Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cake Pops

Today I thought I would share my first attempt at making cake pops. One night when I was having trouble sleeping, I was in the mood to bake so I thought i'd give cake pops a go. After looking at a few recipes on the internet for some guidance I took the essentials and adapted them to what I had in the cupboard/ what I fancied making. I decided on all chocolate pops, that meant chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, chocolate coating and chocolate sprinkles. If your not a fan of chocolate you will not like these.

To start I made my basic chocolate cake which I use in most of my chocolate cake recipes. For this I creamed together 200g of butter and 200g of caster sugar. You need 2 eggs and 200g of self raising flour. Alternate between adding small amounts of the beaten eggs and self raising flour at a time. Add a little vanilla extract, a dash of milk and 3 heaped tbsp of cocoa powder. Mix togethe and spread into your cake tin. Cook at 180 on a fan assisted oven for about 30 minutes or until springy to touch. It doesn't matter what tin you bake it in as once it's cooked it will all be crumbled up.

Whilst the cake is cooking you can make the buttercream so that it has time to chill for a while in the fridge. Mix butter and icing sugar together along with some cocoa powder. Mix until you have a smooth and creamy buttercream. Once the cake is cooked and had time to cool, crumble it all up until it almost resembles breadcrumbs. If you don't want the crispier edges of the cake in the mix then cut them off before.

Making sure not to add too much, add a spoonful of the buttercream to the cake crumbs at a time. You don't want the mixture to be moist as the cake will probably quite moist already. You still want the texture to be a little crumbly but with the ability to hold it's shape.

Shape the mixture into rolled balls, if they are not holding their shape then you will need to add a little more buttercream to the mixture. Once all of the cake balls are ready, allow them to chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Melt your chocolate and dip your sticks about 1cm into it, then insert the sticks into the cake balls about half way through. Now you are ready to dip the cake balls in the chocolate. Make sure that the bowl with the melted chocolate is deep enough to completely coat the cake ball. You could use proper lollipop sticks but I didn't have any of those so I used halved kebab sticks instead, they worked just as well.

Whilst the chocolate is still wet you can decorate the cake pops with any sprinkles you like. I chose white chocolate stars and some chocolate crunchy balls. Once decorated, pop them in the fridge to let them set. You could spend a long time making them perfect and identical but I took more of a random approach by literally sprinkling the decorations on. My chocolate cake pops are far from perfect but they are rather yummy!

If you don't fancy the cake pops, why not try my Ultimate Chocolate Cake which I posted about a few months ago. Or do you have a better recipe for cake pops which I could try?


Friday, November 23, 2012

Canderel Green


As I have mentioned several times before I’m a big lover of tea and coffee but I have to add a little sweetness to it. For many years I’ve used Canderel tablets rather than sugar. Each tablet contains the equivalent sweetness of one teaspoon of sugar. The great thing about them is that they are calorie free, so for each teaspoon of sugar that you swap for a tablet you are saving yourself 20 calories. I’ve worked out that as I have around 3 tea or coffees a day, at 60 calories a day for sugar soon adds up. Over a week by using Canderel I’ve saved myself 420 calories.

A couple of month’s back I noticed the Canderel Green variety that is made with the sweet extracts of the Stevia Plant. The main difference between normal Canderel and the green variety is its ingredients. Whilst the normal ones are made with artificial sweeteners the green tablets are made with natural ingredients from the Stevia leaf. One thing that I really noticed the difference in was the taste. Just like Canderel it takes some getting used to but after a while I couldn’t really tell the difference. I now love my tea with Canderel Green, and knowing that it is made from natural extracts rather than artificial sweeteners makes it even better.

Canderel Green is also available in granule form which means you could sprinkle it over cereal or fruit rather than sugar, the granules contain 2 calories per teaspoon which is still a lot lower than sugar. Give it a go, but give it a chance.. I wasn't keen on it at first but I now use the tablets every day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ideal Home Show at Christmas

A few weeks back I recieved my daily email from groupon which I usually just delete without even reading. However after 100's of emails an offer finally caught my eye. 'Ideal Home Show at Christmas', I simply had to get it. The show ran from 14th-18th November at Earls Court, London. This year I visited the Ideal Home Show for the first time back in March and had a really great day. So the thought of the show mixed with the festive theme makes me very happy, I absolutely love Christmas!
If you buy your tickets from the website then you pay less than if you were to pay on the door. If I hadn't of got the offer from groupon then for my weekday ticket it would have cost £12/16.50. With the fantastic savings from groupon I saved 61%, for two tickets it only cost £12.50 and that included show guides and goody bags.

The show hosts over 600 exhibitors from various different fields including, home, fashion, technology and fashion. They also have 'Celebrity Ambassadors' who make appearances and do some demonstrations. These include the likes of Myleene Klass, Gino D'Acampo and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.  There was also a pop-up ice rink this year which is in partnership with ITV's Dancing on Ice, if you wanted a skating session you could pay extra for that. I gave the skating a miss, as my bad leg wouldn't allow it and I cannot skate to save my life. You wouldn't have seen me gliding across the ice like those on Dancing on Ice, I can assure you of that.

After hours off looking around the stalls we decided it was time for a break, we went for a lovely meal in Pizza Express which was a lot quieter and more relaxed than just buying food from a counter. There was also the Gregg Wallace Winter Restaurant, in which you can try a 3 course tasting menu.
We all bought some lovely items from the show, some great Christmas gifts too. The tickets were an absolute bargain and we had a really fab day out. It really gets you in the festive spirit, I can't wait to return next year!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Root Vegetable Soup

I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while now. It's a hearty soup that's full of flavour and is the perfect dish to warm you up on those chilly winter evenings.
1 Tbsp of oil
1 Large white onion diced
4-5 Parsnips peeled and diced
4-5 Carrots peeled and diced
2 Sweet Potatoes peeled and diced
2 Vegetable stock cubes made with 1 pint of water
Salt & Pepper to taste

It's so simple to make, cook the vegetables in the oil until they have slightly softened. Then add the stock and simmer on a low-medium heat for about 45 minutes. Blend until all of the chunks have gone. Depending on how you like the consistency of your soup, you can adjust it to your preferences. If you like your soup to be thinner,  simply add more water or if you like it thicker then don't put as much in.

For extra flavour and a bit of a bite I cut some bacon into little bits and lightly fried until nice and crispy. As this recipe makes quite a sweet soup I find that the bacon really balances the flavours and adds a great salty kick. I sprinkled the bacon bits on top of the soup, sliced some crusty bread and was ready to tuck in.

Enjoy x

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dirty Works Foot Scrub & Butter

For the past few weeks i've been using a foot scrub and a foot butter from the Dirty Works range which is available at Sainsbury's. My feet are constantly plagued with rough skin and cracked heels so I have to make sure to take care of them to keep them nicely smooth and soft. I decided to take a dual approach in the hope for gorgeous feet by using two different products from Dirty Works. The first of the two is the Sole Sister Foot Scrub, I use this whilst in the bath by massaging it onto my feet, focusing on the heels and balls of my feet. I also use a pumice stone to help get rid of any rough skin.

Once out of the bath and my feet are dried I use the Best Foot Forward Foot Butter and allow its to fully sink into the skin. If I am doing my feet just before bed then i'll make sure to apply even more of the butter and pop some socks on so that the butter has a chance to really sink in to the skin and work it's magic overnight. By the morning my feet are noticeably softer. It just shows how taking a little time to look after your feet by using two simple products can make a real difference. I now try to use these products 2-3 times a week to maintain smoother and softer feet.
The foot scrub is really lovely and has a nice fresh minty scent. The mint helps to cool, soothe and revive tired and aching feet whilst at the same time the scrub smoothes the skin. The foot butter contains one of my favourite ingredients, Shea butter. The gorgeous scent of the butter alongside it's moisturising qualities allow for super soft feet and a salon worthy pedicure at home for a fraction of the price. 
Best Foot Forward Foot Butter £2.99
Sole Sister Foot Scrub £2.99
You can also order them online from Sainsburys and get it delivered straight to your door with your groceries.
I'm becoming a really big fan of the Dirty Works range, they provide top beauty products at affordable prices, what girl doesn't want to be pampered?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nivea Express Hydration Primer

 Last week I bought the December issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and within there were a few different samples of products including the new DKNY Be Delicious Intense , Rimmel's new Match Perfection Foundation and the one that appealed to me the most which is the Nivea Daily Essentials Express Hydration Primer.

With some samples I'll often just put them in a drawer and not use them for ages, or maybe not at all. However I've had my eye on this primer for a while but haven't got round to buying it, so when I got the sample in the magazine I had to test it out straight away. I was so impressed with it that I had to go out and buy it the very same day!

Nivea Daily Essentials Express Hydration Primer has been designed to moisturise whilst perfectly priming the skin for make up application. You can choose the right primer depending on your skin type as it is available for both normal/combination and dry/sensitive skin.

I've only been using the product for a few days but I've already noticed how much of a difference it makes, it makes my skin feel fresh and hydrated all day long. After my usual morning skin care routine and after cleansing my face I apply the primer. It's a lovely light and smooth texture which immediately absorbs into the skin so you don't have to wait around, it allows you to apply your make up straight away. The primer not only creates a smooth base for make up but it also helps to keep it in place and looking radiant for longer.

Today I didn't wear any make up but I decided to still use the primer on it's own. The scent is light, fresh and cooling.  I love how this product has multiple uses, whilst being a primer it can also be used as a moisturiser. Even after such a short time it's quickly becoming one of my favourite products and a new essential part of my daily skin care routine. It's a great value product too, at under £5 it's an inexpensive essential to complete your make up bag!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

It's been quite a while since I've done a movie related post but I thought I'd let you know about a movie I watched earlier this evening. It's called 'Crazy, Stupid, Love.' and it's currently available to watch on Sky movies and On-demand. The film features an all-star cast including Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon.

The story is based on Cal (Carell) who's wife Emily (Moore) cheats on him and wants a divorce. As his life begins to unravel the gorgeous Jacob (Gosling) takes Cal under his wing and gives him a complete makeover and a different way of living life whilst playing the dating game. However there is just one thing that Jacob cannot change, and that's the love that Cal has for his wife. The film also follows Cal's son who has his own mission of love, as well as the ultimate player Jacob who moves from one woman to another.

Alongside the great heartfelt storyline there is a constant stream of humour throughout the movie. With some very funny moments this romantic comedy really is the whole package, the story of life and love. Also if your not a fan of these types of movies then you could simply watch it for the sheer enjoyment of Ryan Gosling, he's rather handsome in this movie.

I'll definitely be adding this movie to my DVD collection, it's a movie I could watch over and over again. A modern classic that I don't think has been recognised for the movie it is.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Tesco - My Senses

Today I'm writing about a range of shampoos and conditioners from Tesco. They are called 'My Senses'. I doesn't take a genius to notice that they are clearly copying the popular Herbal Essences products, the design, bottle shape and fruity scents are far from original.

I absolutely love the scents of Herbal Essences and up until a few years ago I would regularly use a variety of their shampoos and conditioners. However one day my hair suddenly wouldn't agree with them, making my scalp itchy and sore. I decided to try out these ones from Tesco in the hope that they would be similar to the Herbal Essences range but without the irritation to my scalp.

There are four different ranges to choose from, Colour Sanctuary, Miracle Moisture, Celestial Shine and Heavenly Body. Rather than getting both the shampoo and conditioner from the same range I chose the Miracle Moisture shampoo along with the Celestial Shine Conditioner. One great thing about these products is their price, they cost £1.65 for a 400ml bottle which is quite a bargain at over half of the price of Herbal Essences.

I was glad to find that they didn't cause any irritation on my scalp and it left my hair feeling smooth and well moisturised. However my own senses aren't reacting too well to this new line, personally I found that the scents of both the shampoo and conditioner were far too overpowering. I do like fruity scented products but I just found these to be a little too strong and almost sickly smelling.

If you're looking for a decent shampoo/conditioner on a budget or if you're keen on a strong fruity scent then I'd give it a go. But just a little tip to make sure you don't make the mistake I did, have a smell of them before you buy. I'm sure a lot of people will love these but I just couldn't get on with them.


Have you tried any of the Tesco 'My Senses' range, if so what did you think of them?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Special K Cracker Crisps

I am a savoury food lover, if I had to choose between a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar, the crisps would win everytime. Being somewhat of a picker, I'm always on the look out for different savoury snacks which I can enjoy without worrying about piling on any more weight. I usually look for snacks which are under 100 calories. I was pleased when I found the new Kellogg's Special K Cracker Crisps as they were under the calorie range I was looking for.  The crisps come in three different flavours, sweet chilli, sea salt & balsamic vinegar and sour cream & onion. Each 23g serving is equivalent to 21 crisps, both the sea salt & balsamic vinegar and the sour cream & onion are 95 calories for a 23g serving whilst the sweet chilli is one lower on 94 calories.
I like the sound of all three flavours but I decided to try the sweet chilli first. I love sweet chilli flavoured products as they aren't too hot with only a slight kick but plenty of flavour. The sweet chilli cracker crisps were tasty but very moreish...I just kept eating one after the other. I now make sure to put the 21 in a bowl and leave the rest in the kitchen so that I only eat the portion!

I'm looking forward to trying out both of the other flavours, especially the sea salt and balsamic vinegar.

Do you know any yummy and slightly healthy savoury snacks that I could try?x

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Radox Berry Burst


Today I thought I would tell you about the latest shower creams from Radox. There are three different scents available, these are Berry, Cherry and Coconut. I decided to try the Berry Burst, the first time I used it I wasn't too sure whether I liked it or not as it has quite an intense and strong fruity smell. It took some getting used to but it's growing on me and I'm really starting to like it. The texture is thicker than a shower gel and the milk within makes for a creamier consistency. Even with the smooth and soft cream it foams into a nice soapy lather. The thing I liked about this shower cream is that unlike many others, this one leaves my skin with a slight fruity scent for several hours after showering. I got mine on the introductory offer in Sainsbury's for 95p.