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The Benefits to Shopping Organic this Easter 🌼🐰

Easter is on the horizon, and for many of us, this means getting together with friends and family to celebrate traditional spring dishes and delicacies. If you’re entertaining this Easter, or you’re looking to take an offering to a family dinner, have you thought about choosing organic produce?

The Benefits to Shopping Organic this Easter 🌼🐰 | UK Lifestyle Blog

What exactly does organic mean?

When you’re doing your food shop, you’ll probably come across labels that are marked with the word organic. Organic food is more popular than ever before, but what exactly does organic mean, and how is it different from other products? Organic farming is a very straightforward concept, which is designed to preserve the purity of vegetables, fruit, and meat and minimise exposure to chemicals.

If you buy organic meat, for example, organic lamb from Graig Farm, you can be sure that you’re purchasing a piece of meat that has been traced and tracked from the farm to the plate. Organic farming focuses on high standards of animal welfare and processes that optimise taste and enjoyment and reduce contact with chemicals.

The benefits of buying organic food this Easter

Easter is a wonderful time of year to delve into the depths of organic food and buy produce that is packed with flavour to celebrate spring and enjoy quality time with loved ones. Spring is traditionally associated with fresh vegetables and succulent meats that are perfectly suited to a sumptuous roast dinner.

Buying organic offers multiple benefits. When you add items to your basket in a supermarket, you might not be entirely sure where that product has been, but with organic fayre, you have access to information about the origins of the produce, and you can enjoy peace of mind that the animal has been well looked after.

Organic produce tends to be tastier and healthier, and you don’t have to worry about the potential effects of being exposed to chemicals like pesticides. Organic foods are also fresher, as they don’t contain preservatives that are added to prolong shelf-life.

Tips for your Easter roast dinner

If you’ve been charged with the mantle of providing a hearty roast dinner this Easter, don’t panic. If you’re opting for organic meat, you can’t go wrong, as long as you get the cooking time right.

You can use a temperature probe to see how you’re getting on or go by touch. Suggested cooking times are around 20 minutes per pound for rare beef and 25 minutes per lb for lamb. Add 20-25 minutes for resting. Give yourself time to heat the oven, cook the meat until pink, and then rest the meat before serving. If you’re cooking lamb, add fresh sprigs of rosemary to the roasting dish and serve with mint sauce. If you’ve got a beef joint, horseradish is a perfect accompaniment. Drain the juices from the tray to make a delicious, flavourful, rich gravy.

If you have friends or relatives coming for dinner or Sunday lunch over Easter, why not explore the concept of organic farming and treat your nearest and dearest to a tasty, fresh feast?

2019-04-03T16:40:25+00:00 April 3, 2019|Food|

End of Summer Party: 7 Cosy Summer Al-Fresco Evenings Essentials

There’s still some summer evenings left, and I’m not ready to be defeated and put away my flip flops just yet. I’ve gone to chase the sun in the Alps where the days are scorching and the nights drop below 0ºC. It’s beautiful, and because we’re traveling in a van, al-fresco dining is becoming the norm. As soon as the sun goes down though, you can feel the temperature drop so we’re currently mastering the art of cosy al-fresco dining so we can still enjoy the mountains views on the lake before retreating to our comfy van.

You don’t have to be abroad to enjoy a bit of al-fresco dining though. There is still some summer left to squeeze out of the British weather, and although it might be a little chilly, it’s still there for the taking (Com’on, we can see snow from where we’re sitting, and even we’re out on our bums!). Here are some tips to enjoy the last of the lighter evenings before it’s officially one of my FAVOURITE times of the year, pumpkin season. 🎃

End of Summer Party: 7 Cosy Summer Al-Fresco Evenings Essentials | UK Lifestyle Blog

Flowers

What better way to brighten up your BBQ than with a bunch of fresh seasonal blooms? Some of my favourites – including peonies and freesias – are in season at the moment, and I can’t host an outdoor soiree without them!

I like to cut mine to various different lengths and place them in mismatched vintage bottles or vases for a haphazard effect that keeps things feeling really relaxed and casual. Trusty Ikea has some great vintage-style glasses and bowls, perfect for all those fresh peonies.

Cosy Blankets and Throws

We all know how unpredictable the British weather can be, so it makes sense to always have a collection of cosy blankets and throws at hand for when night falls or if those cold breezes suddenly come to call. I love soft woollen styles in summery sorbet colours for my al-fresco evenings, but I also think it looks beautifully chaotic to have a basket of mismatched blankets to give to guests whenever it gets chilly – the less organised the better!

Fairy Lights

Nothing adds warmth and homeliness like a string (or five) of fairy lights. Whether you hang them over your balcony rail or place them in large glass jars as a quirky centrepiece, these simple coloured lights really do add instant charm to al-fresco gatherings.

Enamel Dishes

With a few guests vying for room on one outdoor table set, it makes sense to introduce tableware that can’t be smashed should a plate or two happen to fall on the floor (especially after a few jugs of sangria!) My favourite is Falcon enamelware – it has a contemporary feel but appeals to my vintage-loving side with its classic white and blue-rimmed design. Often used for camping, it won’t smash if it’s dropped or tipped and only seems to get better with age.

A Fire Pit

Due to the aforementioned chilly summer nights here in the UK, it makes sense to invest in a fire pit or chimnea to light as the sun goes down. Not only can they be used to toast marshmallows on for a cosy camp-side feel, but there’s something undeniably hypnotic about just sitting and watching the flames sizzle and pop on a warm summer’s evening.

A Super-sized Ice Box

If your summer soirees are anything like mine, then the drinks will be flowing! Investing in a supersized ice box to keep those beers and wines cool is a savvy idea – not only will it keep your guests happy but it makes a great investment for summers to come. I like this stylish design from Argos.

Solar Lamps

These cool creations store the sun’s energy during the day, then light up at night to create an atmospheric glow that’s perfect for any summer soiree. I like cute coloured versions as they add a rainbow effect to outdoor entertaining. And don’t worry if you don’t have a big garden – these can be sunk into plant pots dotted around your outdoor space to bring a gorgeous glow to your evening.

2018-09-26T21:18:59+00:00 September 27, 2018|Food|

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn’t a disaster!)

We did it!! 🦃🎄😩💞 We successfully hosted Christmas dinner, and it was actually alright if I do say so myself! Earlier this year we gave our lounge a little makeover with comfy armchairs and a log burner. With this in mind, we invited the family over to celebrate the festive holiday in our newly decorated lounge.

Everybody coming over to our house comes with the responsibility of entertaining and cooking for the entire family but I saw this as an exciting challenge. Amazingly, my grandparents accepted the invitation to join my immediate family and fiancé for food, so the pressure was on to create a tasty 3-course lunch.

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

I’m in no rush to take our Christmas decorations down but I’ll be glad to have some space back in our lounge 😂

Everybody told me it would be really difficult to host Christmas dinner but I figured with a bit of preparation, it wouldn’t be too hard. Other than the last minute scramble to get everything from the hob to the dining table (which was made a little easier, thanks to my awesome fiancé), it was a breeze!

Here’s the low-down of our Christmas dinner, and how you can do it too if you decide to host Christmas next year.

Starter

Choosing a starter for 7 guests proved a little difficult. Seafood was too expensive (some places were charging £200 for a platter, ouch!), soup dishes didn’t seem creative enough, and I wanted to avoid meat since we have plenty of that for the main. After much deliberation, I settled on a homemade cranberry and brie puff tart with pistachio and honey. The perfect festive sharing starter, easy to make and incredibly tasty – what’s not to love? 💜

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

😱➡️  Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Just preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C) mark 5. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

  • Unroll a 320 g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry on to the lined tray.
  • Use a knife to score a 1.5cm (⅔in) border around the edge of the pastry (do not cut all the way through). Brush border with some beaten egg before cooking in the oven for 15min.
  • Remove the tray from oven and, with the back of a spoon, gently press down the pastry inside the border.
  • In a small bowl, mix 175 g (6oz) of cranberry sauce with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
  • Spread this mix on pastry inside the border. Lay brie slices on top, spaced apart.
  • Scatter over thyme leaves and some freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cook tart for a further 10min in the oven or until brie is temptingly melted and pastry is golden.
  • Transfer to a board, scatter over pistachios and drizzle with some honey before serving warm.

Tip: We prepared and chilled the tart on Christmas Eve and cooked it on Christmas day to save some time.

Main

If you’ve ever hosted Christmas, you’ll know there is so much to do (probably why my dad was happy to have a year off from making Christmas dinner!). I decided to get a little helping hand, from the lovely M&S! We ordered a British Oakham turkey with pork, chestnut, maple bacon & thyme stuffing, and it was the best decision I ever made. I couldn’t imagine doing Christmas any other way, after how easy ordering from M&S was.

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

😱➡️  Kit Your Home Out In Time For Christmas

It was so easy! As directed, we brushed a little oil over the bird and sprinkled salt and pepper over the bird. We also added some herbs and squeeze a little lemon over the top (thanks for the tip Mary Berry) before popping it into the oven. No mucking around with removing giblets and stuffing.

The turkey took 3 hours and 41 minutes to cook at 180°C and we left it to rest for an hour, which gave us plenty of time to prepare the rest of our sides and to warm the starter. We garnished our turkey with thyme, rosemary and basil before serving with M&S The Collection ‘Posh’ turkey gravy, which complimented the bird perfectly.

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

We also had a range of tasty goodies on the table such as parsnips and chantenay carrots with a honey, mustard and maple glaze, goose fat roast potatoes, creamy cauliflower cheese, four root seasoned vegetable mash, braised red cabbage with Jersey butter. Personally, my favourite side was outdoor-bred pigs in blankets, pork and chestnut stuffing wreath. I’m pretty sure that everybody’s Christmas favourites are pigs in blankets though.

Luckily my parents saved the day by bringing over Yorkshire puddings and Brussel sprouts because I accidentally forgot to order them. Well, I didn’t forget the horrible green fart-bombs but apparently, you have to have them at Christmas for some reason. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to forget the Yorkshire puddings though, my bad!

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

😱➡️  How to prepare your home for Christmas

We washed it down with the Bees Knees sparkling 0% alcohol white wine, gifted from my Mother-in-Law, once we couldn’t eat any more turkey. We ended up stripping the bird a couple days later and we had 1-kilo of meat for leftovers, oops! At least nobody went hungry spending Christmas at ours… hahaha!

Dessert

For dessert, we had 9 months matured luxury Christmas pudding but everybody was too full to even contemplate eating it. We also had mince pies with whipped or clotted cream but we’re still making our way through them. The boxes of chocolates on the coffee tables also took a bit of a beating during the festive period.

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

I found a couple of seconds to snap a selfie before the table got covered in gravy, as people tuck into the starter

Serving

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle BlogDon’t forget that people eat with their eyes. Food needs to look appealing, and it’s important not to miss the details when it comes to the presentation of your Christmas dinner. We usually only have a table big enough for four people in our dining area, so we stuck a garden table on the end. We covered both pieces of furniture with grey and white reindeer material, which only cost a few pounds from Tragos, and it made such a difference.

Knowing the table would be full of food, we didn’t opt for any table decorations, despite wanting to make use of our crystal decanters and candelabras! We did, however, lay out some party poppers and some silver and white reindeer crackers from Debenhams that matched the tablecloth.

Christmas was the perfect occasion to whip out our gorgeous Viners 18/10 cutlery set from the Nala range (presented in gift box a classic black box with velvet). It made such a difference to the vibe of our lunch, handing out high-quality, heavy cutlery to our guests, rather than a mismatch of cheap knives and forks from the supermarket.

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

I fell in love with the Nala range when I saw the luxurious gold ombre effect blend from elegant matt handles out to a bright mirror polish. I’ve always been apprehensive about ordering gold cutlery in case they become worn over time, but the Viners finish is highly resistant to corrosion, rust and tarnishing with a 50-year guarantee.

You can get your mitts on the gorgeous Nala set for £140 RRP. Viners have generously offered me an exclusive code for my readers to receive 10% off the whole Viners website. Just create an account and put in SS10OFF at the checkout. The unique code can only be used one time and will be valid from 25.12 to 07.01

We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn't a disaster!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

2018-06-01T15:39:32+00:00 December 29, 2017|Food|
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