Make your mum smile

I adore fresh flowers in the house, they can be an inexpensive way to brighten my day and having them around is a great pick me up. They can also be a luxurious gift and a beautiful bouquet of flowers is a wonderful way to make your mum smile on Mother’s day.

Mother’s day, or Mothering Sunday in the UK falls on Sunday 15th March this year.

Make your mum smile

I was sent these gorgeous Mother’s Day flowers, a  bouquet of luxury long stemmed sweet avalanche and white avalanche roses from Debenhams Flowers Mother’s Day Collection.

Make your mum smile

There are many gifts to choose from to make your mum smile, with flowers including lilies, roses, tulips, orchids, carnations, daisies and more. There are also options to add gifts such as chocolates or cake.

Sweet avalanche roses

Prices start at £17.99 for an Orchid up to a whopping £64.99 for ‘Designer Juliet’  a bouquet of luxury David Austin roses but it is absolutely stunning.

Make your mum smile using this discount code

As a special gift to readers of Cherished By Me I have a fabulous discount code so you can get 25% off your flower delivery.

Use this discount code:


This entitles you to 25% off all bouquets except Flowers By Post, which is just a small range anyway.

You don’t need to spend a lot (or anything) for your mum to know how much you love her, there are plenty of homemade gifts that would make me smile, last year the girls made me about a million* whoopie pies. I think I put on about half a stone eating them. These rose creams make a lovely gift too. Even flowers cut from the garden would thrill me…after all it’s the thought that counts and knowing you really are appreciated.  After all being a parent can sometimes feel like a thankless task.

So, however you make your mum smile I hope you both have a wonderful Mother’s Day. X

*just a very small slight exaggeration…I think it was about 30!


Travel Tips: Reduce the stress of travel

Sometimes in the past I have found travelling so stressful that I could quite easily have binned the holiday at the last minute. However once all checked in I would relax and be raring to go.

reduce the stress of travel

The following travel tips should help reduce the stress of travel.

1. Be prepared, check way in advance of travelling that your passport is valid, if it is due to expire in less than six months check the passport requirements for the country you are visiting. And get a European Health insurance Card if travelling within Europe, they’re free so no excuse.

2. The same goes for visas, check with the country you are visiting and ideally allow six weeks for applications to be processed in busy times. Sadly I know of someone who didn’t make their holiday because their visa didn’t turn up in time.

3. Wherever in the world you are travelling to, check which vaccinations are recommended as some require more than one dose over a period of time to be effective.

4. If you have an early morning flight consider staying in a hotel local to the airport to avoid stressful rush hour traffic. That is what I did when I reduce the stress of travel went to Ireland last November. If you want to drive to the airport there are lots of great park, stay and go options such as the one offered by the Crown Plaza, Heathrow. You can then park your car, unwind in the hotel for the night and go off on your travels the next morning feeling calm and relaxed. We have done this many times with the children after missing a flight once! Yep, that was fun.

5. Obviously check what you need to wear, if going on a casual beach holiday you won’t need much more than swimwear, shorts, t-shirts and summer dresses. Some deluxe hotels will expect men in long trousers for dining in the restaurants, this will be clear on the hotel’s website though. Observe the dress code of the country you are visiting, especially relevant when touring places of worship.

6. Travelling with young children doesn’t have to be too stressful if you are prepared, don’t panic about taking enough nappies for two weeks unless you are going to a remote jungle somewhere. Again, do your research, most places will have shops where you can buy essentials. I do remember travelling with four children once, the youngest was just over a year old and we had to get a teeny tiny plane with a luggage restriction of 15kg…I had to pack very carefully, and take enough nappies! It was a challenge but we had an amazing time.

7. It should be obvious but make sure you have enough essential medication in your hand luggage to last a few days, you never know when you will reduce the stress of travel end up with an impromptu extra long stay due to delays out of the airline’s control. I was shocked how many people were in a sticky situation after the flight I was on from Florida last year was delayed by over 24 hours.

8. I think travelling on the whole with young children is so much easier now, but if you need to keep them amused on a flight consider making up a bag of goodies for them that you give them on the plane filled with small gifts. My children loved little play figures, a colouring book and a small box of pencils, magic painting (don’t forget the paint brush) was a big hit. Effective and mess free as long as you hold the cup of water. A new picture book or story book for older ones along with small travel games such as magnetic ludo or hangman are great time wasters too.

Don’t forget to have fun and remember that you can get most things anywhere so don’t panic too much about trying to fit the kitchen sink into your luggage.

Does anyone have any other tips for reducing the stress of travel?

Happy travels!


 Disclosure: Sponsored Content


Feel At Home

To celebrate Spain and New Zealand being added to Three Mobile’s  list of Feel At Home destinations, I was invited to a “Wines of the Feel At Home World” tasting event.

Feel at Home

Three’s Feel At Home service lets you use your phone abroad at no extra cost in 16 destinations. So you can tweet, text and blog while abroad, without the worry of a big bill when you return home. Find out more about the service, including where you can use it, here:

Feel At Home As you can see there were a lot of wines and spirits to try out…many with beautifully tempting bottles that actually hid either a pleasurable Baijui Guizhou Xijiu -Chinese Sakeexperience or, a toe-curling one. That pretty white bottle of Chinese sake…pure evil!

If you’re interested in alcohol from around the world you may like to peruse the list of drinks that were available from

The Feel At Home destinations


Hong Kong and Macau    Hong Kong

Tsing Tao Beer

Tsingtao Beer, a well-hopped pilsner of 4.7% alcohol


Finland    Finland

Lapponia Cloudberry (Lakka)

Made from native Finnish berries


Sweden    Sweden    

Carlshamns Flaggpunsch

The ‘Swedish National Drink’


Macau   Macau 

Baijui Guizhou Xijiu

Rice based spirit distilled from Chinese Sake


Indonesia  Indonesia 

Batavia-Arrack Van Oosten

Sugarcane and fermented red rice drink from the Island of Java


Sri Lanka  Sri Lanka

Ceylon Arrack 40%

Made from the sap of Sri Lankan coconut trees


Norway  Norway 

Linie Aquavit

The Norwegian version of caraway/aniseed based Schnapps


Ireland   Ireland  

Bushmills Black Bush

Luxury Irish Rye and Single Malt, aged in Oloroso sherry casks


Denmark   Denmark

Gammel Dansk Bitter Dram

Danish ‘secret recipe’ herbal bitters


Switzerland Switzerland   

Doral ‘La Cote’ 2012 Expressions

Delicate Swiss wine, fragrant and light, from a locally developed grape


New Zealand  New Zealand  

Frost Pocket Sauvignon 2013, Marlborough

The wine that put New Zealand on the map, an explosion of fruit


Austria Austria   

Gruner Veltliner 2013, Hopler

The Austrian national grape, rich, but dry and tropically fragrant


France  France  

Macon Charnay 2012, Manciat Ponset, Burgundy

A classic French oaked wine from the masters of Chardonnay


Israel   Israel

Carmel Ridge White 2010

Made in Israel Mediterranean warmth, and French grapes


Italy   Italy

Chianti Classico 2011, Cecchi

Tuscany’s classic full-bodied red, made for a hearty meal


Spain   Spain  

Mas Delmera Monastrell Reserva 2008, Jumilla

Am unknown gem from Spain, full of Mediterranean warmth


Australia   Australia

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2011, McLaren Vale

Australian ‘sunshine in a glass’ red, seriously produced by one of their best



Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel, 2012, California

The ‘native’ Californian Zin delivers a heady mix of Californian ripe fruit

Feel At Home from Three is a great step forward in keeping costs down when travelling and whilst I don’t have any travel plans so far for this year it would have come in handy last year when I travelled to Ibiza, Florida and Ireland. Even though I used wifi for most calls I still had to text home a few times and it is scary how quickly the cost escalates. This is definitely something to consider if you have any holidays or business trips abroad planned.


Sunbites Snacks

We don’t tend to buy savoury snacks too often, usually saving them for special occasions or picnics but once I start munching I do find it hard to stop. We were all very happy to try out Sunbites Snacks a new addition to the Walkers range.

Sunbites Snacks

Sunbites are a multigrain snack made from wheat, barley and oats and these new additions include Crispy Crackers, Pitta Bakes and Crackers and Dip.

Sunbites Snacks

The Sunbites Snacks are oven baked to give them extra crunch and the Crispy Crackers and Pitta Bakes contain 30% less fat on average than regular crisps. The whole range of products are suitable for vegetarians.

Sunbites Snacks The Sunbites Crispy Crackers are available in four flavours in multipacks of five with a RRP of £1.89

  • Cream Cheese and ChiveSunbites Snacks
  • Sun Ripened Sweet Chilli
  • Lightly Salted
  • Roasted Onion and Rosemary

The Sunbites Pitta Bakes are available in three flavours in multipacks of five with a RRP of £1.89.

  • Vintage Cheddar Cheese and Caramelised Onion
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Chilli
  • Roasted Onion and Rosemary

The Sunbites Crackers and Dip come in a small box with a bag of Lightly Salted Crackers and a pot of either Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Salsa or Caramelised Red Onion Chutney. They have a RRP of £1.49.

We have tried the lightly salted crispy crackers and the vintage cheddar & caramelised onion pitta bakes, both of which have been a huge hit.

I love the snappy crunch of the pitta bakes and I really liked the salsa dip and lightly salted crackers. These Sunbite snacks are something I would buy again and I think the small box of crackers and salsa or chutney is a fab idea. Perfect for an on the go snack or a way of satisfying a snack craving that doesn’t involve having to buy a big pot of dip of which half goes to waste.

Obviously these contain wheat so are not suitable for gluten free diets. They also contain dairy. Each 24g of Sunbites Pitta Bakes cheddar and onion flavour contain 111kcal, 4g fat (0.2g saturates), 1.2 g sugar & 0.36g salt. I can’t give you a detailed break down of the lightly salted crackers because someone has eaten them all!

What is your favourite savoury snack?

Disclosure: I was sent the Sunbite Snacks to review but all opinions are my own.


Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls

I am constantly trying to come up with healthy-ish after school snacks, especially for seven year old M who has a very sweet tooth. These raw, dairy free, gluten free, vegan Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls are perfect for a sweet chocolate treat that won’t ‘break the sweet bank’.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls

Why Bliss Balls? I can only assume because they induce a state of bliss when eaten. These get me through that late afternoon slump when I am desperate to eat something and help to avoid that full pre-dinner blow out!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls

These hazelnut and chocolate bliss balls also have enough chocolatey taste to satisfy a chocolate craving. Consider these a healthy truffle.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls

The good thing about Bliss Balls is that they can be varied so easily, don’t fancy hazelnuts, just swap them for almonds…or brazils. I have purposely made these without coconut oil, and they look very pretty rolled in coconut but as much as I love love coconut it doesn’t like me very much so I have to limit it.

I often make my bliss balls with prunes too, but remember they contain a lot of fibre so be careful how many balls you eat at once or you could regret it. I find two hazelnut and chocolate bliss balls are more than enough to satisfy so I’m not sure you could eat more in one go.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls

Now whilst these little beauties are ‘technically’ considered ‘sugar free’ in sugar free circles it must be remembered that they do still contain a high level of fruit sugar from the dates and the maple syrup. If you don’t mind your hazelnut and chocolate bliss balls being a little crumblier than the ones I have shown in the picture then take out the maple syrup. The recipe will be fine, I find the only benefit of the maple syrup is that it makes the mixture stick together better.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls recipe

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls
Prep time
Total time
If you fancy something sweet but don't want to be 'too naughty' then these delicious Bliss Balls could be the answer to your sugar or chocolate craving.
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 12
  • 50g Buckwheat flakes (or already ground Buckwheat flour)
  • 60g Hazelnuts
  • 100g Dates (or Prunes)
  • 2 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 tsp Hazelnut Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp Chia seeds
  1. Using a food processor chop the hazelnuts, you want them to be chopped rather than a fine powder
  2. Remove the hazelnuts from the food processor and put into a small bowl.
  3. If using buckwheat flakes rather than already milled put into the food processor and whiz it up until fine and it looks like flour. This will only take a couple of minutes at the most if you have a good sharp blade.
  4. Add the dates, hazelnut butter, vanilla extract and maple syrup to the food processor and mix until it is quite fine and coming together.
  5. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add about two thirds of the chopped hazelnuts.
  6. Using your hands mix well until it is all well combined.
  7. Divide the mixture into about 12 and roll into balls.
  8. Add the chia seeds to the remaining hazelnuts and mix and then roll the balls in the mixture to coat.
  9. Try not to eat all at once.
  10. Keep the bliss balls in a container in the fridge.
Don't panic if you don't have buckwheat flakes, ground almonds make a great substitute.
Prunes also taste great, just don't eat all 12 bliss balls at once though as you may regret it!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Bliss Balls


Jack Link’s Beef Snacks

I was really looking forward to trying Jack Link’s Beef Snacks from the world’s number one authentic American meat snack brand who are celebrating it’s launch into Tesco Express stores by offering shoppers an exclusive 50p off coupon via it’s Facebook page.


Jack Link's Beef Snacks

These Jack Link’s Beef Snacks are high in protein and low in fat, made using the best beef which is seasoned, then slowly cooked in a smoke oven using a treasured Link family recipe which has been passed down through generations.

The Jack Link’s Beef Snack is available at 1600 Tesco Express stores, they usually cost £1.30 but with the coupon available on Facebook can be bought for 80p.

Jack Link's Beef Snacks

The Jack Link’s Beef Snack contains a mix including beef, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, soy protein and each 100g of the beef snack is made from 142g of beef. Per 100g there is 312 kcal, 12.6 g fat, 21.5g of carbs or which 21g are sugar. 27.8g Protein and 5.6g salt.

I have to admit I was expecting to try a beef jerky which is renowned for being a high protein healthy snack. However whilst this is a high protein snack it also has quite a high sugar content (see Jack Link’s response to this further down).  The snack has a smoky taste and has a texture similar to a well known meaty snack that comes in a thin long sausage shape.

Jack Link's Beef Snacks

Jack Link’s Beef Snack is soft to bite, it tastes very meaty (would be a little odd if it didn’t) and has a slightly greasy exterior. It isn’t unpleasant but I have to admit I am not a huge fan and would probably not buy this myself. I am quite disappointed at the sugar content, and as someone who tries to keep sugar consumption under check I can think of other high protein snacks that are lower in sugar that I would prefer to snack on.

However, if you would like to try Jack Link’s Beef Snacks with 50p off don’t forget to head over to their Facebook page to grab your money off coupon.

In response to my concern over the sugar content in Jack Link’s Meat Snacks they have kindly offered the following information:

A spokesperson for JACK LINK’S Europe, explains:


“Sugar is part of the carbohydrate group of nutrients. Along with fats and proteins, carbohydrates make up the largest digestible part of our daily diet.

“It’s important to replenish these nutrient reserves, particularly following any physical exertion such as taking part in sporting activities.

“Proteins play the most important role in regenerating muscles and other cells in the body. Beef is one of the most valuable sources of protein, and can be converted into protein within the body more quickly than other proteins, meaning that it can work to regenerate cells in a shorter period of time.

“Combining this intake of proteins with sugar (carbohydrates) speeds up digestion, making this protein available to the body more quickly for regeneration.

“Carbohydrates can be converted easily by the body, and serve as a ‘transmitter’ of sorts to speed up the ingestion of proteins.

“Even so, the sugar content of our meat snacks is so low that, in comparison with other snacks rich in carbohydrates, insulin is not released into the body in excess meaning that ‘cravings’ for sugary foods are kept at bay.”

For more information head to: Jack Link’s

Twitter : @JackLinksEurope

Facebook: Jack Link’s

Disclosure: I have been sent Jack Link’s Beef Snacks to review, all opinions are my own.


Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple

I wrote in my post the other day that we don’t get to eat Chinese food that often mainly because it is not very coeliac friendly, however one thing that I do remember from my very long time ago visits to Chinese restaurants is the delicious dessert toffee banana. Being in the Chinese mood, well it is Chinese New Year this week, plus a vat of oil just screaming to be used after I made vegetable spring rolls, I could not resist trying my hand at deep fat frying again. So, here is my utterly sticky Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple recipe.

Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple

This is sooo full of fat and sugar so not for the faint hearted but it is oh so good, and oh so easy I cannot believe I haven’t made it before. Whilst I didn’t make this gluten free purely because I had fried something with gluten in the oil, stupidly, I am sure this recipe would work just as well using gluten free flour.

Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple

I have always preferred this Chinese dessert made with banana but I have also had toffee apple and as one of the children isn’t too keen on bananas I decided to do a mixture of the two. Unfortunately for said daughter it is a bit like playing banana roulette because once the battered fruit have been fried and coated in a crispy toffee shell you can’t tell which is which until you bite into these gorgeous crispy, squishy, sweet delights.

Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple recipe

5.0 from 3 reviews
Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious Chinese dessert that is quick and easy to make.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 16
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 30g cornflour plus extra for coating
  • 100ml cold water
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g sugar
  • 40g chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 bananas each chopped into 4 or 5 pieces and or
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 8
  • Oil for deep frying
  1. Put the flour, cornflour, baking powder, vanilla extract and water into a bowl and mix to make a wet batter.
  2. Coat the banana and apple lightly in cornflour.
  3. Heat enough oil to deep fry, in a deep pan until it reaches 180ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds & floats to the surface).
  4. Use a wooden skewer to coat the fruit in the batter and then drop the fruit into the hot oil carefully.
  5. Only do a couple of pieces at a time.
  6. Turn the fruit over in the oil after a couple of seconds and then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon.
  7. Drain on kitchen paper.
  8. Once all the fruit has been deep fried put the sugar in a heavy based pan.
  9. Prepare a bowl with ice cold water (if you have ice great if you don't make sure the water is as cold as you can get it).
  10. Heat the sugar on a medium to low heat shaking every so often to stop it catching, don't stir it though until the sugar has melted and is a deep amber colour.
  11. Quickly coat each piece in the toffee sauce and then drop into the ice water. Remove immediately onto a plate.
  12. Repeat very quickly until all of the battered pieces are coated in toffee and then sprinkle them with the chopped hazelnuts.Even better if you can get someone else to sprinkle the hazelnuts whilst you carry on coating. (The toffee sets very quickly).
  13. Best served warm, even lovelier with ice cream.
Be very careful with the toffee sauce, it is boiling and will burn if you are stupid enough to stick your finger in it to see what it tastes like (nooo I would never do anything so silly!)
Also, be patient with the sugar, better to allow it to melt slowly than to end up with burnt toffee and a ruined pan.

Hazelnut Toffee Banana and Apple

Dolphin Tale 2

The perfect way to keep children amused this half term (always a tough one because of the cold and wet February weather) is to get a copy of Dolphin Tale 2 out on DVD and Blu-ray today,  Monday 16th February 2015.

Dolphin Tale 2

Winter, the world’s most extraordinary dolphin returns in the charming and heartwarming sequel to DOLPHIN TALE. This time, Clearwater Marine Aquarium must find Winter a new companion, or risk loosing Winter to another Aquarium forever.

Dolphin Tale 2

Directed by Charles Martin Smith (Dolphin Tale, Air Bud), DOLPHIN TALE 2 sees return performances from the entire main cast of DOLPHIN TALE led by Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (The Lego Movie, Lucy) as the creator of Winter’s prosthetic tail, Dr. Cameron McCarthy; Harry Connick Jr (Dolphin Tale, Angels Sing) as head of the Clearwater Marine Hospital team, Dr. Clay Haskett; Nathan Gamble (Marley & Me, Beyond The Heavens) as Winter’s owner and trusted companion, Nelson Sawyer; Ashley Judd (Divergent, Olympus Has Fallen) as Sawyer’s mother, Lorraine Nelson; and Kris Kristofferson (San Patricios, 7 Minutes) as Reed Haskett, Dr. Clay’s father.

We were lucky to get an early copy of Dolphin Tale 2 on DVD and live tweeted our thoughts on the film.

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphin Tale 2

If you love animal films then this is one for you. You don’t need to have watched the first film to follow along, I haven’t seen it.  It is probably better suited to older children from about ten years old. M, aged seven wasn’t really too keen on the film and it didn’t keep his interest. Whilst I, aged eleven liked the film she said it wasn’t as good as the first film ‘Dolphin Tale’.

It was an emotional roller coaster, I felt quite moved in a few places but it all worked out in the end, thank goodness! They are doing an amazing job at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.



  • Dolphin Tale 2: Underwater Magic
  • Dolphin Tale 2: True Story
  • Look Who’s Running The show
  • Bethany Hamilton Meets Winter
  • Dolphin Tale 2: The Mission
  • Cozi Zuehlsdorff – “Brave Souls”
  • Gavin DeGraw – “You Got Me”
  • Blooper Reel



  • Dolphin Tale 2: True Story

Dolphin Tale 2

Vegetable Spring Rolls

So, along with Christmas, Easter and Halloween, Chinese New Year is another celebration that seven year old M really looks forward to. Every year he gets excited finding out which animal the year represents. This year, February 19th 2015 is the year of the Goat/Sheep.

We have been very lucky to have been in China Town, London during the Chinese New Year parade with lions, and dragons and amazing costumes, music and dancing, if you can get there the celebrations this year are on Sunday 22nd February. It is great fun.

The children love Chinese food but we don’t tend to have it very often (Chinese take-aways are a coeliac sufferer’s nightmare) so when I saw a recipe for vegetable spring rolls in the latest John Lewis’ Cook Edition I thought why not treat the children to a home cooked Chinese meal and one that my son can actually eat!

Vegetable Spring Rolls

No laughing at my vegetable spring rolls…I admit the photos are not the most flattering but they took a lot longer than I thought they would and I am a complete novice when it comes to deep frying. The children were just a little hungry by the time they were cooked and I was feeling a slightly harassed and hot and bothered.

Vegetable Spring RollsI used Blue Dragon Spring Roll Wrappers which required soaking before using them which was slightly different to what I was expecting. I am thinking that perhaps I fried them for a bit longer than I should but they kept bubbling up, a bit alien like, which was quite comical, but hey it was part of the learning experience. Next time I might try cooking them in the Tefal Actifry.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

As well as lots of  accessory inspiration for an authentic Chinese meal (wok, bamboo steamer, julienne peeler, oriental teapot etc) the Cook Edition also has a link to a couple of fab videos on Chinese cooking.

Cook Edition

To go with our vegetable spring rolls I made egg fried rice, noodles and this amazing slow cooker Chinese Pulled Beef recipe from Super Golden Bakes.  The children loved it. I think I will have to make double next time!

Vegetable Spring Rolls

I may not have made the best looking vegetable spring rolls but they tasted great, dare I say it, they tasted like ‘real’ spring rolls you would buy from a Chinese take-away.

Vegetable Springs Rolls

Hmmm so mine don’t look quite the way they do in the photo but I think they must have been different wrappers to the ones I had.

Vegetable Spring Rolls recipe

Vegetable Spring Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make sure you use gluten free spring roll wrappers, Tamari soy sauce & NO Oyster sauce if making these gluten free
Author: Cherished By Me
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 12
  • 600ml groundnut oil
  • 1tsp peeled & grated ginger
  • 100g shiitake mushrooms
  • 100g tinned bamboo shoots, drained & cut into matchsticks
  • 50g tinned water chestnuts, drained & sliced
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (use tamari to keep the spring rolls gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 75g beansprouts (check they are gluten free)
  • 2 leaves cavolo nero, finely spiced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced lengthways
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (omit to keep recipe gluten free)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 24 small spring roll wrappers
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with a 1 tbsp water
  1. Heat a wok on a high heat and add 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  2. Stir fry the ginger for a few seconds.
  3. Add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots & water chestnuts to the wok and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Season the mixture with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and the five spice.
  5. Put the beansprouts, cavolo nero, spring onions & carrot into a bowl, add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots & water chestnuts.
  6. Add 1tbsp of soy sauce, oyster sauce(not if recipe is gluten free), sesame oil, salt & pepper to the bowl and mix.
  7. Take 2 spring roll wrappers and lay one on top of the other.
  8. Spoon 2 tbsp of filling into the centre of the top wrapper & brush each corner with cornflour paste(I found I didn't need to use this as the wrappers I used were very sticky)
  9. Fold the wrapper over the mixture and then fold in the sides and roll up.
  10. Heat the remaining oil in a wok until it reaches 180ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds & floats to the surface)
  11. Fry the spring rolls until golden brown, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  12. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.


Vegetable Spring Rolls


Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

Strawberry & Black Pepper Cupcakes

I know, they sound a little odd…but strawberries and black pepper are often paired so why shouldn’t strawberry & black pepper cupcakes make a great combination? These will not be for everyone, if you like a little kick along with the sweetness of strawberry jam then hopefully you will love these. And dare I say it, there are Valentine’s day hints everywhere, these make for a more masculine cake or definitely for those that don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.

Strawberry and Black Pepper Cupcakes

I have iced them purely for blog photos but personally I think these cakes look sooo pretty completely naked. Maybe a sprinkling of icing sugar?

Strawberry and Black Pepper Cupcakes

I went for strawberry jam rather than strawberries purely because it was what I had in the cupboard and strawberries can be so expensive at this time of year. Adjust the amount of black pepper according to taste, I was slightly heavy handed and my children have called these strawberry & black pepper cupcakes ‘spicy’…however it hasn’t stopped them from demolishing them.

Strawberry & Black Pepper Valentine's cupcakes

As you can see from the photos, I put about half a teaspoon of jam on top of the cake mixture and then gently swirled it with a cocktail stick so that there was delicious strawberry jam running through the cake.

Strawberry & Black Pepper Cupcakes

So, who celebrates Valentine’s day? As I am single I tend to forget about it usually but this year I have been very aware of it hence I jumped on the band wagon to bring you cute little heart shaped cakes, obviously don’t go out and buy a heart shaped cupcake tin if you don’t have one, use an ordinary one.

Strawberry & Black Pepper Cupcakes

So this Valentine’s day I get a rare child free night, however not a great night to go out unless I want to share every single bar or restaurant with couples out for a romantic evening. It will be a bottle of wine and I will cook myself something nice to eat and watch a film. To be honest, it sounds like the perfect night to me and no fighting over the remote control. I am more than happy for a little me time.

Strawberry & Black Pepper Cup Cakes

Strawberry & Black Pepper Cupcakes recipe

4.0 from 2 reviews
Strawberry & Black Pepper Cup Cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Cake
Serves: 12
  • 125g soft butter (or stork)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 60 ml milk
  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6
  2. Put all the ingredients except for the milk and jam into a food processor/mixer and blitz until smooth.
  3. Add the milk slowly to make a soft dropping consistency.
  4. If doing in the traditional way, cream the butter and sugar, and then the eggs one at a time adding a spoonful of flour each time and fold in the remainder of the flour& baking powder.
  5. Add in the milk as above.
  6. Spoon the mixture into cake cases.
  7. Add a dollop (1/2 tsp) of jam on to each and use a cocktail stick to swirl through the cake mixture.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked and golden.
  9. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
  10. Decorate with icing or just a sprinkling of icing sugar when they are cool.

If you want to ice the cakes, use either glace icing or fondant icing if you want a glossier finish. Otherwise I think these are perfect with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Enjoy. Strawberry & Black Pepper Cup Cakes