Skittles Vodka Wedding Favours

Skittles Vodka

I got married last year and one of the most fun parts of the preperation was making the favours! I wanted something food related but as we were already having a sweet buffet and wedding cake already, anything sweet related felt a bit overkill. Neil and I love cocktails (even our tables were named after our favourite drinks) so we decided to make some skittles vodka for our guests to enjoy.

 

Skittles Vodka

You will need –

70cl bottle of vodka (or more if you want to make more then one colour)

1 bag of skittles

 

Buy a large bag of skittles and sort into colours.

Pour yourself a large drink of vodka so you have enough room to add the skittles to the bottle. Add your chosen colour skittles to the bottle and give a good shake (Do not mix colours unless you want a sludge brown!)

Leave for a few days shaking occasionally.

Using a funnel and some filter paper decant the vodka into a jug, You may have to do this a few times to get rid of all the small skittles pieces.

Pour into your bottles and seal tightly.

 

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Although they are yummy and fruity it is still obviously almost pure vodka so I’d recommended serving with lemonade.

This can also make a great present! Just pour into a vintage bottle and if you’re feeling extra fancy seal with some wax and add a cute label. A super easy homemade gift! xxx

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Screw the chicken soup …. retro cupcakes for the soul.

 

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After a taxing few days at work, I came home tonight feeling a little deflated instead of the usual Friday buzz. Feeling a bit mopey and sorry for myself I decided to make my go to recipe which takes no real thought or effort ….cupcakes! This is the most basic recipe but it works a treat, they always come out light, fluffy and moist and you can mix it up by adding chocolate, nuts, dried fruit or anything you want. Today I just went with plain cupcakes, white icing and hundreds and thousands. After 30 minutes of therapeutic baking all is right with the world again.  🙂

Classic Cupcake Recipes (Makes 6 – 9 Depending on the size of your cases)

120g good quality unsalted butter (softened in the microwave if necessary)

120g caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

120g self raising flour

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.  Beat it like crazy to get as much air in as possible.

Stir in the eggs with a little flour so the mixture doesn’t split.

Add the vanilla extract and baking powder, stir well making sure everything is well combined.

Add the flour and fold in gently. Do not over mix or you will end up with cakes like bricks!

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases. My best ever purchase was a spring release ice cream scoop that I use to get perfectly even cupcakes! Fill the scoop, flatten with a knife then release the mixture into the case.

Bake for 17 minutes or until the tops are golden brown in colour. Check they are fully cooked by pushing a knife into the middle of a cupcake. If it comes out clean with no cake mixture stuck they are done.

Leave to cool on a wire rack. Don’t decorate until fully cool (although obviously you may need to test one still warm with a cup of tea at this point 😉 )

Make up the icing sugar with water as instructions on the box. You want a nice thick paste like consistency. Pour the hundreds and thousands onto a plate.

Now the most fun part! Dip your cupcakes into the icing and twist to fully coat. Spread the icing evenly with a knife then dip into the hundreds and thousands.

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Enjoy xxx

Worth the wait? Willie’s Cacao Chocolate!

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I can still remember sitting in my first year flat at uni watching a program about a eccentric English guy who’s ambition it was to make the best chocolate in the world. He travelled to Venezuela in search of the finest cacao beans and his brand ‘Willes Cacao” was born. My flat mates and I really enjoyed the program and I remember laughing at him putting chocolate into every recipe he made (although now I’m with him on that one!). I saw his brand in a store not long after but being on a student budget and preferring to save my money for shots and lager I never tried any and forgot all about the program. So it was a lovely blast from the blast to find a bar in my flavourly box delivered this month! A 50g Ginger & Lime Cuban Baracoa 65%.

Fast forward 6 years and I now consider myself a bit of a chocolate connoisseur ;). Having worked in a high end chocolate shop for nearly 2 years I have tried lots of different chocolates and can even recognize some single origin chocolate just by tasting. So here is my review of Willies Cacao!

Appearance – The packaging is a lovely box with an expensive looking design but in my opinion a bit excessive for a 50g bar. Willie’s Cacao logo is engraved on the chocolate and looks premium. Good shine to the chocolate and no bloom at all.

Aroma –  (Best to smell your choccie just after you snap it) The ginger overpowers any aroma of the chocolate at first but then you do get a rich, fruity chocolate smell coming through.

Snap – Good Snap, especially considering the thickness of the chocolate bar.

Taste  – (when tasting dark chocolate it is always best to take a piece and let it melt in your mouth to taste it properly. This may sound really pretentious and over the top but by doing this the cocoa butter melts in your mouth and lets you taste all the amazing flavours. If you just guzzle it down dark chocolate can just taste bitter and flavourless).

Really smooth obviously high quality chocolate. A very fruity chocolate which tastes of berries initially then the lime oil comes in followed by the ginger. The aftertaste left is the fiery ginger and the chocolate has a really good finish.

Overall – I’m happy to say I’m not disappointed at all. Delicious chocolate that works well with the ginger and lime pairing without being over powered. The rest of his range is on my to try list!

Dans Le Noir?

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Well first of all apologies for the lack of posting this week. I have started a new job and been full of cold so the evenings have been spent eating chocolate feeling sorry for myself. Normal service to resume from now on!

Alphabet dating continued this weekend and it was my turn to choose the ‘D’ date. I went for a restaurant I’d heard about called Dans Le Noir.  It is no ordinary restaurant and fits in with ‘D’ perfectly as you ‘dine in the dark’, and dark means dark! It is totally pitch black and you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The waiting staff are all blind or partially sighted and in a role reversal guide you through the experience.

You have a seat in the bar where you choose out of 4 menus, Vegetarian, fish, meat or ‘surprise’. We went for the surprise with a cocktail. Our guide and waitress Winnie (who was amazing) then came and met us and brought us into the restaurant. To find your table you have to put your hand on her shoulder and she guides you to your table. It is definitely a nerve wracking as you genuinely can not see a thing, but once you are sat down, although your eyes do not adjust you definitely do and I felt very relaxed. We shared a table with another couple that were half way through their meal. This added to the experience as we really enjoyed the conversation and it is fun to chat to people having no idea what they look like!

I’m not going to describe the food into much detail as it will ruin the surprise for anyone planning on visiting the restaurant but it was all lovely, with some unusual surprises. It is however a massive challenge to eat! I tried my best with the cutlery but used my hands more, and even that was difficult!

At the end of the meal you are guided out of the restaurant and back to the ‘lit lounge’ were you are shown pictures of the meal you just had. I think we guessed about 40% of the meal correctly (the pudding and cocktail are by far the easiest to guess). We then had coffees in the lounge and both agreed we had a fantastic time. I was massively surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience as I thought it would be interesting but not something I would like to repeat, however I would definitely go back again!

Dans Le Noir gets 4 Fletchie stars ****

Canvas by Michael Riemenschneider

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Alphabet dating continued last night and it was Neils turn to pick the ‘C’ date. I was told to dress smart/casual and we headed to London. A short walk from Oxford street and we arrived at Canvas by Michael Riemenschmeider. It is a newly opened restaurant (January this year), which has already received rave reviews for the excellent food and interesting take on a tasting menu. The idea is you can pick your own tasting menu, the number of courses and the dishes.  We went for the 7 course menu for £70 per person. You are spoilt for choice with the menu, so it took us a while to decide but in the end we went for the following dishes (Apologies for the picture quality – or lack of it!).

Amuse Bouche – Cheese muffin with smoked bacon and warm brussel sprout soup with parmesan foam.

The muffin was amazing! (I am going to try and make similar myself) and the brussel sprout soup tasted better than it sounds!

Cheese muffin with smoked bacon.

Cheese muffin with smoked bacon.

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Brussel sprout with parmesan foam.

Scallop with cucumber – Horseradish & Yogurt – radish

I have never tried raw scallops before so I was a little concerned I would find them overpowering when they came out cold. I thought they tasted lovely though and worked well with the pickled cucumber and horseradish.

Scallops with cucumber, horseradish, yogurt and radish.

Scallops with cucumber, horseradish, yogurt and radish.

Langoustine with pearl barley, veal and jus crustace.

This was my favourite dish. The pearl barley with veal had an amazing earthy flavour, which complemented the langoustine perfectly. The picture does it not justice at all it was incredible!

Langoustine with pearl barley, veal and jus crustace.

Langoustine with pearl barley, veal and jus crustace.

Cod with lentils, pancetta and spatzle.

This was a contender for Neils favourite dish! The cod was great and the lentils and bacon complemented it with a subtle salty taste.

Cod with lentils, pancetta and spatzle.

Cod with lentils, pancetta and spatzle.

Pork hock and belly with apple and cider.

Although this was maybe the least attractive of the dishes (the belly does look a bit like a fish finger) it was by no means the least tasty. The pork was tender and very flavoursome.

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Pork, hock and belly with apple and cider.

Beef with carrots and pomme puree.

Top quality ingredients prepared to perfection.

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Beef with carrots and pomme puree.

 Pre dessert – mandarin and red pepper mousse.

This is the only part of the menu that didn’t work for me. The slightly bitter red pepper mousse totally overpowered the mandarin mousse, which was a lot more pleasant to taste.

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Pre dessert – mandarin and red pepper mousse.

Lemon with caramel, cream and olive oil.

Light, fresh and gorgeous.

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Lemon with caramel, cream and olive oil.

Chocolate 7 ways with pineapple and coconut.

I loved this but Neil found it a bit rich. Definitely one for the more hardcore chocolate fans!

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Chocolate 7 ways with pineapple and coconut.

Petit fours.

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Petit fours.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant! The food was excellent and the portions were a perfect size so you could enjoy the full menu. There is a nice cosy ambience and the staff are friendly and attentive. I will definitely be visiting again!

Canvas gets 4 Fletchie stars ****

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

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Well as the title of this post suggests the diet isn’t going overly well.  I saw online Godiva are doing a competition in which you can enter your chocolate recipes. I’ve had an idea to make something along these lines for ages after seeing a triple berry cheesecake in the amazing Peggy Porschen boutique cookbook, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a go. Hey if I’m going to cheat I might as well cheat properly!  Salads resume tomorrow, but for the moment enjoy this recipe! It is very easy to make and can be made ahead if you have friends coming round. I used 2 cooking rings which made 2 very generous cheesecakes (1 cheesecake is big enough for 2 people to share). You could use smaller rings or give it a go in a muffin tray to make mini versions.

Ingredients

100g chocolate cookies (I used Tesco Finest)

25g unsalted butter

75g milk chocolate

75g white chocolate (and a little extra to drizzle over the top for decoration)

150g cream cheese

150g ricotta 

Super easy method

Crush the cookies to crumbs. Melt the butter and mix together.

Press the cookie and butter mix  firmly into the bottom of your cooking ring or tin (if your using cooking rings place on a baking tray first). Place in the fridge while you prepare the next layers.

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 Break up the white and milk chocolate into separate bowls. Melt in the microwave taking care not to burn. Leave to cool slightly.

Mix together the ricotta and soft cheese beating well. Spoon half the cheese mixture into the melted milk chocolate and the other half into the melted white chocolate.

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Take the cookie bases out of the fridge. Spoon the white chocolate mixture onto the bases and smooth the top flat.

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Then spoon the milk chocolate layer on top and smooth across with a palate knife.

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About an hour before serving I melted some white chocolate, left to cool slightly then drizzled across the cheesecakes whilst still in the rings.

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To serve place the mould on a plate and carefully run a palate knife around the edge. Once you have broken the seal you should be able to life mould off easily.

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D Day – Diet Day!

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My mantra is the good old 80/20 rule. You know the one,  you eat clean, wholesome foods 80% of the time then indulge in the odd chocolatey and cakey treat. I have been following this recently but unfortunately with the food groups reversed. My staple diet has been 3 course restaurant meals, take aways and lots of treats whilst I’ve had the odd bit of fruit and veg but just enough to stop me getting scurvy. The wake up call came in full force on Monday morning when I had a go on my husbands fancy new digital scales that measure body fat. I was 40%! I’m pretty sure that’s the same as a crisp! I have the same fat content as a bit of potato that’s has been fried in oil whoops! So on Monday D day arrived – diet day! The plan is pretty simple. Here’s my 2 week plan!

Drink lots of water.

Smoothies/shakes for breakfast and lunch.

Healthy clean meals for dinner under 600kcal.

Snacks: fruit, nuts, vegetables, popcorn.

After 2 weeks I will relax a little and have the shakes just for breakfast and have a healthy lunch.

So far its been going pretty well. I had a killer headache on Monday which I think was basically my body going into shock at the lack of crap in my system. I really felt like baking this afternoon but made a healthy drink (recipe below) and started marinating chicken for a low calorie curry this evening (If its any good I will post the recipe tomorrow).

Virgin Strawberry, Lime & Mint Mojito Detox Drink

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I made this ‘mocktail’ this afternoon as it was a lovely sunny day and I felt like a mojito! Obviously as soon as I made it the sun went in but it didn’t stop me enjoying it! It tastes amazing and is healthy and clean. It doesn’t taste very strongly of strawberry although it does make it look very pretty. Next time I don’t think I would bother with making the strawberry puree (it’s the only bit which is a bit of a faff) and make a more traditional virgin mojito!

Ingredients

4  large strawberries, chopped (about 100g)

50ml water

2 sprigs of mint leaves

½ tsp truvia

1 lime

1 x 500ml bottle of sparkling spring water

How to mock up your Mojito

Boil the strawberries and water together in a pan for about 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to squash the strawberries  until you get a mushy puree.

Push the puree through a sieve so you have a thick liquid with no large pieces.

Cut the lime in half, slice the first half and put aside. Squeeze the other half into the bottom of your glass.

Add the mint leaves and truvia and ‘muddle’ together (Just give it a really hard mix, its important to do this so you get the flavour of the mint in the drink).

Add the spring water and the slices of lime.

Enjoy 🙂 xxx