I hated bread and butter pudding. Stale bread in custard? No thank you. But that was before I actually made one for myself. It must have been about seven years ago – I was cooking my way through the Nigella Bites cookbook (which contains one of my families all time favourites, ham in Coca-Cola) when I came across her ginger jam bread and butter pudding. It did look pretty inviting. I decided to give it a go and I would take it round to my mum-in-law – who had a bit of a sweet tooth like myself so I knew she would appreciate a home made bread and butter pudding!

So I made it and when it was ready I covered the top of the dish in foil and walked the short distance to her home. We ended up having a lovely afternoon, chatting and sharing the bread and butter pudding that we both agreed was delicious. It was sweet, comforting and I loved the contrast between the crispy bits on top and the custard soaked bread in the middle that melted in your mouth. So this evening when I was making this pudding, I couldn’t help but think of my lovely mum-in-law in heaven and smile. I do miss our putting the world to right chats while sharing something home baked.

This recipe is a delicious way of using up stale hot cross buns. I used the chocolate orange buns I made last week so I continued with that theme by adding chocolate chips, orange zest and orange marmalade.

Hot cross bun bread and butter pudding

6 stale hot cross buns
100g chocolate chips
100g soft butter
100g demerara sugar
3 large eggs
250ml milk
100ml double cream
The zest of one orange
Orange marmalade for glazing the top

Slice the hot cross buns and butter both sides. Cut each bun into triangles and arrange in a dish, sprinkling each piece with the sugar as you layer. Sprinkle over some of the chocolate chips. Repeat until all of the bun pieces are sitting snugly inside the dish.

In a jug mix together the eggs, milk, cream and the orange zest. Slowly pour this over the bun slices. Cover with foil and leave to soak for about one hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C and bake for 30-40 minutes with the foil on. Remove from the oven and brush the top with the marmalade. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve with double cream, ice cream or custard.

I don’t know why I ever thought I wouldn’t like bread and butter pudding. Warm from the oven with pouring cream trickled over, It’s like a hug in a bowl.


I shared this recipe over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for the no waste food challenge link up.

Thai spiced prawn noodle soup with New Covent Garden soup Co Souper Booster


New Convent Garden soup Co sent me something lovely in the post this week – a box full of fresh vegetables along with each flavour of their new Souper boosters.


There are four flavours to choose from – Mexican chilli, roasted Morrocan, wild garlic and herbs and Aromatic Thai.


I decided to try the Thai Souper Booster first. I am a pretty big fan of Thai spices but no-one else in my house is (boo!) so I don’t have the opportunity to cook with them very often.

This recipe isn’t set in stone – I’m a “use up what I have” kind of gal so please feel free to use whatever veg you have. Babycorn, sugarsnaps and mushrooms would work very well here, or pak choi instead of the spinach.


Thai style prawn and noodle soup

One tbsp oil
Half a tube New Convent Garden Co Aromatic Thai Souper boosters
5 Spring onions, sliced thinly
One sweet potato, cubed small
One red pepper, diced
One yellow pepper, diced
One red chilli, chopped small
One lemongrass stalk, chopped as finely as possible
One Kaffir lime leaf
One 400ml tin coconut milk
700ml water
One or Two nests noodles – I used egg noodles because that’s what was in my cupboard but rice noodles would be perfect here
125g fresh king prawns
Handful spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the souper booster paste and cook for a few moments. Add your chopped veg and gently cook for 5 minutes, or until the veg has softened. Pour in the coconut milk and water and bring to a fast simmer. Drop in the noodles and cook for 2 minutes or according to the packet instructions. When the noodles have one minute left, add the prawns and spinach. Taste the soup and add more souper booster paste if needed.

Remove from the heat, decant into bowls and garnish with sliced chillies and fresh coriander.

I absolutely loved this soup – I devoured two large bowls. The flavours were wonderful. I will definitely be keeping a tube of the Thai souper booster in my fridge from now on so I can make this whenever I want. I’m really looking forward to trying the other flavours which I’ll tell you all about – so watch this space!

The souper boosters are also very handy for using up any leftover veg – just throw them in a pan, add half a tube of the paste and water and simmer for a few minutes.

Disclaimer: New Covent garden soup Co sent me the Souper boosters and a veg box so I could create my soup recipe. I was not paid in money for this review. All opinions are my own.

Foodie parcels review time!


I received a few foodie parcels in the post during March – here’s a round up of them.

Spice Kitchen UK


Spice Kitchen UK is a family run online shop based in Birmingham specialising in high quality hand blended Indian spices. They source the freshest spices from around the world, handblend, roast and grind them. The freshness of the spices was evident even before I opened the package – my husband could smell them while he was coming down the stairs and they were sitting unopened on the doormat! I received the 8 International spice blend kit which contained Garam Masala, Sri Lankan curry powder, Panch Phoron, Mexican spice blend, jerk spice blend, Chinese spice blend, Ras El Hanout and Baharat. It was all packaged beautifully and carefully and there was even a stunning handmade silk cover!


I couldn’t wait to start cooking with my spices and last night gave me my first opportunity. I made salmon with spiced butter using the Sri Lankan spice blend which was absolutely delicious. I’m really looking forward to creating more dishes with the spice blends and you can be sure to hear all about them over the next few weeks. You can read all about Spice Kitchen UK and order their amazing spices right here.

Teapigs Everyday Brew


Teapigs asked me to review their everyday brew tea. Now I have to admit that while I’m already a big Teapigs fan (I am addicted to their wonderful peppermint and liquorice tea) I’m not really a “normal” tea drinker. But I have to say I found this one really flavourful and refreshing. It tastes like proper tea should! I do love that Teapigs use the whole leaves in the tea temples for the freshest possible flavour. There’s absolutely no need to squeeze the living daylights out of the tea temples either – just infuse in boiling water and leave to brew for 3 minutes. The best tea I’ve ever tried.


I felt very lucky indeed (so did the boys!) when I opened this parcel full of treats from…it was like Christmas had come early! I had originally intended to bake something with this box of American themed treats, but I’m ashamed to say they didn’t get that far! The milk duds were the most popular with the kids (they reminded me of toffee poppets) and I loved the peanut butter m&ms. mmmmmm. The nerds also went down very well with the kids – they brought back memories of visiting the sweetie shop after school, my pennies burning a hole in my pocket while I decided what to buy. They tasted pretty much the same as I remember, although I don’t think they were advertised as Wonka nerds back then. If you fancy your very own sweetie hamper you can order them right here.

Many thanks to Spice Kitchen UK, Teapigs and Eat Me Sweets. I was not obliged to give a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. If you’d like something sweet something savoury to write a review concerning a product, please email

Honey and milk chocolate bars



The Happy Egg Company very kindly sent me an Easter gift – a signed copy of Eric Lanard’s “Totally Chocolate.”


I received an email while I was at work telling me to expect the book to arrive very soon, so when I got home that evening I was delighted to see that it had already been delivered! How lovely is that! So I just want to say a big thank you to the Happy Egg team! #Happyeggtastemakers :-)

This book is basically a chocolate lovers dream come true. It contains  good old fashioned home baking like chocolate and vanilla marble cake, chocolate brownies and shortbread and you also have show stopping desserts such as apricot and chocolate Charlotte and chocolate and chestnut truffle cakes.

Recipes on my list to make include:

Chocolate and cinnamon buns
Chocolate and hazelnut muffins
Chocolate pain d’ Epice
Chocolate waffles
Chocolate coffee baked cheesecake
White chocolate, raspberry and lemon battenberg
Hazelnut bouchees


I decided to make these easy honey and milk chocolate bars first. They are very similar to a traybake my Gran used to make with coconut and cornflakes. I loved it and these bars brought back fond memories for me. Isn’t it great how food can transport you back to a certain time and place?

Eric’s recipe called for rice crispies, but I didn’t have any so I used cornflakes, just like my Gran did.

Honey and milk chocolate bars
Recipe adapted from Eric Lanard’s “Totally Chocolate”

200g milk chocolate, chopped plus an extra 25g for the topping
40g butter
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp condensed milk
75g cornflakes, lightly crushed
25g dessicated coconut
150g white chocolate, chopped

Grease an 18cm square baking tin and line with parchment.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the milk chocolate, butter, honey and condensed milk over a low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the cornflakes and coconut. Pour into the lined tin and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Once melted and smooth, leave to cool for a few minutes then pour over the chilled base. Place in the fridge again to allow the chocolate to firm up, at least 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Melt the remaining 25g milk chocolate, then drizzle over the white chocolate. Leave to set at room temperature. Cut into bars.


Chocolate orange hot cross buns



It must be true what they say about your taste in food changing as you get older. When I was little I couldn’t get enough of chocolate. Easter was an extremely exciting time for me – the one day of the year where you were allowed to eat as much chocolate as you wanted and no-one would tell you off was my idea of heaven.

But now you can keep your Easter eggs – the best thing about Easter for me is hot cross buns. Fluffy, soft, spicy buns spread with butter while they are still warm from the oven – yes please!

I wanted to try a chocolate orange version ever since I tried some from a local bakery (Ashers in case you’re wondering!) and loved them. I was a little disappointed this year when I learned they were no longer making them but it gave me the push I needed to make my own. I’m not going to state that my attempt is better than Ashers, but they do come pretty damn close. They are so good toasted under a hot grill and spread with butter and marmalade.

I followed the basic recipe for orange, cranberry and white chocolate hot cross buns I made last Easter and added the zest of two small oranges (you could use one large Orange but I had two little easy peelers to use up in my fruit bowl), 1/2 tsp Orange extract and 80g dark chocolate chips. When they came out of the oven I brushed them with a glaze I made by boiling 3 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp cinnamon together in a small pan until syrupy and slightly thickened.

Hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend!

Roast chicken with lemon and herb butter



This is my go to recipe for roast chicken – it’s my eldest son’s favourite dinner and he requests it often. He particularly loves the herby butter which I rub under the skin – it keeps the chicken moist and is packed full of flavour.

This is a very simple recipe, all you do is take 75g soft butter and mix it with fresh chopped herbs of your choice – today I went for lemon thyme and rosemary. Season the herby butter with salt and pepper. Gently work your fingers underneath the chicken skin to loosen it, trying not to rip it. Using your hands, work the butter underneath the skin. Rub the remaining butter over the top of the chicken. Pop a few herb sprigs and half a lemon in the cavity and pop in the oven for 1-1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken.


Herby lemon roast chicken, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, maple roasted parsnips and carrots, cabbage and Yorkshire puds :-)

Wholemeal wreath

The wonderful people over at Baking Mad recently sent me a beautiful Allinson bread baking hamper. Baking bread is one of my very favourite things to do, so naturally I was delighted!

I had a look on the Baking Mad website and decided to have a go at the wholemeal loaf. I had originally intended to bake the loaf on Friday evening, but my plan had to be put on hold because my son ended up in A&E on Friday afternoon with a mild concussion after an incident in P.E :-(


I ended up making this yesterday afternoon, unfortunately a little rushed (not to mention a tad hungover!) and it shows in the final product. My loaf didn’t turn out as pretty as the picture on the website and it turned out a little flat on one side, but it really didn’t matter much because the flavour was just lovely. I’ll definitely make it again!


I had some of the bread toasted with peanut butter for breakfast, but it would also be really good with soup.

You can find the wholemeal wreath recipe plus lots more inspiration over at baking