Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful #12

It's my birthday today! Hooray! So I thought it was the perfect time to bring back Reasons to be Cheerful. There's been a lot to be cheerful in my life lately, and I'm actually quite sad to see the back of 31. I've done some amazing things, been to some incredible places, watched some of my most loved friends get married, and I fell in love for the first time. If the next year holds half as many great moments as the last one, I'll consider myself a very lucky lady indeed.

1. Matthew Lewis, and his awe-inspiring victory against puberty. I mean. Right?

2. I love this super positive tote bag!

3. Avocado makes my life at the moment. I'm going to be stalking all of these places, obvs.

4. This t-shirt made me laugh so hard.

5. How good do these look? They had me at Caramel-Stuffed Quadruple Chocolate Cookies...

6. These beautiful heels kind of remind me of My Little Ponies. I'm not really sure why, but there it is. Shiiiny. Melissa, you have my heart.

7. When I'm feeling less than cheerful, I like to take a long bath (because sometimes you need to wallow, after all). At The Bathory, you can choose exactly what fragrances go into your bath salts and what you want out of your bath (uplifted, calmed, etc). They're pretty wonderful.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Salted Caramel, Amaretto, Peanut Butter, Cherry, Bacon and Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae (OF DREAMS)

So, you know how I've been posting incredible sweet recipes this week? Today's post brings them together in an insanely good way. Sunday's post and Tuesday's post were just leading up to this - THE ULTIMATE SUNDAE. I almost feel guilty about doing this post, because it was so much fun to put together. It's not every day you get free ice cream and encouraged to make it even more epic - but that's exactly what this is about.

Mövenpick ice cream are running a summer challenge with several food bloggers to create the most amazing ice cream sundae, and the winner will receive a masterclass with The Langham's pastry chef and afternoon tea at The Palm Court. As you can get Mövenpick at Ocado, they sent me an Ocado voucher to buy ice cream and other exciting ingredients, and I started thinking about what to do. Anyone who knows me (or follows my Pinterest) knows that when it comes to sweet things, I love few things more than caramel, peanut butter and a touch of salt. So, as tempting as it was to go incredibly outlandish with my sundae, I came down on the side of tasty because I knew that all these things in a sundae would basically make my life. As I started putting the ingredients together, I realised that I didn't mind if I won or not - eating this incredible sundae was a pretty amazing prize in itself. Plus, there's still leftover ice cream in the freezer! WINNING.

Salted Caramel, Amaretto, Peanut Butter, Cherry, 
Bacon and Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae (OF DREAMS)
- Salted Caramel Amaretto Sauce (recipe here!)
- Peanut Butter Whipped Cream (recipe here!)
- Mövenpick Caramelita ice cream
- Mövenpick Swiss Chocolate ice cream
- Mövenpick Vanilla Dream ice cream
- Amaretti biscuits
- Maraschino or Cocktail Cherries
- Salted peanuts
- Salted popcorn
- Grilled crispy bacon

1. Crush up an amaretti biscuit at the bottom of your sundae glass, and add a couple of sliced maraschino cherries.
2. Add a drizzle of caramel sauce, then on top place a scoop of Mövenpick Caramelita ice cream.
3. On top, add a sprinkling of chopped peanuts, salted popcorn and sliced cherries.
4. More ice cream - pop a scoop of Mövenpick Swiss Chocolate ice cream on there.
5. Just go ahead and add another blob of that caramel sauce, won't you? Throw on a couple more crushed amaretti biscuits
6. Next up is a scoop of Mövenpick Vanilla Dream, then top it with some peanut butter whipped cream.
7. Almost there - add a drizzle of caramel sauce, then top with plenty of chopped peanuts and salted popcorn.

8. Add a bit more caramel sauce.
9. Add some more peanuts.
10. Maybe a couple of cherries.
11. And another amaretti biscuit or two.
12. And maybe a little more caramel sauce.
13. Don't forget a touch more popcorn.
14. Top it off with a slice of crispy bacon and a sparkler and dig in.
15. Finished? Congratulations, you've had a year's supply of sugar in one glass. Feels good, right?

We nearly forgot the bacon, but I have to tell you that it really worked. If I made it again, I'd be tempted to add more, chop it and sprinkle it over the top - that sweet smokiness just brought out all the other epic flavours.

I've not made sundaes before - even though I've eaten plenty - and actually ended up doing a practise run first. The biggest thing I changed was to mix up the layers a little more - rather than putting all the toppings, well, on top, I layered them throughout which separated out the flavours and prevented it turning into a mixed up ice cream soup. It was a fair bit of effort for a sundae, but god, it was worth it. So worth it. Mövenpick ice cream is really good, by the way - super creamy and fresh, and even though the glory of my sundae is over, I'm happily eating my way through the leftover ice cream. Luckily it's at Matt's house, or I'd be at it every night of the week.

Oh, and here's the sundae that Matt made for his housemate:

Yeah. It's clear who's the blogger here, right? Right. After we ate our sundaes, the three of us were like hyperactive children for the next half an hour or so. Eat sugar responsibly, kids.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Recipe: Sweet 'n' Salty Peanut Butter Whipped Cream

I found a recipe recently for banana whipped cream, and it got me thinking. If you can combine banana puree and whipped cream, then surely it would work for other things too. And you know what's basically the best thing in the world? OF COURSE YOU DO. The answer is obviously peanut butter.

Peanut Butter whipped cream is sweet and salty and creamy and bad for you. But in a really, really good way.

Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
- 300ml Double Cream
- 2/3tbsp Peanut Butter (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp Sugar (or to taste)

1. Pour your cream into a bowl and then whisk for a few minutes. It will start to bubble and then thicken.
2. When it's nice and thick, it's just about there. Add your peanut butter and your sugar, then whisk to combine. If it is dry, add a tiny bit of milk.
3. Give it a taste - it may need more sugar. Just add until it tastes just so. That's it!

What COULDN'T you use this for? It's PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM for goodness sake.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Recipe: Super Easy Salted Caramel Amaretto Sauce

There's going to be a bit of a sugary theme this week, the reason for which will become clear on Friday. Today, I'm sharing an incredible, super simple recipe. The leftovers for this are still in the fridge, and every time I open it, I steal a little more. I had plans to turn them into a pie or something, but there's a lot to be said for just eating something awesome with a spoon. Yes. A spoon. *hides sticky fingers*

Whenever I look at caramel recipes online, they always seem to be kind of complicated. This is my go-to version, because it's so easy and only takes about 5 minutes to make. Also, you can tweak it. Like so...

Salted Caramel Amaretto Sauce
- 1 x tin Condensed Milk
- 150g Dark brown sugar
- 150g Butter
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 50ml Amaretto (how cute is this little bottle? It was £2.50 from Asda!)

1. Melt the butter and brown sugar slowly in a small saucepan, and stir until combined.
2. Add the condensed milk and stir well until combined, and throw in your salt.
3. Allow your caramel to simmer until it has just come to the boil, then remove immediately from the heat.
4. Pour in your Amaretto and stir it in. That's it! Maybe just test it. And then again.

This is excellent on ice cream, but I'd love to just pour it into a pastry dish, sprinkle a few almonds on the top and let it set. This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, but let's face it... it's not going to last that long, is it?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Bowling and burgers at All Star Lanes

There are some things that I know to be true, and one of them is that when I was a baby, an evil witch put a curse on me to ensure that for the rest of my life, I will lose every game of bowling that I partake in. I guess all the exciting curses had run out by the time I was born, but it beats pricking your finger on a spinning wheel and falling into a coma, right?

The nice people at Westfield Stratford invited me and a few friends along to All Star Lanes to show off our bowling expertise (HA HA HA) and eat some burgers. Now, while I'm terrible at bowling, I am EXCELLENT at eating burgers. And at drinking cocktails. Which is great, because there were also cocktails there! I gathered up Matt, Anne and Amy and off we went.

The food at All Star is pretty amazing. We shared bacon popcorn, mac'n'cheese croquettes, salt beef croquettes and all had a burger. I went for buttermilk fried chicken with sweet potato fries, and it was epic. The cocktails were also amaaazeballs. I loved the Sidecar, but my favourite was the Honey Whisky Ginger, which was an ice cream cocktail with JD Honey, vanilla and ginger syrup. OMG. Our £75 giftcard covered our burgers and bowling as they do a deal which is £15 for a burger and bowling - not a bad deal - but the cocktails kinda pushed us over the limit. Worth it, though.

I'm not really sure whose idea it was to give ourselves pretentious names on the bowling scorecard (I'm going with Amy's) but I thoroughly enjoyed my evening as The Duchess, even if I did come an ungainly last to The Brigadeer, Marchesa and The Countess. It was hard to feel like a loser with such excellent company - not to mention that food. *swoons*

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Glastonbury: The Best Food Stalls (part 2!)

Ooops, somehow I seem to have taken a month off blogging. Sorry about that - it's just been a little busy around here recently. I haven't been up to much, really, apart from Glastonbury! Which, coincidentally, is what I'm posting about today. I didn't take loads of pictures this year, but I really loved putting together last year's post about the best food options so I have created a sequel.

Every year, the food at Glasto gets better. When I told people about it this year, I felt like I talked more about the food than the music! The music was amazing, FYI, especially Arcade Fire and Dolly Parton... but yeah, let's go back to the food. I sampled a lot of the items featured in last year's post again, like burritos from Luardos and fajitas from the Tor Rugby Club Fajita Stand and an Oli's Halloumi Cone, but I squeezed in a few new firm favourites.

The Cheese Truck
You guys know that I love cheese, right? I freaking LOVE cheese. When I heard the Cheese Truck was going to be at Glastonbury, I raced to get something and I wasn't disappointed. They specialise in grilled cheese, but are way more creative with it than usual - I had the goats cheese, honey and walnut and daaaamn. I also sampled the stilton and pear which a friend had, which was also excellent. The fondue fries weren't all I hoped for, but I think they were a tad undercooked - I'd give them another chance. The Cheese Truck is based in London, so seek it out, and get yourself some of that grilled goats cheese goodness.

Le Rac Shack
I've never had raclette before, and wasn't actually sure what it was, except that it involved cheese. So obviously, I was in. There's a dedicated raclette stall at Glastonbury now called le Rac Shack, and now I am very well informed about raclette. It's basically crushed potatoes with cheese on top. Yum, right? YUM. I had mine with sausages too, which were in a spicy tomato sauce. The raclette is melted as a big wheel of cheese, kind of like Camembert, and then a dollop is scraped off onto your potatoes. It was amazing.

Hot Box
This stall was new this year, and I can't find it on Google so I don't think it's an existing chain. It was so popular though! There was always a big queue and it didn't take me long to join the end of it. I had the Pulled Piggy - pulled pork, bacon jam, garlic mayo and cheese? Ohhh yeah. I really hope Hot Box is back next year - I'm already craving it!

Frozen Bananas
There's always money in the banana stand! I actually hate bananas, so I can't vouch for it, but I was just too excited to see this Arrested Development reference, I had to share.

I left my camera behind on one of the days so didn't get photos of everything, but I also had an excellent Square Pie (I go every year!), some amazing barbeque jerk chicken and I couldn't resist going back to my beloved Luardos. BEST NACHOS IN THE WORLD.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday Frocks #160 - The devil's in the details.

Lately, I feel like I've been wearing the same things over and over which is partly why I haven't done an outfit post in a while. Instead, I've become a little more interested in the details that make an outfit - good old accessories. So I'm going to let them take centre stage in this post, for once.

Sunglasses - I'm still on the hunt for the perfect pair of rounded cat-eyes, and these Firmoo sunnies come pretty close. They're super comfy and well-made, and have pretty much been superglued to my head this summer.

Bracelet - How pretty is this Henryka bracelet? It's got little beads of amber, encased in ladybird shaped silver casings. I don't wear bracelets a lot, so I always bring them out for special occasions like weddings and fancy parties, and this is definitely my new favourite.

Shoes - These aren't too exciting, but that's the point of a classic, right? I wear these Betty London heels a lot - I even wore them when I was bridesmaiding for my best friend last year! They're pretty comfortable, although I find that my feet slip out sometimes so I've added heel grips and party feet and now they're perfect!

Watch - I'm more than a little in love with my new rose gold Citizen watch from the DRIVE collection. It's a lot chunkier than I'd usually wear, but it's so pretty that it's still ladylike. Plus, totally blingy - check out the sparkles!

Dress - Dorothy Perkins via eBay
Sunglasses c/o Firmoo
Bracelet c/o Henryka
Shoes c/o Spartoo
Watch c/o Citizen DRIVE

Dress - Weeeell... I have to give it a little attention. The dress I'm wearing in this post is one of my favourite summer dresses, an eBay bargain last year that was originally from Dorothy Perkins, and it's already had a few outings on the warmer days of this year. The only problem is that the skirt is super full, and we've had some slightly windy days lately...

What accessories are you loving lately?