Fancy making your own homemade bourbon biscuits? This recipe is super easy – if I can do it, anyone can.

Although it might be controversial, I’ve always considered myself more of a biscuit than a cake kind of girl. Presented with a slice of red velvet I’d be a bit ‘meh’, but give me a packet of chocolate hobnobs and I’m well away.

One of my very favourite biscuits is the bourbon.

The bourbon has so much going for it – it’s chocolatey, but with that slightly salty edge of an Oreo. It has the crunchy biscuit texture, but a creamy middle, and it’s a sandwich biscuit, so basically two biscuits disguised as one. If you’re prepared to be a bit disgusting, split your bourbon and noisily lick the cream then you can make a bourbon last a long time.

homemade bourbon biscuits

Now you’re probably looking at that picture and thinking ‘hang on a minute, those kind of LOOK like bourbons, but also they don’t? What’s going on?’

Well, I MADE THEM. I know. Get me. View Post

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Last night I tweeted about how I had just washed down a multivitamin with a gin and tonic. I was pretty proud of myself for achieving such balance in my life. Very zen.

Legend of the Lost replied saying that it counted as a lifestyle cocktail.

‘A lifestyle cocktail??,’ I said. ‘Did you just make that up? Please tell me it’s not a real thing. (If it is I’m doing a blog post about it.)’

‘Just made it up,’ he replied, ‘I own it! But you may borrow it. Because you’re my favourite.’

So I am. Right now.

Here are six lifestyle cocktails I came up with that are basically guilt-free because they are just so goddamn good for you.

Cheers!

Vodka and Berocca

This was a suggestion from Nathan Dennis and it seems totally legit to me. No messing about – right to the good stuff. The only trouble is coming up with a name for it. I was trying to think of something that merged the names, Brangelina style, but all I could think of was The Verruca. I’m not sure it will catch on, except in swimming pools.

I’m picturing it a bit like this, but with bits of crumbled Berocca on the rim of the glass?

lifestyle cocktails

Photo by lindsay Cotter on Unsplash

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There comes a point in your life when you start to get excited when you see NEW things happening. A few months ago for example my neighbours opposite me had a new boiler installed, and I spent quite a lot of time at the kitchen window casually making a cup of tea or washing up or just sort of standing.

‘They’re bringing out the old boiler now,’ I’d shout into Belle in the living room.

She would answer me with silence because she is 16 and hasn’t reached the age yet where she cares about anything boring.

I’ve had a similar sense of excitement over the last couple of months every time I have driven through Taunton and seen work progressing on the new Hubbox restaurant. The space that it’s taken over has been empty for a long time, (I knew it as Wimpy, which I think says a lot), and it’s in a pretty prominent location, so it’s lovely to see it coming back to life.

We went along to their launch night a couple of weeks ago and were blown away by the size and the scale of the restaurant. They’ve knocked through into what was also the shop next door to Wimpy, so there’s masses of space downstairs and a first floor too, which has a slightly more casual vibe, with some comfy looking sofas and armchairs that would be ideal for day time coffees and sandwiches.

(My friend Paul did a little tour video on the opening night, in which I wave, so if you want a proper look inside then that’s worth a watch.) View Post

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In association with Red Tractor

Hoorah! It’s here! October! I can now officially start to get excited about Christmas, (possibly in secret as I’m not sure everyone is ready for it), eat warm apple crumble for breakfast, and generally embrace the deliciousness of autumn. Cooked apples and hot pudding are about as autumnal as it gets without actually putting on a halloween costume, which I why I choose to make an apple tarte tatin for this blog post.

apple tarte tatin with rough puff pastry

Let’s skip back a bit though, to an email I had a little while ago from the people at Red Tractor.

‘The Red Tractor logo is ace,’ they said, (I’m paraphrasing*), ‘but we want more people to know more about it! Can you help?’

‘Of course!’ I said, rolling up my virtual sleeves and putting on my imaginary pinny. ‘Show me the meats!’

‘Well that’s just it,’ they said, ‘it’s not just about meat…’ View Post

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Dairy free chocolate pancakes recipe in association with Planted

‘If I make some chocolate pancakes with a peanut butter sauce,’ I asked Belle one day this week, ‘will you eat them?’

‘Will I eat some chocolate pancakes,’ she said, looking like she might have misunderstood the question, ‘if you make them for me right now?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘obviously.’

And so I did.

dairy free chocolate pancakes recipe

I’d been trying to think up something to make with the cartons of Planted I’d been sent to try out, and who doesn’t love a chocolate pancake? I felt like a dairy free chocolate pancake recipe was in order.

If you tend to look for dairy free alternatives, Planted could be worth trying the next time you’re shopping. It currently comes in two flavours – oat drink with banana and coconut drink with cocoa – and two more flavours are on the way along with smaller, ready to drink cartons.

Both flavours are vegan approved by the Vegetarian Society, and are fortified with calcium (for maintenance of normal teeth & bones), vitamin D (for absorption of calcium & phosphorous) and vitamin B₁₂ (for normal function of the immune system). They also tick the conservation box – a donation of 2p for every 1L carton sold goes to the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity.

How to make dairy free chocolate pancakes

This dairy free chocolate pancake recipe is super quick and easy to make. All you need for the pancake mix is: View Post

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In association with Breville

Smokey prawn quesadilla recipe

Belle is very much a creature of habit. She knows what she likes – Netflix, pizza, chocolate chip brioche – and she tends to stick to it. You will NEVER catch Belle browsing Prime Video while eating a burger. Just never.

She is also what I would call a fussy eater.

I’d always imagined that she would grow out of fussy eating. I thought that one day she would turn around and proclaim a new found love for courgettes, or request fresh fish for dinner, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. Sometimes she surprises me though and eats something that I would never have put her down for, like the sweet potato and peanut butter quesadilla at her favourite restaurant in Taunton, (Eat The Bird), which is served with avocado and sriracha chilli sauce.

Really Belle??

Ask her if she likes avocado and she will say no, but mashed up in a tortilla with some spicy sauce and apparently that’s a different thing entirely. I have tried making it at home a few times, but I’m not sure I ever get the balance of ingredients quite right. At Eat The Bird she always gets half of her quesadilla to take away and that isn’t as much fun either when you’re already AT home.

I also tend to mess it up a bit because I have to do it in a frying pan and then flip it over. (Not one of my many talents.)

When Breville sent me one of their Ultimate Grills then, and asked me to create a recipe, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – a quesadilla. No more flipping, authentic Eat the Bird style griddle markings – what’s not to love? I decided to branch out from Belle’s filling of choice though and make something that was speedier, (i.e. no sweet potato roasting required), and that showed off the grill a bit more.

I settled on prawns because they are delicious, (obvs), and super easy to cook on the Breville Ultimate Grill. View Post

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In association with Lancashire Farm

Lancashire Farm full fat natural yogurt

I have a reputation in my family for being competitive.

I’m not entirely sure where it has come from. I mean I did TELL Belle she should have been on my team for that family football game. Of course she was going to go down in the tackle, she was only eight.

I had been thinking that I was mellowing with age, but then I went on a writing course recently where we played an Articulate style team game with celebrity names in a hat and I may have got a bit carried away trying to describe Boris Yeltsin through the power of mime.

This weekend though we played Toppers, a fun game sent to me by Lancashire Farm to encourage us to be a bit more adventurous with yogurt. (Ooer). All Lancashire Farm yogurt is made with 100% free range milk. They make one kilo tubs of natural and Greek style natural yogurt, both also available in fat free versions, as well as coconut, strawberry and mango flavours of low fat bio yogurt. View Post

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I don’t often do recipe posts just for the lols, but I was thinking about making mini frittatas for my breakfast and I just thought ‘sod it, I’m going to take some pictures as I go and WRITE THIS BABY UP.’

(I have been working at home for quite a long time now and the cracks are starting to show. Yesterday I played YouTube videos of background cafe noise to make it sound like I had friends and last night at a networking event I asked a man what his favourite vegetable is.)

These healthy mini frittatas are DA BOMB. I love them because they are super tasty and easy to make, you can change the recipe every time depending on what you have lying about, and they’re actually really good for you because they’re full of vegetables and eggs and wholesome things like that. (Note: I also put a load of cheese in mine, which you could leave out if you wanted, or use in moderation, or just PILE ON, depending on your mood.)

This recipe makes a dozen mini frittatas, and you can either eat them straightaway while they are warm, or pack them in lunchboxes or for picnics or whatnot. I expect they keep, but to be honest they’ve never lasted long enough in my house to test it.

How to make your own healthy mini frittatas

To make your own healthy mini frittatas, you will definitely need eggs. This is the one essential. Oh and a muffin or small cake tray with 12 muffin holes. I use four eggs for my mini frittata recipe.

Then have a look in the fridge or freezer for odds and ends of vegetables to add. Today I used:

  • A handful of frozen peas
  • A handful of frozen sweetcorn
  • One grated carrot
  • Seven baby plum tomatoes, chopped. (This isn’t just me being specific, I only had seven.)

Having something grated like a carrot or a courgette works well to hold the mini frittatas together. Peppers work well too, finely chopped onion maybe? You get the idea. View Post

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Post in association with Uncle Ben’s

Do you have a particular meal that reminds you of your childhood?

Our family went through a vegetarian period in the mid 1980s, when I was about eight or nine years old. I’m not sure if it was an ethical choice, or whether we were just too poor for meat maybe, but I think vegetarianism was quite a thing in the 1980s. My mum has a recipe book I remember very well called ‘The Vegetarian Feast’. Inside the book she kept an empty Tesco brown rice packet, with a recipe on the back for a rice and bean bake.

My mum sent me a picture of the best before date on it as proof of how long she has had it tucked inside the front cover.

rice recipe

It’s this rice and bean bake that I would think of if you asked me to pick a favourite family meal from my childhood. This and Jaffa Cakes, but that’s not really a meal is it? (Although I did eat seven Jaffa Cakes yesterday, so probably should have counted it as a meal.) When Uncle Ben’s got in touch then recently to see if I’d like to cook a family meal that reminded me of home comforts and family memories, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

We talked about it on the family WhatsApp group.

‘I always use one of those packets of rice,’ said my sister, ‘it’s much simpler than faffing about cooking it.’

She actually said that WITHOUT PROMPTING, I didn’t set her up for it at all. It’s true though isn’t it? Wholegrain rice seems to take about two weeks to cook from scratch. View Post

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I really enjoyed our brief period living in Bristol. I made some lovely friends, I joined a netball team and I ate more brunches from independent cafes than you can shake a slice of fried halloumi at.

I missed Somerset though.

I missed the feeling of familiarity and belonging somewhere, of driving past places and thinking ‘I remember going there with Gran and Grandad when I was little.’

When I moved back to Somerset about four years ago (four years!) it felt like coming home, only better than first time around because I appreciated it more. Perhaps it’s age too, that means I enjoy all that shiz like heritage and feeling rooted in a community. I like chatting to people at the weekly farmers’ market in Taunton and buying locally produced food and drink. I like going to garden centres and drinking cups of tea.

I am living my Best Somerset Life.

Given how fond I am of all the tea drinking and local producers and what not, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was pretty excited when local tea and coffee legends Miles asked me if I fancied coming for a nose around their factory in West Somerset and helping them launch their new range of Tea Kites.

Basically they asked me to be the poster girl for local tea bags. Pretty sure that’s what happened.

Look how excited I am to be holding a box of tea!

Miles Tea Kites View Post

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If you watch my Instagram stories you may have noticed a little while ago, between pictures of my cats sleeping, a few posts about Blue Coffee Box.

Coffee for me is a bit like gin. I know I like it, but 90% of the time I can’t taste the difference between one brand and another. When you hit upon something in the other 10% though, (like Sibling Gin – have you tried it?), you KNOW. It’s a class above the rest, something distinct that you have to have again.

That was how I felt when I tried the coffee from Blue Coffee Box.

blue coffee box competition

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In association with Goodfella’s

How much do you reckon you spend as a family on entertainment?

I’d probably say that we don’t spend a great deal, but then I start to add up in my head our regular cinema trips, bowling, Spotify and television subscriptions and it starts to get a bit scary. Factor in meals out (gah!) and Belle’s penchant for going to Bristol just to buy bubble tea and suddenly you begin to understand why I don’t have a great deal in the way of savings.

It has been just me and Belle at home for a while now and I think if I’m honest with myself I use things like bubble tea outings and pizza restaurants as a bit of a crutch. I know that just hanging out at home with your 40 year old cat loving mum isn’t always the MOST fun, and I know too that Belle has been having a tough time lately and that getting out of the house is a good thing for her.

It can be expensive though. And is guilt really a good reason to spend all of your disposable income on bubble tea?

A poll of 2,000 parents by frozen pizza brand Goodfella’s found that we spend a staggering £2,602 keeping our kids entertained during the course of just one year. £609 a year of this goes on meals out and during the summer holidays our total spend rises to an average of £127 a week. Desperate times and all that.

Does that sounds about right for you?

If anything I’d say that’s probably a conservative estimate for us. Take TV and films – according to the research the average monthly spend on this is just over £37. We each have a monthly cinema pass, which costs £36 for two of us, so already we are hitting the average. Add in Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky and we clearly spend too much money AND time on television.

(In our defence we do like going to the cinema, and we only need to go twice a month to mean the limitless cards save us money, so it is worth looking into if you like films.)

I guess, like most things, that it comes down to balance. Yes it’s nice to go out and have treats, but you can’t sustainably do that every day. Plus it’s just as fun sometimes to have a fun night in at home, which is exactly what Belle and I did on Saturday night.

We decided to combine three of Belle’s favourite things to show that you can have just as much fun at home on a budget. Unable to secure Finn Wolfhard for a celebrity guest appearance at short notice we settled on:

  • films
  • pizza
  • bubble tea

We had a helping hand from Goodfella’s in the form of their new Romano range of premium frozen pizzas. There are five flavours, all with a stonebaked base and generous toppings. At just £2.50 each you could save a lot of money switching that meal out for a night in with Goodfella’s.

 Goodfella's new Romano pizzas View Post

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