Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sweet Potato Brownies

Hi everyone! Hope you are all okay today. I've just indulged in a creme egg milkshake from a local cafe after having some blood tests done as I was feeling sorry for myself - this is a good excuse right? Today's post is a recipe for sweet potato brownies. I have seen a lot of articles floating around about these and all the yummy goodness they contain so I decided to have a go at making my own recipe for them (mainly because I couldn't afford to buy a lot of fancy ingredients). They are definitely different to your regular brownie, particularly texture-wise, but they are so sweet and delicious.

To make, you will need:

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes (approx 800g - peeled and chopped)
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 5 tbsp of cocoa powder
  1. In a pan, boil the sweet potato chunks until soft (like you would if you were going to make mash potato).
  2. Drain the potatoes and blend in a bowl until creamy. I used a hand held blender for this part!
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
  4. Place the mixture into a lined baking tray and bake at 180c for around 20 minutes.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading, Lauren x


Monday, 30 March 2015

Quick dinner idea

Happy Monday everyone! How are you all today? The sun is back out, typical after a rainy weekend. This post is less of a recipe for you all but more of a quick dinner inspiration! Pizza is our turn to option when we just fancy something quick and easy, but I often forget how simple it is to make your own. Admittedly, I didn't make the bases from scratch, but that would take away from the fun of getting creative with the toppings!

To make, I simply bought a pack of two fresh pizza bases (these were only £1.75 from Sainsbury's for the 2 which I thought was good). Next, we topped with a good few tablespoons of tomato puree before adding our chosen toppings. You could choose whatever you fancy but I decided to go for spinach, sweetcorn, mushroom, ham and cheese - along with a generous sprinkling of oregano!

I also thought I would include a couple of update pictures of my blanket! The pictures don't look like I have done an awful lot to be honest but the blanket is pretty wide. Let me know what you think of the beach themed colours!

(Our gorgeous new fluffy rug is making a sneaky appearance in the background!)

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Rolo chocolate pudding!

Hello! How is everyone this Saturday? It's raining here so we really don't feel like doing much. Why is it sunny through the week then the rain appears at a weekend? Anyway, if you fancy an indulgent dessert this weekend why don't you try a Rolo chocolate pudding! It is so yummy served warm with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream.

To make 4 portions, you will need:

  • 65g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 pack of rolo's
  1. Simply blend all the ingredients, apart from the rolo's, in a bowl.
  2. Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin (I used a loaf tin so the pudding was quite thick but a small rectangle tin would do)
  3. Sprinkle the rolo's on top. As the cake rises they will sink into the mixture and melt.
  4. Bake at 180c for around 25 minutes. The top should be crunchy but the inside still gooey!
  5. Perfect served fresh warm out of the oven!

What do you think?

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Friday, 27 March 2015

Beef meatballs

Hello everyone! The weekend is here again, the week seems to have flown by. What have you all got planned? I am hoping the sun stays out so we can get out and about again and enjoy some fresh air. If you are stuck for ideas for dinner this weekend, this recipe for meatballs is so simple but delicious.

To make you will need (for 2 people):

  • 200g pack of beef mince (you could also use pork)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of tomato puree
  • Fresh basil (a good handful finely chopped with a few leaves to stir into the sauce)
  • 150g mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
  • A pinch of oregano
  • Plain flour (the amount varies - see instructions)
  1. In a bowl, add the mince and fresh basil. Using your hands or a fork, mix together the mince and basil. 
  2. Add some flour to help the mixture bind together. I find the exact amount tends to vary. Simply add enough until the meatballs stay firm and in shape when rolled. 
  3. Roll out your meatballs in your hands. You can do these however large or small you prefer.
  4. In a pan on a medium heat, gently fry the meatballs until brown, turning every 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the mushrooms, garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano. Leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce reaches a good consistency. 
  6. Serve with fresh pasta and a few fresh basil leaves.

Let me know what you think! I love hearing your comments.

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Simple ice cream!

Hello everyone! The sun is back out today, yay! I have had a go at redesigning my blog - I'd love to know what you think? It's a bit more clean and simple but hopefully still effective. I'm not too good with this side of things and HTML codes scare me. Last night I had a go at making ice cream, well frozen yoghurt, after purchasing a large tub of fat free yoghurt for just 50p at Waitrose - bargain! It is also low fat which is always a winner.

To make, you will need:

  • 500g carton of fat-free natural yoghurt
  • Maple syrup (around 6 tablespoons)
  1. Place the natural yoghurt in a plastic container and stir in 5 tablespoons of maple syrup (or just as much as you prefer!)
  2. Drizzle another teaspoon over the top. Place the lid on top of the container and put into the freezer.
  3. After 2 hours, stir the ice cream to help reduce the size of the ice crystals. I then froze for a further 3 hours and served. 
  4. If you have time, I definately think that stirring the ice cream every following hour would help although the ice crystals in this portion were not too bad!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Food for thought!

Hello everyone!

I have decided to write a slightly different post today. Last night I watched the BBC’s ‘Truth About Sugar’ documentary and it has left me feeling even more confused about how much sugar are we really supposed to eat? Sugar has become the latest health ‘scare’ and I can openly admit right now that I definitely eat too much (as you can probably tell from the vast amounts of baking I do). However, trying to find out how much is the right amount seems to be a fairly difficult task…

I adore sweet things and I definitely crave something sugary when I am having ‘one of those days’ or simply need an energy boost. I’ll choose a chocolate bar over a packet of crisps every time, a dessert over a starter. But what concerns me most is the amount of sugar that is also hidden in foods that we would assume have very little in…

A BBC article discusses the five main culprits, including bread and tomato-based pasta sauces. The amount of sugar in some pasta sauces doesn't really come as a surprise to me. I much prefer to make my pasta sauces from scratch so that I can see what is going in it, both for health reasons, but also simply for the flavour. However, when it comes to more savoury items, you tend to assume the sugar content will be low – well, at least that’s what I thought anyway.

Regardless of all this, I still feel that I am being sucked into the scaremongering surrounding sugar without much knowledge about what is really going on. Not because I don’t care about the guidelines, but because I don’t feel like they are particularly clear or accessible. The different RDA information that I have seen often tends to contradict each other. I do not for a minute plan on giving up all my lovely baking, or a bar of chocolate with a cup of tea – where would the fun be in that? However, I do believe that we need more accessible information about what sugar actually does, how much is actually okay, rather than the media simply convincing us that sugar is the devil and that is that…

I'm not claiming to know much about this but it is something that has really sparked my interest. I'd love to know what you think?

All this talk of sugar has made me fancy a biscuit!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Butter Bean and Chorizo Cassoulet

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day. The weather seems to have gone a little crazy today: one minute the sun is out, the next it is raining/hailing. I have been busy carrying on with my blanket and I am gradually getting faster at crocheting - I will post an update picture soon!

Today I decided to make a dish I have done a couple of times - a butter bean and chorizo cassoulet. This is a lovely, hearty dish that is really versatile. You could easily leave the meat out for a yummy vegetarian option and you could use a whole variety of beans!

To make, you will need:

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of butter beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 pack of chopped chorizo (you could either use a chorizo sausage or pre-cut slices)
  • Salt, pepper and oregano (to season)
  • Fresh basil - optional!

  1. Gently fry the beans and chorizo in a pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Serve with a sprig of fresh basil.
I like to serve this with a portion of cous cous or some fresh crusty bread!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Sweet Treats

Hello everyone! Monday again! Hope you all had a lovely weekend. After a day in Brighton on Saturday, we just had a relaxing, lazy day yesterday which was nice.

I think my boyfriend is starting to get a little concerned about the amount of baking I do. Most days he comes home to me handing him something new to try! Summer body...what summer body?

Yesterday I made some little sweet treats - jam tarts and apple and sultana tarts. I think making pastry by hand is sometimes a little daunting but it is a lot easier than it might seem. You could easily do these as just jam tarts or just apple.

To make 12 tarts, you will need:

For the shortcrust pastry
  • 2 oz of butter
  • 4 oz of plain flour
  • 3 tbsp of water
For the fillings
  • Strawberry jam (I used around a quarter of a jar)
  • 1 large cooking apple (peeled, cored and chopped - This was enough to make 5 tarts)
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • A handful of sultanas
  1. In a pan, simmer the apple and sugar on a medium heat until stewed. Leave aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, rub the flour and butter together until it reaches a breadcrumb like mixture. 
  3. Gradually add the water to bind the pastry together. Leave to sit in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Roll out the pastry and cut out 12 circles. 
  5. Place these into a muffin tin and fill each one with a teaspoon of either the jam or apple mixture. Sprinkle sultanas over the apple tarts.
  6. Bake at 180c for around 15 minutes.

What are your favourite sweet treats?

Thanks for reading! Lauren x


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Vegetable and Lentil Korma

Hello! What are you all up to this Sunday? We are having a chilled day at home and I will be doing a bit of baking too. Last night I decided to make a Korma. Although I am not strictly a vegetarian, I much prefer cooking with vegetables than meat. For this dish I decided to try a Spice Tailor sauce mix. The pack comes with three different sachets: one for the spices, one for the base sauce and one for the main sauce. I found it really easy to use and the end result was delicious! To the curry I added lentils, mushrooms and broccoli and served the dish with a side of naan bread.

To make, you will need:

  • 1 Korma sauce mix  (This doesn't necessarily need to be the brand I used, there are so many to choose from!)
  • Half a broccoli (cut into small chunks)
  • 5 large mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • Half a mug of lentils
  • A mug of boiling water

  1. Depending on the sauce mix you are using, check the instructions given. Packets that include the separate spices will require you to fry off the spices in the pan for a minute or two first.
  2. Add the brocolli, mushrooms, hot water and lentils and gently simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining sauce mixture (or sauce if using a simple jar sauce).
  4. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the curry reaches a nice thick consistency.

Sorry about the poor lighting, our kitchen lights are currently not working, very frustrating!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Brighton Seafront

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend - what have you been up to? Last night we went for a yummy dinner with friends. However, after feeling very poorly over night, I was ready today to go and get some fresh air this morning! We decided to take a trip into Brighton and have a wander down the seafront. The sea was so calm and still, it was lovely to walk next to. We then had a compulsory stop for a hot chocolate on the way back!

I will be back with some food-related posts tomorrow!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cottage Pie with Sweet Potato

I have now joined the world of twitter! Follow me at @taylorlr540

Hello! I don't know about you but sometimes you just need some comfort food and I think cottage pie is definitely one of mine. A little while ago my friend mentioned to me that she uses sweet potato as a topping for cottage pie rather than your regular potato, so I decided to give it a go. I think it would be the perfect dish to make the night before, refrigerate, then stick in the oven when you have had a busy day at work!

To make you will need:

  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 200g pack of beef mince (or quorn mince for a veggie option!)
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 mug of hot water
  • Half a mug of peas
  • A splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper (to season)
  • Cheese (an optional topping!)

  1. In a pan, fry the onion for 4-5 minutes. Add the beef.
  2. In another pan of boiling water, add the sweet potato and leave to simmer.
  3. Once the beef is browned off, add the peas, hot water, stock cube and salt and pepper. Allow to cook for around 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes and place back into pan. Add a splash of milk and mash together.
  5. In a heatproof dish, add the beef mixture followed by the sweet potato.
  6. If desired, you could add a sprinkle of grated cheese at this point to make a cheesy topping (I like doing this!)
  7. Cook at 180c for around 15-20 minutes. 

I love how vibrant the sweet potato mash is!

What are your favourite comfort foods?

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Today's baking involved flapjacks! I love flapjacks and the recipe is so simple and easy to follow. They are great warm out of the oven but they last quite a while if stored correctly which make them a perfect snack for lunchboxes etc.

To make you will need:

  • 4oz butter/margarine
  • 4oz demerera sugar
  • 1 tbsp of golden syrup
  • 6oz of rolled oats
  • A handful of sesame seeds (optional)
  1. In a pan, melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup until the mixture melts together.
  2. Stir in the oats and sesame seeds.
  3. Press the mixture into a lined baking tray.
  4. Bake at 180c for 15mins.

Ready to have with a cup of tea! Yummy!

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

Monday, 16 March 2015

March favourites

I have seen a few of these style posts around so I thought I would have a go at one myself. I love trying new recipes and ingredients but there are also some items which tend to take a regular place in the cupboards (aside from copious amounts of chocolate). Here are my favourite snacks so far this month:

Clipper Organic Peppermint Tea - I absolutely love Peppermint tea! As a sufferer of IBS I find it to have so many health benefits and it is a lovely, refreshing alternative to a traditional cup of tea. I've tried quite a few different brands and I really feel you can tell the difference depending on how much you pay (this is just my opinion!). However, I picked up a box of Clipper Peppermint tea bags for just£1.75 at my local health food store and the good thing is, I can get at least two mugs of tea out of every tea bag which you can't always do, meaning that only 20 tea bags can go a long way.

Sunflower Seeds - my Mum recommended these to me to add to flapjacks (they work yummy in these!) however, I have also found them to be a nice little snack when you just fancy something savoury. They also make a great addition to vegetable and lentil bakes (one of my regular dishes) as a crunchy topping.

Ryvita Thins - I have tried the Cheddar and Cracked Black Pepper as well as the Sweet Chilli flavours and love these. They make a perfect addition to soup, or to have with dips. Sometimes I even have them on their own instead of a packet of crisps!

Yeo Valley Greek Style yoghurts (with honey) - These are so thick and creamy and have the benefit of tasting a bit like cheesecake (can't go wrong there!). They hit the spot when you are craving something sweet and are made using organic ingredients.

What are your favourite snacks and ingredients at the moment?

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A trip to Rye

I thought I needed to post a non-food related post for once! This weekend we decided to visit the little town of Rye in East Sussex. It took us about an hour to get there on the train and even though it was very cold and windy, we enjoyed ourselves. Here are a couple of pictures:

Ypres Tower

Rye Pottery Shop

I'd also like to say Happy Mother's Day to my amazing Mum. I'm grateful every day to have such a caring, lovely and supportive person in my life, so thank you!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Friday, 13 March 2015

Breakfast muffins

The weekend is finally here! Yay! What have you all got planned? I think we are going to go out for the day tomorrow, haven't quite decided where yet but hopefully the weather stays dry.

Today I decided to have a go at making some breakfast-style muffins using bananas and sultanas. I didn't follow a set recipe, risky I know, but I am pleased with the final result! They are another handy way I have found to use up ripe or over-ripe bananas.

To make 12 muffins, you will need:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp of milk
  • 2 large bananas (chopped)
  • A good handful of sultanas

  1. In a bowl, blend the bananas, milk, sugar and egg.
  2. Gradually add the flour, mixing well. 
  3. Stir in the sultanas.
  4. Place a spoonful of mixture into muffin cases.
  5. Bake at 180c for 20-25 minutes.

These would make the perfect breakfast or mid-morning snack!

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Cheese, leek and onion pasties

The sunshine has been out here today so I started the day with a lovely long walk. Since being signed off ill a couple of months ago I've realised how beneficial it is to get out in the fresh air every day! I can't wait until summer is here.

Today I decided to make some cheese, leek and onion pasties - Except these aren't made with traditional pastry but with bread dough. The combination works great and nothing beats the smell of fresh warm bread!

The recipe is inspired but adapted from a Hairy Biker's recipe. My recipe makes around 6 good sized pasties. You could always add chicken or ham to them, depending on what you prefer.

To make you will need:

  • 500g white bread mix
  • 1 large leek (chopped)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 300ml water
  • 1/2 a mug of rice
  • 2-3 handfuls of grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper (to season)
  • 3 tbsp of milk
  1. Prepare the bread mix following the instructions on the packet.
  2. In a pan, fry the onion and leek on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes
  3. Next, add the stock cube, water and rice. Leave to simmer until all the water has absorbed.
  4. Add the cheese, stir and take off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
  5. While waiting for the filling to cool, roll out the bread mix into 12 oval-shaped portions
  6. In the centre of 6 ovals, place a large spoonful of the filling. 
  7. Brush milk around the edges, place another oval on top of each, and press to seal. 
  8. Bake at 200c for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Quick and simple biscuits!

Yesterday I had a long day travelling and am now back down South! It was sad to leave my family but so nice to be reunited with Tom again. The sun also seems to have appeared which is always lovely! Today I decided to whip up a quick batch of biscuits - perfect as a snack during the day. They are so easy to make too.

To make, you will need:

  • 3oz caster sugar
  • 4oz butter/margarine
  • 5oz flour
  • 3 tbsp of cocoa powder (if you want vanilla biscuits, simply leave this out!)
  • 1/2tsp of vanilla essence
  • a splash of water
  1. Blend the sugar, vanilla essence and butter together until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the flour, cocoa powder (if making chocolate biscuits) and water.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto a lined baking tray.
  4. Bake at 180c for 10-15minutes.
The number of biscuits I can make using this mixture varies depending on the size I go for. Generally, I tend to make around 10 medium sized biscuits.

I decided to top mine with a generous drizzle of white chocolate!

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Cute handmade items!

I've been practicing my crochet and have been really enjoying it! I love the chunky wool! Today I had a go at making a phone case and I have also started a blanket. Here are some pictures:

Thinking it would be a good idea to add some sort of fastening to the top too?

Here is the start of my blanket too. Planning on using this colour along with another blue and a silver/grey wool!

And here is a quick picture of my lovely cat Poppy on her favourite chair!

What do you all think? I would love any comments!

Thanks for reading, Lauren x


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Chocolate brownies to share

I'm currently enjoying a week back at home in Lancaster visiting my family. Today I decided to make some chocolate brownies, a favourite with everyone. There are so many recipes to choose from for chocolate brownies that it can be difficult to know which one to follow but this one has been my preference since my Mum made them for me on my first day of university! Some might think the process of making these is a bit lengthy but they are definately worth it!

This recipe is taken, but slightly adapted, from a Tana Ramsay recipe. To make, you will need:

For the milk chocolate mixture:

  • 110g bar of Dairy Milk (or similar)
  • 3 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 200g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g plain flour

For the white chocolate mixture:

  • 1 egg
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g white chocolate (broken into pieces)

  1. Melt the milk chocolate and the butter together and stir well. Allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together 1 egg, the cream cheese, 50g caster sugar and the vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the white chocolate.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the 3 eggs and caster sugar and gradually add the milk chocolate/butter mixture. Carefully fold in the flour.
  4. In a lined baking tin, pour in layers of both the milk chocolate and white chocolate mixtures.
  5. Bake at 180c for 35 minutes. 

Here are the final product! They are delicious!

Thanks for reading! Lauren x

Monday, 2 March 2015

Lentils, Cross-stitch and Crochet!

Until about six months ago, I had never really cooked with lentils. Now, I use them all the time and find them to be a great addition to dishes, especially pasta sauces, chilli and stews.

One of my favourite dishes to make using lentils is this tomato lentil stew:

(not sure if this picture does it justice, sorry!)

To make this I use:
  • Half a mug of lentils
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 tsp of tomato puree
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

To cook, I simply fry off the onion and carrots for 5 minutes. Next, I add the rest of the ingredients along with half a mug of boiling water. Simmer on a medium heat for around 20-25 minutes (or until the stew has reached a good consistency).

I often serve with garlic bread (shop bought usually!).

Here are a couple of pictures of a few crafty things I have been trying. These are my first attempts at cross-stitch and crochet:

Thanks for reading! Lauren x
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