Looking for plastic free Easter eggs this year? Or maybe you want a vegan Easter egg? I’ve picked out five of my favourites so you can enjoy your Easter treats guilt free.

best plastic free easter eggs

Happy nearly Easter!

I’m not in anyway religious, but I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon of any religious festival that requires the eating of chocolate eggs. Judge me if you will but there we are.

One thing that has always annoyed me though about Easter and Easter eggs in particular is all the waste that goes with them – all those chocolate eggs in huge plastic shells, just waiting for the wrappers to be torn off so that the plastic can get chucked in a lake and eaten by a pregnant dolphin, or whatever it is that happens to it. It’s definitely something like that. But then of course the fishing industry does more damage to fish than plastic, so perhaps veganism is really the answer. Not that Easter eggs normally have fish in them, but still, the principle is sound.

One really easy change you can make this Easter is simply to look out for plastic free or vegan Easter eggs, or ideally both! I’ve picked out five of my favourite options for you, plus if this has got you feeling the vegan Easter vibe why not have a go at making my vegan hot cross bun recipe?

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Much scientific research has shown* that drinking a hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow cloud can increase overall happiness rates by up to 47%. If the marshmallow cloud has a face that happiness boost increases by eight percentage points.

In fact, some research** has even concluded that simply looking at a picture of a homemade marshmallow cloud with a smiley face can trigger the release of serotonin and boost feelings of contentment for up to 90 minutes. It’s very similar to petting a particularly fluffy dog you meet in the street or getting an unexpected rebate on your electricity bill.

Let’s try it shall we?

homemade marshmallow clouds

How do you feel? You feel better than you felt three minutes ago right? I knew it.

If you want to scale up the good feelings and recreate these marshmallow clouds at home, where you can see AND eat them, then here’s what you need: View Post

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Hello and welcome to another ‘I made this a year ago and I’m just catching up!’ post. I’m very happy to have you here. I made this focaccia flower art bread around the same time as the tear and share chocolate star bread I posted a few days ago, and it has taken me an equally long time to actually get round to telling you about it.

You might say that the moment has passed, many, (many) months ago, and I that should do something new instead, but this focaccia bread art is just so damn pretty and I was so proud of it, I’m going to make you look.

Focaccia flower art bread

YOU SEE??

To be honest, I probably need to apologise for the quality of the pictures in this post. It was lockdown, I was lazy – I don’t know, I just didn’t have the enthusiasm for lights or a proper camera. It’s not as bad as the photography in my Pizza Hut vs Dominos review mind you. We can all be grateful for that.

Anyway the gist is that it’s not that hard to make your own flower art bread, it’s just a little time consuming. Totally worth it though if you are a show off like me. You could casually turn up at a PTA picnic with your homemade loaf and be all ‘Oh this? Oh it’s nothing, just some focaccia art bread, nothing fancy.’

You’d be lying of course, because it’s super fancy. View Post

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I made this tear and share chocolate star bread in January 2021, in full lockdown banana bread hysteria mode, but as lockdown also left me feeling like I’d much rather be making and eating chocolate bread than actually writing about it, I’m only just getting around to this post now.

Never mind. As Bee always says when she’s editing stuff I’ve written – no one will miss it because they won’t know it was there in the first place.

It’s here now, and that’s the main thing, because it really is worth telling you about. It’s the kind of baking that ticks a lot of boxes – it’s very fun to do, it makes an excellent picture for Instagram AND it tastes good. Normally I’m a ‘two out of three ain’t bad’ kind of girl with cooking, (RIP Meatloaf), so this star bread nails it.

Tear and share chocolate star bread

See? I told you it was good for Instagram – nice and symmetrical and square, like we used to do in the old days. Bung a polaroid photo style border around it, job done.

As you’re here you’re probably wondering how to make it. I tore the recipe out of a copy of one of the Tesco magazines sometime in late 2020, but I did share a picture of it on Instagram at the time, which I’ve managed to find. I’ve zoomed in, squinted a bit, and hopefully have got all the ingredients right.  View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with Carrot Kitchen

Today I want to introduce you to Carrot Kitchen, the world’s first mobile cooking buddy for kids, and show you how your kids can use Carrot Kitchen to improve confidence in the kitchen, learn new skills AND make chocolate bat brownies.

bat brownies Carrot Kitchen

One of my proudest moments as a parent was when Bee went off to university eight years ago (gah!) and was the only person in her flat of eight who knew how to cook or use a washing machine. I think that to get to be a full grown adult and not be able to wash your own clothes and at least chuck together a spaghetti bolognese is pretty shocking to be honest. What are all these parents doing packing off their kids without basic food skills? More importantly, (for us as parents), how have they been pulling their weight at home if they can’t even cook dinner?

I’ve always encouraged my daughters to cook and Belle, who is now 19 and my only child left at home, is a lovely cook and always has been, as evidenced by the easy tomato soup video she made when she was 13. It might be the most adorable thing you’ll ever watch. (Unless you’ve seen her singing Small Pleasures in her primary school production of Oliver Twist.) She does a fantastic lasagne and her baking is immense. Remember when she made these steamed bunny bao buns? They were SO good.

I know, I know, I’ve done well, thank you. 10/10 for parenting when it comes to cooking at least.

The point I’m trying to make is that empowering kids in the kitchen is important – it equips them with essential life skills, it means they can contribute to the cooking and take the pressure off you AND it’s fun. Cooking is a brilliant creative outlet, it helps your maths skills and coordination and it encourages healthy eating – it’s really got an awful lot to offer.

I do get though that sometimes it’s hard as a parent to find the time or the motivation to cook with kids, which is where Carrot Kitchen comes in.

Carrot kitchen – a cooking buddy for kids

Carrot Kitchen is aimed at kids from aged 6-13, but you could use Carrot Kitchen with younger children too if you were supervising. With a Carrot Kitchen subscription kids have access to loads of tasty and healthy recipes and skill videos, all designed by food education experts. There are step-by-step recipe videos, featuring real children, so kids can cook independently or with friends and family. View Post

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brunch club

It’s been a while since I went anywhere new for brunch.

What with the whole global pandemic thing, and then a new puppy who quite frankly I find scary enough taking to an empty field, the opportunity hasn’t really arisen for me to enjoy a casual sweetcorn fritter or two somewhere new and exciting. In fact when I went back and checked, the last time I wrote about going out for brunch was when I had homemade baked beans at The Weir in February 2020, which felt rather poignant and sad.

A couple of weeks ago though, when Mako the puppy was going through a short, well behaved phase where I trusted her not to bark loudly in my face for half an hour or so, Belle and I decided to brave it and take her out for her first ever brunch. Frogmary Green Farm‘s cafe and restaurant, Farm and Field, said it was dog friendly and it was far enough from home that if we did end up causing a scene we could just never go back and no one would be any the wiser.

As it was, Mako was very well behaved, and so you now ARE the wiser.

We went while they were having their one of their sunflower weekends so that we could pretend we were going for a wholesome outdoor activity and not JUST pancakes, and although that has now finished I noticed that they have a pumpkin patch coming up soon, which would definitely be worth a visit. They also have their own small florist on site, Frogmary Flowers, which was very sweet. (Mako DID knock over a pot outside the flower shop but we stood it up again quickly and I think we got away with it.)

Frogmary Green Farm View Post

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The Golden Girl donut

A little while ago I discovered the joy that is getting cookery books out of the library.

I’ve always gone to the library, obviously, I’ve not just suddenly discovered it as concept. I’ve facilitated my fair share of summer reading challenges with the girls, and been to story times, and done all the usual library things, but for some reason it had never occurred to be to get recipe books from the library. Silly really, as they are BOOKS, dur.

So anyway a few weeks ago I went along to the library, with my tote bag, and there were shelves and shelves of them! I sat on the floor and looked at all the pictures of all the things I’d probably never get around to making, but liked looking at nonetheless. I concentrated on baking because I find it more enjoyable cooking when I’m not hungry, just for the fun of making something. When you’ve been answering the ‘what’s for tea’ question every day at 4.30pm for over 20 years then the joy of cooking actual meals becomes a teeny bit diminished.

I ended up with a big stack of books for my tote bag and one of them was DONUTS by Vicky Graham.  View Post

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Homemade Snickers bars – Advertisement feature in association with Snackmasters

I could not be more excited today.

You know how much I love making things that look like other things, (remember the homemade party rings and homemade Tunnock’s teacakes?), well today I’ve been actually, properly recruited to make my own homemade Snickers bars! I know, it’s my dream job right? I am so chuffed with it, honestly, I can’t tell you.

I’ve been roped in by Snackmasters to help promote their new series. Snackmasters is a Channel 4 show where top chefs go head to head to try to recreate an iconic dish or snack. I loved the first series, where they made things like a Burger King Whopper and a bag of Monster Munch, and the most recent series is shaping up to be just as fun, with chefs recreating KFC, Wagon Wheels, and, which is were I come in, the Snickers bar.

Now I’m going to say straight up that although I haven’t watched the episode yet, I’m 100% confident that if I was one of the chefs, that I would win. It’s a bold claim I know, but every single person I’ve tried my homemade Snickers bars on has said that they are EVEN BETTER than the original. Now you could argue that in a competition where the aim is to copy something, that making your version even better than the original equals a failure – to those people I say get in the bin.

My homemade Snickers bars are amazing and that’s the end.

how to make a Snickers bar View Post

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I’ve always said I’m more of a biscuit than a cake person.

I know, controversial, but I’ve just never bought into that whole ‘I’m a woman and therefore I love cake’ storyline. Getting a slice of cake will not entice me to your event. I will not make a guilty looking face and say ‘ooh go on then, just a small bit’, like I don’t really deserve it but I’m going to ‘treat myself.’ 

If I want to eat something then I will eat it and I will enjoy it, I won’t be part of a weird female subcultural that defines itself by sweet treats.

Hmmm.

I’m not sure where that feminist cake rant came from. But also I don’t apologise.

I’m not saying I hate cake or anything, that would be an unusual way to introduce a post about cake, I’m just saying I prefer cookies. Or bourbons. God I love bourbons. I’ve even made homemade bourbons such is my love for them. If I could sit somewhere sunny with a packet of bourbons, a good book and a cat on my lap, fur warm from the sun, I reckon I’d be about as happy as it’s possible to be without being on a brunch date at a cat café with Reese Witherspoon.

So my idea was this – make a cake, but disguise it as a giant bourbon biscuit. Trick my subconscious into thinking I was eating a huge bourbon, when actually it was a light and fluffy sponge. Genius right? And why stop there? When I started diving into the idea of cakes that looked like other things, I even discovered amazing things like this fast food cake from agnes de sucre. A cake that looks like burger and fried chicken? I’m in.

Back to my bourbon cake – did I manage to trick myself? Sort of. Not really. But it looked awesome so it was totally worth it.

giant bourbon cake View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with HelloFresh

Cooking at home is wearing a bit thin isn’t it? A whole year of coronavirus, repeated lockdowns, and quite frankly if I never have to shop and cook for myself again it will be too soon. I just don’t want to have to think about meal planning, I don’t want to come up with new recipe ideas, my brain has run out.

Fortunately there are companies like HelloFresh ready to do the brainwork for me, who can take the time to create and put together new, interesting and healthy recipes and save me from another dinner of blue cheese and Frazzle sandwiches. (An actual lunch I ate.)

This week in our HelloFresh box we had sweet and sour chicken, really tasty halloumi tacos and pork chilli and bacon cheesy burritos with a zesty avocado black bean salad.

That’s the recipe I’m going to show you today.

pork chilli burritos HelloFresh

HelloFresh recipes come with exactly what you need – all of your ingredients in the right quantities, easy to follow recipe cards and no waste. For me that’s one of the things that normally puts me off trying new recipes – knowing that in a couple of months time I’m just going to be throwing away 7/8 of a jar of harissa paste. With HelloFresh you avoid this as they only send you exactly the right amounts. View Post

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This pork and cider casserole recipe post is brought to you in association with Thorner’s Farm Shop.

pork and apple and cider slow cooker casserole recipe

I don’t know about you but it feels to me like the further we get into this pandemic, the more my life revolves around food.

I’ve always been the sort of person who thinks about what they’re going to have for lunch while they’re eating breakfast, but when food shopping is pretty much the only sort of shopping you can do, and the days and weeks stretch ahead for miles, snacks become EVERYTHING.

Not that I’m complaining. I love eating, and not being able to eat out and get my brunch fix has meant I’ve spent more time trying new recipes and eating delicious things at home. Like last weekend for instance when I had a delivery from Thorner’s Farm Shop in Shepton Mallet and cooked a feast of slow cooker pork and cider casserole and pineapple cake with Malibu frosting. (You heard me.)

I’ve been a fan of Thorner’s since I discovered their award-winning pies recently, and I’ve had my love for them reinforced by the fact that the adorable deli that I walk to across the fields – Gaia Garden – has become a stockist.

Lovely walk through the countryside? Delightful! Pie to take home for dinner? Don’t mind if I do.

Thorner’s stock all kinds of things besides pies though, including an ever-expanding range of local meats. I wanted to showcase the variety of their online farm shop through this post, so in my weekend feast I used a fruit and a vegetable box, local cider, outdoor reared diced pork, local butter and eggs. I also had a very lovely Somerset wine – the Aldwick Estate Buteo – but I have to confess that this was so good that I drank it all before remembering to take a photo. Do go and check it out though. I recommend.

I was particularly impressed with the veg and fruit boxes. My fruit box for example included apples, satsumas, pears, bananas, a lemon and a lime, blueberries, grapes and a whole pineapple. (Hence the pineapple cake.) I think this is really good value for £9.99. View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with Foodhub

What have you missed most over the last 12 months? I’ve missed food, specifically someone else cooking for me. Belle cooks at home a couple of times a week, which I do really appreciate, but that still involves me helping her decide what she’s going to make, shopping for ingredients and clearing up after her.

Let’s just say it’s not exactly the stress-free restaurant experience.

What I really want is for someone to do everything – the planning, the choosing, the cooking and the washing up – as well as keeping my wine glass topped up. Oh and I want to be surrounded by witty and entertaining people. It’s not too much to ask is it?

The closest we can get at the moment is a takeaway. A takeaway at least takes care of the bulk of the work, leaving me just in charge of wine and Belle having to take on the role of ‘witty and entertaining company.’ She tries. She’s more entertaining than I’ve become in the last year for sure.

As an extended family we miss eating out together too. Pretty much all of our family occasions and celebrations would normally revolve around eating out and we’re notorious for arriving somewhere ‘just in time for lunch’. Lockdown has made it hard to make special occasions feel special – it’s hard to get that ‘treat’ vibe isn’t it?

One way we can still feel like we’re spoiling ourselves is by getting a takeaway and so this week I treated my Mum to a takeaway via Foodhub. View Post

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