Monday, 29 April 2013

And the Winner is . . .

A year and a month since I started blogging, and it's time to draw the name of the lucky winner of my celebratory giveaway.

All the names went into a jar . . .
                                                      got swirled around . . .
                                                                                            and the Winner is . . .

Kelly B!

Congratulations Kelly! If you email me your address I will get your goodies packed up and posted as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading, everyone. There will be more giveaways in the future so don't feel too disheartened if you didn't get lucky this time. In the meantime I am working on the yarn guide Kathy suggested, and more recipes will be on their way too. And I haven't forgotten the baby banner, Shadow! If you have any other ideas or suggestions then feel free to get in touch.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Chicken Nachos Bake

How much do you love me?


Really? Is that all? Well, once you've tasted this dish, I think you might just bump me up the list a bit ;)

My son and I holidayed in Mexico a few years back, and the culture, folk art, and never-forgotten food has firmly embedded itself in my heart. It's not something I've cooked a lot of before ~ we tend to reminisce over the odd quesadilla, or an occasional trip to Chiquito's ~ but this dish has definitely kick-started a desire to explore this cuisine more in my own kitchen.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on the amazing Six Sister's Stuff. website, and boy does it tick all the boxes:

It's quick P
It's easy P
It's cheap P
It's flexible P
It uses leftovers P
It's a one-pot wonder P
It goes great with Merlot and / or beer! P

Chicken Nachos Bake
Serves 4 / 5
200g Tortilla Chips
400g can of Cream of Chicken Soup
300g jar Salsa
220g can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon Tex-Mex Seasoning
250g Cooked Chicken, shredded or roughly chopped
200g Grated Cheese
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4
Lightly grease a 9 x 13" dish (I used two 8 x 6" dishes)
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, soup, salsa, kidney beans and tex-mex seasoning.
Lightly crush the tortilla chips ~ you don't want to pulverise them, just make them a little smaller. 
Now start building the dish by layering as follows:
Bake for around 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
My son and I both LOVED this one! Neither of us like things too spicy so I used a mild salsa, but you can easily ramp it up by using a spicy hot salsa and maybe upping the tex-mex seasoning a little.
The ingredient quantities are pretty flexible too. I used more tortilla chips in mine as I split this into two smaller dishes to suit our smaller family. I also used a chicken and mushroom soup because that's what I had, this is a great dish to just go with the flow.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. And to put an extra smile on your face, here is a picture of us in Mexico with some semi-naked Mayans:

And don't forget there are still a few days left to enter my Blogiversary giveaway! Simply comment on the Blogiversary post to be in with a chance to win some homemade goodies. Closing date is 29th April so not long left!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Healthy Muffins

I've not been doing very well on my diet. To be honest, I fell off it ages ago. I lost about half a stone, then put it all back on again.


But I really must shed some weight. I'm not comfortable being this size, and I've gone and put my name down to do the Great South Run again, so I




But I can't do without cake, I simply can't! Luckily I have a recipe that will help, a healthy muffin packed full of goodness that will satisfy my cake cravings without doing too much damage.

100g Plain Flour
100g Wholemeal Flour
170g Demerara Sugar
100g chopped Walnuts
100g Sultanas
250g Carrots (approx. 3 medium)
1 Apple
2 large Eggs
125ml Low-fat Yoghurt (I just use whatever flavour I have in the fridge ~ today was apricot!)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4
Line a tin with fairy cake cases.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Grate the carrot and mix it well into the dry ingredients, then add the walnuts and sultanas.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yoghurt, and vanilla extract. Peel and core the apple then grate it into the egg mixture and give it a good stir.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined, it doesn't look like it will ever mix properly but don't worry, it will!
Fill each cake case with approx. 1 heaped tablespoonful of mixture and bake for approx. 25 mins.
This recipe makes 24 small muffins that are packed full of healthy ingredients and give a really satisfying bite, and they're only 119 calories each. If you want to make larger muffin-sized muffins then by all means do so, you'll need to increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes and obviously the calorie count will be doubled.
These muffins freeze well, and defrost in the microwave in about a minute on full power. Due to the incredibly low fat content (most of the fat is contained within the walnuts!) they do tend to stick to the paper cases but careful peeling deals with that nicely.
As with all my recipes, I've added the info to My Fitness Pal for those of you who like to count their calories.
Don't forget to comment on my blogiversary giveaway post to be in with a chance of winning a surprise goodie pack!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Blogiversary Giveaway!

Things have been quite manic here lately, but I've not forgotten my promise of a giveaway to mark my first Blogiversary. So far that offer has netted me a grand total of . . .
zero extra subscribers!
A combination of that sad news and the hectic-ness of life at the moment has caused me to delay the giveaway, but it will still happen! I have set a final date of 29th April ~ 1 year and 1 month from my first blog post ~ to draw a name from among my subscribers, even if there are no new names on that list. Here is a little sneaky peek at a couple of the contents of the giveaway:

A crochet frame and a scrubbly wash cloth. Other li'l bits will be added to the parcel too, but you gotta keep something as a surprise, right?

To be in with a chance of winning this giveaway, all you have to do is subscribe to follow my blog. Just click on the button on the right and follow the instructions (if you are having any trouble with this, please do get in touch, I'd like to know!) You will then get emails of my latest blog posts as they happen, and maybe a lovely surprise in the post too!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading the meandering posts I leave here. This past month seems to have mainly been about exhibitions doesn't it! Maybe we need some more recipes next? Or tutorials?
Hmmm, what would you like to see?

***Idiot's Edit***
It turns out I have followers I can't actually see! Spooky! Which has suddenly complicated this giveaway for a poor li'l technophobe like me!
So I'm hoping this rule-tweaking will make for a fairer chance for all of you, visible and invisible!
For a chance to win, simply comment on this post with suggestions for either what you like seeing in my blog, or what you would like to see here in the future. On 29th April I will note down every name, put them all in a hat, and draw one lucky name to win some homemade goodies.
Good Luck!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Going Underground ~ the culture continues!

Well it seems that this Easter break has been one long cultural experience! The latest exhibition I visited was at the London Transport Museum ~ Poster Art 150, 150 of their finest Underground Posters to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground.
Those of you who are avid readers may remember me mentioning my love of vintage travel posters in my post about the artist Daphne Padden. So I'm sure you can imagine how I was almost hyperventilating with joy as I wandered slowly around the displays. Each corner I turned brought a new delight, a fresh gasp of astonishment. The range of styles is astounding, from some incredible artists such as Mabel Lucie Atwell, Edward McKnight Kauffer, and Man Ray. 

This letterpress poster dates from 1886. I love the typography, and those fabulous Pythonesque pointing hands!
I adore this Russian Constructivist style. 
This was designed by textile artist Margaret Calkin, wouldn't you just love it as a tea towel?
Fabulous Flamingos, wish I could have seen them by floodlight!

Good advice!
 And as it was between 10 and 4, I bought the t-shirt of this one! I love the bold lines and colours, and I'm a big archery fan so how could I refuse!
There are SO many more beautiful posters I just didn't have room for, or get good shots of. The exhibition is on until 27th October so if you can get to London I really recommend it.
If you really can't get to the exhibition itself, there is a great book available from their online shop, and most of the posters are available to order as prints in a variety of sizes.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Cultural Eggstravaganza Continues

This Easter weekend has been a real cultural eggstravaganza (feel free to groan at the masterful way I combined both a cliché and a pun into a single word!)

After Good Friday's amazing London trip I spent a couple of recuperating days scoffing chocolate of various springtime shapes, before heading down to the local Aspex Gallery on Easter Monday. They are showing a small but perfectly-formed exhibition of Susanna Bauer's intricate work.

Susanna is a Cornwall-based artist who uses natural objects such as driftwood, stones and leaves which she then embellishes with the most painstakingly tiny and intricate crochet and stitching I have ever seen!

I can't imagine how many leaves she scrunched up in temper while working!

 And how on earth she managed to fill this block is beyond me!

It's times like this when I really berate my poor photography skills, but hopefully this has given you a tantalising taste of her amazing skills. You can see much more, and in much better detail, on her website, or at the exhibition itself, which runs 'til the end of April.