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Release your brighter side!


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I am no stranger to Zeo lightly carbonated drinks.   I had the opportunity to review them a couple of years ago, and so when I was given the opportunity to review some of their newer flavours I jumped at the chance!  I loved their old flavours and I have fallen in love with these new ones.  Made from natural ingredients, ZEO is an eclectic gathering of bold botanicals, fruits and fantastical flavours from nature.

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In my box was:  Peach and Grapefruit, Zesty Lime and Blood Orange and Citrus.

I popped them into the fridge right away.

Zeo's exciting crisp tastes are created by blending 32 fruits and botanicals gathered from around the world with cold, clear, refreshing, mineral-rich spring water from the heart of England. Even the deliciously colours are extracted from nature. Lightly sweetened the sweetness is gathered from natural Stevia plants from South America, which are 400 times sweeter than sugar, but have absolutely zip calories. The rest of the sweetness comes from a touch of sugar beets and natural sugar cane.

I have been enjoying the bottles I was sent over the past few nights and when I say enjoying, I really mean enjoying.  They are light, refreshing and only slightly carbonated.  If I had to pick a favourite amongst these three . . .  I think the Blood Orange and Citrus might be it, but in all honesty I have enjoyed all three.

Crafted in small batches and  distilled and blended to make each recipe from its naturally sourced ingredients, these drinks are pleasant and quite satisfying.  I don't drink tea or coffee and I don't like to drink caffeinated cold drinks, and these made a really nice and refreshing drink to sit and relax with while I've been watching the telly evenings.

If you would like to know more about them and where to buy them, do heck out their page!  Release your brighter side!

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Many thanks to Zeo for sending me these to try. If you are looking for a refreshing drink which is low in sugar and filled with natural ingredients you really can't go wrong with Zeo.  I really did enjoy them and was not required to write a positive review.
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Coq au Macon Rouge, Chicken & Other Birds


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We really love chicken in this house.   It's quite an affordable meat and very adaptable, which is why I was really happy to receive the latest cookery book by Paul Gayler to review, entitled . . . "Chicken & Other Birds, from the perfect roast chicken to Asian-style duck breasts.  Photography by Kevin Summers.   This is a book that will get a lot of use.

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Lemon Madeleines


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I have always wanted to bake Madeleines.   I have had a silicone Madeleine pan for quite a while now and had never used it.  Today was the day.

Ahhh  . . . .  Madeleines. That little French butter cake that most (non-French) people think of more as a cookie.

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Stacey Solomon Goes Baking Mad with Dr Oetker


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With Great British Bake Off in full swing, Dr Oetker has teamed with X-Factor star Stacey Solomon and baking blogger Emily Leary in a series of fun baking tutorials.

From matering the art of cake decorating to whipping up delicious treats to impress friends and family, each tutorial will help people at home perfect their skills and techniques to become an Even Better Baker.

The pop sensation and mum of two is also joined by Emily Leary, creator of a blog 'A Mummy Too,' as part of Dr Oetker's Even Better Baking Team.  Each week, the baking duo takes popular recipes and showcases the best hints, tips and techniques to help make them 'Even Better.'

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Easy Peach Cobbler


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I have always wished that I lived in a place where you could get really good fresh peaches . . .  grown locally . . . and sweetly delicious.  To be able to walk out your door and pick a fresh peach sounds like a dream.  It's just never been my reality, and the peach is one of my favourite fruits.  I have always just had to do with tinned peaches or peaches which have been shipped in from much warmer climes.  I happen to love tinned peaches.  A favourite dessert when I was growing up was a scoop of  vanilla ice cream topped with some tinned peaches.  I still love it.

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The Stack with Leerdammer


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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil! I also love sandwiches! This is a definite win/win situation! This is Day Five!  The final day!


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Three Brownie Bites of Heaven . . .






Prior to moving back to Chester in 2010, I was employed as a person chef at a Manor house down in Kent.   I got to stretch my abilities and skills cooking for large silver service dinner parties and cocktail parties . . . and scrummy lady's luncheons . . . beautiful food and presentations . . .

I never ever got to partake of any of it, I was always the cook, and never the guest . . . kind of like always being the bridesmaid, but never the bride!

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The Top UK Food Bloggers


Top 50 Food Blogs In UK
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I was recently sent this infographic of the UK's top food bloggers.   I found it quite interesting and discovered some new blogs I had  not heard about!
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Chicken Tostadas, with a Mango & Strawberry Salsa


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 I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  I also love sandwiches!  This is a definite win/win situation!   This is Day Four!


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A deliciously simple Lemon and Raspberry Dessert




We've had a really busy day here today running about here and there.   We had to go all the way up to Manchester to have the Toddster's iPad fixed and then back again, amongst all of our other duties and so today for eats . . .  easy is the order of the day.


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Vegetarian Dagwoods


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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team. As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running. I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  I also love sandwiches!  This is a definite win/win situation!   This is Day Three!


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Pork Chops with an Apple Relish




I had a molar pulled this afternoon and am not feeling that great tonight. I am sure glad that I got a good dinner in before I went to the Dentist, because I sure wouldn't be able to get one in at the moment . . . I want ice cream, maybe . . . or soup.

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A Lighter Tuna Melt


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 I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team.   As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running.  I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil! This is Day Two!


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Crispy Baked Chicken and Slaw for Two




There is something deeply satisfying about a buttery, breaded and spiced breast of chicken baked until crisp . . . yet still fork tender on the insides . . . served alongside of a crisp and flavourful slaw . . . eaten out on the patio on a nice summer's evening . . . and shared with the one you love.

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Mexi Rolls Ups with Chunky Quacamole


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I was recently invited to become part of the 2015 Better with Leerdammer Blogger team.   As a member of the team I would be challenged to create a sandwich with the ingredients provided for five days running.  I am a big fan of Leerdammer and so for me, this is a delicious challenge to fulfil!  Welcome to day one!

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Cooking with Very Lazy


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I wanted to tell you about an assortment of Very Lazy products which I have been using in my cooking lately.   The Very Lazy Chopped Garlic, The Very Lazy Chopped Ginger and the Very Lazy Garlic Paste.

With Very Lazy you get  an assortment of really great and quality store cupboard essentials that are easy to use and always ready when you are, with none of the fuss and muss.  I have always been a big fan of their chopped garlic and the garlic paste.   (I hate fingers that smell like garlic, what can I say!)

Very Lazy Chopped Garlic - (preserved in white wine vinegar) this convenient product takes away the fuss of peeling and crushing.  Perfect for stir fries, sauces and casseroles.   You don't really notice any vinegar flavour really and I love that my fingers stay smelling sweet.  One teaspoon replaces one clove of garlic.

Very Lazy Chopped Ginger - (preserved in white wine vinegar) it says chopped, but is more like shredded.   Drained, rinsed and chopped a bit more I have been using this in sauces and even in a really delicious chicken salad I made a few days ago.  (Watch this space for the recipe, coming soon.)  No fuss of peeling and grating involved.

Very Lazy Garlic Paste - Now this is my absolute favourite product.  I use this all the time, in sauces, in stews, in soups, etc.   Even Garlic Bread!  In short, anywhere you want a great garlic flavour but none of the texture of bits of garlic.  One teaspoon is the equivalent of one clove of garlic.

Very Lazy have a complete range of chopped store cupboard ingredients (Garlic, Ginger, Red Chillies, Smoked Garlic), pastes (Garlic, Lemongrass), Cooking Concentrates (Green Thai Curry, Chilli Con Carne) and Speciality Ingredients (Crushed Garlic with Oil, Grated Ginger with Oil, Piri Piri Chillis with Oil).   All of the hard work of prepping has been done so that you can quickly get on with the cooking to hand.

I do love their products and highly recommend!


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New Limited Edition Oreos!


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I have long been a fan of Oreo Cookies . . .  I like to open them up and scrape out the creamy filling with my teeth and then each the chocolate biscuit layers . . .  and aren't they just pefect with a nice cold glass of milk?   Heaven on earth.  I also enjoy the Golden Oreo ones, which are like the total opposite of the regular ones, but equally as delicious.   The Peanut Butter lover in me is over the moon however with the new "Limited Edition"   Peanut Butter Oreos.

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Those two iconic chocolate cookies layered together with a delicious peanut butter cream filling.  Colour me loving it!   I don't think they'll ever quite replace the delight of the original Oreo Cookie, but they  are pretty good nonetheless.
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Happy Birthday Cadbury Milk Tray!


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Guess who is 100 years old?   Cadbury's Milk Tray and they are celebrating 100 years with a sweet makeover!  Yes, this August Britain's iconic Cadbury Milk Tray Chocolates have undergone a  special makeover in celevration of it's 100th birthday.   From the beautifully redesigned box, to three new delicious flavours, there has never been a better time to gift a box of Cadbury Milk Tray to a loved one.

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New Cadbury Milk Tray sees the Cadbury-purple box get a striking new modern makeover with packaging that is as beautiful sa a gift wrapped present.  The newly designed case, created to celebrate this special centenary, features a series of stand-out, fun chocolat icons that represent the delicious products inside, so now you can see on the outside all the delicious treats that are within.   This extra-special box also wears its Royal Warrant on the front of the pack; extra proof of just how special Cadbury Milk Tray really is.

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Hitting the shelves this month, new Cadbury Milk Tray now also includes three new mouth watering flavours . . .

Apple Crunch - plays on the quintessentially British treat, combining the much loved flavours of apple pie with smooth Cadbury Chocolate.

Salted Caramel - A sweet treat with a chewy salted caramel layered in delicious Cadbury chocolate

Chocolate Truffle - a smooth milk chocolate truffle encased in a solid milk chocolate shell.

Ideal for any occasion new Cadbury Milk Tray comes in a variety of sizes and is now even more gift worthy than ever, making it the perfect thoughtful gift for your parter, family or friend.

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"All because the lady still loves Milk Tray."

Available box sizes:

78g   (£1)
180g (£4.25)
360g (£8.49)
530g (£12.99)

Recommended prices only.  Retailers are free to set their own prices.

Pssstt!!  Loving the new Apple Crunch!  Sooo tasty!
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A delicious Picnic Cake!




Well, we have had plenty of showers this afternoon. Perfect baking weather. I just love being indoors and baking on a rainy afternoon! There's something really comforting about being in the house warm and dry, while the smell of something scrummy baking in the oven wafts through the air!
mmmmm . . .

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Dutch Almond Thins


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I am quite picky when it comes to biscuits/cookies.   I love chocolate chip cookies . . .  but my chocolate chip cookies have to be crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle . . .  and have lotsa chocolate chips in them. I also love raisins and nuts in mine, although I know not everyone does.   My molasses cookies have to be soft and puffy.  Oatmeal cookies . . .  crisp, crisp, crisp.   Not all cookies are alike and not all cookies are appreciated for the same reasons.   

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Peanut Butter and Banana Cake


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I had scheduled both the Elders and the Sisters for tea appointments this week, two days in a row and so I set about to do a dessert to serve them that I could actually use two days in a row and decided that a large cake would do the trick.   I could cut it into squares and serve it with ice cream both nights.   Whatever works, right?

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Easy Pumpkin Butter


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One of the things I missed when I first arrived here in the UK was tinned pumpkin.  It was very difficult to find and if you did find it, it cost you an arm and a leg.  I used to be able to get it at Waitrose down south and Sainsbury's.   Recently I scored big time when our local Aldi had it in as a special deal.  I bought about 20 cans!  Todd thought they would think I was crazy buying so many, but I didn't care.  If there is one thing I have learned in my years over here, it's to take advantage of a chance when you get it, because you might never get another one!  Kind of like making hay while the sun shines!

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A Scrummy Tart of Chard and Cheese




I had another big beautiful bunch of Chard in my veggie box this week. Some people might think that is shows up altogether too often in their veggie boxes but I, for one, am always happy to see it make an appearance. We just love chard . . both the leaves and the stems.

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Wash Day Mac and Cheese







This recipe is as old as the hills, hailing from a day and time when every Monday was Wash Day and women needed something quick and easy and that could basically take care of itself in the oven whilst they did the week's washing for the family.
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Grilled Chicken with a Summer Berry Salsa




I am just loving summer with all of it's fresh fruit and vegetables! It is by far and away the best time of year for fruit and veg just packed with flavour!



The supermarket shelves (not to mention my garden) are a dancing parade of delicious colour and taste, and I am love, love, lovin' every moment of it!
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Simple Jam Biscuits




Back home in Eastern Canada, where I hail from, you can get these big soft white sugar cookies, filled with jam. Oh they are so yummy. I have been trying for years to replicate the recipe.

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Cheesecake Cream Topped Summer Berries




What is it about summertime and soft fruit desserts! I just can't get enough of them! I guess that is because it's when they are readily available locally, fresh and ripe for the eating!

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Pumpkin Caramel Croissants


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When I was growing up I hated pumpkin pie.  I am not sure why.  It was just not something I enjoyed.  As an adult I have come to love it however, and every time I see tinned pumpkin in the shops here in the UK, I pick up a whole whack of it.  Because you can't ever have too much tinned pumpkin can you???  And also because it is also a very rare find over here.

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Incredible Sandwiches using Leerdammer Toastie and Burger Slices


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I was recently invited to use some Creamy Leerdammer Toastie & Burger slices on a Pulled Pork Burger!  I love Leedammer Cheese.  Nobody had to twist my arm!

With thicker slices and a richer, creamier recipe for better melting, LEERDAMMER® Toastie & Burger is the perfect filling for a deliciously melty toasted cheese sandwich or cheese burger.

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Cinnamon Honey Butter


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I was invited to a pot luck luncheon the other day, which ended up being a surprise birthday lunch for me.  I was so surprised and honored and thrilled that people thought enough of me to want to do that!  Colour me gob smacked!  I guess you just never see yourself as other people do and it really cheered my heart to know I am thought of in a very nice way.  Anyways, I had baked several tea breads/loaves to take and made some of this delicious Cinnamon Honey Butter to spread over it.

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Lemon Cream Danish


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I had some lovely lemon curd left from the lovely pot I was given by the English Provender Co  and decided to put it to some good use.  Of course I could have just sat and eaten it with a spoon . . .  and I confess I have been seen doing just that  . . . I simply adore the stuff you know . . . but for today I decided to do something a tiny bit different . . .

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Campfire Potatoes


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I just adore these potatoes.  They are one of my favourite ways to have potatoes in the summer.  They're so easy to throw together and there is very little mess.   You simply wrap and cool in foil, throwing them on the BBQ with everything else.

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Afternoon Tea Week with Tasty Muffins and Scones!


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Afternoon Tea Week takes place this year from the 10th to the 16th of August and as a proper English Institution it's only right that afternoon tea should be conducted with only the best ingredients.  The English Provender Co. has teamed up with Afternoon Tea Week this year to sponsor the tastiest week of the year for a week of activities, themed menus, exclusive offers and competitions.

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Tex Mex Pasta Salad


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I  was wanting a quick and delicious salad at the weekend and so I cobbled together this salad from a bit of this and a bit of that and it all worked together beautifully.  We (Myself and my next door neighbor) quite enjoyed it.  Todd, the great pasta hater, tolerated it and ate it.   Personally I thought it was quite delicious and was very happy with how it had turned out.

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Donut Sundaes


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I'm almost embarassed to call this a recipe.  It's really more of an idea than anything, but what an idea it is and soooooo simple and delicious to make!  Donut Sundaes!  If you have these on the menu, you'll be the most popular cook ever!


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Peach and Blueberry Breakfast Cake


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Well, it's the weekend and we all know what that means.  It's baked treat in the kitchen time!  Oh, I try hard not to eat cakes and such during the week . . .  but at the weekend I like to pull out the stops and bake us something nice for a treat.   Tasty bakes like this Peach and Blueberry Breakfast Cake are something which we both enjoy!

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Honeyed Pizza Dough


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I love Pizza.  No if's and's or but's about it.   Pizza is one of my favourite foods, which is interesting when you consider that I had never even tasted pizza until I was about sixteen and a boyfriend of mine made us a Chef Boy Ardee pizza at our house.  It was love at first bite (the pizza not the boyfriend.)  Anyways, I have come a long way since then.  I no longer use boxed pizza kits.  I now prefer to make my own crust.

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A Mixed Grill


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When I first moved over here we didn't have a lot of money for going out to eat.  Todd was working as a parking lot attendant and I worked in a care home.  There was a pub within walking distance however (we didn't have a car) that served up pretty tasty meals for pretty cheap prices.   You could get a mixed grill for about £2.99, which I thought was pretty good and it was really tasty.

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Four Cheese and Pepper Omelettes


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Back when I was a lot younger, it used to be the done thing on Saturdays to meet with family at a local restaurant and enjoy a tasty brunch together.  I can remember one place in particular that we would go where they served the most amazing omelettes!  They were rich and delicious and filled to the hilt with all sorts of peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, etc.

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Chinatowns, Asian Cooking from Around the World


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I was recently sent this cookery book, CHINATOWNS, Asian Cooking from around the world in 100 recipes to review.  This is a visually stunning cookbook, by author Jean‐Francois Mallet, a trained chef and photographer.  The author actually goes behind the scenes in Chinese communities around the world in order to understand how and why the food changes so much depending on location. As well as intimate portraits of these fascinating communities, the book contains a hundred delicious recipes capturing the essence of China Towns from across the world and their various geographical influences.

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It is divided into eleven chapters covering everything from starters to dessert . . .   Dumplings, Soups and Broths, Chicken and Quail, Beef, Pork, Duck, Fish and Seafood, Wierd and Wonderful, Vegetable, Rice and Side Dishes, Noodles,  and Tea, Drinks and Desserts.

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Each recipe is accompanied by a colour photograph.   I like this in a cookbook, especially when the book is about food I am not familiar with.  It helps me to understand what the finished dish should look like.

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It also acts as a virtual tour of different Chinese Communities around the world and the restaurants you would find within them.   I found this quite interesting also.

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There are also handy step by step photographs for several recipes throughout the book, which would come in very handy when attempting to do some of the more complicated dishes.

If the book has any drawback at all it would be sourcing the more unsual ingredients required for some of the recipes.  Unless you live in an area which has a Chinatown, some of these might be quite difficult to aquire.  I would recommend this book for the keen cook who really wants to stretch their Asian cooking skills and doesn't mind sourcing out unsual ingredients.

I always like to try at least one recipe from the books I am sent so that I can let you know how they work.   This time I chose Broth with Wonton Dumplings.   It seemed to be one of the simpler recipes in the book.  I was unable to acquire all of the ingredients necessary for the dish, but  did end up with quite a delicious soup at the end of it all.

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*Broth with Wonton Dumplings*
Serves 4
A recipe from the book China Towns, by Jean Francois Mallet.


For the broth:
2 chicken carcasses
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 small spring onions (scallions)
30g (1 oz) piece of ginger
50g (1 3/4 oz) dried black mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
coarse salt
For the dumplings:
4 spring onions (scallions)
200g (7 ounces) lean pork
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg yolk
3 TBS soy sauce
50g (1 3/4 oz) shrimps
40 Chinese wonton wrappers
salt and pepper


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For the broth, break up the chicken carcasses, put them in a large pan and pour over 2 litres (3 1/2 pints/8 1/2 cups water.  Smash the unpeeled garlic cloves and add these, the onions and the peeled and sliced ginger and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.  Strain teh broth into a clean pan.  (You should have about 1 litre/1 3/4 pints/4 cups) and add the mushrooms.   Keep warm.


Meanwhile chop the spring onions with the pork and mix with the sesame oil, egg holk and soy sauce.  Peel the shrimps, add them to the filling and season. Place a wonton square in the palm of your hand.  Add 1 tsp of the filling, then fold over to form a triangle.  Press down and pinch the edges to seal tightly.  Cook the dumplings for 10 minutes in a pan of boiling water.  Divide the dumplings among four bowls, pour over the hot broth and serve.

Chinatowns
Asian Cooking from around the world
in 100 recipes
by Jean Francois Mallet

Recipes and photographs:
Jean-Fran├žois Mallet, words Emmanuelle Jarry, illustrations Marie-Paule Jaulme

Published by jacqui small 
ISBN 978-1-910254-23-3
Hard cover,  colour photographs, 416 pages
RRP £30.00 UK, $35.00 USA, $38.99 CAN
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