Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Pot Roasted Chicken with Raspberry Cider

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I was recently sent some Stella Artois Cidre Raspberry and challenged to come up with a recipe using it.  As you know I love nothing more than a challenge, especially when it is a challenge which involves food and recipes.  This was particularly challenging as, being a Latter Day Saint . . .  ie. Mormon, that means I do not drink alcohol, which meant that whatever I used it in would have to be cooked so that the alcohol would cook off.

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Stella Artois Cidre Raspberry is made using a Belgian recipe, for a sophisticated taste. Hand-picked apples are pressed and combined with crushed raspberries to create a cider bursting with fruit flavour.

"The new Stella Artois Cidre Raspberry has been carefully crafted according to a unique Belgian recipe, which uses hand-picked, crushed raspberries to deliver a sophisticated fruit cider with a refreshing, crisp tast." 

I decided to try something savoury . . . and since we eat a lot of chicken in this house, chicken was the natural choice for me to choose to work with.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

A healthier French Onion Soup

I was recently contacted by the people from Assisted Living at Sunrise of Mobberley and asked if I would like to try cooking one of their healthy living recipes.  Sunrise Senior Living provides senior living communities, assisted living, and senior care services such as Alzheimer's and dementia care in the US, Canada, and the UK. Here in the UK, they have 27 facilities providing award winning care here for over 30 years.

There was a wide variety of healthy recipes to choose from . . . at Sunrise Senior Living,  they  prepare all the meals in their own kitchens each and every day. The menus are varied and designed to be nutritionally balanced. In fact, they even provide you with a nutritional breakdown of each recipe that they use, so that you can see exactly how much protein, fat, fibre, calories and so on is contained in the meals they serve.  I was well impressed.  It was difficult for me to make up my mind.

I printed out several of their recipe cards and this is the first one I cooked.   It was really delicious and it was nice knowing that it was nutritionally balanced and designed to be healthy.

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*French Onion Soup*
Serves 4

A delicious healthier eating recipe from Taste of Sunrise.  

15g butter (2 TBS)
1 1/2 Spanish onions, peeled and sliced
20ml Sunflower oil (4 tsp)
30ml sherry (2 TBS)
2 sprigs of thyme
625ml beef stock (2 2/3 cups)
15g cornflour (1 2/3 TBS)
1 tsp gravy granules
5 ml of Worcestershire Sauce (1 tsp)
pinch salt
pinch ground black pepper
1/2 ciabatta roll
15g Parmesan cheese, grated (4 tsp)
small bunch parsley chopped    

Heat the oil in a pan.  Add the onions and saute for two minutes.  Add the sherry and thyme.  Reduce by half in order to cook off the alcohol.  Add the butter and the stock.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 30 to 35 minutes.    

Mix the cornflour and Worcestershiare sauce together and add a little water to make a paste.  Whisk slowly into the soup.  Return to a simmer.  Simmer for a further 10 minutes.   Whisk in the gravy granules and season to taste.

Cut the ciabatta roll into 4 slices and grill both sides until golden in colour.  Top with the parmesan cheese and grill for 1 minutes until golden and melted.   Serve the soup topped with the cheese croutons and garnished with parsley.

Nutritional Info:
(per serving)
 Energy - 140kcals
salt -   0.9g
fat - 7.1g
saturated fat - 2.5g
sugars - 1.2g

Bacon & Mustard Roasted Potatoes

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As I have reiterated on numerous occasions, the potato is my most favorite of all vegetables.   A day without a potato in it in some way, shape or form is just not a day worth living!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Holiday Helps!

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It's hard to believe that Christmas is now less than a month away.  I don't know about you, but this year the holidays have crept up on me seemingly overnight.  I know, I know . . . I say that every year, but it's true!  It's down to the crunch time now, and I can tell you that I will be using whatever I can to help to make the holidays go as smoothly as I can in the kitchen over the coming weeks!

A Quirky Main . . . Corn Muffins with Chili Con Carne

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I want to tell you today about one of the most innovative products which I have been sent in recent months,  Quirky Bake Shapes.  Muffin tins with colourful silicone toppers that you fill with muffin batter, top with the toppers and bake.  I was so excited to get these!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Temptingly Tasty Turkey Leftovers

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I know that all of my North American friends are cooking their Thanksgiving turkey's today.  I am also cooking a turkey Thanksgiving Dinner this year.   Tomorrow our fridges will be filled with all of the leftovers and we will be scratching our heads and trying to come up with new and interesting things to do with them.  Here are some tasty ideas this morning to help you use up some of those scrummy leftovers. Of course you could just have a reheat of the leftovers, but it's also nice to dress them up in a few different ways too!

You Brits and Canucks might want to bookmark this page as Christmas is less than a month away and you 'll be wanting to figure out what to do with your Christmas Turkey leftovers then!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Proper Kitchen Management 101, part one . . . or Cleanliness is next to Godliness

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Of all the rooms in my home, the kitchen is the one which requires the most maintenance and management.  I see it as the heart of my home, as it reflects the overall spirit of where we choose to live.   Most of the action happens in our kitchen.  It's where we converse and gather . . .  where I spend many of my happiest hours.  Food and the preparation of food is really important to me and how I spend a great deal of my time and so it makes sense that I would like to keep it well organized, clean and manageable.   I also have a very tiny space to work in so this becomes even more important.   There is nothing nicer than a well groomed and organized kitchen . . .  and I cannot begin to tell you the pleasure which I get of an evening when I leave my kitchen for the last time for that day . . .  as I glance back and see everything cleaned and put away . . .  a nice glow emanating from the range hood . . .  it just does my heart so much good and gives me great satisfaction.

Egg, a culinary exploration of the world's most versatile ingredient

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There is nothing I like more than a new cookbook and I was really pleased to receive this latest one for review.  It is entitled Egg, a culinary exploration of the worlds most versatile ingredient, and is written by Michael Ruhlman, with photographs by Donna Turner Ruhlman, and is published by Jacqui Small.

A James Beard Award-winning author, Michael Ruhlman explains why the egg is the key to the craft of cooking.

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For culinary wizard Ruhlman, the question is not whether the chicken or the egg came first; it's how anything could be accomplished in the kitchen without the magic of the everyday egg.

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In this ground breaking book, he explains how to make perfect poached and scrambled eggs and builds up to recipes for brioche and souffles.

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Readers learn how to make their own mayonnaise, custards, quiches and cakes, mastering foods from sweet to savoury, from light as air meringues to hearty bread and homemade pasta.

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More than 100 recipes are grouped by technique and range from simple (Egg salad with Tarragon and Chives) to the sophisticated (Seafood Roulade with Scallops and Crab.)

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Multiple photographs guide the reader through this extraordinary journey which unlocks the secrets of the egg for the home cook.

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Also included is a removable four-colour poster of Ruhlman's innovative flowchart, showcasing the wide range of techniques and recipes that rely on the egg.

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This a unique framework which begins with the whole egg at the top and branches out to describe its many uses and preparations -- boiled, pressure-cooked, poached, fried, coddled, separated, worked into batters and doughs, and more.  

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This book is beautiful and chock full of useful information that the recipes almost seem superfluous. His method for making hard boiled eggs gave perfect results.  It truly is a gorgeous book and I know that I will refer to it often.

As you know I always like to try out a recipe in the books I show you because I believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  This time I chose  Creme Brulee with excellent results!

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*Creme Brulee*
Serves 4

A delicious recipe adapted from the recipe in "Egg" by Michael Ruhlman. 

240ml of milk (1 cup plus 1 tsp)
240ml double cream (1 cup plus 1 tsp)
pinch salt
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
100g plus 50g caster sugar (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
8 egg yolks 

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/gas mark 2/  Place four 120 to 150 ml  (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) ramekins in a large roasting tin and fill the pan so that the water comes up 3/4 of the way of the sides of the ramekins.  Remove the ramekins and place the tin of water in the oven. 

Combine the milk, cream, salt and vanilla pod in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Remove from the heat and let the pod steep for 15 minutes.   With a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into the milk/cream mixture.  (Put the empty pod i your sugar bowl or bag to gently infuse the sugar.) 

Combine the 100g (1/2 cup) of the sugar and the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds or so.  This will help the sugar begin to dissolve and will also help the egg to cook more evenly.  Slowly pour the cream mixture into the uolks, while whisking constantly. 

Pour the custard into the ramekins.  Cover each with a piece of parchmet paper, followed by foil and put them in the water bath.  Cook the custards until just set, about 30 minutes.   Uncover them and allow to cool.  (If you plan on using them the next day, cover them again once cold and refrigerate them; remove from the refrigerator for several hours prior to serving to allow them to come to room temperature.) 

Top each custard with enough of the remaining 50g (1/4 cup) of sugar to coate the entire surface and pour off any excess.  With a blow torch, heat the sugar until it melts, bubbles and caramelizes.  When it is cool, the browned sugar should create a delicate crust.  Serve immediately.

If you have a keen foodie on your Christmas list, this book would make a lovely gift.

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Michael Ruhlman started writing about the lives of chefs twenty yeras ago, and he soon became interested in training as a chef himself.   His groundbreaking and successful food reference books include The Book of Schmaltz, Ruhlman's Twenty, Ratio, The Elements of Cooking and Charcuterie (with Brian Polycyn), and he co-wrote Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home and Bouchon cookbooks.  He lives in Cleveland, USA, with his wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman, who has done the photography for many of his books and is the sole photographer for his blog,

A Culinary Explortion of the
World's Most Versatile Ingredient
by Michael Ruhlman
ISBN 978-1-909342-85-9
Hardback 236 pages
colour photographs
UK £25.00
Published by Jacqui Small Llp

Note - although I was sent a book for review for free, any and all opinions are my own.

Potato and Bread Stuffing

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This stuffing is the stuffing my mom always made and my ex mil always made and through the years it has been the one I always make.   It's simple and it's easy.   A tiny bit different than the usual stuffing, in that it uses potatoes, which makes it a bit heavier, but that's how we like it.

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Of course I have made some changed and adaptations to it through the years  . . . making it my own. My mil and mother never really used celery.  I like the extra colour, crunch and flavour of celery.

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My mother never really cooked hers for that long, it was more or less just heated through  . . .  the onion was always had a bit of a bite, which I do like, but not a of people are that fond of the harshness of raw onion.   She also used torn bread instead of crumbs.  I do sometimes long for hers . . . but somehow mine never ever does taste like hers anyways.  No matter what.  I don't know why that is.

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My MIL always cooked hers in the chicken.  I prefer to cook mine in a buttered casserole dish.  That way you get some crispy bits, which I really like.  I dot it with butter which adds more flavour.   This is my stuffing of choice every year.   I love it, I really do.  I am betting you will too.  For a turkey, I double or triple it.   Of course that all depends on how many I have sitting around my table. ☺

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*Potato and Bread Stuffing*
Makes enough to stuff one large roasting chicken
Printable Recipe

This was my ex mother in law's recipe for stuffing.  I always doubled and tripled the recipe as the stuffing was always my family's favourite part of the meal.  You can use it to stuff a chicken or a small turkey, or you can do as I normally did and bake it in a casserole dish.

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs (245g)
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (use no butter or milk) (about 4 large potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup melted butter (60g)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely
1 tsp poultry seasoning (see side column for recipe)
1 tsp summer savoury (can use a mix of sage, parsley and marjoram)
salt and black pepper to taste

Place the butter, onion and celery in a plastic container.  Cover with cling film and then cook on high in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Place the mashed potatoes in a bowl.   Stir in the onion/butter mixture and the bread crumbs, along with the poultry seasoning, summer savoury and some salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust as necessary.  You may need more of the herbs or seasoning according to your own individual taste.  The dressing is now done and ready to cook as you wish.

If you wish to, you may use it to stuff a large chicken or a small turkey, cooking as per the instructions for cooking a chicken or turkey.  If you wish to cook it separately then do as follows.

Butter a casserole dish well.  Crumble the stuffing into the casserole.  Spoon a little warm chicken broth over top and dot with butter.  Cover and bake in a moderate oven (160*C/350*F) for 30 to 40 minutes.  You can uncover the last 10 minutes of baking if you want some crunchy bits.

Note - if you are baking it in a buttered casserole dish, dot it with some butter before baking.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Savoury Sweet Potato Casserole

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For years and years when I cooked at the Manor each November I was charged with cooking a huge Thanksgiving feast for upwards of about 25 people.  It was quite an undertaking and usually consisted of a first course (normally pumpkin soup which the Mrs loved), the main dinner of course with the turkey and all of it's side dishes and at least two desserts, but more often three . . .  oh and homemade rolls.  

Monday, 24 November 2014

"Stuffing" Stuffed Onions

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I am really excited because I am going to be cooking Thanksgiving Dinner this year as a kick off to my holiday season and I have invited the Sister Missionaries over to share it with us.  So I have spent a few days test driving a few recipes in anticipation of the holiday meal!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gingerbread Rolls

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I think one of my absolute most favourite things is Gingerbread.  Gingerbread cake.  Gingerbread loaf.  Gingerbread Cookies.  Gingerbread Brownies . . .  and NOW these scrumptious Gingerbread Rolls!  Yes, Gingerbread rolls!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Apricot and Prune Puddings with a Lemon and Butterscotch Sauce


Apricots and prunes have a natural affinity for each other.  One is rich, sticky and sweet, almost toffee-like . . . the other plump and  almost tart . . . and in it's dried state . . .  nicely chewy, almost leathery.  Steep them in some tea or sherry . . . and they take on an almost angelic texture . . . most satisfyingly moreish.

They quite simply . . . belong together . . . much like  Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy . . .

I love puddings . . . that is what they call dessert over here . . . pudding . . .  It's one of the things that I love most about this country . . . these different  little words and phrases that are used to describe the ordinary.   This word "pudding" has such a deliciously beckoning sound . . . much more so than "dessert,"  don't you think???

Friday, 21 November 2014

Chicken Filets with a Lemon and Caper Sauce

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Capers are an ingredient that I always, always have either in my larder or in the refrigerator.   I just adore their tangy flavour and the flavour boost they give to dishes that they are used in!  I had never ever heard of them prior to moving over here to the UK. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Meatballs Braised with Honey and Fennel

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One of the things I like most about being sent different things to try, is the challenge of creating new recipes in order to use them.  I was recently sent two new mustards from The English Provender Co. to try out.  We love mustard in this house, and I especially love grainy mustards. More about my recipe a bit later on, but first . . . let's talk mustard!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Skillet Buffalo Chicken

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I have always had a love affair with Buffalo Chicken Wings!  I just love those flavours . . .  the spiciness of the hot sauce, the richness of the chicken . . .  the slight vinegar tang, the butter . . .  the blue cheese.  What's NOT to like about all that???  I can't find anything not to like either!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Whistle Dogs

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When I was a child it was a real treat to eat out in a restaurant.  It wasn't something which happened very often actually.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times we ate out.  When we did we always wanted hotdogs and french fries.    Whistle dogs from the A&W were a real treat!  Of course that was back in the dark ages when you ordered your meal from a car and it was brought to you on a tray that hung off your car window.  Yes . . .  I am that old!  Sigh . . .

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tomato and Bean Soup

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Sunday lunch/dinner is a huge tradition over here in the UK . . .  with roast dinners and all the trimmings.  In fact in most pubs on a Sunday you can't order off the menu.  It's roast dinner or nothing.  Mind you, most give you a choice or beef, pork, lamb or turkey, so it's not that bad really.   We don't eat out on Sundays and we never have a roast dinner at home.  We spend half of the day in church and to be honest  . . . when I get home I can't be asked to cook a big roast dinner then.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

French Vanilla Yogurt Cake

I had a tub of Vanilla Yogurt that needed using up yesterday and so I decided to bake it into a  cake.   A home must have a cake in it don't you think???  We were out of cake, so what's a gal to do but bake one!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Go Ahead . . . you know you want to.

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I was recently treated to a little hamper containing several of the new Go Ahead products!  Containing a packet of each their Apple Crispy Slices and their Forest Fruit Crispy Slices and a box of their Yogurt Breaks in the Forest Fruit flavours.

The Forst Fruit Yogurt breaks come in a pack containing 5 packs of 2 slices each.   They have a smooth yoghurty topping on a fruity sultana biscuit, very similar to the squashed fly biscuits we all loved as children, but better because they have that delicious tangy yogurt coating.  They are crisp and quite morish.

Each slice contains 73 calories,  and is low in saturated fat and salt.

 The Go Ahead Crispy slices are pretty much the same as the yogurt breaks except that there is no yogurt coating.    They are crisp and quite moreish and I love knowing that what I am snacking on is lofe in saturated fat and salt and tasty enough to be considered somewhat of a treat!   The Forest fruit slices  taste of berries and sultanas and the apple ones are very reminiscent of mom's tastiest apple pie . . .  except they are a lot lower in calories and fat.

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We quite like these! They were nice and crisp like a biscuit and had delicious fruity flavours. I do confess I liked the yogurt ones best of all.  They really tasted indulgent!   If you're looking for a bit of a treat to have with that morning or mid afternoon cuppa without going over the top Go Ahead!  You can afford to indulge in these.   They are very very nice.

For more infomation including stockist details do check out the Go Ahead website.

Happy Christmas from Prestat Chocolates

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One of the best parts about having a food blog is that I get to try things that I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to try.  I was recently sent a lovely Christmas Chocolate Box from the people at Prestat!

This new smaller box is filled with 16 hand crafted dark, milk and white truffles and chocolates, with everything from Hazelnut Clusters to Rose and Violet Cremes.  There are also Banoffee Truffles and Ginger and Saffron Fudge to name but a few others. 

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They are beautifully packaged in a lovely red box, with gold gilt and a wonderfully festive illustration . . .  and then inside everything as you would expect from a high quality chocolatier!  Wonderfully rich purple papers, a padded sheet to protect the choccies, and a complete guide to which chocolate is which flavour.

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The chocolates themselves are wonderfull handcrafted and beautiful to look at.  This is an assortment of Prestat's most popular chocolates and  using only cocoa sourced from sustainable plantations in West Africa.  On it's own, each chocolate provides a tantalising trea butt put together, the chocolatier  to Her Majesty the Queen has created a Christmas present which will provide delight at any family gathering. 

Simply put they are gorgeous and a feast for all the senses!  We both have enjoyed them very much.  Many thanks to Prestat for sending them to me.

The Christmas Chocolate Box
by Prestat
201g £16
325g £25

Some facts about Prestat you might enjoy:
  • In 1902, a chocolate shop called Prestat was opened in London by descendants of Louis Dufour, the man who created the world's first recorded chocolate truffle in Chambery, France in 1896.
  • Prestat's reputation for making exqisite handmade chocolates quickly spread and before too long, maharajas, sultans, presidents and stars of the state and screen had all experiences the delight that only the finest chocolates can bring.
  • Prestat's quintessential Mints and their Rose and Violet Cremes were Her Majesty The Queen Mother's favourite chocolates.  Both the Queen Mother and Her Majesty Queen ElizabethII granted the business a Royal Warrant and Prestat chocolates continue to be served at every major state banquet.
  • Having won 13 Gold Great Taste Awards in the last two years, Prestat is one of the few British Artisan Chocolatiers to make all it's onwn chocolates, giving it complete control of recipes and sourcing of ingredients as well as the opporunity to nurture the traditional skills needed to creat it's handcrafted chocolates.

Why not treat yourself or a friend or loved one to a Royal treat this Christmas.   Available in their Shop in Piccadilly , London as well as in Liberty, Selfridges, John Lewis and the Prestat concession in Harrods . . .  and good news for you Americans wanting to savour these tasty delights,  Prestat will be launching in all Bloomingdales Flagship Stores and throughout Dean & Deluca USA for Christmas 2014!

White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cupcakes

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I had some guests over one day last week and I had promised cakes so I baked these lovely White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cupcakes for them!  They went down a real treat!

Friday, 14 November 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Look at what I got in the post!  What a beautiful presentation . . .

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And inside  . . .  whatever could it be.  I know one thing for sure . . .  if it's from Hotel Chocolate, it's bound to be delicious.

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Ohhhh  . . .  Christmas Eton Mess . . .  a light cranberry mousse, topped with meringue and cranberry pieces!

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Check out these and the rest of the Hotel Chocolate Christmas Line here.  Fabulously delish!

Christmas Mess Selector

Christmas Mess Selector -  6 festive chocolates containing a light cranberry and raspberry mousse, topped with meringue and raspberry pieces. MIX & MATCH 3 or more Selectors for £3.15 each 75g / 2.6oz

Positively Scrumptious!

Easy Steak Pie . . . Friday Pub Grub

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I think it's pretty much a given that whenever we go to a pub for a meal out Todd will order a steak pie and I'll order the fish and chips.  They invariably disappoint however . . .  which says more about the type of restaurant we can afford to eat in rather than the restaurant themselves.  I guess when you are used to eating really good food at home then it's not that hard to be disappointed when you go out to eat!