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    Saturday, 31 December 2016

    THE DREAM BAG FOR EVERY UNORGANISED GIRL + SETTING GOALS FOR 2017

    Oh hello New Year's Eve, when did you creep up on us?

    I've spent the last few days in a haze of cheese and not really knowing what I'm meant to be doing and I've been absolutely fine with that. 

    But I have done quite a lot of thinking about 2016 and the year we've got to come.

    I'm not going to get all deep on you - and I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions. I'm pretty sure I broke the last one I set in about 4 days, but I have set myself some goals or targets which I'm going to do my best to smash next year.

    One of those is to widen up the content of my blog. I know I've said it before but I'm really going to try and vary what I produce in 2017. 

    When I first started out, I always wanted a 'lifestyle' blog but I've inevitably written about the one thing I'm most passionate about (food) which is great but I also want to show there's more to me than just what I eat. 

    You'll still find all the restaurants and recipes which I LOVE writing about, but I also want to feature the other things in my life which interest me. The blogs I love the most are the ones where you really get to know the writer's life so I thought give it a go and see where 2017 takes us!
    So to kick off this new lease of varied content life, I'm going to start with a more fashion-led post. 

    I'm never going to be a fashion blogger because LOL have you seen how much I eat - but I do want to share some of the babe-ing things I've come across and if you're anything like me, I think you'll love.

    Case in point, my new SO sassy Knomo Elektronista bag. Not only is it velvet and super pretty but it's also changed my LIFE in terms of organisation.

    I will hold my hands up and tell you that I am the least organised person when it comes to being an adult. I'm THAT annoying person who never has their ticket ready or that's lost their bank card or worse still, their keys (sorry mum/Tom) - so this little beauty is a bit of a life-saver.
    Not only does it have designated spaces for your phone, cards and keys but it has a slot at the back for your tablet to sit in and *drum roll please* it comes with a compact charger so you can power your phone on the go. 

    I know. What a babe. No more empty phone battery half way through the day, thank you very much.
    It also has a detachable strap so you can wear it across your body or use it as a clutch bag, making it perfect to go straight from work to a night-out without lugging a huge laptop bag around.

    I've honestly been SO impressed with mine. I used it on our recent trip to Chester for Christmas and I can't tell you how nice it is not to have to root all around your bag for things!
    Outfit Details
    Leopard Print Jacket - Zara
    Knitted Jumper - Topshop
    Leigh Jeans - Topshop
    Elekronsita Bag* - Knomo London

    The only down-side is that I've now got no excuse when I next lose my bank-card or keys...

    * I was gifted this bag by Knomo London

    Friday, 30 December 2016

    5 OF MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS WHICH NEVER MADE THE BLOG

    Every once in a while, I like to go out to eat without having to take endless photos of my food

    I know, shock right!?

    It's not that I don't love blogging about restaurants - because I clearly do - it's just nice to sometimes put the camera down and just enjoy my food and the friends I'm with.

    That's not to say these restaurants don't make it on the 'Gram so I've rounded up my favourite restaurants featured on my Instagram this year, which didn't quite get their own post!

    Casita Andina, Soho
    What is it?
    So this year I discovered that Peruvian food is my new favourite food.What's not to love: fresh, bold flavours and have you even heard of Pisco Sours?!

    Casita Andina is DJ turned head chef Martin Morales' fourth restaurant in the capital.  It's set across two floors, right in the heart of Soho with white walls and cute Andes inspired trinkets on the walls.

    Must order dish: 
    You'd be mad not to head there ASAP for a tasting of the salmon escabeche or the most incredible classic ceviche, made with seabass, sweet potato and coriander in a potent, citrus tiger’s milk.
    San Carlo, Liverpool
    What is it?
    For some reason San Carlo seems to be a much bigger deal up North than it is in London (someone correct me if I'm wrong though!)

    It's a glamorous group of Italian restaurants with outposts in Bristol, Leeds, London, Leicester, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

    It's SO hard to get a table at the Liverpool restaurant at the weekend but if you can get your mitts on one, the killer cocktails, authentic, fresh Italian food and atmosphere are unrivalled.

    Must Order Dish
    The menu is SO long and SO reasonably priced you can't really go wrong. The Gamberoni Luciana, tiger prawns with garlic, chilli & tomato sauce with a touch of cream were incredible and any restaurant which can make pan-fried chicken this exciting is well worth it's dollar!
    Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield
    What is it?
    You'll have seen my review of our stay at the Crazy Bear on the blog before (remember THAT red bedroom?) but they also have two restaurants which are well worth a visit.

    You can do champagne breakfasts, afternoon teas or have a classic dinner in the British restaurant or you can really treat yourself with a seven course feast in the Thai!

    It's a little pricey and the Thai restaurant is SO dark but it's got a great atmosphere and you'll feel SO sassy drinking a margarita next to all the taxidermy and mirrored walls.

    Must Order Dish
    The Full English with a glass of champagne in the British restaurant #KeepItClassy
    Jack and Alice, Gerrards Cross
    What is it?
    Another local restaurant to me, Jack and Alice is a coffee shop come wine bar, which also serves chocolate. Fab right?

    It's super close to where my mum lives so it's perfect for catching up over some good food and hand-crafted coffee during the day or with a bottle of wine and cheese-board in the evenings.

    Must Order Dish
    A huge slab of the home-made quiche with asparagus, buck-wheat and roasted tomato salad. Washed down with an Americano or glass of Malbec, depending how you're feeling!
    No. 5 London End, Beaconsfield
    What is it?
    Finally, one of the very best burgers which you'll get outside of central London.

    Modern-Britsh food, locally sourced and independently owned, it's a dream to have down the road from where I work.

    It's always super busy too so make sure you book, I promise it's well worth the train journey out of London!

    Must Order Dish
    The No.5 Burger: complete with a fluffy brioche bun, dry aged beef patty, caramelised onions, smoked cheddar and wagyu mayonnaise. It's insane.

    Casita Andina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Wednesday, 28 December 2016

    BRUSCHETTA STUFFED JACKET POTATOES

    Is there anything more satisfying than a hot fluffy potato loaded with butter and a thick crispy skin?

    They're the ultimate winter dish. 

    Warming and filling, like a little hug in a bowl but they do require a little bit of hard work to achieve perfection.

    Sure, you can whack a potato in the microwave for a few minutes, but a really good jacket potato deserves an hour in the oven and little TLC. 

    So throw the oven on 180 and I'll show you how to make my favourite, brushetta topped jacket potatoes.
    Tomato bruschetta is one of my favourite Italian dishes so I thought why not substitute the toast for a fluffy potato instead?

    The recipe is super simple and uses only a handful of ingredients so there's no excuse not to give it a try! 

    What you'll need
    1 baking potato
    Handful of cherry tomatoes
    1/2 red onion
    2-3 tbsps green Pesto
    3 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
    Butter
    What you'll need to do
    1. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and rub with salt and oil and pop in the oven for about an hour on 180 degrees

    2. While they're cooking chop the tomatoes, onions and mix in a bowl along with the pesto. Add a good crack of black pepper to taste. 
    3. When the potatoes are cooked through, with crispy skins, remove from the oven and leave to cool down. 

    4. Once cool, cut in half and spoon out the insides into a bowl. Mash with a fork and stir through the butter and parmasan untill you have a lovely cheesy mixture!

    5. Spoon back into the skins and top with your tomato and pesto mixture...
    Then sit back and devour the lot....so good! 

    Let me know if you give the recipe a go, I'd love to hear your favourite toppings in the comments below!

    Wednesday, 21 December 2016

    8 TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH THE FESTIVE PARTY SEASON IN ONE PIECE

    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

    Seriously though, how the hell did that happen?! I’m sure it was November about five minutes ago and now it’s suddenly the BIG day on Sunday!

    I LOVE Christmas…but being an adult at Christmas is way more stressful than I remember it being as kid.

    Like all the actual work that goes into Christmas. Like putting up the tree, buying the presents, hiding them for ages until you wrap them all up, cooking the dinner and then the dreaded washing up.

    It’s a little bit stressful and I definitely didn’t appreciate how hard my parents work to make Christmas amazing until you start having to actual do some of that stuff….

    SO to help ensure the festive period goes smoothly, and you make it to the New Year in one piece, here's my tips on how to have a stress-free Christmas this year!

    GET YOUR Z’S IN NOW
    ...because let's be honest, you're going to be in for some late nights! I always start Christmas morning with a berocca – no YOU drank too much the night before – but there’s plenty of ways you can get some energy-boosting nutrients on your dinner plate too!

    Did you know Brussel sprouts and broccoli are energy boosting – uh huh, yeah they are, so save some spaces next to the pigs in blankets on your plate and load those babies them up!

    PUT YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD
    You want to look your best on Christmas Day right? So make sure you book all your beauty treatments in the run-up so you look fresh-faced and sassy on the big day!

    If you don’t have a regular salon you go to, there’s a fab online service you can use called Book Your Lifestyle which lets you book appointments at a series of partner salons all across London

    They have a live booking system so you can book and confirm everything online to take the stress out of everything and you can just turn up and get everything done in one go. #TimeSaver

    There’s LOADS of salons you can choose from including Cucumba in Soho for nails and waxing, Clo & Flo in South Ken for a gorgeous blow-dry or even fancy micro-needling at the Leadenhall Clinic! There’s bound to be one near your work where you can pop to get your nails down so go take a little lookie on the website.

    BUY SOME 'BACK-UP' PRESENTS
    If, like me, pennies are super-tight in the run up to Christmas, this tip might seem like one to ignore but I promise it’s worth thinking about!

    There is nothing more awkward on Christmas day than when you're exchanging gifts and you suddenly realise you've forgotten to buy for someone!

    It’s usually a distant cousin who you haven’t seen in about 6 years but for the first time (ever) has decided to come over to your mum’s for Christmas. To avoid this awkward and slightly embarrassing moment, I always make sure I have a reserve present on hand.

    You don't need to blow the budget either, stocking fillers like pencil cases or a bottle of booze are perfect - and it's always a bonus if you get to keep it for yourself afterwards!

    KEEP HYDRATED
    It's boring I know but try to drink as much water as you can over the Christmas period! No doubt you'll be drinking for much of Christmas Day so try alternating drinks with water and make sure you have a big glass before bed as damage limitation for the morning!

    DON'T LET YOUR SKIN-CARE ROUTINE GO TO HELL
    This first thing I want to do when I get in from a night out (aside from foraging for food) is to collapse in bed without taking my make up off. I am SO bad for it!

    Same goes with Christmas Day, I’m usually too tired/tipsy/lazy to take it off but I’m making a conscious effort this year to stick to my skin-care routine so I don’t end up with red, blotchy skin come all the New Year parties!

    GO FOR A CHRISTMAS DAY WALK
    Oh the inevitable Christmas row! Spending all day cooped up your house, where most the family are drinking and getting stressed out about how long to cook the turkey for, it’s no surprise people end up having a bicker!

    Well according to research by the National Trust, a walk on Christmas Day can slash the risk of arguing with your family by half! 50 per cent! So gather up the relatives and stretch your legs while you’re waiting for your food to cook – the fresh air will do you all the world of good!

    STRIKE THE RIGHT BALANCE
    There is no way in hell I'm going to make a list telling you only to have vegetables on your Christmas dinner plate or that you need to run 8 miles in the morning before you plough through the Quality Street but do try and have a little balance.

    For me, Christmas Day is a right off, diet-wise. Do what you want for that day - but try and keep some kind of balance for the remaining few days before New Year. No-one wants to feel like a Christmas pudding at their New Years Eve party.

    FINALLY… JUST MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DAYS OFF!
    It's rare you have so many days off work to just relax and spend time with family so make the most of it while you’ve got it!

    December is hectic as it is so use these days to catch up on sleep, re-charge your batteries and spend valuable time with family so you can start the new year fresh!

    So there you have it, my little tips to help you feel a little fresher and less stressed this Christmas! What do you think…how do you help chilled on the most fun and stressful day of the year!
    *This is a collaborative post

    Tuesday, 20 December 2016

    RECIPE: BACON & CRANBERRY TOPPED CAMEMBERT


    I've already given you one delicious Christmas recipe this week but I've got another one which I can't wait to share...and it contains a LOT of cheese: my festive baked camembert. 

    Baked camembert is one of life's true pleasures.

    Is there anything more satisfying than dunking a lump of crusty bread in all that gooey cheese?
    And the beauty is that the flavour combinations you can have with it are endless.

    There's honey and figs or you could have garlic and caramelised onions but for today's recipe, we're going festive.
    Salty fried bacon with sweet, juicy cranberries and all that delicious, creamy molten cheese. 

    Perfect to serve on Christmas evening.....or just have it to yourself on a Saturday night (I won't judge)
    This recipe all came about when Spar sent me out a selection of wines to try...and as cheese and wine are BFFs, I knew I had to treat you guys to a cheese recipe to pair your favourite wine with.

    It might not be the first place you’d think of when stocking up on your Christmas tipple, but Spar have a wide range of wines available in-store and online, all at affordable prices

    You can pick up a bottle of Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape (my fav) for £13.50, a lovely light Chablis for £11 or a bottle of fizz for just £9!

    There’s over 142 different bottles to choose from and with lots of regular offers, you’re sure to find something perfect for your next party….so pour yourself a glass of your favourite wine and let's get down to business

    What you'll need
    1 box of Camembert cheese
    Cranberry Sauce
    100g bacon lardons/pancetta
    1 handful of pistachios 
    What you'll need to do
    1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Take the cheese out of the packaging, slice a few slits in the top and pop back in the wooden box. Bake for 15 minutes till the cheese is all runny
    2. While your cheese is cooking, fry your lardons in a little oil until golden brown.
    3. De-shell and chop your pistachios
    4. Once the cheese is cooked, remove from the oven and scrape back the rind on the top to reveal the lovely cheesiness inside. Spoon your bacon and cranberry sauce on top and sprinkle with the pistachios.
    5. Enjoy....either scooped up with crusty bread or a spoon!

    * This recipe was written in collaboration with SPAR Wines
    Visit them in-store or online for a great selection of red, white and sparkling wines

    Monday, 19 December 2016

    RECIPE: A FESTIVE TWIST ON A CLASSIC MIDDLE-EASTERN RECIPE

    Can you believe we're in the final week before Christmas?!

    My presents are all bought, wrapped and under the tree and I am FINALLY starting to feel super festive.

    There's just a few days left at work and then I've got plenty of time off to spend with family, relaxing, drinking and eating ALL the food in sight.
    That's the thing I love most about Christmas: all the rich, decadent food at family parties but after the 800th sausage roll and mince pie, it all starts to get a little heavy and...boring?

    I wanted to create something a little lighter and more exciting for my next Christmas get together and I was hugely inspire by Middle Eastern cuisine.

    I love this style of cooking. It's healthy in that it uses lots of grilled meats and salads and relies on bold herbs and spices to flavour it's dishes, rather than creamy, heavy sauces.

    It's has been a real trend this year so what better way to impress your guests than by putting a festive on a classic shish taouk recipe - perfect for your next Christmas party!
    What you'll need
    For the kebabs 
    2 courgettes, thickly sliced
    2 red peppers, thickly sliced
    1 red onion, cut into thick cuts
    500g skinless turkey breast, cut into chunks

    For the marinade
    1 tsp dried paprika
    1 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp sumac
    1 tsp crushed chilli
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    4 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
    2 tbsp plain yoghurt
    zest and juice of a lemon

    1 tub hummus
    sliced toasted pitta
    What you'll need to do
    1. First you need to make the marinade by mixing all the spices, garlic in a bowl with the oil until combined. Stir in the yogurt and lemon until the mixture is creamy and season to taste.

    2. Add the courgettes, pepper chunks and turkey to the bowl and coat with marinade. Set aside for around 30 minutes (or ideally over-night) so it takes on all that gorgeous flavour!

    3. Turn your grill up to high. While you're waiting for it to heat up, thread the marinaded veg and turkey onto the skewers and line them up on a baking tray.
    4. Grill for 10 minutes, turning them regularly

    5. Once they're cooked through, pile up on a plate and serve with salad, some tzatziki, houmous and toasted pitta. Perfect!

    * This post was written in collaboration with Leisure

    Link up your recipe of the week

    Saturday, 17 December 2016

    SPEEDY PERSONALISED PIZZAS AT THE NEWLY OPENED MOD PIZZA

    So do you remember that time that I told you guys, how I don't really like Pizza?

    Well I think I'm becoming a convert.

    It's not that I dislike it or anything...it's just that I'd never choose it from a menu but now I think that's all changing. 

    I mean just look at this....
    That, my friends, is the personalised pizza which I tried down at Mod Pizza in Leicester Square and is part of the reason I'm giving Pizza a chance. 

    Mod Pizza is already a big thing in the States and they've made the move across the Pond and I for one, think they're going to do really well. 
    It's a pretty simple concept, they do pizzas and salads which you can personalise with as many toppings as you like, all at a set price of £7.87

    A bit like a Subway for pizzas I guess?
    Apparently the owners were inspired by the authentic street-food of Italy...but also the Mod era of 1960s England (which kind of explains the soundtrack of The Smiths and The Clash). 

    Bit of an odd mix - but the food is really very good. 
    You can Mod-ify your pizza or salad as much as you want at no extra charge - just the flat fee of £7.87

    You can either start with one of their suggested pizzas and add or take away toppings or go all out and build your own from scratch. 
    Once you've chosen what you want, they give you a little buzzer with a GPRS tracker so you can go take a seat anywhere in the three-floor restaurant and when your food is ready, they come find you and deliver it to your table. 
    And you really won't be waiting long. The salads are ready instantly and made with super-fresh ingredients in-front of you and the pizzas arrive within 5 minutes of sitting down. 
    The pizzas are good too. The base is thin and crisp and fully loaded with all your toppings.... 

    I wouldn't say it's the most authentic Italian pizza i've ever tried but it's decent food, especially for the location and price. I imagine they'll do well out of the tourists lingering in nearby Leicester Square!
    Plus the good news is it's not just for London folk either, Mod Pizza have restaurants in Leeds, Bristol, Gateshead and Nottingham. 

    So if you're looking for a cheap but decent place to eat, Mod Pizza is well worth a try!

    Mod Pizza
    17-18 Irving Street, Leicester Square
    WC2H 7AT
    * We were invited to review Mod Pizza

    Thursday, 15 December 2016

    EMBRACE YOUR INNER 'CHEESE' AT THE 90S BRUNCH

    By now you've probably worked out that I love a brunch

    Do you remember my round-up of my favourites in London?

    Well this next place isn't quite going to make that list, but I promise you it's a lot of FUN.

    Let me introduce you to the 90s Brunch....
    The 90s Brunch does exactly what it says on the tin.

    As soon as you step inside the venue (which changes with each event), you're transported back to a time when platform trainers and those trouser/skirt combos were cool...

    There's everything from hula hooping and roller-blades to lip-sync battles and people in head-to-toe 90s fancy dress
    All whilst the DJ (who looks a lot like Honey G) blasts out Backstreet Boys and Spice Girl tunes.
    I'll be honest, the food is a bit strange...

    You don't often get served a chicken curry at a brunch but this place isn't really about the food...it's the whole experience.

    The menu does change with each venue so being a Chinese theme bar, it's no surprise we were served Spring Rolls and Chicken Curry but you can also expect anything from fish finger sandwiches and chicken drumsticks through to beef chilli burgers!

    In summary the whole place is just MAD...but I would totally go back with all my friends especially for a hen-do!
    Tickets are £35 which includes your entry, 3 course brunch and an hour's worth of bottomless cocktails. So grab your Scary Spice wig and head down to one of the next events on 17th Dec, January 14th or January 28th!

    * I was invited to review the 90s Brunch
    Some photos were provided by the 90s Brunch photographer

    Fu Manchu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato