A Strong Coffee

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Recipe For A Perfect Family Holiday #MarkWarnerMum

sugarcraft skiing

Profiteroles stuffed with chocolate mousse in Albenga from a family run pizzeria.

Baklava in Belek. Sweet and sticky.

Citron Presse in a pavement cafe in Nice on a summers evening.

The BEST EVER steak with blue cheese crust and angel hair fries in San Franciso.

I think we can safely say that when it comes to fantastic holiday memories, food features highly in mine. Mark Warner have challenged bloggers to write about their perfect holiday for a chance to become an ambassador for 2016. As I have only seen and heard good things about their holidays I would be a strawberry fool not to apply.

Holidays are precious. Life is so busy. The boys are growing fast. Enjoying family time is so important. Visiting new places, trying new things, tasting new food. I asked big man what his favourite thing about Dubai was. Was it the magnificent views from the tallest building in the world? An action packed day at Atlantis going down a waterslide which goes through a shark tank? Riding a camel for the first time perhaps?

riding a camel in dubai

Whilst he loved these things, the first thing that sprung to his mind was the chocolate fondue served at dinner. Maybe he will be a foodie like his Mummy. Or maybe he is just an 8 year old that likes sweets. A LOT!

Holidays are for making memories. People say that you blink and your children are leaving home. Trust me they are right. Every minute of a holiday is cherished.

Family photo in belek
It is hard to believe my boys were ever this small!
A few years ago my husband and I decided that we wanted to take the boys on different types of holidays. We want to enjoy seeing the world with them and experience new things together. So far we haven't taken them on a winter holiday.

So what is our recipe for a perfect family holiday?

Start by taking 3 over excited boys and two over excited parents.
Cover them in warm clothing.
Add a good sprinkling of snow.
Attach skis and take to the top of a mountain.

Once finished, sit back and enjoy with an alpine fondue and glass of Bordeaux.

Before the boys came along, my husband and I went skiing most years. We would love to take the boys skiing. Watching them ski for the first time. Witnessing the beauty and tranquility of the mountains.

skiing in tremblant

Of course, my husband prefers to show them the photos he took of Mummy when she had fallen over on her skis!

Who knows there may be a sweet treat or two that big man could enjoy. I had to give these maple taffy sticks a try in Tremblant.

maple taffy

Whilst parts of the country have seen snow over the last two years, it seems to have passed us by. I blame this, not on weather patterns, but on the fact I bought a new sledge a few years ago in anticipation for snow. The boys get so excited at the thought of snow, but for the last couple of years they have been disappointed.

Which brings me onto a little video we have made to show you our perfect family holiday. Sit back, pour a cuppa and we hope you like cake.

This is our application to be Mark Warner Ambassadors 2016 as serious foodies

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Goan Tomato And Lentil Chicken

Goan tomato and lentil chicken

Our adventure through food has continued this month with the taste of India. The Glorious! Goan tomato and lentil soup is packed full of flavour. It is a thick soup with warming chilli, cumin and paprika. It tastes fantastic by itself with some warm crusty bread for a delicious lunch. When I tasted it, I knew it would also make a great sauce for a quick and easy dinner. 

I placed spinach leaves on the bottom of a baking dish. I then laid chicken thighs on top and poured the Goan tomato and lentil soup on top. I placed this in the oven with foil on top for an hour at 180C.

chicken thighs on spinach

After an hour, I took the foil off, gave it a stir and cooked for a further 30 minutes until the chicken was cooked through. I served this with quinoa. It was absolutely delicious and so easy to make.

The Goan Tomato and Lentil Soup is part of the Skinnylisious range, is one of your 5 a day and is Gluten free.

If you think you could come up with the next Glorious! flavour there is a competition with Waitrose that you might like to enter and have the chance to win £250 Waitrose voucher. You can find out more here.

Have you tried the Glorious! Soups yet? What is your favourite flavour?


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Valentine's Butter Biscuits and a Haagen Dazs Giveaway!

Haagen Das dessert

When it come to Valentine's Day, my husband and I have never really been into gift buying. Instead we tend to cook a nice meal, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the evening together. Haagen Dazs can really help out with a tasty dessert straight from the freezer. The Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream is a winner on it's own, but I teamed it up with some butter biscuits as an extra treat.

Valentine's Biscuits

For these cookies I used a Nigella recipe but halved the quantities. It is really simple and rather than ice them I chose to add pink chocolate bean to the middle of each cookie.

You will need:

90g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Chocolate beans to decorate

Pre heat the oven to 180C

I creamed the butter and sugar together before mixing in the rest of the ingredients. I then rolled the dough to 1cm thick and cut out heart shapes. I then added a pink chocolate bean to each biscuit before putting in the oven for 10 minutes.

heart butter biscuits

The Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream is a real treat. Just the thing to spoil the one you love this Valentine's Day.

Haagen Das have kindly offered me some vouchers to giveaway to one of my readers. These can be redeemed so you can have two delicious tubs of Haagen Daz to try for yourself. Please note that they need redeeming before 31st March 2016. To enter just complete the Gleam entry below. Good luck!

Haagen Dazs

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

I was sent some Haagen Dazs vouchers in return for this post.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Degustabox Review And The Tastiest Lunch

This months Degustabox arrived and I jumped straight in to see what was there. Some of the brands have been in previous boxes but there was a good range with some new things to try. So what did we think?

Finn Crisp: We have tried these in previous boxes and they make a good snack/light lunch,

Coldpress: This apple juice is cold pressed rather than heat pasteruised. It tasted nice and is the kind of thing I would purchase in a coffee shop.

Conscious Chocolate: I had never tried raw chocolate before and I loved it.

Jordans Country Crisp: The rest of my family have been enjoying this as I don't like raisins.

Amoy: These sauces are for two people which is handy as it is the kind of thing my husband and I would eat without the boys. (They don't eat anything remotely spicy yet.) Quick and easy and handy to have in the cupboard.

Tsingtao: A Chinese beer to celebrate Chinese New Year. It was fine but I am not a big beer drinker.

Yushoi: Snackpea rice sticks. My new favourite snack. There is also a voucher to get another pack free!

Clark's Carob Syrup: Tastes great on porridge. I tried baking with it, but need to practice!

Slim Noodles: This is a No.1 health productmade from Konjac flour and oat fibre. Unfortunately I had tried this in a box last year and disliked it so much that I am not even willing to waste my time cooking it. Sorry not for me.

Crobar: A natural energy bar. Not something I would usually buy.

If you would like to try Degustabox you can use the code BLDEG15 to get £6 off your first box!

This month's recipe might be quick and easy but my it packs a flavoursome punch.

You will need:

Finn Crisp Original Crispbread

2 eggs

Chopped spring onion

Sacla Truffle Pesto

Simply whisk the eggs and cook slowly on a low heat.

Spread the truffle pesto on the crispbread.

Top with scrambled egg, spring onion and a little extra truffle pesto.


Vax Air Cordless Lift Duo Review

Vax Air Cordless lift duo

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out the Vax Air Cordless Lift Duo. If I had realised how much it would change the way I  clean the house, I would have bought one years ago.

I won't lie, I have always associated Vax with the big carpet cleaners that wash the carpet. I wouldn't have thought of looking at them for a new vacuum, mainly as I have been very loyal in the past to another brand who I perceived to be the best.

The main reason I like the Vax Air Cordless is that it is easy to move around. It is lightweight. It doesn't have a cord. And best of all you can take the cylinder off for cleaning the stairs or the ceiling.

handheld for stairs

With my previous vacuum, the stairs were a nightmare. It was big and bulky and didn't fit on a stair. The cord would get tangled. This is no longer a problem.

It is easy to take apart and easy to put back together.

The machine itself isn't too big or an awkward shape so it fits easily in a cupboard. As you can see from the photo of me vacuuming the stairs, it lights up when on. This is actually quite helpful for hoovering under middle man's mid sleeper.

The fact that it is cordless, just makes it that bit easier to use. It comes with two batteries so you can charge one whilst the other one is being used. The battery just clips in and the blue light stops flashing when it is fully charged.

Vax battery charger

Another downside to my old vacuum was that it had different attachments for wood floor and carpet. We were forever losing these. The Vax Air Cordless doesn't need a different attachment. You just press a button. On the carpet a a brush goes around picking up even more dirt.

Vax air cordless lift duo

I am really impressed with the Vax Vordless Lift Duo. I am keeping on top of the vacuuming as it is lightweight and easier to move around than my previous vacuum. It fits neatly in the cupboards and the battery lasts a long time. The suction is good but I liked it best on the boost mode. I guess this makes the battery run down slightly faster. If you are needing to replace your current vacuum then it is a great option. However, if like me you didn't even think you needed to replace your vacuum then maybe after reading this you will realise how a change could make a huge difference. Here is a short video showing some of it's best features and how easy it can be taken apart.

What feature do you like best on the Vax Air Cordless Duo?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Easter Twigs #BostikBloggers

Easter twigs and eggs

Over the last week I have been doing some Easter crafts with little man. He painted some polysyrene eggs which I wanted to display. When our Bostik box arrived, I had an idea and decided I would make some Easter twigs to display his eggs.

To make these I needed some sticks. As I have 3 boys, I just went to the stick pile by our front door! I then gathered some buttons, eggs and pom poms in spring colours as well as some flower embellishments and glitter.

how to make easter twigs

Once you have found some sticks make sure they are the right length to fir in a vase or pot. Lay down some scrap paper and spray the fast tak onto the twig. Wait a couple of minutes for it to become tacky and then place on the decorations.

Sticikng twigs

I then placed the decorated twigs into a vase and hung up little man's decorated eggs with some ribbon.

Easter twigs

Have you started crafting for Easter yet? What have you made?

Friday, 5 February 2016

Welsh Beef, Horseradish Potatoes and Homemade Yorkshire Puddings

Welsh Beef, Horseradish Potatoes and Homemade Yorkshire Puddings

This Sunday is National Yorkshire Pudding Day! To celebrate, Welsh beef sent me a lovely cut of beef that I could enjoy with some Yorkshires.

There is nothing quite like roast beef and homemade Yorkshire puddings for Sunday lunch and these horseradish potatoes really compliment the dish. 

To start, pierce the meat and stick on pieces of garlic and rosemary. Seal the meat before placing in a roasting dish and covering with a glass of red wine. Put this in the oven and start making your potatoes.

Welsh Beef

Horseradish potatoes are basically a potato gratin with horseradish sauce added to the cream.

Here I peeled 4 large potatoes and thinly sliced them. I then heated 150ml double cream, with 450ml milk and 3 desert spoons of horseradish. I placed the potatoes in the mixture and simmered for 10 minutes. (You may want to add a little more horseradish. As the boys were eating this I didn't want to make it too strong.) Place the potatoes and sauce in a dish and cover with foil and put in the oven with your beef.

Once the beef is cooked, take it out to rest and turn the oven up to 220C to make your Yorkshire puddings.

To make 12 Yorkshire puddings you will need:

175ml milk
175g flour

Whisk the mixture and divide between 12 muffin holes. (You will need to add oil to the bottom of each muffin hole if you don't have a stoneware muffin dish.)

Open the oven, take the foil off the potatoes and cover the top with grated emmental. Pop this back in the oven and put the Yorkshire Puddings in to cook too.

Now is the time to steam any accompanying veg and make your gravy. I used the juices from the meat, a little flour.

Welsh beef provided us with the ingredients for this meal.