Category Archives: Food

Gousto – The subscription service for busy foodies!

Well Hello! It’s been a while… Life got busy again! There never seems to enough hours in the day to do everything I’ve planned. Let’s be real here…I’m not the sort of girl to give up her sleep in favour of ticking something else off that never ending ‘to-do-list’. I am interested in anything that is going to save me time though. That’s why I decided to try out some recipe box services. The first Box I tried is Gousto box, and…… I am ridiculously impressed. Where has this been all my life? 


If you haven’t heard of Gousto box this is how it works. First up you sign up to a subscription service deciding whether you want a box for two or four people. Then you choose how many meals you want (up to four) when, and how often you want your meals delivered. Lastly you pick from a great selection of recipes and they send you everything you need straight to your front door. Simple!


My biggest concern about using this type of service was freshness. What happens if I’m not home? How does the raw meet keep from going bad throughout the delivery process? 

I was pleased to see that anything that needs to keep cool was packed into a wool cool biodegradable cool bag complete with Ice blocks. Everything was still cold so my concerns about the food spoiling was unnecessary.


The Ingredients themselves are all very fresh and of high quality. Where possible the items are delivered naked so packaging is kept to a minimum. How good does all that fresh food look? 

So far everything we have tried has been very tasty. Even my fussy youngest liked everything. The recipe cards are easy to follow and I love that everything is pre measured out for you. 

We are a family of five so ordered the four person box. The portion sizes are generous though so we have been able to stretch the meals to feed us all. Gousto do say on their website that they are adult portions and that a child wouldn’t necessarily require a full portion. 

Gousto box hasn’t removed the ‘having to cook’ element from my day, but it has completely simplified the process. No longer to I have to spend ages searching for interesting meals, making shopping lists and trying to source different ingredients. 

I have a diabetic son who has to carb count. This can often be tricky when cooking from scratch. All the nutritional information is listed on the recipe cards so this was actually really easy to work out. Another big time saver! 

The price of a Gousto box is structured depending on how many people you are ordering for And how many meals you choose. For us it works out as £47.75 which breaks down to £2.98 a portion. 

When you factor in the price of quality meat, 1 off ingredients, fuel costs, time saved and the removal of the ‘I can’t be bothered’ impulse take-away I feel that’s not a bad deal. 

If you wanted to try out Gousto for yourself this Link will get you your first two boxes half price. In the. Interest of disclosure I would also receive £15 credit to use on the website. 

For now I’ll leave you with some pictures of some of the tasty meals we have been enjoying. 




Mini-Egg Rocky Road |A Kid friendly No-Bake Make

This very sinful but tasty treat combines two of my favourite things, classic Rocky Road and Cadburys mini-eggs. It’s super easy to make a kept my son entertained and away from his Nintendo DS yesterday afternoon. 

When I shared a picture of them on Instagram it got a lot of interest so I thought I’d share the recipe. 

The basic recipe I use I came across a couple of years ago through BBC Food. I tend to change up what I add to my Rocky road depending on what I might have in the cupboards. 

I usually like to add some from of dried fruit such as glacé cherries or cranberries if it’s Christmas time, as it is nearly Easter we went with the mini eggs instead of a fruit element. 

Ingredients 

  • 200g Digestives
  • 100g Mini Marshmallows 
  • 125g Unsalted Butter
  • 3 TBL Spoons Golden Syrup
  • 200g Dark Chocolate 
  • Bag Mini Eggs

Method 

Melt the chocolate, butter and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir till smooth and remove from heat.

Break up digestive biscuits into small pieces and add to pan with the Marshmallows. (If I was using cherries I would usually add them at this point).

Mix well until everything is evenly coated with the chocolate mixture. 

Transfer to a foil lined tin, (this makes it easier to remove later as it’s can be sticky). 

Decorate with your mini eggs. 

Allow to set in fridge for at least 2hrs. 

Remove from fridge and with and dust with icing sugar. 

Lift out of pan using edges of foil, then cut into 16 pieces. 

Enjoy! Just try not to eat it all at once! I failed and ate about 3 pieces, #SorryNotSorry! 

Life lately – it’s been a while!

It’s been a little while since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. There have been a couple of big reasons for this. 

Let’s get the negative one out of the way first…I’ve been lacking in inspiration. Yup I’ve been having a few head scratching moments and come up blank. 

My other excuses are far more positive and mainly due to a lack of time. Back in February I gained a promotion at work. This has meant switching from a part time role to full time. I’m still learning how to juggle without dropping too many balls. Let’s just say family, work then sleep have taken priority in that order. Blogging has taken a very firm back seat. 

I’m not complaining though I promise. I love my job and feel I’ve finally found a company to work for that fits who I am. I hope to grow with them and work towards gaining another promotion when the next opportunity arises. At the moment I’m like a sponge trying to soak up all the new skills and knowledge I can get. That’s probably why my brain has switched off from blog post inspiration. 

I’ve also found having this to focus on hugely beneficial when it has come to dealing with my feelings surrounding my mums death. It seems strange to me that she has been gone for over two months now, that it’s been a whole month since her funeral. The hardest thing to come to term with is that Death is so final and life will carry on regardless. All these great things are happening in my life and Yet I can’t tell my Mum. Mmmm….

Mother’s Day was an interesting experience. I was very anti the whole occasion and kept yelling at every promotional email, TV advert or instore display to F-Off! How inconsiderate of them? Did they not know I had just lost my mum and that it was like a slap in the face? 

Well off course not…don’t be a prat Katy! Grief  does that to you sometimes though. 

Wow that got a bit deeper than I intended! 

Back to the positives…

The kids have just broken up from school for the spring holidays. I have a weeks annual leave coming up so that means time to do some fun stuff. We have a trip planned to London Zoo and I hope to finally see Beauty and the Beast. (Still pissed off at Primark that I didn’t get my chip mug #chipgate).

I did buy some pretty bedding from Primark though, mainly because I haven’t had time to wash my old sheets. Lazy I know! I told you I’m still getting used to working full time. 


After not seeing the Hubby for about three days post Westminster attack (the pitfalls of being married to a police officer) we managed to cram in a lunch date. Byron burger is fast becoming one of my guilty pleasures. Their new menu is so so good. 

I had the limited edition Korean inspired Kimicheese burger  which involves Korean BBQ glaze, bacon, Freddar cheese, crispy onions, kimchi cucumbers, Gochuchang sauce and Ssamjang mayonnaise. 


I didn’t stop there either I also had the Gangnam fries which come with Freddar cheese sauce, jalapeños and Gochuchang sauce. 

Book wise I’ve just finished reading Bridget Jones Baby. If ever I feel I haven’t got my shit together I reach for a bit of Bridget she makes a mess of things far more than I do!

I’m currently reading Reap the Harvest by Margaret Dickinson. This falls into the saga genre and is that last in a trilogy that spans three generations of women who lives centre around a coastal farm in Lincolnshire. This book is set in the 50’s, previous books weee set in the 20’s and 30/40’s. 

So that’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to recently. I hope to be a little bit more productive throughout April.

Diabetic Friendly Christmas Pudding 

Christmas can be a difficult time when you have special dietary requirements. Especially if your a bit of a foodie like my teenage son who has type 1 diabetes. 

This Cookbook written by Stella Bowling and published by diabetes UK had been a godsend since I discovered it. 

It contains some excellent recipes including this fail safe Christmas Pudding recipe, as well as recipes for Christmas cake and mince pies. 
This recipe is always a hit and you honestly cannot tell that it doesn’t contain any added sugar. Perfect! 

Ingredients 

100g plain wholemeal flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice 

100g soft margarine 

2 eggs, beaten 

1 lemon, grated rind and juice 

2tbs brandy

1 Apple, grated

2 large carrots, grated

100g wholemeal breadcrumbs 

50g chopped mixed nuts 

50g glacé cherries, rinsed and chopped 

175g currents

175g sultanas 

225g raisins 

(Makes 20 servings) 


Method 

In a very large bowl sift together the flour salt and spices. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well till evenly combined. 

Divide mixture between two pudding bowls (approx 1 1/2 pint) and cover with grease proof paper and then foil. Secure with string. 

Steam the puddings for approximately 4 1/2 hours. 

The puddings will keep for up to two weeks. Not as long as a traditional pudding, but that is because the sugar that would usually act as a preservative has been left out.

If you are looking for some more inspiration to keep mealtimes interesting whatever time of year I highly recommend checking this book out. 

As all the nutritional information has already been broken down for you it also makes carb counting simpler. 

Diabetic Friendly Strawberry Milkshake | Recipe

Who doesn’t love a strawberry milkshake? My kids love them, however store bought milkshakes tend to be full of sugar. Not great then if like my Son you have diabetes.

This simple recipe for fresh strawberry milkshake is just as good, if not better than any store bought milkshake. Oh and best of all its diabetic friendly. 


All that is required is 3 ingredients and a good blender. 

Ingredients 

300g Franks Diabetic Vanilla Icecream

250g strawberries 

400ml milk

Makes 4 small milkshakes 



Method 

Add all the ingredients to your blender, remembering to hull the strawberries. 

Blend until smooth.

Divide between 4 small milkshake glasses and enjoy. 

I told you that it was simple didn’t I. 

I’m off to experiment with different flavours. Peanut butter and banana anyone? 

Food Glorious Food | Chop Block Chelmsford 

This post is long overdue. It must be at least 6 weeks since I went for dinner at Chop Bloc in Chelmsford with my two closest girl friends. 

The photos from that evening have been sitting on my phone waiting for me to do something with them for far to long now. Fortunately today’s #BEDM prompt was food glorious food, so it has given me that nudge to share those photos with you my thoughts about the restaurant. 

Chop Bloc specialises in steak and burgers all sourced from UK Hereford cattle. If you’re not a beef fan don’t worry as there are alternatives including vegetarian options. 

The menu does lean towards the pricier end of the scale as you have to order vegetables and sauces seperately but I can honestly say my steak was perfect.  

I suggest visiting mid-week as the set menu option, which you can view here provides much better value for money. You can opt for either two or three courses  at 21.95/25.95. 

Salt & Pepper Suid
300g Runp Steak
Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Burger


Eton Mess
I did feel the Deserts were a little disappointing in comparison to the rest of what we ate. They were okay, just nothing spectacular. 

The steak though was great and would definitely go back on a week night (I can’t afford the weekend prices 😁). 

I also want the opportunity to try out the cocktail bar upstairs, I’ve heard good things but no one was drinking that night. That’s a lie It was just me, I had a large glass of wine! 

Bye for now, Katy x

Date Night at The Viper Beer Festival | #BEDM Day 7 

Last week was another one of those crazy weeks. It saw multiple hospital trips for the men in my life. Yes it was a bit stressful. So I’m even more thankful that hubby and I had managed to have a rare date night before all the craziness started. 


My face in this picture? I must of known what was coming! 

Our date night saw us dusting off our leathers and hopping onto the Husbands motor bike for a ride out to one of our favourite beer festivals, The May Day weekend Beer festival at The Viper, Mill Green Ingatestone. Over the weekend it showcased over 50 beers and real ales plus ciders and perriers from local breweries. 

This pub always fascinates me as it is set in the middle of woodlands yet still receives a great turnout. It’s a true English country pub. 


The Bi annual Beer Festival is always a popular event. I’m sure it helps that there is some great live music over the weekend including popular local band Breakforcover. I am a bit biased in my support for them as my father in law is the lead singer. 

They do have a very loyal fan base though with gigs always being packed out. For there latest dates follow the link above to their web page. Are you a Chelmsfordian? They are playing at the Fleece in Chelmsford on Friday 13th May. 

August bank holiday will see the the return of the beer festival at the Viper. Let’s hope it’s nice and hot! 

Bye for now, Katy x

The Dalek Birthday Cake

My youngest is a HUGE Doctor Who fan. So when asked what cake he wanted for his birthday party he had set his heart on a Dalak cake. Not your average cake available from the supermarket no, he wanted a 3D sculpture. Bugger!

Okay, this called for a DIY job! A bit of research and some design work I came up with a plan. 

 With the help of some internal supports I built what resembled a wonky wedding cake. Yes right now it looks a bit of a mess but but this provided me with a good base to start shaping.

 

This is the final shape I ended up with. The base I cut so that it was the hexagonal shape of the bottom of the Dalek. I then created a sloped front. 

I covered the cake in a thin layer of butter cream  to even out the surface and to provide a a sticky surface to adhere the fondant Icing to. 

 

 I like to use Renshaw Decor-ice ready to role icing when making my cakes. It comes in a wide range of colours and is very soft and mailable. 

For the Dalak I used 4 packets of teddy bear brown, 1 black and 1 grey.

For the rivets I used Galaxy Minstrels as they are the perfect size and shape. 

The eye stork and guns provided a challenge. After trying a few different things I opted for using a wooden skewer as the base and just shaped icing around it. 

An electric whisk paddle provided the perfect gun. The original Daleks had very similar looking guns. 

I’m so pleased with how the cake turned out. It passed Jed’s critique well so I consider it a success.  

 

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The Essex Wine School – Brentwood Launch Evening

This write up is long overdue, but better late than never I suppose. Maybe?? 

A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to attend a taster evening showcasing the launch of The Essex Wine School in Brentwood. My husband joined me for the evening which was great as we don’t get to go out for the evening together very often. Yup perils of being a parent. This was the perfect date night. 

 
 The Essex Wine School is run by Neil Bull, a WSET (wine & spirit education trust) approved provider. His enthusiasm makes for a fun evening educating attendees about wine that is not just of high quality but accessable and affordable too. 

Classes are held in Chelmsford and Colchester with Brentwood launching as a new venue at the Essex Arms. 

We had a taster of some of the different courses available which meant we tasted a champagne, wine and Gin. We were also treated to a tasty buffet. 

Courses vary from a wine tour, cheese and wine pairing or gin tasting to Christmas champagne, port and cheese matching. 2016 will also see the addition of a beer and food pairing class. For the full program of upcoming evenings and how to book then head in the direction of their website Essexwineschool.com. Courses start from £22.50 for an introductory evening. 

As The Essex Wine School is not affiliated to any individual wine merchant or retailer you will not be sold wine or have your details past on to any third parties. 

This also means that the wines you will taste are the best quality wines from accessable sources. Don’t be surprised to see a wine from a local vineyard or from a national chain such as M&S or Waitrose. 

The highlight of the evening for me was tasting the Gin. I had never had Gin before and I’m not going to lie I was very nervous about trying it. 

  This was no “mother’s ruin”, no but a sophisticated artisan gin. A twist of orange peel elevated the appeal of the drink further. I may have to partake of a cheeky gin and tonic again in the future. 

If you are looking for the ideal Christmas gift for that tricky person they also offer gift vouchers.  

I was lucky to win a gift voucher on the evening. This is for the opportunity to attend another class. That’s a future date night with the hubby sorted. I just need to decided between wine and cheese or gin tasting. Though I actually am considering booking up on both anyway as they are such fun and entertaining evenings. 

Once again thank you to Neil for an entertaining evening and to Alice Langly for inviting us. 

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Pinterest v Real life – Sugar free Banana & Peanut Butter Icecream 

Who doesn’t love Icecream? Not many of you, I’m sure. What do you do though when your trying to be good and cut down on your sugar intake? All that shop bought stuff tastes great but it’s full of refined sugar.

I’m constantly scouring Pinterest for inspiration when it comes to finding exciting sugar free food. This is where I first came across Icecream made with banana. Ok it’s not strictly Icecream as there is no dairy in it but the end result claims to be a very satisfying frozen yet soft Icecream like desert minus all that sugar and dairy. The sweetness comes from the bananas.

Typically I have had many a failed attempt at things I’ve seen on Pinterest. Is that just me? It doesn’t stop me trying though. Game for an experiment I decided to give banana Icecream a go. I’m delighted as on this occasion it worked brilliantly.

It was super easy to make, and you don’t even need an ice cream making machine just a food processor.

Ingredients

4 bananas

1 tablespoon of crunchy no added sugar peanut butter.

2 teaspoons raw cacao powder.

To make your Icecream it is simple it just takes a little bit of planning and preparation.

Peel and slice the bananas and then freeze in a sealed bag.

 Once frozen empty into your food proccesor and pulse to start. I found pulsing works best to break down the initial solidness of the frozen banana otherwise my food processor developed a life off it’s own and moved across the counter. No one on Pinterest told me that would happen! Perhaps it’s just my food processor? Let’s just say it was an interesting experience. Anyway I digressed sorry!

Once your banana starts to break down you can safely switch to auto. You will need to stop and scrape down the banana with a spatula  every so often as it creeps up the sides.

Continue mixing until you have a creamy texture. Then add the rest of your ingredients and mix again until evenly combined.


Ta Dah!  Your done and can transfer into a freezable container to pop back into the freezer for a firmer texture.

This was a great hit with the kids especially as it’s suitable for my son who is diabetic and it totally counts towards 1 of your 5 a day. I’m going to have to experiment with different flavour combinations now.

So in terms of Pinterest v Real life this was a win. Not like my courgette  spaghetti but I’ll save that story for another day. I’m planning on doing a regular Pinterest v Real life feature on the blog as I quite often have some hilarious fails but also I occasionally surprise myself. What do you think?