This week I popped my 2017 mince pie cherry.

To be honest, this is pretty late in the year for me to be starting on the festive themed snacks. Come to think of it, I’ve not even had a glass of mulled wine yet. Honestly, what’s the matter with me? The more I hear people complaining about Christmas songs playing in shops the more I want to crack out Slade and whip up an eggnog, so you’d think I’d be onto chocolate yule logs at least by now.

You can probably imagine then that my arm didn’t take a great deal of twisting when Iceland asked if I fancied hosting an elegant Christmas party to showcase their luxury foods range. Plus, having been up to London to for a preview of Iceland’s Christmas food earlier in the year, (in a heatwave), I already knew how tasty their luxury range is.

Festive no brainer really.

It got me thinking though about what makes a good Christmas party – how do you put on an impressive party over the festive season? What’s the secret?

I’m slightly strange in that although I love GOING to parties, now I’m at the age where I own decent carpets/am pretty lazy, I’m not massively keen on HOSTING parties. Ditto Christmas – I’ll happily turn up anywhere with a sack of pressies and a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, but please don’t make me baste anything. (Thinking about it, perhaps that’s not so strange really.)

Christmas parties then. Here’s what I think you need:

Christmas decorations

Oh look! The Christmas wreath has ACCIDENTALLY fallen out of the cupboard and hung itself on the front door, even though it’s only November. What a shame!

One of my favourite things about my new house is that it has a fire place in the living room. It’s not for the open fire – I’ve had to stick a cushion up the chimney as an anti-cat climbing measure – it’s so that I have a mantelpiece to decorate at Christmas with festive twigs and snow globes and what not.

If you’re hosting a Christmas party this year and want to impress your guests then you MUST have good decorations.

Christmas party decorations View Post

Last year I discovered the joy that is vacuum packing a duvet. I’m a woman of simple pleasures, one of which, it turns out, is watching all the air get sucked out of bedding.

IMAGINE MY DELIGHT then, when I realised you could do it to food too!

The idea behind the FoodSaver Fresh preservation system is simple – keep food fresh for longer and so spend less on shopping and throw less food away. As someone who hates food waste, and will eat out of date yogurt rather than put it in the bin, you can see the appeal.

You can use your FoodSaver Fresh for anything where you want to keep fresh food fresher for longer, whether it’s that second half of your avocado in the fridge, or baking supplies in the cupboard. Air is the enemy of freshness, so the FoodSaver Fresh locks out air and moisture, meaning your food doesn’t spoil as quickly.

The FoodSaver Fresh preservation system has two elements. First up you have the machine itself, which I’m guessing is essentially a mini hoover. It’s a nifty size, and doesn’t take up a huge amount of space on the worktop: View Post

In association with Princes

So go on, tell me, what did you think of my overnight slippy peach pancakes?

I mean presumably as soon as you saw the post this week you whipped up a batch ready for breakfast the next day? Good. Glad to hear it.

In case your tinned fruit stocks are running low, and you’re getting worried about your next batch, then I’ve teamed up with Princes again today to offer you a super cool prize – a week’s shopping at Morrisons and a Princes tinned fruit hamper! Specifically, the lucky winner will get an £80 Morrisons voucher, plus a selection of 14 different tins of Princes tinned fruit, which you’ll know from my pancake recipe post counts towards your five a day. Tinned fruit is packed fresh at source, and helps to cut down on waste – no more festering bananas in the fruit bowl for you.

And then THIS can be your breakfast every day:

tinned peach recipe

Hoorah!

They were REALLY good.

If you’d like to win an £80 Morrisons voucher and hamper of Princes tinned fruit then it couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is complete as many of the entries in the widget below as possible. The more you do, the greater your chances of getting to go to Morrisons, supermarket sweep style.

The competition will close at 11.59pm on 1st December 2017 and is open to UK residents only. Full T&Cs apply.

Good luck!

Princes

In association with Princes

We all have those tinned staples that are always in the cupboard. For us it’s kidney beans*, tinned tomatoes, baked beans and slippy peaches.

Slippy peaches, just to clarify, are tinned peach slices, so named by our family because when they come out of the tin they are slippy. Dur.

tinned peach recipe

I always buy tinned fruit in juice because then it properly counts as fruit doesn’t it? Genuine fact there – a tin of slippy peaches like these count as two of your five a day. And tinned peaches are so GOOOOD.

Let’s face it, how often do you buy fresh peaches and get them just at the right level of ripeness, and THEN be bothered to cut them into slices to go on top of a pancake? Never. What’s more likely to happen in my house is that I buy a load of fresh fruit because Belle has watched some kind of ‘how to peel a mango with a pint glass’ life hack video on Instagram, and then two weeks later it’s sat in a mouldy pile in the fruit bowl.

For me, tinned peaches are like the frozen pea of the fruit world – why would you even bother with the faff of fresh when they taste so good and are so easy to prepare?

For the last week Belle and I have been experimenting, in partnership with Princes, switching fresh fruit for tinned. Princes tinned fruit is packed from fresh, counts towards your five a day, and means you always have fruit handy at perfect ripeness, with no waste. What’s not to love about that? As part of our challenge we’ve been making some simple breakfast recipes using tinned fruit, including slippy peach pancakes.

A weekend style breakfast for weekdays

Now when you think of homemade pancakes and fruit, you’re probably picturing a leisurely Sunday rather than a hectic weekday morning. I mean weekdays, it’s all about the school run, trying to juggle everyone leaving the house on time – no way you’d have time to make slippy peach pancakes right?

WRONG! View Post

When you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child, how desperate were you for the three course meal in one piece of chewing gum to be a reality? I wanted it so badly. As I read it I swear I could feel the hot tomato soup at the back of my throat, followed by the rich, roast beef.

(I stopped imagining before I turned into a blueberry obviously. No one wants that.)

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the idea of meal replacements. In old school science fiction people of the future were forever knocking back tiny pills as substitutes for entire meals and the principle really appeals to me – I’d never have to worry about ‘accidentally’ eating 14 Oreos ever again. Everything would be so simple. I’d be so slim…

Of course despite what the stories would have us believe, a meal in a pill could never be a thing. You just can’t get the calories you need into such a small thing. Back to the Oreos for me then.

Or is it?

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trialling a meal replacement system called Solo. Solo is a vegan, allergen free, dairy and gluten free meal replacement powder that you mix up with water to make a shake. It contains all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, 100% of your recommended fibre intake, and can in theory entirely replace regular food.

I say ‘regular food’, but Solo IS food. That’s key here. It’s not some kind of artificially produced powder, it’s made with natural whole foods – wholegrain gluten free oats, pea protein, flaxseed, coconut – real food. There are 42g of protein in each serving, so it fills you up too. I’m genuinely not hungry for several hours after a Solo shake, and I can eat pretty much anything, any time. (See above about the Oreos.)

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Post in association with Iceland

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but they, whoever they are, are wrong.

Wait what? You CAN get lunch for free?

Why yes. Yes you can. With the Iceland bonus card.

Iceland Bonus Card

Let me explain.

You will have realised by now, if you’re a regular reader, that I’ve become a bit of an Iceland convert, ever since I realised that Iceland was about more than frozen kebab pizzas. I’ve been educated about the benefits of frozen food in terms of freshness and not needing artificial preservatives and let’s be honest, it didn’t take much to convince me on the convenience front either.

So what is the Iceland Bonus Card then?

The Iceland Bonus Card is a savings card. You pick one up in store, register it online, and then every time you go shopping, and fancy tucking a bit extra away, you can ask the cashier to top it up. You can add money to your Bonus Card through the Iceland website too. Easy.

Then, when you’re next shopping, either in store or online, you can choose to use some or all of your balance to pay your bill. Pretty straightforward yes?

Except here’s the bonus aspect of the Iceland Bonus Card – for every £20 you save, Iceland will give you an extra pound for FREE. Just like that, automatically. Greggs sausage and bean melts are on offer at the moment in Iceland – 2 for £1 – so that bonus pound could LITERALLY buy lunch for you AND a friend.

(If you have never eaten a Greggs sausage and bean melt before then WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?? That’s the food of the Gods right there. Oysters? RANK. Greggs sausage and bean melt? HELL YES.)

What could I use my Iceland Bonus Card for?

CHRISTMAS! View Post