A juice for Autumn.

There are juice recipes everywhere you look on the internet, but two ingredients I feel are really lacking the limelight are berries and herbs. Not only are berries amazing at bringing a little sweetness to any juice but in the UK we have these beauties in hedgerows up and down the country. They’re in plenty of smoothie recipes, but why aren’t we juicing these little blighters? We should be.  Fresh herbs have the ability to transform an otherwise mundane juice in to something on another level. They’re full of vitamins and minerals which are especially potent when raw.

With this in mind, I created a blackberry, sage and cucumber juice as part of a series of 25 recipes for Vita Coco.

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It’s the perfect Autumnal drink with its bold berry flavours and the sage brings in some of the rich earthy notes that we reach for as the days get cooler. Simply juice two handfuls of blackberries, half a cucumber and a small bunch of sage leaves. It’s best to feed the sage in first so that the other ingredients can carry the flavour through the juicer. When juicing the more aromatic herbs like sage and rosemary, remember that they can pack quite a punch so you’ll need much less than parsley for instance. Once the juice is done, top up with 330ml of Vita Coco’s lovely coconut water. 

I’ll be sharing a few more of my favourites from the collection over the next two weeks so keep your eyes peeled for them if you’re on the look out for some new juice and smoothie recipes. I’ve loved working on this project and I’m so pleased I can finally share them with you! You can browse some of my other recipes in Vita Coco’s twitter gallery along with some gorgeous cocktails and mocktails made with their coconut water too.

If you’d like to get involved with some juice and smoothie fun, you can use the hashtag #cococreations to tweet your favourite juice or smoothie for the chance to win a 3 month supply of Vita Coco, Nutribullet blender and a fruit and veg hamper!

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How to make the perfect coffee for you, at home

If you’re a super casual coffee drinker that’s happy with any old instant granules then this post probably isn’t for you. If, however, you like good coffee, want to understand it better and learn how to create true barista level coffee at home, I might be about to write your bible. Stick with me, try out what I’m about to discuss, it will be worth it.

Once upon a time, I was a ‘one sugar please’ kind of girl. Coffee was bitter, I wanted to sweeten it up and I just couldn’t enjoy it without. Black coffee was a no go to me. It tasted astringent to the point it was undrinkable. I used to find myself wondering how on earth someone could enjoy drinking it like that – each to their own. What I didn’t know then was it probably wasn’t about personal preference, it was about poor, bad and awful quality coffee.

Making coffee at home is a learning process like anything in the kitchen and some tools will teach you faster than others. For instance, if you have a capsule coffee maker that does it all for you, it may be convenient but it’s mindless button pressing won’t teach you jot about the process of making good coffee. Don’t get me wrong; I love my Lavazza Favola Plus if I’m in a rush, but I have no control over the elements that make or break a fantastic drink.

This is where manual/non electric coffee makers come in. They allow you to play with more variables, fine tune what ends up in your cup and ultimately, learn how to make a coffee that’s perfect for you. I’m thinking of cafetières (french press), moka pots, Japanese style siphons, and my latest squeeze; the ROK

This espresso press is something else. I’ve never seen anything quite like this industrial inspired hunk of metal. Selfridges asked me to take a look at it to celebrate their #bethebarista campaign and I’m in love! It’s such a genius design and exactly the type of wonder I expect to stumble across in their stores. Watch me pull a shot:

Now, let’s get to the serious coffee talk. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my ROK and learning how to tweak it’s variables so I thought I’d share a culmination of reading, practice and research whilst desperately seeking that perfect coffee. I’ll be using the ROK and a french press as the examples because I personally feel they’re the two gadgets that will teach you the most.

(more…)

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Salted Caramel Lindt Lindor Cupcakes

For National Cupcake week I decided I’d ask the community on my Facebook page what they’d like to see me make. There were calls for Ferrero Rocher cakes, Kinder Bueno, Sherbet Lemon, all sorts of drool worthy ideas but the second I saw the shout for Lindt Lindor I knew I had to go with that. So here we are. Cupcakes topped with a salted caramel butter cream and a Caramel Lindt Lindor centre.

saltedcaramelcakesaltedcaramelcupcakesI made a batch with a Lindor baked in, and a batch with it added after. Testing variables like this is all part of how I develop my recipes and normally helps me to recommend the best way to do something. This time however, the jury was out so I’ll give you directions for both options in the recipe. You can choose between baking the Lindor in to the cake transforming its center in to a permanent liquid caramel chocolate or popping one in after baking, giving a firm bite and no mess. My cake tester (Mum) preferred the molten version, but for me the solid Lindor was the winner. It’s up to you, you could always do half and half.

The cupcake its self isn’t caramel flavoured, I feel that would have led to a case of ‘too much of a good thing’ as caramel can quite quickly become sickly. The icing sugar I’m using is courtesy of Sugar and Crumbs who make twenty-five different icing sugar flavours and although it’s a bit more expensive than standard stuff, I was blown away by their salted caramel flavour. I don’t think I could replicate it easily any other way.

This recipe makes 6 large cupcakes/muffins, perfect for small house holds or solo bakers, but feel free to double or even treble up for a bigger batch. You’ll need:

100g Softened butter
100g Sugar
100g Self raising flour
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Baking powder
6 Caramel Lindt Lindor
125g Sugar & Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
60g Softened butter
 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line a muffin tin with cake cases. Combine the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and baking powder in one large bowl and beat until the mixture is well incorporated and smooth. If using an electric whisk or food processor, it takes around 2 minutes.

Spoon the mixture in to the cake cases until half full. If you’d like to bake your Lindt Lindor in, rest one on top of the mixture in each case. There’s no need to press them in, the cake will come up to cover them.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes bounce pack when pressed and are golden brown.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. If you’re choosing to add the Lindt Lindor after baking, use a cupcake corer or the handle of a teaspoon to cut out the centre of the cake to fit the Lindor leaving the base of the cake intact. Whilst the cakes are still warm, push the Lindor in to the hole, trimming excess cake from the cut out before placing back on top.

 
lindor cupcake

Once cool combine the butter and icing sugar, mixing until smooth. Using a small spatula (courtesy of OXO), place around two teaspoons of the buttercream on top of each cupcake then use the spatula to spread over the cake top.

icing cupcakesLindt Lindor cupcakes

Now, I’m going to end this blog post sharpish- I’m pretty sure I can hear them calling me from the cake tin…

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Let in the light

I adore my Parent’s home for many reasons but if I had to name one, it would be the amount of light it has. If I’m there, you’ll usually find me in the ‘sunroom’, under the huge VELUX windows with light flooding in. I nestle in to the corner of the sofa and it’s there that I’ll do my blogging. All this light in the house was carefully planned by the Architect that helped to bring the vision my Mum and Dad had for their home to reality. Light was particularly important to them because my Mum finds herself battling tiredness as Winter’s short days draw in; a problem known as seasonal affective disorder. I’m sure it must affect most of us to a certain degree.

It’s my absolute dream to one day to live in a house with as much natural light as my Parent’s house gets. I for one feel happier in a brighter room.

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Our house is a late Victorian terrace and although I can give them kudos for the ceiling height and mouldings, we don’t have the light that I love so much in my Parent’s home.  As Matt and I continue our house renovations, we’ve started to look at the idea of installing a VELUX window or sun tunnel at the end of our kitchen to brighten up a dark spot. I’m hoping it will also make the room feel larger.

We’ll be using some other tricks to get that light effect in our rooms, a huge mirror has done the trick in our bathroom makeover. I’d love to hear any tips you have, what’s made the difference in your house?

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DIY Pillow Mist

At night time I have a routine. I’ll make a hot drink and take myself to bed. Emails will be closed, lamp on, candle lit. I’ll go and wash the day off, take my contacts out settle down with something on Netflix. Then finally, I use a pillow mist to scent my pillow with something relaxing. It’s a habit that started with a dab of a Lush perfume stick on my wrist to send me to sleep, then I started to use aromatherapy oils instead. It’s a comfort thing, akin to that clean sheet smell that makes fresh sheets more enjoyable and I sleep better for it.

It’s really simple to make your own pillow mist using any fragrance that you’d like. I thought this sleep spray would be particularly helpful now that school is back in session- I’m looking at you Mums and Teachers!

pillowspray2Lavender is a classic sleep aid, but if you’re like me and it just doesn’t appeal, there’s plenty of others to choose from. My essential oils and bottles came from Baldwin’s, they’ve been trading for 170 years and know the aromatherapy world inside out. You can check out their essential oils map below to help choose the best oil for you:

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To make your sleep mist, all you need is:

Bottle with spray atomiser 

10 drops essential oil of your choice

30ml Water

30ml Vodka or isopropyl alcohol (this helps to disperse the oils in the water)

Pillow spray 4Add the water, alcohol and essential oil to the bottle and screw the spray atomiser on tightly.

pillowspray

That’s it. Just give the spray a shake before use and mist lightly over your pillow. A 5 minute DIY that will hopefully help you wind down and get a good nights sleep. If you make one, please let me know which essential oil you choose and how you get on, I’d love to know.

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