Imagine opening a box and finding a beautifully decorated hat box filled to the brim with edible Christmas goodies from Bettys. Wouldn’t you be absolutely delighted to receive this, I know I was. I have heard the legend about Bettys, who have been serving tea and cake for nearly one hundred years, and one day I will make it to one of their tea rooms in person. In the meantime I have been relishing the gorgeous gift they sent me.
I know I have said how much I love a hamper full of food before, and I really do. I think receiving a hamper full of edible gifts would make anyone’s day, you can’t go wrong.
Anyway, why did I like the Christmas Hat Box gift from Bettys in particular? It was full of cute and delicious treats that will take us right through Christmas, bits that I wouldn’t see anywhere else, because of course they are all from Bettys.
Cute chocolate penguins, pretty chocolate fir cones, jam, chutney, Christmas cake, biscuits, chocolate almonds and a Christmas chocolate selection.
The Christmas chocolate selection is stunning, these are delicate, beautifully decorated chocolates with fillings such as hazelnut praline, raspberry ganache truffle and florentine praline. Just these alone make the most wonderful present.
The dark chocolate almonds were to die for, the almonds tasted caramelised under the smooth rich dark chocolate.
The biscuits melt in the mouth and they are presented in pretty boxes.
The sherry soaked fruit Christmas cake isn’t iced but is topped with almonds and cherries, and definitely a welcome treat if you don’t want an icing topped cake.
The whole box is decadent, I love it! There is something in it for the whole family.
I have had a look at the Bettys website many times since dreaming of other goodies I would take great pleasure in receiving, but also because I am going to send a couple of Christmas gifts from there too.
I don’t think you can go wrong sending a pressie from Bettys, absolutely lovely treats to be had. Thank you Bettys for sending me your wonderful Christmas Hat Box.
Prices vary for the Christmas gifts at Bettys but there is such a fab collection that there is something to please everyone. All the gift hampers can be seen here.
Hands up if you serve your boiled potatoes naked? I promise* you if you serve them with a dollop of Clover, which has #NothingArtificial added, you won’t look back. Naked potatoes will never taste the same again!
*Don’t hold me to it, but they will taste so so much better!
I’m not sure cocktails have to be confined to a trendy bar anymore, they have become ever increasingly popular as a drink to be served at home.
With the help of Celebrity Cruises and Waitrose I have brought the tastes of Barcelona into my home with this very tasty little cocktail, the triple orange gin and tonic.
Celebrity Cruises have produced a series of films in partnership with Waitrose, showcasing superior food and drink and unmatchable travel experiences. They are great to watch and you find out tit bits about places you wouldn’t usually.
Gin Mare, the most important ingredient in our cocktail is a Mediterranean gin that is distilled in an ancient monks retreat just outside Barcelona. With a blend of Arbequina olives, thyme, rosemary, basil, cardamon, coriander and juniper berries and citrus fruits this gin has a feel, and taste, of the Mediterranean about it.
Mix the gin with the other ingredients in this cocktail and you have a gorgeously refreshing, tangy drink that whilst welcome in the summer is also pretty apt for the Christmas season ahead with it’s orange undertones. Enjoy!
Have you ever woken up on a Monday morning wondering how you can feel so rubbish after the weekend. Then you remember you’ve overindulged just a little bit and your body is screaming, stop! Just me? Oh… seriously I am sure I’m not the only one. I’ve eaten too much, maybe had a couple of glasses of wine, and I know I need some tasty and healthy food that is going to make me feel better about it being Monday again. Well, this chicken soup is sooo good, it smells amazing, is packed full of veggie goodness and tastes fantastic.
Plus, if you made a roast on the Sunday, fingers crossed you’ll already have some leftover cooked chicken and all the vegetables in the fridge can be chucked in too! This soup is ready in minutes, so if you are tired and need that comfort food asap, this recipe is for you.
This is a dribble down your chin type of soup, really clear but with chunks of fresh vegetables. I prefer to add the cabbage after I take the soup off the heat so that it is still crisp and crunchy but cook it for a couple of minutes if you prefer to. If you want to keep the meal light the soup is filling enough on it’s own but obviously serve with fresh bread if you fancy it.
If you didn’t already know, today is Stir Up Sunday , the day when traditionally all your family takes a turn stirring up the Christmas pudding mixture whilst making a wish. Don’t panic if you have missed it though because thanks to this tasty recipe for Christmas sticky toffee pudding from Edd Kimber and Whitworths can be made a day before and is a tasty compromise if you have a family of Christmas pudding haters! Served with a butterscotch sauce and nut praline this will make you are very popular person among your family.
Whitworths have brought out new packaging for their dried fruits and nuts, the packets are now made from foil to keep them fresher for longer without any damage from light, and they are easier to seal shut. Some of the fruits are already chopped to save time.
Anyway, when I made this yesterday with Whitworths and Edd Kimber we used a whole lot of rum in the puddings, and in the sauce to give this an even better Christmassy feel. This can easily be substituted for your favourite tipple. I may try my fav – cherry brandy.
This Christmas have you thought of doing your shopping through the website Give as you Live? If you do, you can help raise money for charity just by buying all the bits and bobs you were going to anyway.
Give as you Live is a shopping and price comparison website with a heart. You can shop for products from thousands of leading online retailers; use our price comparison tool to ensure you get the best price and even save money by using the exclusive offers and deals available on our site.
A percentage of every purchase you make will be donated to charity, my chosen charity is Macmillan Cancer Support.
And how do they actually raise money you may ask? Like other price comparison websites, Give as you Live generates money through affiliate marketing. This means that retailers pay them commission each time a sale is generated for them through their site and Give as you Live pass at least 50% of this on to the charity of the supporter’s choice.
So, I thought I’d give you a helping hand in selecting a few of the items I would love in my stocking this year please Santa with this gift guide for foodies, a.k.a. Nova’s Christmas List.
I am a sucker for pretty bottles, and pink is my favourite colour plus I do like a good glass of chilled Rosé so Santa if you would so kind as to put a bottle of La Vie en Rose Cinsault rosé, £10.99, in my stocking that would be much appreciated.
Okay, I do already own an ice cream maker but unfortunately since we’ve moved I’ve had to permanently lend it to a friend as my freezer isn’t big enough for the bowl to fit in (sob) so I would absolutely love love the Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker. My mouth is watering just thinking about homemade ice-cream! You can’t beat it.
You can’t have a stocking without chocolate, but it can’t be any old chocolate so I would like some Prestat Praline Truffles please, and yes I have been very good this year.
If you have a good coffee machine at home then you must invest in a great milk frother to make authentic cappuccinos and lattes, my current one is on it’s last legs so if you could manage to slip this Krups automatic milk frother into my stocking too Santa that would be awesome.
Whilst opening all or any of the above on Christmas morning would be gratefully received by myself, I am sure any food or wine lovers would be thrilled too and if you are going to buy any of the products it would be amazing if you did so through Give as you Live site to raise money for your chosen charity. Just by shopping.
I honestly don’t think you can thrill a food lover more than by giving them a hamper full of food. And if the food is something they wouldn’t usually get themselves, then even better. So I was squealing with excitement as I unpacked this Spanish food hamper from Grey’s Fine Foods.
Presented in a wooden gift box, the Grey’s Fine Foods hamper contains ten items including manchego cheese, Bonito tuna, gorgeous Spanish extra virgin olive oil, a green olive tapenade, a selection of meats, a bottle of rioja and Mallorcan savoury rosemary biscuits. There was everything in the hamper to have an amazing feast which is what we did one rainy afternoon.
M, aged 8, literally couldn’t get enough of the Montanegra Iberico ham, it tasted superb; rich and meaty. I have never had Mallorcan savoury rosemary biscuits before and I really loved them, very crunchy and they went so well with the cheese and ham. They definitely made a change from a traditional cheese cracker.
Again, although I’ve had black olive tapenade I haven’t had green before, this was really lovely too. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like and it lasted way beyond our carpet picnic that day. The wine is soooo good, the olive oil such good quality and there was also a tin of Spanish sweet smoked paprika which is being used in lots of my dishes.
I really would recommend Grey’s Fine Foods for all your Spanish foods and gifts, they have a huge range to suit everyone from coffee to sweet treats, to suckling pigs, wine and of course hampers of various sizes and prices including an Iberico ham slicing kit that I think M would absolutely love! He’s not getting it off course but if you are stuck as to what to buy someone who has it all and loves their meat look no further!
Disclosure: I was sent a hamper by Grey’s Fine Foods but all opinions and words are my own.
Clover asked me to come up with a recipe using their spread which has no artificial ingredients and half the saturated fat of butter. Made with buttermilk, Clover has a buttery taste making it the perfect ingredient to add flavour when making easy meals for your family.
Clover is very versatile, it is great for baking because unlike butter you will not have to wait for it to soften, it can be used straight from the fridge and it tastes just as great. It is also perfect for melting over potatoes, or other vegetables, to give them an extra special buttery taste.
If you head over to the Clover Facebook page you’ll find the Clover troop guarding the product so nothing artificial gets in, and users who post a picture on the Facebook page can win a personalised Clover fridge magnet with their faces on, and branded oven gloves. By the end of the campaign, 10,000 £1 discount vouchers redeemable against Clover will be given away.
I am not usually a huge biscuit/cookie fan but for some reason I can’t walk past a white chocolate chip cookie without it calling… “eat me”. I don’t know what it is about them but they taste so good. Warning, the downside of making this recipe is that you’ll end up with about sixteen large cookies instead of buying a packet of four, and then you will just have to eat them all, unless you are an extremely kind-hearted, strong-willed soul. Of which I am obviously not!
And, trying to give my eight year old all the cooking skills he’ll need in life (everyone needs a cookie recipe under their belt, right?) he has been back in kitchen making these oh so delicious white chocolate chip pistachio cookies, because pistachios are his absolute favourite snack. Did you see his last foray into the kitchen where he made mozzarella stuffed burgers?
This is such an easy recipe for children to make and if you can’t tempt them in the kitchen to make cookies then I don’t know what will work. This is a very basic recipe that is easy to adapt, if you don’t like white chocolate or pistachios use your favourite chocolate, nuts or dried fruit. They’ll still taste amazing! These are the soft chewy cookies that will melt in your mouth, if you prefer your cookies with a bit more crunch, bake for an extra two minutes.
Sift Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt
Gently mix in the chocolate chips and pistachios
The dough can be quite sticky so use floured hands to roll the dough into a sausage
Cut the dough into 2 cm slices and place cut side down onto a parchment lined baking tray leaving a large space between each one, as they can spread quite a bit.
Bake for 8-10 minutes
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before carefully moving onto a wire rack
You will be able to make about 16 large cookies with this recipe but if you prefer smaller ones then bake for slightly less time. When they are a little golden around the edges that's when they are done.
If you prefer your cookies with a bit more crunch as opposed to soft and chewy, then bake them for an extra two minutes.
When McCain asked me to take part in their #kidsteatimetakeover campaign I didn’t think twice. I am terribly guilty of not spending enough time in the kitchen with the children. I have two sons that have gone off to uni with the most basic of cooking skills that as a food blogger I feel quite frankly, embarrassed by. Give them their dues though they have coped magnificently. And, if you can read a cookery book then you should be able to follow the most basic of instructions…hopefully!
I started off well with M, he could make sandwiches at two years old, and cut up cucumber with a knife but then we haven’t done anything for a long time. However, McCain want to champion the simple joys of real family teatimes this Autumn by hijacking one night of the week (Thursday) where families can connect over food by simply swapping roles and encouraging kids to takeover the helm in the kitchen.
Step by step to making mozzarella burgers…
Teatimes can often be overlooked and go by in a flash. This campaign aims to provide another reason for families to enjoy their teatime in a fun, interactive way and experience the good stuff together.
So, that’s our plan…eight year old M is going to be cooking dinner for us and to get us started he made mozzarella burgers for us last Thursday.
This is a very easy recipe to follow, however do supervise younger children with knives and when using the oven.
I have to admit these mozzarella burgers are probably the best homemade burgers we have ever made…and that gooey mozzarella in the middle, yum!
M cooked McCain oven chips (with supervision) and made a little salad to go with the burgers and chips. We used some lovely crusty rolls which taste so much better than burger buns, in my opinion. M had ketchup in his burger and I had tomato salsa, mayonnaise and some lettuce. They were soooo good!
I have written so many time before that eggs are my absolute favourite breakfast, with a rasher or two of bacon on the side of course. I love poached eggs, and eggs benedict is divine. However you can’t beat a fried egg if you fancy a sandwich. Mmmm.
According to research carried out by MOMA, when they asked 1000 people how they liked their eggs in the morning these were the results:
I am really surprised that fried and poached eggs are equally liked as I imagined more people would prefer fried eggs, how do you like your eggs?
We get through so many eggs a week in various guises and they are so good for you too, they are great not only for breakfast but lunch and dinner too!
My children are big fans of scotch eggs so I have made this delicious homemade scotch eggs recipe which could double up as breakfast as well as a healthy-ish addition to the lunchbox as these are baked instead of fried but there is no compromise on flavour.
Of course if you have a deep fat fryer then these will take about ten minutes to cook. You can also give these a very quick shallow fry before baking to give them an even colour, otherwise you will need to keep turning them every so often to get them looking golden.