Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

I'm blogging from my very own brand new laptop! I've been asking for one for a while, but I never thought I'd actually get it. I also got a cat onesie yesterday (we always get new pajamas on Christmas Eve) and now I can't wait for food. 
Merry Christmas!
Love, Shay. xo

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Eve!




I can’t believe it’s Christmas eve already! All of our decorations are up (and have been for a week or two) and it finally feels like Christmas. 

I’m really sorry for not posting earlier. I feel so bad, but I've been really busy recently what with exams and illness and Christmas shopping (aka stressing- Christma
s presents are hard work!) I’ve really not had the chance, and I've not really been doing anything ‘blog worthy’ anyway. I have a couple of ideas for future posts, which is pretty exciting considering my lack of creativity/motivation/time.
But that’s okay now, because I’m here and I bring Christmas goodies! Well, Christmas goody, but its gingerbread so you aren’t allowed to complain. It’s perfect for a last minute present, or a Christmas party you might be attending. Or maybe you just want to stuff you're face with gingerbread. Don’t worry, I won’t judge. 

I found this recipe on the BBC website. You can never go wrong with BBC food. I made it a few days ago for my mum to take with her to work, and now I’ve made it again today, just for fun.
Sorry for the crazy collage, I'm still working on my photo skills

Ingredients
·         350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
·         1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
·         2 tsp ground ginger
·         1 tsp ground cinnamon
·         125g/4½oz butter
·         175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
·         1 free-range egg
·         4 tbsp. golden syrup

Method
1.       Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into a bowl. Add the butter and blend in a food processor until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
2.       Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
3.       Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
4.       Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a space between them so they don’t morph into one.
5.       Bake for 8-12 minutes (my biscuits were only small, so they didn’t need as much time) or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
                                                                                                                                             
These are some of the best gingerbread biscuits that I’ve ever made, and they're really easy to make. 

Happy holidays!
Love, Shay. xo

Monday, 2 December 2013

December is here!

I can't believe it's December already! I love the end of the year, because it's great to be able to look back and feel happy about what you've done or accomplished. It's also a great time to plan for the future- you have a whole year ahead of you!

I've decided that 2014 is going to be a productive year for me. I've really just been coasting along and scraping by, but I feel like now's the time to get my head down in school and really work hard. I'm going to try and build up a collection of notebooks to help me plan and focus. I'm also going to start saving up my money instead of wasting it.

I really want to start a scrapbook for 2014. I love having visuals to look back over my year, and gathering them all in one place would be the best! Later on this month I'm going to set myself goals for 2014 and I really hope I can achieve them.

What do you hope to do in 2014?

Love, Shay. xo

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Good morning starshine

I should really be getting ready for school right now, but I'm putting it off for as long as possible...

I'm currently listening to Gabrielle Aplin (again). Her music is just so relaxing and lovely. I really need to dowload English Rain on to my ipod.
I really just wanted to share this song, now I need to go and finish getting ready.
(Sorry for any typos, I'm not wearing my glasses. I'll come back later and check)#

Love, Shay. xo

Monday, 18 November 2013

Brace yourself

I'm getting braces. I've known for a while that I've needed braces; I've been on the orthodontist waiting list for over a year. But I'm still really sad. Obviously I want straight teeth, and in the long run I know I'll regret it if I don't get them, but I'm still really nervous. I went to the orthodontist today where they did moulds of my mouth and then x-rays and stuff, and it was pretty uncomfortable. They were stretching my mouth here, there, and everywhere. I have to have them for 18-24 months, which kinda sucks. I also have to get four teeth out at the dentist, so overall this is no fun. I'm trying to look forward to the end and I don't even have braces yet! But I think the hardest thing is going to be the food; I was told that sweet treats such as delicioss cakes and cookies are out of bounds- how will I cope?! So to make the most of it I'm going to stuff my face each and every day (okay not really but I wish I could).
Sorry for the boring post, not much is going on right now.

Love, Shay. xo

P.S Have you seen this years John Lewis advert yet? I'm in love. When we first watched it me and my mum were tearing up. It's beautiful.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Pea and bacon soup

Okay. I'm a bad person. I'm so sorry for not uploading sooner, but I feel like my life is pretty hectic right now. The amount of coursework I have to do for school is ridiculous. I need a schedule.
Anyway, I'm here now with a super soup that will warm you right up in time for chilly(er) days. But seriously, it's freezing right now.
My mum made this for us on bonfire night and it was delicious. She said she thinks the recipe was in a Tesco magazine a few years a go, but she's not quite sure. Basically she made this up as she went along. This recipe made quite a lot, but you could quite easily change the measurements to suit you. This is more of a guideline than an actual recipe.


Ingredients
-1 bunch of spring onions
-2 litres of vegetable stock
-1 kilogram frozen peas
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tub of cream cheese
- Bacon

Directions
1) Cook the spring onion in alarge saucepan on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
2) Pour all of the stock into the pan and stir witha wooden spoon.
3) Cafefully add in all the peas. Turn the heat up and wait until boiling.
4) Add in salt and pepper to taste.
5) Using a handblender whizz until smooth - your soup will be quite runny at this point.
6) Add in cream cheese and whizz again. Add as much cream cheese as you like, or until the soup is your desired consistency.
7) Cook your bacon and chop it up. Stir it in to your soup.

Done! It's soo easy to make and really tasty too. You can take the bacon out for a vegetarian soup if you like, or use parma ham for a different flavour. It really is up to you!

Love Shay. xo

Friday, 8 November 2013

Billington's brownies

A couple of weeks ago my mum sent off for a free Billington’s cake tin. You literally only have to buy two packets of sugar then go on the website and enter the codes. I’m actually not 100% sure if they're still doing this, but if they are you should go buy some sugar. 'Cause it’s a free cake tin, right?
Anyway, it had these little leaflets inside that had a recipe for brownies, and I know ive already posted a brownie recipe before but they were technically supposed to be cookies. Plus these are much more ooey gooey. And it’s a totally different recipe.
You can find this recipe here.

Ingredients
250g Billington's Unrefined Dark Muscovado Sugar (of course any dark muscovado sugar would work)
200g unsalted butter
350g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into pieces (I used 200g milk chocolate and 150g dark chocolate. This was purely because dark chocolate isn’t my favourite thing in the world)
3 medium eggs
50g self-raising flour

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5, line a tin with baking parchment.
2) Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
3) Whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy. Add the dark muscovado sugar and whisk until thick. Gently fold in the chocolate.
4) Sift in the flour and fold in until the mixture is smooth.
5) Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you see a paper-like crust on top. There should still be some movement in the centre of the tin.
6) Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then cut into squares.

These brownies were really soft and gooey in the middle. They went great with a spoonful of ice cream, and my family pretty much devoured them in a day. I blame my brother.
I also reheated one in the microwave (for about 45-60 seconds), and it was fab.
See you soon!
Love Shay. xo

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Please accept my heartfelt apologies

I am so so so so sorry for my over-a-week-long absence, but I promise I have a legitimate reason.

Because I don’t have my own laptop, most of my internet-ing is done on my phone. I don’t really like doing blog posts on my phone because I always have to come back to them later to edit. Because of this, the only chance I get to post is on the family computer. My dad’s currently doing a degree, so he’s on the computer any chance he gets, but, unfortunately for me, this means the only time I get to go on the computer is before he comes home from work or quite late at night. 


Does this adorable cat make up for it? (I'm not too sure where this picture's from, I think it was on Tumblr. If you know it'd be great if you could tell me)

I’m really really sorry for not posting sooner, but I feel like recently I'm always busy, and when I’m not I don’t have access to the computer. I’ll try to upload sooner in the future.
I feel like I sometimes have to force my blog posts and I hate that, so I’m going to start planning a lot more. I had really big ideas for this blog and I don’t want to my laziness or disorganisation stop that.
Anyway, I just want to apologise again.
Love Shay. xo

Monday, 28 October 2013

Hey stranger

I'm really sorry for my lack of recent posts. I'd like to have a real reason for appearing to be so busy, but really I'm just the biggest procrastinator in the world.
 
Don't you just love rainbows? This one appeared last week while I was in the car and I was so happy. They make my day :).

Love Shay. xo

Monday, 21 October 2013

Two minute microwave cookie dough

A while ago I made a cookie similar to this. It’s safe for me to say that it was more of a dry, crumbly cake. I still ate it, but that’s beside the point. I saw it again recently on Tumblr, and thought I’d try to make another microwave cookie. I’ve made plenty of microwave cakes before, but I knew that I wanted something different.

After a quick Google search and clicking on literally the second recipe I saw (it's official, I'm the laziest person I know), I decided to try again, It was much more ‘hot cookie dough’ than ‘cookie’, but I didn’t mind. With a dollop of ice cream, it was delicious, but I still feel like I’m cheating by calling it a cookie. It has been stripped of that title.

Without further ado, the quickest cookie dough you may ever make in your life.

Ingredients
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
Tiny pinch of salt
2 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. plain flour
Chocolate/chocolate chips/Dreemy (it’s Aldi’s version of a milky way, and they’re delicious). You can use however much chocolate you want, or none at all, it’s completely up to you. I used two Dreemy bars.

Directions


1)      Melt the butter in a small microwaveable bowl. It took me two fifteen second blasts, stirring in between

2)      Add the light brown sugar and whisk until incorporated

3)      Add in the salt and milk and whisk again until combined

4)      Carefully whisk in the flour until your mixture is thick

5)      Chop up your chocolate (if needed) and stir into your batter-y mix

6)      Cook in your microwave for thirty second intervals until it looks cooked but is still soft. Leave it to stand, or just dig right in like I did

7)      Put a dollop of ice cream on the top and eat while it’s hot.

This is the original recipe, take a look!

Enjoy! 
Love, Shay. xo

P.S. On Saturday I got a fringe! I love it quite a lot...

Monday, 14 October 2013

Brownies and cookies and tea, oh my!

On Sunday me and Kate had a little bit of a baking session. We made fudge-y brownies and cake-y cookies. They were really fab, so I simply had to share ;)
I found both of these recipes on Pinterest, but we tweaked them a little bit. The links for the originals will be at the end, and you should definitely check them out.

First up, chocolate chip cookies. Now I’ve made plenty of chocolate chip cookies in the past, and I’m really not fussy when it comes to cookies; chewy and soft or hard and crunchy, cookies in any and every form are the best. 


Chocolate chip cookies
These cookies in particular were really cakey and soft. They were good, but when I make them again I’ll probably flatten them down a little bit more.

Ingredients, also known as step one- (note that you can’t see all of the ingredients – thank my new found editing skills)
For this first recipe, you’ll need the following things:
o   ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
o   ¾ cup brown sugar
o   ¼ cup caster sugar
o   1 medium-large egg
o   1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
o   2 cups plain flour
o   2 tsp. corn flour
o   1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
o   Pinch of salt
o   As many chocolate chips as you like! (the recipe actually says a cup, but I won’t blame you if you go a little overboard)
Step two + three- Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. For us, this was about five minutes on a low speed with a hand mixer.
Step four + five- Mix in the egg and vanilla.
Step six- Add all of the dry ingredients, other than the chocolate chips (do they count as dry ingredients?) and mix together on a low speed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Step seven- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour. This makes the cookie thicker, and a little bit easier to roll.
Step eight- Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Roll about one-tablespoons-worth of dough into a ball shape and flatten down. The ones pictured were our second batch, and they were thinner than the first. I thought they were better than the first lot, but it all depends on how thick you like your cookies.
Step nine- Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and pop your cookies in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.



Take a tea break if necessary.


Brownies
The brownies were originally supposed to be cookies, but obviously that didn’t work out. It may have been because we didn’t follow the instructions properly, or maybe because we weren’t too confident with the definitely-not-dough mixture we had. Either way brownies are the best, so does it really matter?
Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but the instructions weren’t very clear for this cookie recipe, so me and Kate just made it up as we went. 

Ingredients-
o   Around about 2 cups of chocolate, broken into pieces
o   4 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
o   ¾ cup caster sugar
o   3 medium-large eggs
o   1 tsp. vanilla extract
o   ¾ cup cocoa powder (we used hot chocolate powder)
o   1 cup plain flour
o   ¼ tsp. baking powder
o   Pinch of salt
Step one- Melt the chocolate and butter together. You can do this in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, but we just did it in the microwave. If you do it in the microwave, cook on high for 30 second intervals, stirring in between each, until everything is melted. Set aside.
Step two + three- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat for about five minutes, until pale yellow and thick, using your electric or hand mixer.
Step four + five- In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. On a low speed, mix the dry ingredients into your egg mixture until everything’s incorporated.
Step six- Add the chocolate/butter mix into your batter. Beat for a minute until it’s all mixed in. Put your bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
Step seven- When your chocolate-y mix out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 180c. Line a baking tin (or a casserole dish in our case) with greaseproof paper. Carefully pour in the mixture and spread out evenly (ish).
Step eight- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.



For dessert last night my whole family had a brownie with a scoop of ice cream.

I really need to get to bed earlier.
Love, Shay. xo

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bloglovin

This is just a super quick post to let you know you can follow my blog on Bloglovin

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/11024551/?claim=qd9zcjjpe3s">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I've also added a follow button on the side.
 
I'm currently doing my art coursweork, which means hard work. I've almost finished my sketchbook though, which is pretty exciting. Now I just have to get started on the giant pile of the rest of my homework. Blegh.

I wish you happiness and fairy dust and sunshine (With this weather? Yeah, right.).

Love, Shay. xo

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sweet potato pie



I made a sweet potato pie! And you should make it too!

When I first saw this I was totally confused. I was on Pinterest, and I saw a recipe for sweet potato pie – with marshmallows on the top. What? Marshmallows? Who on earth would think it wise to put marshmallows on a savoury pie? Turns out, no one. It’s a sweet pie. And it tastes delicious. It’s also American - If there’s one thing they do well, it’s the food.


This is heaven in a pie. Sorry for the messy look. I like to think 'rustic'.

After looking around the interweb, I came across a recipe that looked pretty easy to follow. My only issue was the timing - it seemed to take forever. I poked around a little bit more until I gave in and asked my mum how I could cook sweet potatoes without it taking an hour. She said she does regular potatoes in the microwave, and really how much different could they be?

So, this is the recipe I followed. I adapted the original very slightly. I also re-wrote the method. That was mainly for me. 
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one for faff; if it can be done quicker or easier, I’ll do it. Maybe I’m just lazy….

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Now obviously, you could just buy some. It’s in the freezer aisle. However this is one thing that I don’t like to cheat with, ‘cause it’s already quick and easy. Plus we didn’t have any pre-rolled at home.
Ingredients:
o 250g plain flour
o 125g cold butter, cubed
o 2 egg yolks
o 2 tbsp. caster sugar
o Pinch of salt
o 1-2 tbsp. milk, if needed
This pastry recipe is from Lorraine Pascale. I have one of her books, and it’s the best.

Directions:
1)Put flour and butter in a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2)Add the egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Stir with a knife (or whizz it again, like I did).
3)Squash the mixture - it should stick together. If it does, roll it into a ball shape, if it’s too dry add milk slowly, tablespoon at a time. Only add the milk if you really need to, because even though it’s slightly more difficult to work with, it makes a much nicer pastry without. Wrap the ball in Clingfilm.
4)Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. –At this point I started making my filling. When I was almost finished I took the pastry out to rest.
5)            Remove it from the fridge and leave to rest for a few minutes before using.

Clean your food processor so you can use it for the filling. This whole thing can be done with bowls and spoons if you don't have one, so don't let that put you off.
 
Pie Filling
Ingredients:
o500g sweet potato
o125g softened butter
o150g caster sugar
o125ml milk
o2 eggs
o½ tsp. ground nutmeg
o½ tsp. ground cinnamon
o1tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
1)Peel your potatoes.
2)Put them on a plate or bowl with cling film over the top (pierce the cling film).
3)Heat up in the microwave for 5 minutes. Turn them over so the top is now the bottom and cook for another 5 minutes. If it needs more, cook for 2 minute intervals until the potato is soft enough to mush in a food processor.
4)Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
5)Roll out the pastry and line a 9 inch pie tin (I used a flan tin. I lined it with greaseproof paper, then greased the paper with a little bit of butter). Carefully put the pastry into the tin and press it against the sides. Lightly pierce the base with a fork, not all the way through, or you’ll have leaky pie.
6)Put the potatoes into your food processor.  Blend them until it looks like super-smooth mashed potatoes. Add the butter and mix well. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, and spices. Beat until the mixture is smooth. I literally did all of this in the processor, and it worked great.
7)Pour the filling into pastry base.
8)Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
9)Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top.

I really hope that if you make the pie, you’ll love it as much as I did!

I promise that not all of my photos will be bad quality, but autumn means darker evenings, so there wasn't enough natural light by the time the pie was done.









Now, it’s late and I’m sleepy. Night night!
Love, Shay. xo

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hello rainy day

Image found here.

I'm sat at the computer drinking soup and that makes me very happy.

Watching- Pretty much every video Gabrielle Aplin has ever uploaded to You Tube.
Listening to- Said videos. And the rain pattering on the roof.
Planning- How many blogs I can look at before I have to go back to school. It's none. I have to go in about ten minutes :(.
Thinking about- What a pretty day it is.
Loving- Autumn weather.
Stressing about- All the homework and coursework I need to catch up on.
Looking forward to- Eating cake later on.
Reading- Nothing in particular. I keep re-trying to read The Name Of The Wind. It's an amazing book, but I've found it difficult this time around. I'll keep trying.
Making me happy- My favourite season of the year.
Wishing- School wasn't always so stressful. Super-powers would be nice too.

I pretty much stole the idea for this post from http://www.indiejanephotography.com/ . In the future I'll probably tweak it to fit me, but right now I'm rushing. I hope the rest of your day is peaceful and happy.
Love, Shay. xo

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Pinch, punch, first of the month

Happy first of October! Where on earth has September gone? How have I been back at school for an entire month? When did that happen? 

Sorry for the bad quality picture, by the way. It's early morning and iPhone cameras aren't fab without natural light. 

I hope this month is great for you, and you enjoy the rest of autumn, because come on, autumn is the best. 

Love Shay. xo

Monday, 30 September 2013

Sweet treats...


And, you know, cake. Because cake is always good. I promise. 
So, I recently made myself a little 'rule' that I wouldn't gorge myself with cupcakes anymore, because if I'm being honest, I was out of control. Cakes, but cupcakes in particular, are a huge guilty pleasure of mine - in fact, I'm a sucker for most sweet treats.
Because of this, I've decided to start what will hopefully become a weekly feature - Cupcake recipes. Or, y'know, food. But I tend not to venture off into the world of savoury food, so sweet treats it is. 
I can tell you already that these recipes won't be mine, and if they are I'll make it pretty obvious, so I will always post a link where I can.
Which brings me on to this:
Cupcakes for two. This isn’t my own recipe, as mentioned, and you can find the original here.

One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes for Two
serves 2 (If you're feeling generous)
1 egg white
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 2 liners.
In a bowl, add egg white and sugar and whisk until combined. Add in vanilla and melted butter and stir until mixed. Add flour, baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. Stir in milk. Divide batter equally between the 2 cupcake liners.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until cake is set. Let cool completely, then frost as desired.

I would like to say that when I make this recipe, I just use the full egg. Much less hassle, and they still taste great! I've also replaced the vanilla with 1-2 teaspoons with cocoa powder, which again are the best. 
My own babies. I didn't get a picture of them post-bake. They were just too good. And, obviously, I got three cupcakes instead of two.

Like I said before, I’m trying not to be a cake pig, so this is perfect for when you’re desperate for cake but know that you won’t be able to deny all twelve cupcakes residence in your tummy. It says for two, but really? Who’s buying that?
I much prefer making my own cakes because that way I know exactly what’s gone in them.
Love, Shay. xo