Friday, 30 March 2012

Emma Bunton for Argos

When I was asked if I'd like to review some clothes for Argos I was a little dubious. To start with, I didn't even realise that Argos sold clothes and secondly I wasn't sure if the clothes would be the style I like to buy. Then they introduced me to the Emma Button range of children's clothes, designed exclusively for Argos and I was pleasantly surprised. 

The clothing range included many items that were right up my street, both in styles and colours. I liked the trendy edge that boys clothes had and the girls clothes were just right for my 6 year old girl. I have a constant headache trying to find clothes for her as girls clothes seem to be either too young looking, way too old looking or hideously overpriced from places like Joules or Boden. The Emma Bunton girls range is perfect for her age.

Argos told me I could pick two items for each of my children and for my daughter I selected the
Gingham Prom Dress and the Colour Block Skirt.  For my son, I chose the Printed Guitar Hoodie and the Union Jack T-Shirt.

I had forgotten all about this until I received a delivery at the weekend. The clothes immediately got the children's seal of approval. Well, mummy has good taste.  After going into battle with the iron (clothes don't travel well do they?) I popped them on to the children.

The clothes fit really well and very true to size. My daughter particularly liked the dress and it did look really pretty on, the perfect summer dress and the skirt was gorgeous too, nice and swirly as my little lady says.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the clothes and the fact that they are 100% cotton. I think these will wash well and we will get a lot of use out of them over the summer. In fact, I know that these will wash well as my son immediately put the t-shirt on and promptly dropped tomato ketchup all down the front. I didn't wash it straightaway as I forgot (such a slattern!) but am pleased to report that all traces of ketchup were removed from the t-shirt!

I really like the Emma Bunton range and am already considering buying a couple of items - they're on 3 for 2 at the moment as well which makes them even better value and now I've seen the quality of them firsthand, I wouldn't hesitate snapping them up!

With thanks to the Argos Clothing Team.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

I love rhubarb season and because I missed it for about three years on the trot I make a concerted effort now to make sure I do some rhubarb cooking. This week I made rhubarb jam with a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website.

I quite enjoy jam-making but it always makes me a little nervous. I think it's not going to set, yet it always does. A jam thermometer really helps the confidence - you need to get to 105c.

I liked the sound of this recipe, I thought the vanilla made it sound interesting and a bit different from other rhubarb jams I have eaten in the past. Thankfully Tesco brought me ruby red rhubarb rather than the green stuff I normally get, so the jam came out a lovely deep red colour.

It took longer to get to setting point than the recipe said but I do think you have to wing it a bit with jam and just cook it until it's ready rather than sticking rigidly to the recipe times. If I'd have done that I would have ended up with a syrup rather than a jam! lengthways

I tasted a little of this on my finger last night and it was delicious - very sweet! I think it's going to be lovely on a scone with some clotted cream. In fact I want that so badly I'm going to go to the shop this evening and get some if I can.

This jam will keep for 6 months, in a cool cupboard or pantry. It makes enough to fill about 3 x lb jars.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam


1kg rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 3cm pieces (this is the weight after preparing)
1kg jam sugar
2 vanilla pods, halved
juice 1 lemon


To start with, pop a small plate in the freezer (you'll need this later for testing your jam). Wash your jam jars in some really hot soapy water then pop into the oven on a low heat to dry completely. You can leave them in there to keep warm whilst you make the jam.

Place all the rhubarb into your preserving pan along with the jam sugar and the halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved. Squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.

Boil the rhubarb for around 10 minutes, the fruit should soften. Skim off any scum as it is boiling but I do minimal skimming or else you may lose some of those gorgeous vanilla seeds as they float to the top. 

After the 10 minutes is up, test to see if the jam has reached setting point. Put a small teaspoon of jam onto your chilled plate and pop into the fridge. After a minute or so, push your finger through the jam. If the jam wrinkles as you push it is ready. If it doesn't wrinkle, keep cooking for another 2 minutes and then test again. Keep doing this until you have reached setting point.

When the jam has reached setting point, let it cool slightly before ladling the jam into the warm sterilised jars, filling as near to the top as possible and sealing.

Yum! And with that, I'm off to get some scones!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Listography - Top 5 Beauty Products

Once again I am joining in with Kate Takes 5's Listography which this week has the theme of Top 5 Beauty Products. 

I'm probably as guilty as many busy mothers, working or otherwise, of not taking care of myself but I do have some favourite products and for your perusal, here they are!

1. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour

I recently discovered these hair dyes as my mum had bought one for me to colour her hair with. I liked the ease and non-drippiness (technical term...) of the product so started buying them for myself. It's quite an experience hair colourant but you can often find them on offer in Boots. I like that it gives a good overall colour, doesn't smell too bad and is easy to apply yourself. I am currently sporting the Radiant Red but due to the darkness of my hair, it's not actually that radiant.

2. Diorskin Nude

I'm not big on foundation but once I hit 30 I realised I probably needed a little something to even out my skin tone. The nice lady at the Dior counter tried this on me and I was pleasantly surprised at how it felt on my skin and how natural it looked. I can never be without a bottle now! 

3. OPI Nail Polishes

I have a vast array of OPI polishes, in all kinds of fabulous colours. My favourites are the ones that are metallic or glittery and I really only ever paint my toes as my fingernails chip in an instant, no matter what base or top coats I use.  When I was in the US in the summer I stocked up on a few more at Sephora as they can be quite difficult, or expensive, to buy here in the UK. I tend to get them off Ebay. The names of the polishes are fun and I like the mini sets you can get, they even did a Muppets themed one.

4. Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf

Mr M bought me this perfume for Christmas last year. Silly man even bought the uber-expensive Eau de Parfum but that does mean a little goes a long way and the bottle is lasting forever which is good because I love this perfume and I feel like a goddess when I wear it, which is always a good thing!

5. Philosophy Hot Buttered Rum Shower-gel

I mean, who wouldn't want to smell like hot buttered rum? This smells so delicious, you could eat it. I love all Philosophy Shower gels and I have a few different ones but this is probably my favourite at the moment. So far, I haven't found one I didn't like, they all smell fabulous.

And there you have it, my Top 5 - well my current Top 5 anyhow. I reserve the right to change my mind. Do check out the rest of the entries over on Kate's blog.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Kitchen Pack-Rat

I seem to accumulate kitchen "stuff".  Obviously whilst I say "accumulate", Mr M is screaming HOARD in my direction. It's a bit harsh but in his defence, not entirely far from the truth. 

You see, I like to shop, and I like to buy kitchen implements. The only snag is the drawers in my kitchen are bulging. The soft close function is less-functioning now it's got a never-used melon baller wedged down the back of it.  If it grates, shapes, chops, whizzes, peels, balls, minces - I want it.

I've lost count of the amount of herb choppers I've bought on a whim, yet I still return to my old faithful friend when I chopping up that sweet basil - the mezza luna. Of course this doesn't mean that should a new-fangled all-singing all-dancing herb chopper to top all choppers should appear in John Lewis, that I'll ignore it. Oh no.

Image Credit

Once I succumbed to the devil himself.  Okay, a little bit dramatic but this is a secret I have kept close to my heart. I once bought something from one of those TV shopping channels on Sky. A Nicer Dicer. Oh how I was excited about the Nicer Dicer. I wanted it, more importantly I NEEDED it. It was going to change my life and the way I chopped my onions. Needless to say, it didn't. It was a giant big flopping fail and found itself in the bin quicker than you could blink, mainly because I just don't have the upper body strength required to operate it! My onion-chopping regime was not changed by the Nicer Dicer, however it was by the onion goggles I received as a wedding present...

I've bought more cheese graters that one would care to disclose, yet strangely, they all do the same thing don't they? Erm, yes, grate cheese.  My accumulating tendencies don't stop with the mere basic kitchen implements. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) I am a kettle-killer. I kill kettles. Not intentionally of course, but after about 18 months of use they just give up and die. I'm blaming hard water - that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The death of a kettle gives me the opportunity to research new kettles - reading reviews online of products before I buy them is probably one of my biggest time-wasters and feeds my procrastinating tendencies but more importantly, I get to buy another new product!

I'd like to take this opportunity to polish my halo and inform you that I own none of the following - ice-cream maker, bread maker, popcorn maker, waffle maker, candy floss maker, cupcake maker or a cake pop maker. I have been extremely restrained and stuck to the basics (although I do own a panini maker and a sandwich toaster...). You understand that exercising this type of self-restraint hurt thought, don't you? 

I realise I have a slight problem when it comes to the kitchen department of stores but to be fair, I use most of the things I buy - I mean with a cookbook collection which currently numbers approx. 320 I need all these useful things in my life! How on earth would I manage to lovingly prepare all these recipes you see on my blog each week? Mr M understands that in order for him to eat, I need my tools.

And, Mr M, just so you know, that new lemon squeezer you said I didn't need? I use it nearly every day, so in your face!

I'm entering this post into the Foodies 100 competition to become a Morphy Richards Innovator. Sorry Mr M.

Review: Hotel Chocolat Easter Gifts

You know how I love Hotel Chocolat as I've done a couple of reviews for them over the past year so when I was asked if I'd like to pick an Easter gift to review, I was hardly going to say no was I? Their Easter eggs are out of this world, just in terms of presentation alone. Last year I was lucky enough to try the You Crack Me Up Egg which was amazing so of course I was keen to get my mitts on another.

This time I opted for the Rocky Road to Caramel Extra Thick Easter Egg which it's wonderfully crazy shell.  Both halves of the shell are 40% milk chocolate but one half is studded with puffed rice, cookies and chocolate chunk and the other has a layer of caramel chocolate.

The egg was so beautiful presented with a ribbon on the box, I didn't want to open it. I'd honestly be thrilled to receive something like this as a gift but I doubt my darling husband would ever be so thoughtful. I could tell by the weight of it that it was going to be a good'un.

The extra thick eggs are a triumph. Apparently Hotel Chocolat were advised by experts to make Easter eggs as thin as possible and pop the chocolates outside to make the product look as big as possible - but they went and did the opposite and came up with these beauties.

Inside the egg is just as good - 14 luxurious chocolates including liquid caramel, praline with cookies, chocolate ganache, solid bunnies and chicks.  Mr M thankfully left the salted caramels to me as he's not keen on the concept of salty chocs.

You can view the rest of the Hotel Chocolat Easter range here. I've got my eye on the Dark Eggs and Soliders next!

With thanks to Hotel Chocolat.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Meal Planning Monday (26th March 2012)

Just another Manic Monday...

...and with that, another Meal Planning Monday. Thank you to all those who joined in last week, I think I got about halfway through commenting last night before finally succumbing to the lost hour. I hate the clock changes!

I have eaten so badly recently I wanted to be a bit healthier this week, although I doubt I'm going to achieve it! Really need to get my groove on and get into WeightWatchers but I'm lacking in willpower at the moment so it's doomed to fail. In the meantime, here's my plan this week.

Albondigas and rice
Singapore noodles
Kung Pao Chicken
Some kind of Balti curry

A bit vague, I know. The Kung Pao is a hangover from last week, as I never got round to making it. Pizza will be care of Dr Oetker (whoops) and the Balti curry is because I bought a new cookbook (yes, another...) which is all about cooking, yes, Balti's.  We're also going to a funeral mid-week, so that will be a dinner skipped due to overeating on the prawn sandwiches in the afternoon.

Can't wait to see what everyone is noshing on this week, so join in and leave your blog post on the Linky below. 

Hope you all have a lovely week!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Szechuan King Prawns

Anything Szechuan is one of my favourite things to order from the Chinese takeaway, although I will admit to not being able to actually pronounce Szechuan. I tend to mumble, under my breath, "sway-zhan" which I'm not sure is anywhere near correct. Perhaps someone can correct me?

Anyhow, "sway-zhan" king prawns is what we had for dinner the other night. They turned out well and were gloriously sticky and gunky which just enough kick from the chilli flakes. (As an aside, the Co-operative does not sell chilli flakes. At all. I mean, it's a bog-standard ingredient isn't it? I ran out and had to do a mercy dash in the village to a friends house...) The only complaint I received was that there wasn't quite enough of them. I have to agree, I was being a bit stingy when I bought the prawns and you definitely need more than I served up, so have adjusted quantities below to rectify this!

This meal was extremely quick to prepare and cook - there's nothing to it!  Recipe below serves 2.

Szechuan King Prawns


300g cooked & peeled king prawns (no tails)
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes
pinch of ground ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 spring onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced


In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients that will be your sauce - the water, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, cornflour, honey, chilli flakes and ginger.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan over a medium hit. Add the sliced spring onions and minced garlic and stir-fry gently for a minute. 

Add the prawns to the pan and toss to coat with the oil. Add the Szechuan sauce to the pan and heat gently until the sauce is thick and bubbling slightly.

Serve immediately with a good helping of freshly cooked white rice.

Chinese style meals are fast becoming one of my favourite things to cook so watch this space, as they'll be more very soon!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Patatas Bravas and Chorizo

I made this dish last week, it's was originally a recipe from BBC Good Food. I have to say mine looked nothing like the picture did in the magazine. Theirs was a bit more brown and bronzed rather than Day-Glo orange and red but it tasted fine so will ignore that fact shall we?

This was nice but I felt it was missing something. I can't put my finger on quite what it was. Perhaps it needed a little more cayenne pepper? I'm not sure but the tomato felt quite over-powering. That could possibly be because neither Mr M or myself are hugely keen on tomato based meals but whatever it was, it all still got gobbled up so can't be all bad, can it!

I'm not sure it's the perfect patatas bravas recipe but as an after-work dinner, it was quick, simple and tasty so it ticked all my boxes.

This would serve 2-3 as a main meal.

Patatas Bravas and Chorizo


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
400g chopped tomatoes
1kg new potatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
250g cooking chorizo (diced, sliced, whatever you like)


Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli together until the onion starts to soften. Mix in the cayenne pepper and paprika.

Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Leave to simmer for around 20 minutes. You're looking to get the consistency of a thick paste.  

Season well, adding more cayenne if you'd like it hotter. If you prefer a smooth sauce you can use a hand blender to blitz out the lumps.

Meanwhile, steam the new potatoes for around 10 minutes.  Put the chorizo into a frying pan to slowly cook and release some of its oil. Tip off the excess red oil from the chorizo and 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Tip to the steamed potatoes into the pan and fry everything together. Turn up the heat so that the potatoes and chorizo brown slightly. 

When cooked tip the potatoes and chorizo into a bowl and spoon over the tomato sauce. Serve immediately.

Voila! Speedy patatas bravas.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Dalani Home & Living - Twin Competition

I'm here today to tell you about  a great competition from Dalani Home & Living. You'd like to win a £250 voucher wouldn't you?

If you're not already aware, Dalani Home & Living is the UK's leading shopping club - we all like shopping right? And you know that I love shopping for things for the home so it goes without saying that I am signed up to received their emails each day detailing the fantastic products they have on offer.

Dalani has new sales starting every day, with up to 70% off the manufactuters RRP.  All of the products on the Dalani website have been carefully chosen by their style team and buyers, who strive to source the best homewares for their members. The best thing? Membership to Dalani is free. Just sign up and you'll receive a daily email newsletter detailing which brands are on sale that day. You'll also receive a free £15 voucher just for signing up!

Now, lets get down to the real business. The lovely people at Dalani have created not one but two fantastic competitions for me to share with you.

Competition 1

Dalani are giving you the chance to win an exclusive £50 voucher to spend as you wish on their website. To take part, all you have to do is sign up to Dalani via this link and answer the question below.

What is the name of the brand in the sale at the top of the Dalani homepage?

Please email your answer to and leave a comment below to let me know you've entered.  By signing up to Dalani you can also claim your free £15 voucher. 

One winner will be chosen at random by myself shortly after the closing date.

Competition 2

Dalani are giving two lucky readers across all 36 of the blogs participating in this campaign the chance to win one of 2 £250 vouchers. To enter the competition you simply need to visit the Dalani website and select a number of items of your choice to the value of £250 that you would like to use to revamp a room in your house.  Once you have selected your items, simply leave a comment below telling me what the items are and why you have chosen them.

Dalani will select 2 winners from all the comments received across the participating blogs.

The closing date for both competitions is 2nd April 2012 at 9am.

How does that sound to you? Sounds good to me! Get entering, and good luck!

Sponsored Post

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

and the Oscar goes to...

....well certainly not to me that's for sure! And also not to the people I wanted it to. I know the Oscars was a few weeks ago now but I'm playing catch-up. I love a good awards ceremony, I'm sure I've mentioned that on blog posts before now I'm sure. Not just for the movies, but for the glamour. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the BAFTAs this year and would have watched The Oscars had they not been on Sky Movies. Tsk.

I enjoy seeing clips of films that I may not ordinarily pay attention to - I've definitely found a few new ones to add to my "must-see" list this year but more than anything I love to see what everyone is wearing. Shallow? Yes.  I always have my favourites and I think this year Natalie Portman did it for me.

What can I say? I am a sucker for a) a red dress and b) a polka dot. How gorgeous does she look? 

The other person that stood out for me was Meryl Streep. Do you think she intended to come dressed as an actual Oscar?

Either way she looked radiant and she's a fabulous actress so her win was well deserved.

To celebrate Oscar season, the nice kind people at Warner Bros very kindly sent me a special package. I'm currently loving Warner Bros's special packages they send me. They're normally jam-packed with great films and usually contain something I can eat. 

How can you fail to not be excited by a box like that, just waiting to be opened?

As usual I wasn't disappointed, and my something edible was provided in the shape of an Oscar lollipop! I hid this from the children and scoffed it in secret because I am that kind of mother.  The films? I was sent Doctor Zhivago, An American in Paris, The Blind Side and Gone With The Wind. Three classics and one new film and I hadn't seen any of them.

I know that is incredulous. I have never seen Gone With The Wind. I probably shouldn't even say that in public should I? What an admission. I have no idea why I have never seen this film and now I have no excuse really have I? I will get round to watching it very soon, I promise.

I watched The Blind Side last week and quite honestly I'm not sure whether I like Warner Bros for sending me this film or not. I really enjoyed it and found it incredibly moving. (Read: cried like a baby). It's based on a true story and those are always a killer, huh.

And with that I'm going to go and bemoan the fact that the awards season is over. Until next time...

With thanks to Warner Bros for sending me this box of treats!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Bucket List

Everyone has a bucket list these days, right? Well here is mine - the list of things that I'd like to do before I kick the bucket. 

It's an ever-expanding and ever-so-slightly random list of things I would like to achieve, see, do, make and experience in my life. Some of the things on my bucket list should be easy, and it's just a case of me getting myself motivated to get on with them and some will be slightly harder and even impossible, but shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll land among the stars, or so they say.

1.   Have a book published
2.   Swim with a dolphin
3.   Learn to swim (ahem)
4.   Attend dance classes
5.   Own a pair of sequinned leggings (achieved January 2012)
6.   Read the entire Roald Dahl collection with my daughter
7.   Run a 5k race
6.   Go to a Greek island
7.   Witness the birth of a baby
8.   Go deep-sea fishing
9.   Learn conversational Spanish
10. Learn to play an instrument
11. Go on a cruise
12. See the Northern Lights
13. Visit the Everglades
14. Go to Pompeii
15. Visit Auschwitz
16. Go to Pearl Harbour
17. Grow roses in my garden successfully.
18. Learn to prune fruit trees, properly
19. Have a greenhouse (achieved March 2012)
20. Grow a giant pumpkin
21. Have afternoon tea at a posh venue
22. Own a vintage Fiat 500
23. Fly first class
24. Own some jewellery from Tiffany & Co
25. Buy a telescope and go star-gazing
26. See The Killers live (again) (achieved August 2012 & October2012) 
27. Shake hands with a major Royal Family member
28. Hold a monkey
29. Write a letter to my children now, to be opened on their 18th birthdays, just in case
30. Go to a Michelin star restaurant for dinner
31. Visit Disneyworld at Christmas
32. Have a fish pedicure
33. Cut my hair short
34. Go to a music festival (achieved August 2012)
35. See Phantom of the Opera(achieved August 2013)
36. Take the children camping (achieved June 2012)
37. Visit Hampton Court Palace 
38. Go to Alcatraz
39. Make a really big snowman
40. Make a gingerbread house
41. Have Christmas on the beach
42. Own a holiday home
43. Master the art of contact lenses
44. Eat a footlong sub from Subway
45. Own an iPad (achieved October 2012)
46. Go to a European F1 Grand Prix 
47. Buy a Fortnum & Mason picnic hamper 
48. Start a history degree
49. Take a creative writing course
50. Read all the Harry Potter books
51. Find the PERFECT red dress
52. Climb a mountain
53. Take my son on a steam train (achieved December 2012)
54. Go on a "Jack the Ripper" tour
55. See a meteor shower
56. Find something I am good at
57. Finally move my blog to self-hosted Wordpress
58. Be a member of the audience on a top TV show
59. Create my own family history website
60. Turn all my vinyl into MP3 files (achieved October 2012)
61. Have dinner at the Grand Floridian at Disneyworld
62. Go to a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight display
63. Stand on Chesil Beach with my children
64. Take the children crabbing at Walberswick (achieved May 2013)
65. Visit Bronte country
66. Go cockle-picking in Poole Harbour at sunset
67. Grow my own mistletoe
68. Stay in the hotel on Burgh Island
69. Take my children on a cliff railway
70. Successfully grow a watermelon
71. Meet up with an old friend
72. Buy a VW campervan (achieved April 2012)
73. Amend my will to leave a legacy to RNLI
74. Go to the south of France (achieved August 2013)
75. Make a hot water crust pastry pie
76. See a lamb being born
77. See Les Mis on stage (achieved November 2013)
78. Learn conversational Italian

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, and it's one I will be constantly adding to. I'll also revisit it from time to time to update it with my progress.

Feel free to share your own bucket lists with me!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Meal Planning Monday (19th March 2012)

Good morning everyone. I hope you all had a tremendous Mothers Day? Mine was good, we went out for dinner and I filled my face with steak and chocolate brownies before settling down at home with a glass of red.

I've kind of lost my mojo at the moment. Not just cooking, but in general. I'm just feeling so tired and wiped out, it's hard to get motivated about anything. I'm hoping that it will come back with a vengeance this week but just in case it doesn't, I'm going low-key with the meal plan. There's no point setting myself up for a fall and feeling crap about it is there?

So, here's the bones of it

Spaghetti Bolognese
Kung Pao Chicken
and some type of fish dish yet to be decided.

They'll also be some baking at some point, probably a lemon cake.

Sorry, not very inspiring is it but they are my comfort go-to foods and that's what its all going to be about this week!

Let's see what you have then, huh? The Linky is below, join in and share your blog post. I'll comment on each and every one and will retweet as many as possible. Remember the hashtag of #mealplanningmonday and don't forget to share the word about Meal Planning Monday with your readers, the more people joining, the more inspiration for everyone (and the more commenting I have to get through on a Sunday afternoon...!).

Thanks to all you joiners, can't wait to read your meal plans this week!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chocolate & Lime Drizzle Loaf Cake

The other week I decided I needed a chocolate and lime cake in my life. I spent quite a long time looking for the ideal recipe and didn't really come up with it so I winged it a bit and combined a couple of different recipes and this was the end result.

I was inspired by those little chocolate limes I used to get in Woolworths. I'm sure they're still out there somewhere but I never seem to happen across them. There are one of my absolute favourite sweets and I just wanted to taste this combo in cake form.

I'm pleased to say it was a resounding success. Beautifully moist with a nice hint of lime but nothing too over-powering. It also smelled divine. I was very proud of my loaf cake it has to be said and I loved the drizzle on top although I may have overdone it a tad.

I'm a real fan of loaf cakes, just the ease of making them and then the ease of eating them! They make a great cake to have a slice of with a cup of tea.

Chocolate and Lime Drizzle Loaf Cake


175g softened butter, with extra for greasing
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140g self-raising flour
85g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk
4 tbsp good-quality coca powder
zest of 2 limes

for the drizzle;
125g sugar
juice of 2 limes


Heat the oven to 160c/gas mark 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Either by hand or in a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy before adding in the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, milk, cocoa powder and lime zest and beating well until smooth.

Pop the batter into the lined loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until risen. Check it is cooked through by poking a skewer in the centre of the cake - if it's ready the skewer will come out clean. If it's not quite ready, give it a few more minutes and check again.

Whilst the cake is cooling slightly prepare the drizzle by mixing together the sugar and lime juice in a bowl.

Prick some holes in the loaf cake with a skewer or fork then pour the drizzle over the top of the cake. Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve.

Tip. Lining a loaf tin can be tricky - I always use ready made lines that I buy from Lakeland. Makes life WAY easier, believe me!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Typhoon Housewares Product Reviews

I do a lot of Chinese-style cooking as you might see from my blog, so when the nice people at Typhoon Housewares asked me if I would like to choose something from their ranges to try out at home I made a beeline for the woks. I had a perfectly good wok already of course, or at least, it was a a perfectly good wok until Mr M used a metal whisk in it whilst making scrambled egg one Sunday morning. Men! 

There's not a ton I can say about that is there? Apart from please ignore the state of my carpet. Clearly hadn't hoovered before I took that photo. It's a wok, yes, but it's also the best wok I've ever owned. Typhoon sent me their professional 12" carbon steel wok and it certainly feels more professional than my old battered one, it's way heavier for a start whilst my old one feels a bit more like a large frying pan. Apparently it's even metal-utensil safe but I'm not letting Mr M loose on it to find out.  If you want to be a bit healthier in your cooking you can use less or even no oil with this wok and it's very easy to clean with it's lovely non-stick surface.

To go alongside my wok I was also sent this serving bowl and tongs from the Ching He Huang range as I'd mentioned that I really liked the look of the new range.

I firmly believe that you can never have too many serving bowls in your life, despite what my husband says, and this one is so pretty. Such a treat too as I rarely buy things like this for myself although it is something I would buy as a present for someone else.  The bowl is porcelain and the tongs are bamboo and it's designed for serving noodle dishes but of course you can use it for all manner of things and I'm pretty sure this will be used for serving up a few salads over the summer. A very elegant addition to my kitchen indeed.

Finally, Typhoon sent me a kitchen compost caddy bin which is now residing in my newly decked out utility room.

As I'm trying to live the good life *cough* I do try to compost as much as possible, however it doesn't always work that way as the kitchen bin is nearly always nearer. I'm trying harder though as the compost is good for my vegetable garden (for which I have ambitious plans this year) and hopefully this caddy will see me on my way! The caddy has airtight seals and a carbon filter to help neutralise odours and it's plastic liner makes it easy to clean - all of which I think is a necessity if you're going to be keeping this in the house.

Typhoon Housewares produce some really lovely products, I love their vintage and retro styling so do check them out. 

Thanks to Typhoon for supplying me with these lovely items!