Rooting through my little beauty box recently, I came across a nail polish that I’d only used once a long time ago. Number 704 in Rimmel’s I Love Lasting Finish range is aptly called Sweet as Sugar. Sounds cute but the first — and only — time I tried this, it turned out to be a streaky nightmare. Whatever I was doing that day, it just would not go right. Once I had rubbed the damage off my nails, I’d pushed the little bottle to the back of my collection and promptly forgot about it.
When I found it again the other day; I fell in love again with the pretty delicate colour. Rather than totally dismiss it, I decided to give it another chance. The first coat turned out as awful as I suspected it would. I carefully applied a second coat and while it still wasn’t great; there was a slight improvement. Two more coats and I had what I wanted — a smooth opaque finish. I love how the colour is so pale and yet it really pops. It’s fun and fresh and particularly suits this time of year as we move from winter in to spring (yay for spring!)
hello smudges! I was applying the fourth coat when I should have been leaving for work so please excuse the untidiness
Last year, when we were in Barcelona, I found Milka/Tuc cracker bars in a supermarket and — regretfully — didn’t grab them as soon as I saw them. When I returned the next day to stock up on them before flying home, I was fairly devastated to find the place closed (they had also been selling litre bottles of Smirnoff for something like €12 so it was kind of a double blow!).
Fast forward, anyway, to last weekend. While picking up some shopping in my local Tesco’s, I couldn’t help but notice (in the distance, kind of like a mirage) a stand promoting a new chocolate bar. When I got closer and realised it was Dairy Milk Ritz, I didn’t need any more persuading to give it a try. I mean, Milka/Tuc and Dairy Milk/Ritz must be fairly similar, right?
This latest bar from Cadbury’s consists of 4 pieces of chocolate with a mini rectangular Ritz cracker on each side. The chocolate is deliciously creamy and the little Ritz offers an interesting contrast. You get a lovely hit of sweet and salty with every bite.
The only fault I can find is that the chocolate is quite delicate. It’s more like the thin Dairy Milk bars you find in a Christmas Selection Box rather the chunky 8-piece slabs that are more popular. It’s still a tasty bar and it’s a good alternative if you want a quick fix. However it’s a bit too light to be really satisfying — and with 10g of fat in a single 35g bar, you’d kind of want it to be worth it! Overall, while I did enjoy the Dairy Milk Ritz bar, it’s not something I see myself buying on a regular basis.
Most likely due to the extreme weather conditions, my hair has been looking somewhat lacklustre of late. I love trying new products but unable to find anything exciting-looking in hair care, I turned to an old reliable last week.
I’m a big fan of the Herbal Essences range — I use their shampoos and conditioners almost exclusively. However, as I needed something a little more intensive than a regular product this time, I looked to the hair masks. Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Intensive Mask is specifically for dry and damaged hair. It comes in a 200ml tub and has a thick and creamy texture. Made with red raspberry extract, it smells irresistibly sweet and fresh.
The guidelines on the tub recommend using this just once a week. It can be used in place of your regular conditioner so as soon as I wash my hair, I slather on a large handful of this stuff and leave it to work for ten to fifteen minutes. I can immediately notice the effects when I rinse it out. My hair will feel softer and smoother and after a quick blow-dry; it’ll look glossy and shiny too. I think as fun as it is to try out new things; it can be just as satisfying to use a familiar product, knowing you’ll have guaranteed great results.
Whether they’re sweet or savoury, crepes are incredibly versatile and always delicious. As we usually tend to have them for dessert, I thought I’d try crepes as a savoury meal option. The filling possibilities are endless so I decided to start with something classic. Who could resist crispy bacon and tasty mushrooms in a creamy sauce, all wrapped up in a warm soft crepe?
When I’m making crepes at home, I like to use this simple recipe by Nigella Lawson. However, if you don’t have time, you can always use shop-bought crepes or pancakes and then easily cook up this hearty filling in a matter of minutes.
For mine, I added in sweetcorn for some extra texture and a little colour — if you’re not a fan of the stuff, feel free to leave it out. I also used Avonmore Cooking Cream to create a smooth and rich sauce that really complemented the meat and veg.
Serve your savoury crepes with a side salad for lunch and add some spicy potato wedges for dinner. I love this recipe because it’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. It’s just good simple food served in a way that makes for a fun, delicious and satisfying meal.
2 crepes (shop-bought or homemade)
4 bacon rashers
8 mushrooms, sliced
Small tin of sweetcorn, drained (optional)
Pot of Avonmore Cooking Cream
Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Using a clean kitchen scissors, cut up the rashers in to small pieces and cook over a medium heat. When the pieces are cooked and crispy, pop them on to paper-towel for a minute to soak up the excess oil before transferring the meat to a plate.
Turn the heat up to high and sauté the mushrooms in the hot pan for 3-4 minutes. Then, if you like, tip in the tin of sweetcorn and stir well.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the bacon pieces and pour in 200ml of Avonmore cooking cream. Allow the mixture to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until it becomes thick. In the meantime, heat up the crepes in the microwave or a warm oven.
Divide the creamy mixture between the two crepes and serve!
Please note: I created this post for the Avonmore Food Blogger Competition in which Irish bloggers are challenged to create a recipe using Avonmore Cooking Cream. Wish me luck ;-).
I just had to make one more Valentine’s themed treat this week. With a big hearty meal lined up for this evening, I wanted to make something light and pretty and delicate. However, considering the stormy weather out there, it also had to something comforting that would go down well with a hot cup of tea or coffee. I eventually decided on a simple sponge covered in fresh cream and finished off with some pretty touches. It’s not too heavy but still quite indulgent and satisfying.
Start with a vanilla sponge cake — make it in a heart-shaped tin for extra cuteness. When the cake has fully cooled, spread on a generous layer of your favourite jam.
Whip up 150ml of cream, adding a touch of icing sugar and vanilla extract for a deliciously sweet taste. Cover the cake completely.
Now decorate! The options are endless — fresh fruit, nuts, fondant flowers, marshmallows, candy hearts…I started off with a handful of pomegranate seeds and proceeded to carefully outline the cake with these vibrant jewel-like pieces…
Then I just covered the whole centre in chocolate sprinkles and declared the cake done!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I can never resist making a few indulgent treats at this time of the year. Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand-in-hand so I whipped up this trio consisting of chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate hearts and chocolate macarons. I made these yesterday evening after work and even though I was nearly falling asleep in the kitchen by the end of it; it was totally worth it. They’re fun to look at and even more fun to eat!
To make chocolate dipped strawberries, I find that 100g of chocolate will usually cover a 250g punnet of strawberries. I like to use dark chocolate for a more intense taste. To start, rinse the strawberries. Always keep in mind that chocolate hates water so be sure to pat the strawberries dry with a paper towel. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a small pot of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl!). When the chocolate becomes thick and runny, dip in the strawberries one by one. Work quickly but carefully so that each piece is half covered. Leave them aside in a cool, dry place to set — preferably on a large plastic sheet or board. If you like, you can drizzle on a little white chocolate at the end for a finishing touch.
It’s easy to pick up a good silicone mould for less than a fiver. There are so many fun-shaped varieties out there and the fact that they can be used in the oven and freezer make them extremely versatile. I used my heart mould to make elegant individual chocolates. For 12 pieces, I melted roughly 50g of dark chocolate for the first layer. I divided it out evenly and once that had completely set, I then melted roughly 50g of white chocolate. Again, I carefully poured the white chocolate in to each heart and allowed it to set over the dark chocolate. Finally, I melted roughly 50g of milk chocolate and used that to top off each heart. Once it’s completely set, it’s so satisfying to pop out each heart and see beautiful triple-layered chocolates!
I attempted to make macrons, one of my all-time favourite treats, for the first time last night. At least I think it was the first time — I have a feeling I might have tried them before but perhaps the experience was so bad that I’ve blocked it out of my head! I followed a recipe in a random book I had to hand and they turned out…not too bad. For a first (or maybe second) attempt, I was happy enough. I did make some simple rookie mistakes. Firstly, I forgot to pick up cocoa powder and only had a measly tablespoon of the stuff in the house so that had to do. Then I tried to pipe the mixture on to the baking sheet, as the book instructed but — as I have very little piping experience — that didn’t go so well…Finally I set the oven to 180 instead of 130 and only realised halfway through. Anyway in the end, they tasted fairly good and sure once I paired them off with chocolate ganache between them; they were very acceptable (heat 100ml of fresh cream to scalding point and stir in 100g of chocolate and you’ll have a magical mixture that will instantly improve the taste of any baked good).
So there you have it! Three tasty chocolate treats that are perfect for nibbling on this Valentine’s. If, like me, you end up making slightly more than you really should have under one roof; be sure to share them out and spread the love. I brought the chocolate hearts in to work and they were a big hit. They would be lovely with a glass of something bubbly but as it turned out, they tasted just as good with an afternoon cuppa ;-).