Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Thai style chicken soup

The classic flavours of ginger, chilli and spring onions synonymous with Thai cuisine are some of my favourites so I love experimenting in the kitchen with them. During these winter months, I’m always looking for something warming and cosy so this Thai style chicken soup is perfect on a frosty day.

Ingredients:

  • One chicken breast per person
  • Chicken stock (I used two tubs of Tesco finest stock 300g each)
  • Spring onions
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 red chilli
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemongrass
  • Soy sauce
  • Lime
  • Rice noodles
  • Pak choi

Regina Thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Finely chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and a good chunk of ginger. Place in a large saucepan with the chicken stock and top the liquid up with the same amount of water as stock.  Slice the lemongrass and add to the pan with the kaffir lime leaves, try to keep it fairly large so it is easier to remove later.  Add the chicken breasts and place over a medium heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 20 mins.

Regina thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Remove the chicken from the pan and using two forks, shred the chicken.  Also remove the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and discard.

IMG_5677 IMG_5678 Regina thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

3. Return the chicken to the pan with the chopped spring onions, sliced chilli, the juice of half a lime and a good splash of soy sauce. Simmer for 5 mins and then add the noodles and pak choi.  Stir well and simmer for a further 5 mins.

regina chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Ladle the soup into bowls with a little extra soy sauce to taste.

Regina chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Recipe fave: My spaghetti & meatballs

It’s a classic, and one of my favourite meals of all time.  I’ve tried several different recipes for meatballs and in the end I found no individual one quite gave me the flavour I wanted so I began to experiment a bit.  I tried all kinds of different herbs, spices, and ingredients before settling on my tried and tested version below.  It’s definitely one of my favourites so let me know if you try it out too!

My recipe is based around this one by John Torode but adapted a little to suit my tastes.  That’s the great thing about meatballs, you can put pretty much anything you want in them depending on what you like.  I always serve mine with home made pasta. I learnt to make this on a cooking course I went on a while back and you can read how to make your own here.  For this recipe, rather than cutting it through the pasta machine, I rolled it out and cut it into thick strips to make papperdelle.

Regina homemade pasta

For the meatballs and sauce you will need:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5/6 slices of pancetta chopped into small pieces
  • 4 slices of bread, slightly toasted then blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • A good handful of parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Grated parmesan
  • Salt & pepper
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Red wine
  • 2 x tinned plum tomatoes
  • Olive oil

Here’s what to do:

1. Fry the onion and pancetta until the onion is transparent. Add the chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs, season with the herbs and salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 mins.  Mix in the parsley then put the mixture in a bowl to cool slightly whilst you prepare the meatballs.

IMG_5655       Fry the breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

2. Put the beef, pork, parmesan, egg yolks and half of the breadcrumb mixture in a large bowl and using your hands give the mixture a good squeeze to mix it all together.  You want to make sure all the flavours are mixed well through out so every little ball is packed full of flavour.  Some recipes recommend putting the mix in a blender but I find this method much easier.

IMG_5658    Meatballs

 

 

 

 

3. This mixture will make a lot of meatballs – about 30-36.  I always double up when I make them so I can freeze a batch for a quick midweek meal.  Roll the mixture between your hands into small balls no larger than the size of a golf ball.

IMG_5662

 

 

 

 

4. In a large frying pan, brown the meatballs on all sides and then set aside.  In the same pan, add the remaining breadcrumb mixture and a good splash of wine to deglaze the pan.  You want to get off all the bits stuck to the pan from the meatballs to give the sauce lots of flavour.

Meatballs Meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

5. Add the two tins of tomatoes and a tin full of cold water and bring to the boil.  I then carefully use a potato masher to mash up the plum tomatoes to make sure they break down properly.

Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

6. Season the sauce and add the meatballs.  Leave to simmer for around 20 mins, stirring regularly.

Meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

7. Prepare your chosen pasta in the meantime and serve the meatballs with lashings of sauce, a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan according to your taste.

Spaghetti and meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious!

D x

P.S. I was lucky enough to bump into the man himself a while back so here is my shameless celeb snap 😉

Me & John Torode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Review: Morrisons Cake Kit

Product: Chocolate Fudge Cake Kit

Price: £1.69, Morrisons

Following on from my Betty Crocker Cookie review, I thought I’d try out a few more brand’s cake mixes for comparison so you may see a few reviews over the coming weeks.  Next up was a chocolate fudge cake from Morrisons.

Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

First impressions, you need to add more ingredients to this mix which to me, kinda defeats the object of buying a cake mix.  I had to add eggs and measure out milk and butter which if I’m doing that isn’t saving me a huge amount of time or money than if I did it from scratch.  Plus the recipe calls for 6 inch cake tins.  NO ONE OWNS 6 INCH CAKE TINS!!!!!  I hate recipes that ask for this – the standard is 8 inch which means I’m going to end up with a very flat cake.

There are 3 packets in the box, cake mix, frosting mix and white choc chips.  First step was to mix the cake mix with some of the butter and milk and 2 eggs.  I reduced the amount of milk slightly as I was using large eggs instead of medium.

IMG_3965 IMG_3967 Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

Divide the mix into your two greased tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

The cakes baked pretty evenly which was good but as predicted were very flat!

IMG_3971 Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

Whilst they were cooling, I made the frosting.  Again you had to add butter and milk so all you are really getting is some icing sugar and a bit of cocoa powder.

Morrisons Chocolate Fudge cake Mix

I spread the frosting between the two cakes and on the top and sides then melted the chocolate chips in the bag in some hot water as directed, snipped the corner and drizzled the chocolate over the top.  Doing it in the bag was a bit fiddly to be honest so it ended up looking a bit of a mess!

Morrisons chocolate fudge cake mix

The cake itself was ok, it was chocolatey which is the main thing you want from a chocolate cake I guess! I probably wouldn’t buy this product again.

 

D x

Getting creative, Home & Lifestyle, In the home

Project: Up-cycled checkerboard table

So I bought this table in Ikea a while ago thinking it would come in handy for when my nieces are over to play or eat at and the grey colour fit nicely in the newly decorated hallway.  I knew when I bought it that I wanted to do something to it to up-cycle it.  Now I know this isn’t the true essence of up-cycling, it was a new piece of furniture rather than something old or second hand but I thought it would be an easy project to ease myself into the concept.  I have lots of ideas for other projects further down the line too so watch this space!

What you will need:

  • Ikea ‘Lack’ table – prices are between £5 and £10 depending on which finish you go for
  • White vinyl
  • A cutting machine – I used a Cricut Mini. You can use scissors but need a very precise hand 🙂
  • Tape measure

Firstly, I decided to go for a checkerboard design keeping it relatively simple for my first attempt. I measured the table and worked out what size my squares needed to be to make an even pattern.

Checkerboard table

Then, I used my Cricut Mini to cut squares and triangles the right size for my design.

IMG_3891 IMG_3892 IMG_3889

I started the design by sticking a row of triangles onto the edge of the table, followed by the squares.

Checkerboard table

I continued the design until the whole table was covered and this was the result 🙂

IMG_3893 Checkerboard table

This was a pretty quick and easy project and you could do which ever design you wanted.  There are tonnes of images available on the Cricut Mini so you could put pretty much ay design you wanted to on there from Disney for the kids to snowflakes for Christmas or pumpkins for Halloween.

The good thing about using vinyl is that its quite easy to remove so if you get bored of the design after a while, take it off and do something else 🙂

Happy creating!

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Review: Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

Product: White Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

Price: £1.35 Tesco 

I never really use pre-mixed cake mixes, I love baking so it feels a bit to me like cheating!  However saying that, there is definitely a market out there for people who don’t have a huge amount of kitchen equipment or store cupboard full of baking goodies at home and want to give it a try.  I don’t bake a lot of biscuits, I’m more of a cake girl so thought I’d start off with this premix from Betty Crocker for White Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

 

Everything you need is in the mix, you just need to add water which is a huge bonus.  From opening the packet to the oven was around 10 mins so they were super quick to make.  This mix does only make 8 though so if you are a family of four or more you may want to consider buying a couple of mixes 🙂

The instructions are really simple to follow, empty into a bowl, add water, mix, divide into 8 balls and cook.  Couldn’t really get any simpler than that!

IMG_3956 IMG_3957 IMG_3958 Betty Crocker Cookie mIx

Bake for 10-12 mins at Gas mark 5, my oven is pretty slow normally so I left them for the full 12 minutes. Then, (fanfare du du du duuuuur) 8 freshly baked cookies in 22 minutes flat 🙂

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

They tasted pretty good too!  They had a good amount of chocolate chips in which I was surprised by and had that great gooey cookie texture that you get from fresh cookies.

With these cookies I think I would definitely consider keeping a couple of packs in the cupboard for unexpected visitors or when you just get that cookie craving!  They are also so quick and simple that they would be fab to do with the kids.  Nothing better than cookies straight out of the oven 🙂

 

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

UK Coffee Week 7 – 14 April

So this week is National Coffee Week!  I don’t actually like coffee (although I do love the smell) so it may seem weird that I’ve decided to write a whole post about it but I was reading about the great initiative behind UK coffee week – Project Waterfall.

Project Waterfall in association with WaterAid is an initiative to provides clean drinking water to communities in the Mbulu district in Tanzania, one of the big coffee growing regions of Africa. Some of the big coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and Caffe Nero are supporting the cause as well as smaller independent ones to try and raise funds to lay necessary pipelines and infrastructure to support these communities to be self sufficient. 

UKCW14-logo-NoDate

To get involved you can take part in the 5 bean challenge, by completing 5 tasks to support project waterfall. You can then be entered into a prize draw to win coffee related prizes.   More details available on their website.

Or Nespresso lovers can support coffee farmers in Rwanda anytime by buying their refill pods from Fine Coffee Club.  20% of the price of the Rwandan coffee pods goes straight to supporting the Rwandan Farmers Coffee Company .

coffee

So coffee lovers everywhere, when you next order your half fat, tall, extra hot, extra foam mocha or what ever is your coffee of choice in Starbucks, take the opportunity to support the coffee growing communities of Africa.

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

The perfect movie night in

Every girl loves a good cosy night in front of a good movie and I am no exception.  Here’s my guide on how to create the perfect movie night in with the girls.

First you need food!

My go to snack for nibbles with the girls is always Nachos.  Quick, super easy and suits pretty much everyones tastes.

Nachos

First, pre-heat the oven to around gas mark 6.  On 2 oven proof plates arrange some nacho chips (I use Tesco’s value ones as they are a bargain and I think taste much better than Doritos!).  On top sprinkle some grated cheddar and mozzarella.  Put them in the oven for a few mins until the cheese begins to melt and then repeat with a second layer.  You could also sprinkle some jalapenos or chillis if you like a bit of spice.

Once the cheese is bubbly, they are ready 🙂  Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or whatever you like!

Nachos

Super easy, super tasty!!!  (Very naughty though)

And it wouldn’t be a movie night without popcorn 🙂  I’m not a huge fan of popcorn but I love the range by Portlebay Popcorn.  They have some fabulous flavours including personal favourites Wasabi & Sweet Ginger and Chilli & Lime or try Kracklecorn if you want something a bit more traditional.

Portlebay Popcorn

Then you just need something sweet to top it off, my fave – a big bag of Malteasers!

Pick a suitable chick flick to munch it all down to.  Some of my recent favourites include:

csl  Life_as_We_Know_It_Poster  BridesmaidsPoster

Enjoy!

D x

Fashion & Beauty, Home & Lifestyle

Top 5: Catwalk trend inspired nails

Following London and Paris fashion weeks, I’ve been feeling all inspired and am dying to try out some of the latest looks from the catwalk with a little nail creativity.  Here’s my pick of the top 5 trends to try yourself.

1. Florals

The catwalks were full of floral prints from the likes of House of Holland, Matthew Williamson and Mulberry for spring/summer collections.

Telegraph florals

Image: Telegraph

I can’t wait to try Nails Inc’s new floral range available now to pre-order via their website. The range includes a variety of colours and features a blend of daisy shaped matte glitter parcels.

floral nails

2. Monochrome

I love monochrome, in fact one would argue that my wardrobe is far too monochrome and could do with brightening up a little!  But the designers seem to be sticking with this timeless trend.

monochrome

Image: mydaily.co.uk

And there is plenty of inspiration to try this trend out on your fingertips – I want to try them all!

monochrome nailsmonoch nailsdots

3. Gingham

Various sized gingham and check prints were also on show including this pastel number from Balmain.

gingham

Image: Vogue

The gingham look for nails works really well, especially as a coordinating accent nail.  I don’t think I would wear this look all over but it would look great if done subtly.

ginghamnailsginghamnails2

4. Pastels

Pastels work for pretty much everyone so I’m pleased to see they are sticking around for another season.

pastels

Image: Glamour.com

There are loads of great pastel shades around at the moment so you won’t be short for choice.

I love this collection from Ciate London, available from Look Fantastic, £18

dollhouse

5. Iridescence

Shiny, iridescent, foil fabrics were another big hit for spring/summer trends.  I’m a bit of a magpie so love anything that glimmers, and this Burberry number certainly does!

iridescence

Image: vogue.co.uk

Nail foils have been around for a while now and are an easy and quick way to give instant glamour to a look.

solid-gold-nail-wraps

These solid gold nail wraps from Nails Inc, £5 give instant bling to your mani or if you prefer a polish, try this Barry M Nail Effects Silver Foil polish, £3.99 from Superdrug.

barryM

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Top 5: Pancake fillings

So its one of my favourite days of the year tomorrow – PANCAKE DAY!!!

I love pancakes and this year I’ve decided to be a little adventurous and try some unuual fillings.  Here are my top 5 recipies from the tinterweb 🙂

1. Baked pancakes with cheese and ham 

Delicious Magazine

I love the sound of this recipe from Delicious Magazine . Stuffed pancakes filles with yummy ham and cheese goodness and baked in the oven with even more cheese on top. Yum.

2. Chicken and leek pancakes

chicken & leek

Yummy chicken and leek oozing with a mustard sauce makes this Good to Know recipe irresistible.

3. Chocolate pancakes with berries

Chocolate pancakes

Who doesn’t like a good serving of chocolate lovliness?  Give these chocholate pancakes over at UKTV Food a try with some yoghurt and berries to finish it off.

4. Dulce de leche

bonne maman

I fell in love with dulce de leche when I was travelling around South America last year and couldn’t get enough of it whilst I was there.  My rule is you can pretty much have it with anything so why not smother a pancake in it!  The nearest product I have found here is Bonne Maman’s Confiture du Caramel available from Waitrose, £2.19.

5. Of course….Lemon and sugar!

lemon

You still can’t beat good old fashioned lemon and sugar on a pancake.  It should always be freshly squeezed lemon juice (not from a plastic lemon shaped container) and a good sprinkling of sugar.  I am drawling just thinking about it!

Enjoy!

D x

Fashion & Beauty, Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Rio Carnival inspires the high street

I was lucky enough to travel Brazil last year and seeing all the pictures from the Rio Carnival this weekend has bought back all the memories and feelings of the Brazilian spirit.  It’s infectious and you can’t help but get swept away by it – it’s possible my most favourite place in the world so far!

So it was great to see so much of the fun and colour of carnival on the high street today.  Here are just a few of my favourites from todays shopping trip.

River Island

Print Bodycon dresses from River Island, £32.99

Accessorize

Rio Ultimate Necklace £22.00 & Parrot bag, Both Accesorize

Kurt Geiger

Elvie sandals by Kurt Geiger £75

New look

Gold beaded bib necklace £9.99 New Look

Mula

Mua Glitter palettes, £4 Superdrug

Nail wraps

Bling up your nails with some 3d Nail wraps by Eye Candy and Elegant Touch.

And I even found a little bit of Brazil to wake me up in the mornings with the fabulous scent of the Radox Brazilian Fusion Shower Gel currently on offer in Tesco’s 3 for £3 🙂

Radox

So once you’ve cleaned up in your Brazil scented shower, got your carnival inspired glad rags on and a bit of sparkle on, you’re going to need some refreshment right?  And there’s only one way to do that in Brazil – CAIPIRINHAS!!!!!!! Yes, anyone who has been will have drunk copious amounts of these sugary cups of heaven and probably not remembered much about it.  You’ll need limes, Cachaca and sugar and thats pretty much it!  Try it yourself with this recipe.

Caipirinha

If you’re the designated driver you can still get into the party spirit with Lucozade’s limited edition ‘Brazilian’ Mango and Mandarin drink.  It’s super fruity and will keep your energy levels pumping all night 🙂

lucozade

D x