Monday, 12 December 2011

'Joy' Christmas Gift Tags

handmade

handmade
So as promised, here are the second lot of Christmas gift cards. You can see how to make the glitter star gift tags here.

Photobucket

You will need:

Card
Pencil
Scissors
PVA glue
Glitter - either to match or contrast with your card
Ruler
Hole punch
Sheet of paper

Method:

1. Divide your piece of card up into squares or rectangles. Size is up to you - the one in this picture is about 2 inches square, but I made some smaller ones too.
2. Cut out using pinking shears - this will give you a nice fancy edge but if you don't have them, don't worry, regular scissors will be fine too!
3. Using a hole punch, punch a hole in one of the corners of your shape - this is for threading the ribbon through.
4. The glue I used had a thin nozzle for the glue to come out of, otherwise using a paintbrush, write the word "joy" on your square.
5. Holding the square over the sheet of paper, tip glitter all over the glue word. Make sure that it's completely covered.
6. Leave your square on the piece of paper to dry.
7. Repeat for all remaining squares. You could try different words too, I made some which said "snow" and "noel"
8. When tags are dry (I left mine in a warm room overnight to make sure they were completely dry), tap each tag over the paper on the surface to get rid of any excess glitter. Move all tags to the side.
9. Carefully tip any glitter on the paper back into the tube or container it came from.
10. Write on the back of them, and use them to decorate your gifts!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Handmade Christmas Gift Tags

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our little house! The tree is up (which by the way, Izzy is obsessed with. If she's not laying in front of it, she's snuggling up under it!) and everything is officially in full swing.

Photobucket

For once, I actually have all Adam's presents sorted. I still have a couple of bits to get him, but I actually know what I'm getting. That in itself is a little Christmas miracle - normally I have absolutely no idea, that boy is impossible to buy for!

Shopping for Christmas presents then wrapping them up is easily one of my favourite things about Christmas. I love to give gifts, especially when you can tell the person you've got them for really loves it! And I like to try and make my gifts look nice too, especially since I have them sitting under my tree for the entire month. This month, I thought it would be really nice to make my own gift tags for the presents. It was so easy, and I enjoyed doing it so much, I thought I'd share how I did them.

handmade

handmade

Handmade gift tags

You will need:

Card
Pencil
Scissors
PVA glue
Glitter to match card
Star template or stencil
Hole punch
Sheet of paper

Method:

1. I used a star shaped cookie cutter, and drew around this onto some red card.
2. Cut out the stars.
3. Using a hole punch, punch a hole in one of the corners of the star. We'll use this to thread the ribbon through later.
4. Spread glue thinly and evenly over one of your cardboard stars.
5. Holding the star over the sheet of paper, tip glitter all over the star on the side that you've just spread glue onto. Make sure that it's completely covered.
6. Leave your star on the piece of paper to dry.
7. Repeat for all remaining stars.
8. When stars are dry (I left mine in a warm room overnight to make sure they were completely dry), tap each star over the paper on the surface to get rid of any excess glitter. Move all stars to the side.
9. Carefully tip any glitter on the paper back into the tube or container it came from.
10. Write on the back of them, and use them to decorate your gifts!

Note: After drying, I noticed my stars were a little bit bent in the middle. To fix this, I just laid the stars on my desk, and put a heavy book over them. After a couple of hours, they were perfectly flat again!

Check back on Monday for the how-to for the 'Joy' Christmas tags that I made! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Pickled Onions

Let me ask a question - does any other country eat pickled onions, or is it a British thing? I can't remember if I ever saw them when I spent some time abroad, but to be honest, although I've always liked them I've only recently become obsessed with them!

If you've never had them, or even heard of them, they're definitely something to try if you like onions. Tart, crunchy and ever so slightly sweet, they go perfectly with a salad, sandwich, cheese or just as a quick snack - popping one straight out of the jar and into your mouth ;)

christmas, vegan, british, vegetarian, party food,  onions, pickle,  pickled onions, easy,  snack, side dish,

Pickled Onions

Ingredients:

500ml jar
300g pickling onions (or just tiny onions - these were about 1" diameter at the most)
1 tbsp sugar
White wine vinegar

Method:

1. Sterilise your jar. I just boiled mine along with the lid for about a minute.
2. Prepare onions - cut off the bottoms, and then make a slit in the side and peel off the skin and top layer of onion.
3. Put the tbsp of sugar into your jar, and add just enough boiling water to get all the sugar to dissolve.
4. Add onions to jar.
5. Add vinegar, ensuring that all onions are covered.
6. Store in a cupboard or pantry until ready to eat, leave them for at least two weeks so they can properly pickle themselves, but they will last for ages. My Mum used to always make hers at the beginning of October to eat at Christmas, and they'd last us for months.

Monday, 5 December 2011

'Tis the Season

During this time of year, with the holidays fast approaching it's a good idea to have some party food ideas that don't take long to put together. Friends and family tend to stop by with only a moments notice and stay for a drink or two, and I always like to have something to serve them when they do. Not only that, but it's the season of parties and whether you're hosting or attending them, it's always good to have a plate of something delicious to take with you!

During December, I'm going to be posting lots of wonderful recipes which are perfect for the holiday season.

Starting with these: Candied Nuts! They're perfect as a last minute thing to throw together while your guests are on their way over. Just four simple ingredients which you'll probably have in your cupboards anyway, and they take about 10 minutes to make!

party food, last minute, easy, nuts, candied nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, vegan, vegetarian

Ingredients:

1 cup of whole nuts - any kind you like!
Knob of butter or margarine

¼ cup sugar
Splash of vanilla extract

Method:

1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof/parchment paper
2.. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. You don't need a lot of butter, just a little and you could even omit it completely if you wanted.
3.. Add nuts and sugar.
4. Stir to coat the nuts in sugar, the sugar should start to melt and turn a light brown colour. Keep stirring to coat fairly evenly.
5. Add splash of vanilla and stir. The vanilla will cause the mixture to sizzle up but that's fine.
5. Tip out onto prepared baking tray. Try to spread them evenly so they don't stick together too much.
6. Leave to cool, then break up any that have still managed to stick together, and serve!

Note: These are especially good while they're still slightly warm, and you might want to double or even treble the recipe depending on how many guests you're having as they're so more-ish!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I've got a naked Christmas tree in the corner of my living room, a steak and mushroom pie innards in the slow cooker, I managed to make it into town for some bits before it started pouring with rain and now I'm cuddled up on the sofa with my puppy. A perfect cozy day!

I can't wait for Adam to get home from work so we can get our tree decorated! This Christmas feels really special to me, not least because we're getting married two days after Christmas day. We're properly settled in our house - last year, we'd only moved in a month before and money was a bit tight after two years of renovations. I feel like I'm in a really happy place this year, and it really does feel wonderful.

I've got quite a few little projects and recipes (including a series of party food ideas!) to post throughout December so please check back often! Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Turkey Curry

There hasn't been a new recipe on the blog for a little while now, due to being swamped with schoolwork last week! Poor Adam didn't get a single home cooked meal for the entire week. I tried to make it up to him yesterday, by putting this curry in the slow cooker, so it would be ready and waiting for him as soon as he got home from work!

Turns out trying to make a curry look photogenic is quite difficult - for me at least! 

low syn

Turkey Curry

Based on this curry.

Ingredients:

600g turkey breast, cut into bite sized pieces (you can use an equal amount of any meat or veggies you'd like)
500ml passatta
200ml light coconut milk
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dried coriander
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (warning: this curry is very spicy. If you don't like it as hot then take this down to ½ tbsp or 1 tsp, adjust to taste. Remember it's easier to make something more spicy than it is to make something less spicy!)
3 green cardamom pods
Black pepper

Method:

1. Finely chop onions, place in a saucepan sprayed with frylight (or other non stick spray) and cook slowly over a very low heat. Add a small splash of water if they seem like they are starting to stick, and stir often.
2. Add garlic cloves and passatta, and simmer for five minutes
3. Optional: Adam hates lumps of onion in his sauces so I always do this step, but you don't have to. I transferred the sauce into a blender, and carefully (it's hot!) blended.
4. Add turkey to slow cooker, season well with black pepper and pour sauce over.
5. Add spices and coconut milk and stir to combine
6. Leave in slow cooker for about four hours. Ensure turkey is cooked through before serving with rice.


Serves 4.
Syns: 2.5 per serving

Friday, 25 November 2011

The finished product!

My dried apple rings are ready!

Photobucket

I made these for a Christmas hamper that is to be raffled off for work, so I tried to package them up nicely! I put them in a clean, sterilised jar then tied a square of fabric around the top with wool. I hope whoever wins the hamper enjoys them (I snuck one out to try and they're lovely)!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My favourite fruit

Pomegranites

So happy to see these in the shops and markets, a true sign of autumn and one of my favourite fruits. Makes me so incredibly excited for Christmas!

Friday, 18 November 2011

A Bonfire Night Repeat

It's Friday!! I'm so excited for the weekend this week, more so than normal! Adam and I have finally got a full weekend off together, which is a rarity. On Saturday we're going to go wedding ring and log fire shopping, then off to watch the new Twilight film! And on Sunday we'll have a long walk with Izzy, followed by a drink in the pub and a delicious Sunday dinner as I have a new recipe that I'm itching to try. I can't wait!

I just thought I'd take some time now to share a few photos from last weekend. The week before had been Bonfire night but Adam's nephews couldn't come to our little bonfire party as they were on their holidays, so we had a repeat last weekend too. There were less people, so I felt I was able to relax a little more and spend a bit more time taking photos things in!

bonfire night

bonfire

Everything was pretty much the same, apart from I had time to make some amaretto hot chocolate, which was absolutely divine!

hot chocolate

The photo with the half-full mug and marshmallow doesn't really do it justice, but I think I'll be making some more this weekend, so will take a nice photo and pop the recipe up next week hopefully!

I hope you enjoy your weekend too, let me know what you have planned!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dried Apple Rings

This time of year, apples are generally at their best. At work, we were recently given a massive bag of them. We let the kids do apple bobbing on Halloween, but as we're doing a hamper to raffle off at Christmas time, I said I would bring any apples that were left home to make something for the hamper with.

apple, recipes, preserving, dried apple rings, vegan, how to, fruit, healthy, natural

These are incredibly easy to make and require very little effort! You just have to keep a bit of an eye on them.

What you need:

4 apples
1 lemon or lime

Method:

Wash and core your apples, and remove any bruised bits.

apple, recipes, preserving, dried apple rings, vegan, how to, fruit, healthy, natural

Slice into rings about 3mm in width. They need to be fairly thin, and fairly uniform in size so they dry at an even rate. Put them in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of one lemon or lime, and toss to coat. The lemon/lime stops the apples from going really brown.

apple, recipes, preserving, dried apple rings, vegan, how to, fruit, healthy, natural

String the apple rings, and hang them up to dry. You need somewhere warm but that has a good airflow too. It's important to make sure the apple rings aren't touching.

apple, recipes, preserving, dried apple rings, vegan, fruit, healthy, natural,

I put my apple rings over the radiator vent in the kitchen - it's warm but a lot of air circulates as it's close to the back door. Leave them to dry for about a week or so, but remember to just keep an eye on them, make sure they don't slide together.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance Day

Field of Poppies

Today is Remembrance Day. This year is especially poignant as someone that I used to be friends with was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday. It's upsetting enough when you hear about the boys who lose their lives fighting for their countries, but when it's someone you know it's heartbreaking. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with his family today.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Peanut Brittle

Every Bonfire Night when I was younger, my parents would have a fireworks party, and my grandma always used to bring some peanut brittle, and it was my favourite thing about the day. This year I decided I would try to make some for my party! It wasn't quite as good as my Grandma's (is anything ever?!), but it was still good!



Ingredients:

50g soft brown sugar
400g granulated sugar
125ml water
½ teaspoon liquid gloucose
230g golden syrup
200g roasted peanuts (I bought the roasted, salted ones from the supermarket, and just rinsed the salt off and dried them. If you do this, make sure to dry them!)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pan.
2. Line an A4 sized baking tray with greaseproof paper.
3. Bring ingredients to a boil, and boil until the mixture reaches 150 C/300 F, aka "hard-crack" stage. I don't use a thermometer, to check if the mixture is ready I drop a small amount into a cup of cold water. Test the mixture, and if it is brittle like toffee then it's ready. You can also read this guide for a better explanation!
4. Turn off the heat, add the peanuts to the pan, and tip into your prepared baking tray.
5. Leave to cool completely - the mixture will be VERY hot and don't attempt to pick the tray up for a while either as this will become hot too.
6. Once cool, smash up with a toffee hammer or rolling pin.
7. Keep in an airtight container - it will last for a couple of weeks

Now that Christmas and the holiday season is just around the corner, this would make an ideal homemade gift! Just put it in a pretty jar, and perhaps add a bow!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bonfire Toffee

Hello! How was your weekend? If you're reading from the UK, did you go to any bonfires this weekend?

In England, we celebrate Bonfire Night on the 5th November each year. We do it to remember that in 1605, Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up the houses of parliament but his plan was found out and stopped and so we all have bonfires and light fireworks.

Some people have firework displays at home, and others go to big organised bonfires. This year, as it was on a Saturday, Adam and I decided to have a little party ourselves. We had a bonfire because our garden is a bit of a mess at the moment, and we're having it landscaped next year, so we figured it wouldn't hurt to have a bonfire on the lawn!

We invited some family and friends over, and we lit fireworks, gathered by the bonfire:

Photobucket

Toasted marshmallows:

Photobucket

And ate. A lot. Pie and peas, parkin, and toffee!

bonfire toffee

Bonfire Toffee

Ingredients:

450g dark brown sugar
125ml water
½ teaspoon liquid gloucose
115g golden syrup
115g black treacle

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pan.
2. Line an A4 sized baking tray with greaseproof paper.
3. Bring ingredients to a boil, and boil until the mixture reaches 150 C/300 F, aka "hard-crack" stage. I don't use a thermometer, to check if the mixture is ready I drop a small amount into a cup of cold water. Test the mixture, and if it is brittle like toffee then it's ready. You can also read this guide for a better explanation!
4. Turn off the heat, and tip into your prepared baking tray.
5. Leave to cool completely - the mixture will be VERY hot and don't attempt to pick the tray up for a while either as this will become hot too.
6. Once cool, smash up with a toffee hammer or rolling pin.
7. Keep in an airtight container - it will last for a couple of weeks (if you can keep your hand out of the jar that is! The Classic Wink Smiley)

Later this week, I'll have another recipe for you - peanut brittle!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Macaroni Cheese with Broccolli

I've never made macaroni cheese before. Well, actually, that's a lie. I've never made an edible macaroni cheese before! I tried to make one once but the recipe called for eggs, and then for it to be baked. Well, all the eggs curdled and it was just like eating watery pasta with scrambled eggs mixed in. Not very nice!

I've always wanted to try it though - I love pasta, and I love cheese. A match made in heaven! So earlier this week, I did in fact try it. I added lots of brocolli as well, for two reasons: I love brocolli cheese and I had a full head of brocolli that had seen better days.

macncheese

Macaroni Cheese with Brocolli

Ingredients:

  • 20g butter
  • 20g plain flour
  • 300ml semi skimmed milk
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese (I used low fat but it doesn't matter)
  • Half teaspoon English mustard
  • Half teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Small head of brocolli
  • Pasta

    Method:

    1. Put pasta on to boil, grate cheese and seperate brocolli florets
    2. Melt butter, then add flour to form a roux
    3. Add mustard, cayenne pepper and the milk a little at a time. Keep stirring the mixture and don't add more milk until the previous amount has been absorbed
    4. About halfway through the pasta cooking, add the brocolli either to a steamer set over the pan, or directly into the pan with the pasta depending on how you prefer to cook your brocolli
    5. When all milk has been absorbed, add cheese and stir into sauce
    6. Drain pasta and brocolli well, and then add the cheese sauce
    7. Sprinkle over some extra cayenne pepper if you so desire
    8. Enjoy!

    I loved it every bit as much as I thought it was, and it only took about 20 minutes to make. It's not something I'll be having every day but will be delicious as an occasional comfort food - especially on these upcoming cold winter nights!

    I hope you have a lovely weekend - do you have anything special planned?
  • Tuesday, 1 November 2011

    Spaghetti Bolognese

    spaghetti bolognese

    Ingredients

    1 onion
    3 small carrots
    3 garlic cloves
    500ml passata
    175ml red wine
    1 tsp oregano
    250g beef mince
    8 mushrooms
    Spaghetti pasta

    Method

  • Finely chop onion, garlic and carrots.
  • Lightly fry in olive oil or non stick cooking spray until onions are soft and translucent, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
  • Add passata and red wine, oregano, season to taste and let simmer for about ten minutes.
  • This next step is optional, depending on how you like your sauces. For me, Adam hates any lumps in his sauces, so this is where I add the sauce to the blender and blend for a minute or so to make it smooth. If you like lumps (like me!), then you can skip this step. If you do blend the sauce, take care as it will be hot.
  • In another pan, brown the mince.
  • Chop the mushrooms.
  • Add mushrooms and bolognese sauce to the mince and let simmer for about twenty minutes while you cook the spaghetti.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

    Serves: 4
    Syns per serving: 1.5
  • Monday, 31 October 2011

    Happy Halloween!

    pumpkin

    Happy Halloween!

    I'm working tonight but I had a little party at the garden I work at yesterday. 25 kids under the age of about 10! It was so much fun. We carved pumpkins, ate soup, turned each other into mummies and had a pinata.

    Izzy looked cute in her costume too!

    halloween

    Monday, 17 October 2011

    A cosy kind of weekend

    Hello! How was your weekend?

    Mine was lovely – quiet and relaxing! I went to the market to do a little bit of shopping.

    ecoprincess

    I’m starting a new job tonight, and the hours are 5:30-10:30pm, so I wanted to get some things in to make some meals in advance which I could freeze to make it easier for Adam and I. Adam was at work on Saturday so when I got home I spent some time with this cute little face:

    cute

     cute

    I spent the rest of the day cooking up a storm (got a recipe or two to post out of it too!) and when Adam came home he surprised me with these gorgeous flowers:

    Photobucket

    We took Izzy out for a walk:

    Photobucket

    Then came home and had a delicious dinner together, ate some ice cream and then cuddled up watching a film! Sunday was spent working, then out for a curry with my parents and sisters.

    Hope you had a good weekend too, let me know what you got up to! Also, do you have any tips for meals that are easily made in bulk and can be frozen? So far, my freezer is full of chilli, lasagne and soup!

    Wednesday, 5 October 2011

    Wedding Wednesday: Cakes

    Today is less than twelve weeks until my wedding! I'm so excited. I have a fun weekend planned full of bridesmaid dress and centrepiece shopping with my mum and bridesmaids. Today I'm going on a hunt for the perfect wedding cake. With everything else for our wedding, Adam and I have known what we want. With our cake, we're clueless! We really like lots of different cakes, but don't want to spend a lot on one. So many people I know are so good at baking, but I don't want to put the stress on anyone to make ours. I'd like to make it myself, but don't know if it would be too much - especially because I want to DIY so much anyway. This cake is my favourite one:

    wedding cake hannah millard
    (Photo by Hannah Millard)

    But I think this might be too summery for a winter wedding.


    I love this one, and I think it would be quite simple for me to make myself. You can buy plain, ready iced tiers from Marks & Spencer, and then I could have a friend help me out with the snowflakes.

    wedding cake snowflake

    These cupcakes are absolutely beautiful, and I want to have at least some cupcakes, think I'll definitely be making these! I love them.

    snowflake wedding cupcakes glorious treats
    (Photo & Recipe by Glorious Treats)

    Also, there's a local bakers to us who does absolutely GORGEOUS (looking and tasting!) cakes, but they're a little on the expensive side. I'm going to call there on my way to uni today for some prices.

    What are your favourite cakes or cupcakes?

    Tuesday, 27 September 2011

    Amazing Pasta Sauce

    I'm a big fan of pasta. When I was younger and still lived with my parents, my sisters and I would eat it every single day. It really fills you up and I think it's quite healthy too. Unfortunately, the sauces that come in the jars or pots that we would eat it with are not. They're usually full of sugar and oil and chemicals. Over the years I've tried to make my own pasta sauce with varying degrees of success - from the edible to completely inedible. And you know what? I think I've finally got it.


    Slimming World


    Amazing Pasta Sauce

    Ingredients:

    500ml passata
    1 tsp dried oregano
    3 garlic cloves (minced)
    1 tbsp sun dried tomato (or regular tomato) puree
    1 tsp sugar
    Pinch of sea salt
    Black pepper

    Method

    Add all the ingredients to a pan, stir well and simmer gently for about five minutes. That's all!

    The sauce is so versatile; I originally made this as a sauce for lasagne, and it really was just delicious. I saved some leftover sauce, and reheated it the next day to stir through hot pasta. I let it simmer for longer so it would be thicker, then stirred it through hot spaghetti. So good! I could just eat another bowl full now!

    Syns: Less than ½ per serving!

    Friday, 23 September 2011

    First ever run!

    I went on my first ever run today! It wasn't very long. Or very fast. But hey, it was a run nontheless! I'm not sure how long I ran for as my ipod battery (which was doubling as my pedometer) died on me. I actually really enjoyed it - I woke up this morning full of energy, which I'm contributing to the lie in I had this morning! I've been a bit up and down lately with my eats, exercise and sleep, which I know are all linked. I'm going to make more of an effort to get into a better routine, which should hopefully be easier with uni starting again next week!

    When I got home, I stretched out with a little bit of yoga, then I gave Izzy a bath since I caught her rolling in something on our run.



    She hates bathtime, and always goes a bit crazy afterwards. But she looks (and smells!) much better now!

    A Love Story

    I know I've talked about my boyfriend Adam on the blog before. We've been together for over seven and a half years now! But I haven't really told you too much about him. We met when I was 17 and he was 19, one Wednesday sometime in 2003 at an alternative night at a club. I was a student at college and he was an apprentice electrician. We chatted all night, then went our seperate ways.

    Photobucket
    (Me back then at a fancy dress party!)

    I met his sister at college (without even realising!), we became friends and were together at the same rock night at the same club when I saw him again. We chatted, and hit it off so well, and Adam took my number. He text me the very next day! And we went on our first date 27th December 2003 to see Brother Bear at the cinema. We went on many more dates and fell in love.

    Photobucket

    Adam had always wanted to go travelling around Europe, so we decided to save up and go together! Which we did in 2004.

    Photobucket
    (Ice sculpture cave in Switzerland)

    rome
    (Rome, Italy)

    We got back home, but had been bitten by the travel bug, and hard. So we saved up and went travelling again, this time spending almost two years travelling and working. We went to Singapore:

    Photobucket

    Australia:

    Photobucket Photobucket

    Photobucket Photobucket

    Photobucket Photobucket

    New Zealand:

    Photobucket

    Photobucket

    (Where I completed one of my lifes goals of driving a monster truck!)



    Hong Kong and Tahiti:

    Photobucket

    We came back to England, bought our first house, and expanded our family with the addition of our gorgeous pup, Izzy, and we've now decided that the time is right for us to...

    get married!

    I'm absolutely over the moon, I can't wait to marry the absolute love of my life and most wonderful man ever, and the best thing is, I don't have long to wait because we're getting married on the 27th December 2011 - our 8th anniversary! I'm just so so so happy :)

    LinkWithin

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...