A BLOOMing Marvellous Sunday

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I am trying to cast my mind back to a Sunday where it wasn't miserable or raining outside. I am currently sitting here with a cup of tea to the sound of the rain beating down on our sun room roof. I guess you can't have everything living in Wales...

My favourite thing about summer is any activity that involves food and drink outdoors; Picnics, BBQ's, beer gardens and festivals. Since the sun has been lacking this last month, I decided to bring the great British summer indoors. With the return of Bake Off, like the rest of the UK, I got the baking bug which gave me a great excuse to bake, drink gin and enjoy 'summer' from my kitchen table.

To do this you will need:
  • Scones
  • Jam/clotted cream
  • Strawberries
  • Sunglasses
  • Plenty of gin
I spent my morning making my own scones and chia seed jam with the help of Pepper. She mostly slept but did try to put her paw in my freshly washed strawberries.



"Maaaaam, stop trying to Instagram your jam, look, I'm sweeter"



To make the scones, I used a very easy, classic recipe and switched the caster sugar for xylitol (a natural sugar) which didn't seem to make a difference, they were so delicious and passed the twist test - when you twist it, they cut in half perfectly, ready to lather on your cream & jam...which I did in great quantities.




And of course any scone cannot be eaten without a cup of tea AND a side of gin. We went for the already mixed BLOOM gin & Fentimans ones. The classic gin & tonic and the gin & rose lemonade. If you haven't tried these, you haven't lived. My fave is the rose lemonade one. I could drink them all day, every day, although this isn't advised...



So next Sunday (My Birthday just incase you had forgotten...) I would highly recommend a scone and gin party to enjoy your own British summer - No sun required. I know one thing, I will most definitely be indulging in a fair few gins by this time next week. I plan to beGIN my 25th year as I mean to go on...


xxx

Earl Grey & Gin Ice Lollies

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Want to know the equation of happiness?

Earl grey + gin + sun = :) - sun (we live in the UK) = still happy, there's tea + gin.

I was never good at maths so my complex equation probably makes no sense at all, but what I can tell you, is these may be the best things you will ever have.

I tasked myself with taking 2 of the worlds best beverages and combining them into one sweet treat. 

Say hello to my earl grey & gin ice lollies.

Yes they are as fantastic as they sound and they are super easy to make,


For this marvelous creation you will need:

  • teapigs darjeeling earl grey teabags x 3 (brewed)
  • Greenall's gin
  • Whole lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey


How to:
  • Brew your teabags as you would a cup of tea. Leave it to cool and then pop it in the fridge.
  • Take a nap.
  • After a well needed nap these should be cooled, well brewed and ready to go.
  • (Free) pour your gin - I did around 1-2 shots.
  • Squeeze in your lemon.
  • Add a big spoon of honey for some sweetness.
  • Give it a mighty stir, pour into your ice lolly moulds and pop in the freezer.


and it's that easy!

Once ready, you can get your frosty, earl grey fix, its everything you would want from a lolly - zingy, refreshing and fabulous. I feel like summer may have skipped Wales this year but when you've got the best, boozy, grown up ice lollies, who cares?! I would happily sit indoors wearing socks and sun glasses enjoying these.



Pepper, our master taster, approved. Not of the packaging though, she's requested a cat instead.


xxx

The Chia Bia Challenge

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So a few weeks ago I told you about the Chia Bia challenge. Instead of telling you about each and every day, I thought I would compile it all into one informative post about my (delicious) journey, with a couple of recipe ideas for good measure. 

I found my favourite few and stuck to these:

Super green smoothie 
Coconut water, spinach, celery, pear, lemon juice, milled chia seeds.
Great for on the run. I cut up and prepare all my ingredients the night before so I can whip it up quickly in the morning.
How to: This one is as simple as throwing all the ingredients in the blender, whizzing it up and you're done.


Chia porridge 
Oats, milk, whole chia seeds, Greek yogurt, berries, nuts, honey.
Great for the weekend. Take your time, get a hot drink and a magazine and relax over a great big bowl of oats.
How to: This is easy peasy. Add 2 table spoons of chia seeds to the saucepan and cook your oats as you like them, add a big dollop of Greek yogurt, sprinkle on your berries & nuts and finish with a drizzle of honey.


Overnight oats
Oats, milk, water, whole chia seeds, honey, Greek yogurt, berries.
Great for those who like a lie in. As all the preparation is done the night before, you just have to take this out of the fridge, add your yogurt and berries and your good to go! It is the quickest breakfast ever. It is also great with a handful of frozen raspberries, it makes it deliciously sweet. You can find the recipe for this one here.



Chia jam
Strawberries, honey, whole chia seeds.
Great for those with a sweet tooth. I LOVE peanut butter and jam on rice cakes but I never buy jam because the refined sugar content terrifies me. Making sauces, preserves & condiments yourself is great because you know exactly what goes in them. I wouldn't eat this in huge quantities everyday but as a treat on ricecakes, toast or in my porridge is so so yummy.
How to: Cook around 400g of strawberries with 3 tablespoons of honey on the hob for 5 mins. Add your chia seeds and cook for a further 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool then put in a jar and keep in the fridge.


Nutty Granola 
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, coconut flakes, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, whole chia seeds, cinnamon, rice malt syrup, coconut oil.
Great for EVERYTHING. This was my best discovery. I love granola but I avoid buying it at the supermarket just like jam. A lot of it is packed full of the naughty stuff. This nutty granola was so easy to make and can be added it to lots of different things. You can have it with just milk or greek yogurt, on top of your porridge, with fruit or by itself. I took mine in tupperware and ate it in work after the gym. It's great if you also add some oats when preparing it to make a bulkier version.
How to: Roughly chop around 140g of nuts & seeds, put in a big bowl with 100g of coconut flakes, 3 big tablespoons of melted coconut oil, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of rice malt syrup, stir it all up and place in the oven for 15 mins.



Any excuse to experiment with breakfast is my idea of heaven so I loved doing the Chia Bia Challenge. I am not one to force food facts on you and tell you to change your diet - I myself could never give up chocolate or cake...but I do love healthy food, especially making it. So if you are looking to improve your diet, little things like adding chia seeds to your breakfast or making your favourite snacks, smoothies & sauces from scratch is a fantastic way to start. I would highly recommend trying the Chia Bia challenge for yourself, write a shopping list of key ingredients and get creative. It's fun and I promise it will chia you up in no time.


#ChiaBiaChallenge

xxx

A Day Spent Pottering

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One of my favourite things about Cardiff is its ancient, winding arcades. I've been in Cardiff for over 2 years now and I still manage to get lost - but that's the idea because this is when you stumble across the gems. 

My idea of a perfect day is spent pottering. It is one of the many pointless skills that I am highly trained in. 

Pottering: To occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant way.

Last weeks pottering consisted of eggs Benedict, Oh Comely and exploring the arcades. I had nothing specific on my agenda for the day and this is what I like best. 

This is where I came across Wondrously Welsh. Everything they sell is produced in Wales and they really are as wonderful as their name says. 



It is gift central and the ideal spot to pick up local produce from chutneys to fresh cheese - it's a fantastic addition to the arcade and much needed in the city centre. It makes you leave feeling very happy to be Welsh - because we really do, do everything best. 


I picked up some Little Black Hen piccalilli and spelt oat cakes - both better than anything branded you can pick up in the supermarket. 

My next spot was The Plan. If you are after some good coffee in the city centre, there is no better place. They serve the best cappuccinos and its a place you can find yourself sitting for hours.


I grabbed myself the latest copy of Oh Comely, a coffee and tucked into eggs Benedict - a dreamy combination for a Tuesday morning



If you do venture down to Morgan Quarter, make sure you pop your head into Renate. It is one of the few boutiques in town that cater to the young and fashionable. It will make you never want to hit the high street again, but save for the staple, completely gorgeous pieces they stock. (They also hold some pretty cool events - Any event with dresses, fizz and cupcakes is a good one.)




Got a day off soon? I would highly recommend a potter around Morgan Quarter. 

xxx

The Smoke Haus

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There was a time when I was afraid of burgers. This was also around the time that I thought low fat mayo and diet coke were good for you. Since then, I have done some reading and learnt about a word called 'moderation' instead. It means that I can in fact eat burgers, just not 7 times a week, but that's cool with me. This means that when I do have a burger, its got to be a downright dirty one - no low fat mayo here, give me ALL the cheese. And while we are on the subject of cheese, let me tell you all about The Smoke Haus. If you are a calorie counter, I would advise you stop reading now.



I remember the excitement buzzing around the Smoke Haus when one opened up in Swansea. Countless photo's of dirty burgers filled my newsfeed but I never got round to going. So when I got asked if I would like to try the Smoke Haus in Cardiff, I was all over it. Burgers for brunch? Mine had avocado in, so yeah.



One of the first things I noticed was that they serve Blue Moon beer on tap. Any place that serves Blue Moon on tap is a good place. It is the best beer there is and accompanies a burger perfectly.



To start we ordered the nacho's - The biggest bowl of nacho's I have ever seen in my life. It came with a ton of guacamole, salsa, jalapenos & melted nacho cheese, which took a liking to my hair...




What do you call cheese that isn't yours?
Nacho cheese.

There will be no more cheesy jokes, I promise...

For the main event, I went for the dirty sanchez burger which is a cheeseburger topped with onions, roquito peppers, guacamole, sour cream and spicy mojo ketchup. Upon tucking in, with ketchup running down my arm and sour cream on my nose, the kitchen roll on the table which I thought was a cute touch, was now very necessary.  








They definitely stay true to the American theme as the portions were HUGE. I only managed half of my burger and a few sweet potato fries before I had to call for help. 



As I was rolling around in the booth complaining I was so full, the waiter appeared with dessert menu's. "oh no I couldn't eat another thing." This soon changed when a hot waffle with ice-cream, marshmallows and chocolate sauce landed on the table. I miraculously had room. I am ashamed to say this was the first time I had ever had a waffle. But now, thanks to George, this will be the first of many as it was truly scrumptious. 



But now let me tell you about the best bit, the bit where I discovered I should be a DJ. So the Smoke Haus seemed to be playing some absolute tunes, we were then informed that we could control these tunes - it was power like I've never felt before. They use the remote app, which allows you to choose the music. The songs get put in a list and then people can vote what they want to play next. I seemed to be the only one totally loving this feature, so all my songs were first in the queue. Dolly Parton, yep that was me. Sum 41, yep also my doing. Keisha, guilty. Suddenly every bowling for soup lyric came back to me and reminded me of my teenage days of black hair and that Famous Stars and Straps hoody...

Anyway, all in all, a very fun afternoon. it's a great place for quick bite to eat and definitely one for big eaters. The atmostphere and staff were fantastic and it's everything you would expect from an American diner. I also think it would be good for a first date. You will soon figure out if they are for you when you see how they eat their burger....

xxx


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