Friday 27 February 2015

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park
The weekend is nearly here and on Friday thoughts always turn to weekend plans. Who doesn't like to make the most of their days off? A good weekend for me consists of food, fresh air, doing something different and more food. 

I like to build up an appetite before I eat, so if I can combine some walking, fresh air and then lunch or dinner I am in my element. 

Crystal Palace Park (5 minutes walk from Crystal Palace Station) has been a love of mine for many year's, my parents used to take me there as a child. Many an hour was spent cycling around the lake and visiting their small farm and children's playground.

Crystal Palace Park
Viewing the dinosaurs which were often accompanied by my dad making realistic roaring sounds and frightening the bajebers out of me.  
Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park
I cannot wait to see what will happen to Crystal Palace Park with the new planned expansion, 7 star hotel and rebuild of the famous Crystal Palace Great Exhibition. 

I love the park all year round, as it changes with every season and with the development there will be lots of exciting changes to come. 
Crystal Palace Park
After a good hour or so walking around the park I like to venture up the hill to grab a bite to eat. 

Crystal Palace has some wonderful foodie offerings, personal favourites: 

Crystal Palace Market PlaceYou can read my earlier review here

Crystal Palace
The Exhibition Rooms:
Exhibition rooms
Ponte Nuovo:
Crystal Palace
Tamnag Thai:
Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace makes a wonderful weekend escape in which you can visit the park and have some yummy lunch. 

What makes up your perfect weekend?

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Monday 23 February 2015

Banana, Walnut and Almond Bread

Banana and Walnut Bread

Bananas have a mind of their own in our house. You can buy the greenest of bananas when doing the weekly shop and within two days they are all freckly and on their way out. Our house is a green to yellow cultivation centre. As a foodie I hate throwing food out, so if I can salvage it and make something from it then I will.

So with bananas in mind, when they have passed their best I now make banana, walnut and almond bread. It is easy to make and delicious with butter spread on it for a winter treat.

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:
Banana and Walnut cake
Banana and Walnut Bread
For the health conscious amongst us you can switch out the white flour for wholemeal or spelt flour, which is easier to digest and has less gluten. The sugar can be swapped out for agave nectar or honey. Remember if using agave nectar the cooking temperature will need to be reduced.

Preheat oven to 180c, if using a fan oven reduce to 160c and if using a gas oven use setting 3.

To prepare your 2lb loaf tin (23x13cm), you can line with parchment paper, or grease with a little butter. I personally prefer to use traditional loaf tin liners, they are great for transporting and serving the cake too.

Banana Bread
I have been waiting to use my new KitchenAid since Christmas and this seemed like the perfect excuse to get it out. 
Kitchen Aid
How gorgeous is this, I have so many things that I want to make and exciting recipes to share. 

Taking the light brown sugar and butter mix together slowly. For ease and to get an even mix I like to use the electric mixer. 
Banana and Walnut Bread
When mixed thoroughly add the eggs, a small amount at a time. 
Add your mashed bananas. 
Banana and Walnut Bread
When thoroughly mixed begin to add your sieved flour and baking powder by folding it into the mixture. Don't rush at adding the flour take your time.
Banana and Walnut BreadBanana and Walnut Bread
If you are adding nuts this is the time to add the walnuts and almonds to the mix. 
Banana and Walnut Bread
Add your vanilla extract at this point too. Make sure you buy a good quality Vanilla extract, essence is not the same. 
Banana and walnut Bread
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes. 
Banana and walnut bread
To test if the cake is ready use a skewer if it returns with no cake mixture your all done. Leave your cake to cool outside of the tin for twenty minutes.
Grab a seat, sit for a while and enjoy a nice slice of cake with a lovely cup of tea. 

What's your favourite cake? Any recipes that you want me to share on my next cooking post?

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Friday 20 February 2015

Homeware Lust List

Homeware haul
When I first moved out of my parents and into our house we purchased things gradually over time and little by little we had enough of the essentials that it began to feel like a home. 

Recently I have been craving homeware, mainly I think because the shops are full of beautiful kitchenware and with the British Bake Off around the corner I want to bake. 

So in today's post I thought I would share a kitchenware lust list and some of my favourite stores for purchasing beautiful homeware (Amara,
Dotcom giftstore, HintonsHome, HomeSenseHouseology and Sainsbury's). 



Red Nose day
Where do you buy your homeware goodies from?

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Monday 16 February 2015

Stoke Park Luxury Hotel and Spa

Stoke Park Hotel
I love London but sometimes we all need to get away from it all and have a little bit of peace and relaxation time. 

On Valentines Day I decided my other half needed a treat and what better way to spoil him than a luxury weekend break at Stoke Park Hotel and Spa in Buckinghamshire.

Driving through the gates of Stoke Park which is set in 300 acres of beautiful lakes and gardens, the grounds make quite the first impression. 
Stoke Park
Stoke Park
If your looking at the photo's above and thinking the grounds look familiar to you, that's because Stoke Park has starred in numerous movies Goldfinger, 

As we approach The Mansion House all I can think is what a beautiful building, the architecture is stunning. 
Stoke Park
The Mansion House looks like a grand stately home, housing 21 rooms all individually designed and beautifully adorned with art.  
Stoke Park
Stoke Park
All rooms are aptly named after historical connections to the estates history which is a lovely touch. The Mansion also houses three wonderful dining experiences for any foodie. 

Humphry's restaurant offers British fine dinning at it's best. The Orangery light meals and what looked like a wonderful and indulgent afternoon tea. San Marco offers guests a relaxed classic Italian meal.   

We decided to stay in The Pavilionthe newer hotel built in 2008, which houses the indoor swimming pool, Italian marble steam rooms, state of the art gymnasium facilities, tennis courts and offers 28 modern contemporary rooms.
Stoke park
Our room is wonderfully modern and we are greeted with a lovely bottle of chilled champagne ready to drink. The perfect way to start our Valentine's weekend.
Stoke Park
After unpacking we decide to head straight to the swimming pool for a quick dip before dinner. The pool is wonderfully bright with the most amazing fish tank taking centre stage.

Stoke Park
Stoke Park
I have to admit that I was a little taken aback by the number of children in the pool. Many of the spas I have visited previously have been adult only venues. But Stoke Park has dedicated splash times for children making it the perfect retreat for families too.  

They also have an exciting games room to keep the most hardened of teenagers amused.  
Stoke Park
After building up an appetite swimming around the pool, we ventured back up stairs to get changed for our Valentines dinner. 

Being aware that head chief Chris Wheeler has been at Stoke Park for ten year's and as a huge foodie I was expecting fantastic food and wow he didn't 
Stoke Park
Fine Dining
Stoke Park
Stoke Park
Even looking at these pictures are making me hungry. Highlights have to be the Sea Bass, Rack of Lamb and Fillet of Beef. 

We had an amazing weekend at Stoke Park, I can clearly see why the hotel has been awarded 'Five AA Red Stars'. The hotel offers exceptional service in beautiful surroundings. 

However, how can a foodie leave without a Sunday lunch? Well this one didn't and boy was it good.
Stoke Park
We will most definitely be back to sample that tempting afternoon tea and the beautiful spa treatments. 

Top Tips for the perfect stay:
Make sure you book a room overlooking the grounds. 

Book a spa treatment at the same time as making your hotel reservation, weekends get booked up quickly.

The afternoon tea looked amazing book in advance to guarantee availability.

Stoke Park
Park Road
Stoke Poges
Great Britain

Square Meal

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Friday 13 February 2015

Pancake Day

Pancake Day
This coming Tuesday will be Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday), and as it approaches it's a good excuse to try out some new recipes. Why bother going out for brunch in the wind and the rain when you can make your own at home in the warm. 

This week Debenhams kindly invited me to their pancake party. 
Pancake Day
I am pleased to share that there wasn't any pancake races in sight. The evening was in partnership with Breville and was all about taking the stress out of Shrove Tuesday.  

I love eating pancakes but I can never make them quick enough to cater for the hordes hunger. To succeed in making a lovely pancake, you have to get your batter just right. Too thick and they won't be light and fluffy; too thin and you'll be scraping it off the pan. 
Heating a small amount of butter or sunflower-oil in a frying pan, add a ladle of your batter. Leave for two to three minutes to cook and brown. With a spatula gently loosen the edges of the pancake in the frying pan. If you are feeling brave you can try to toss the pancake over (make sure it doesn't end up on the ceiling or floor), otherwise use the spatula to turn it over. Cook for the same amount of time and top with your favourite toppings. 

Want to make a batch of pancakes, heat the oven and leave it on the lowest temperature to keep the pancakes warm. 

My favourite savoury topping has to be BBQ pulled pork, Gruyere cheese and balsamic dressing. 
Pancake pulled pork
If your not so great at making your own don't worry Breville crepe maker is the perfect way to take the stress out of making them and best of all Debenhams currently has 33% off so at £20 it's a complete steal. 
Pancake Day
Here is me in action making one savoury and my favourite sweet pancake banana, strawberry and Nutella. 
Thank you to the lovely Katie for taking the pictures of me in action. I had a really fun time trying out new recipes, thank you Debenhams and Breville.  

What's your favourite pancake topping? 

Stuck for ideas for Tuesday have a look at the Breville recipes below to give you some inspiration. 

Have fun and share your pictures on Twitter and Instagram. 


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