I hope you'll join me in creating memories and sharing the passion of experimentation.

Anything goes, but food, sewing, hosting and DIY are my favourites, what are yours?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pulled Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe has evolved over the umpteen number of times I've made it, and it always delivers. I think I've perfected it now, and this meal makes me want to open a mexican 'grab and go' restaurant every time I make it....oh the possibilities of streamlining this dish....anyway, back to the recipe.

Time Saver: This comfort dinner can be made in around 50 minutes, which includes 20 minutess in the oven. 30 minutes in the kitchen for a special dinner like this isn't too bad in my eyes. I hope you agree :)

These are the rough proportions I use, however play around with the ingredients to find your 'perfect enchilada'

400g Pulled Cooked Chicken (TIP: use left overs from a roast) or 2 large fresh chicken breasts chopped into strips
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Large Onion
1/2tsp Chilli Powder
1/2tsp Paprika Powder
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
1tsp Cumin Powder
6 Flour Wraps
1/2tbsp Corn Flour (Optional)
Sour cream (I use around 2tbsp in total)
Cheese, grated (I use around 100g of mild cheddar)
Tomato Ketchup....the secret ingredient (about 1tbsp)

1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 Fresh Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 x 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Fresh Thyme

Serving: Makes 6 enchilladas, which will serve around 4 people

1) First start your salsa off, as this will need to reduce as you cook the other ingredients, heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add your chopped onion and stir occasionally until softened.
2) Add your garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add fresh tomatoes and stir for another few minutes.
3) Add the rest of the salsa ingredients (tinned tomatoes and herbs). Season it to taste.
4) Now leave the salsa to simmer, stirring occasionally whilst you make the rest of the meal. It should reduce so that most of the liquid disappears.

5) Chop your peppers and onion into long thin strips. The easiest way to do this with an onion is to cut the onion in half from top to bottom, peel, cut off the stem end (the longer one), and then slice all the way across until you get down to the bottom of the onion. Voila, long thin strips of onion!

6) Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the onions and peppers and conintue to stir over medium heat until they have softened and start to brown. They should turn glossy.

7) Whilst the peppers and onions are cooking, mix your spices into the chicken TIP: If you're using fresh chicken breasts, add a little corn flour as well, as this will help the spices stick to the chicken.

Don't forget to stir your salsa!!

8) Heat a little more oil in your frying pan and then add the chicken. If you're using raw chicken breasts you'll need to cook this for around 12 minutes, but if you're using cooked pulled chicken you'll just need to warm it through, around 4 minutes.
9) Add your peppers and onions back to the frying pan and mix them up with the chicken. Fry together for a few minutes.

Time to put everything together!

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees fan)
11) TIP: Sprinkle flour in the bottom of a large serving dish - it helps the wraps to come out easily as it absorbs some of the moisture.

12) Arrange your wraps in the serving dish next to each other.

13) Now divide your pepper/chicken mixture between the wraps, spreading it out along the length of the wrap.

14) Your salsa should now look something like this...

15) Add a small spoon full of salsa in to each wrap, spreading it out over the pepper/chicken mixture. You should use aboute a third of the salsa.

16) Dollop a couple of small teaspoons of sour cream into the wraps.

17) Fold the ends of your wraps over each other, locking the ingredients inside.

If the ends of the wraps end up falling over the top of the next wrap along, tuck it down into the gap - it'll make it easier to separate the wraps once their cooked.

18) Spread the remaining salsa over the top of the wraps, keeping the ends flat.

19) Secret ingredient time - Ketchup! Squeeze some over your salsa. It's SO good and adds a little sweetness to the meal. YUM!

20) Sprinkle over your cheese.

21) Place in the oven for 20 minutes, until cheese has browned slightly.

Serve and enjoy (the most difficult step is getting the first enchilada out...I'll leave that one to you - if you find any ingenius methods to do it, please do let us know, I'm still not sure haha).

Why not try making veggie enchiladas; swapping the chicken for refried beans. Or swap the chicken for beef? Anything goes. Share your favourites :)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Feature chimney breast

I admit, when I opened this from Josh on Christmas Day I wasn't exactly sure what it was...the only thing I knew was that he'd been hiding himself away in the loft making it for hours.

All became clear when I laid it out on the floor...

I'd wanted a big map to pin favourite holidays and plan adventures on, but I never imagined that he'd make me one from cork floor tiles!

The boards had a backing, which peeled off to reveal a sticky back, like double sided sticky tape

He pinned the boards to the wall and projected an image on to them so that it could be drawn straight on to the boards. Taking a stanley knife, the image was cut out carefully, and this was the result.

When I realised what it was I was so excited :) I couldn't wait to go home and put it up. The sticky backing made it really simple to put on the wall too.

Try it yourself, or maybe try something slightly different; how about a big map of the UK and plan  adventures closer to home? Oh, and don't forget to share your creations!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Calling all budding seamstresses... hiya

My discovery of the month has to be the StyleARC website. It's an Australian based company which sells unique, fashionable and easy to use sewing patterns. It ticks all the boxes.

The site is updated every month, and has some really lovely designs, one of which was mentioned in my wrap dress post - the Kate Dress, i.e. THE blue engagement Kate Middleton Dress. We all know that's a worthwhile purchase!

The patterns also come on paper (newspaperish thickness), not that annoyingly easy to tear tissue which you'll find in most pattern packets: Absolute bonus!

Some of my other favourites are:

                  Layla Dress                                                                                         Felicity Blouse                                                                                            Paris Dress

TIP: Make sure you check your measurements on the size chart because this isn't a British Website, and the sizes differ to a little to ours.

I really love this website; sewing our own clothes is a lovely way to get the most out of our figures and skin tone. You can choose the colours and styles that suit you and adapt where necessary - which isn't easy to do with things you find in the shops. Plus, when people ask you "where did you get that?" you'll feel an incredible amount of pride saying "I made it".

I urge you to give it a go, try something simple first (how about the Olivia Dress), and if you have any sewing questions please get in touch.

I can see myself draining my bank balace very quickly! We need some more businesses like this in the UK...any budding pattern designers up for the challenge?! Although, lucky for us StyleARC can post you your patterns all over the world, so we can have the pleasure of enjoying some Australian talent too!

Don't believe my overly excited post? Check it out for yourself :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday (sewing) Treats - Wrap Dress

I don't know about you guys, but today was the first time I didn't feel like my fingers and toes were going to fall off the moment I even thought about the outside. The sun was out - and I almost felt warm for a while.

This MUST mean SPRING IS HERE (I don't want to hear any 20th March rubbish). Prime time to whip out the wrap dress I made last year.

Wrap dresses are really quite simple to make once you know your way around a sewing machine. Once you've had a go at a couple of simple cotton dresses, give a wrap dress a try. Only a few different pattern pieces are used and you don't have to be too exact with your cutting and sewing; the nature of the dress and material is quite forgiving.

For someone who has a couple of sewing projects under their belt, I would say this type of dress would take you about 6 hours, so a perfect 'Sunday Treat' activity or 2 evening's work. Pretty efficient I'd say!

TIP: I have since made this dress for a friend as a birthday present - why don't you give it a go; a lovely handmade present :) I knew her rough dress size, but didn't worry too much about sizing, as you wouldn't notice if it was a slight bit too big or small. Perfect! Maybe she'll be willing to put a picture of her wearing it up here...hint hint ;)

I have recently been bought some lovely blue jersey fabric which i'm going to make another wrap dress out of. This time i'll make a short sleeve version, perhaps experimenting with lace trim. I'll post some pictures up here when I've finished. Wish me luck!

TIP: Try experimenting with lightweight and heavyweight jersey materials. This one is a very lightweight jersey, with only a little stretch in it. I recommend starting with a jersey with only a small amount of stretch if you're new to the sewing world.

Some good Wrap Dress patterns are listed below (I've listed their original source, but have a search on the internet for British suppliers of the patterns. There's plenty out there - just type in the pattern code into a your search bar):
Vogue V8379
McCall M5974
Butterick B5206
StyleARC - Kate Dress
- I can't recommend highly enough Lisa Comfort's 'Sew Over It' Ultimate Wrap Dress course. You'll come away with a wrap dress pattern, one completed wrap dress and a whole heap of new knowledge and skills. The teachers will help you at every stage, and are so welcoming - all you need to do is choose your fabric and book a place on the course. Plus you get cake and tea whilst you sew, what more could you ask for? I love it there!

Send me some pictures of your completed wrap dresses and feel free to ask any questions. Sunday Love x x x

Friday, 15 February 2013

Pinny of the Month

February's pinny of the month award goes to......

Gillian Kyle Ltd's Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Pinny!
Gillian Kyle does some really lovely Scottish themed items including aprons (of course), tea towels, mugs and lots more :)

Plus, a real selling point for me is that they are made from Organic Cotton: Thanks Gillian! Find out why this is so important on her website.

Seriously, who could possibly turn down a Tunnock Caramel Wafer?? I am a huge fan of both the wafer's and this pinny; it's fun, it's bright, it's everything you want from a kitchen aid and snack. Who wants a boring pinny?!?

Oh, now i'm hungry for caramel wafers

Go and check out this and all her other pinny's here!! Enjoy.

Don't forget to let me know your favourite pinny's :)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Quick 'in the cupboard' desert ... Treacle Tart

I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm cooking dinner, and yet all I can think about is how I don't have anything in the house for desert. This, by the way, is a disaster for me because I have to finish off every meal with something sweet!

Whilst dashing about the kitchen looking for something, anything to throw together, all I could find were bags and bags of porridge oats that I usually use for homemade granola. A brain wave hit me ... Treacle Tart!

This is a great desert to use up little bits and pieces from the kitchen; you don't need many ingredients, it's quick and yet it really hits the spot after a weekday dinner.

TIP: Don't worry too much about exact measurements here, just chuck in what you have
- 30g Molasses, if you don't have any brown sugar will be just fine
- 350g Golden Syrup (use up one of those 1994 tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup that is definitely sitting at the back of your cupboard)
- 80g Breadcrumbs - the best way to make breadcrumbs is to whizz some stale bread in a food processor, but if you don't have one, toast some bread very slightly and break it up into really small pieces
- 90g Porridge Oats
- 2 Eggs (free range please guys - poor ol' chickens)
- 1 Lemon, zest and juice
- 250-500g Shortcrust Pastry, depending on how thick you want the pastry to be, and frankly - how much you have in your fridge

1) Grease a tart tin, around 20 cm, but again it doesn't really matter - it just depends how thick you want  your tart to end up. Preheat oven to 160 degres (fan oven)
2) Roll out your pastry and then place in your tin, pushing it into the edges and pricking the base a few times. Trim the excess. Place in the oven for around 12 minutes until the pastry begins to turn golden. You can put some greaseproof paper and baking beans on top to hold the pastry down if you have some... don't worry if not
3) Whilst your pastry is cooking; in a pan gently heat the molasses and golden syrup for 4 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, porridge oats and breadcrumbs, leaving a small amount of porridge oats behind. Stir, to combine all of the ingredients
4) Take off the heat, and leave for a couple of minutes. Then stir in the eggs
5) Remove your pastry from the oven and pour in your mixture
6) Sprinkle the left over porridge oats on top
7) Place back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes
8) The tart can now cook away whilst you enjoy your dinner :) When you're done, take the tart out, leave to cool for a few minutes and then serve.

I served mine with some raspberry sorbet which needed using up - possibly a strange combination, but well... I liked it

TIP: You can tweak this recipe as you like. It may not be the most prestigious treacle tart, but I don't really think this matters for this type of desert.

Enjoy :) Oh, and if you can beat my 1994 tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup - do let me know!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Freddie and Delilah...all grown up

The time came a few weeks ago to let Freddie and Delilah have a proper 'big ducks' swim in a 'big ducks' pond. So, on a very cold Saturday morning, 7 layers of clothes went on, and we embarked on digging a 'big ducks' pond hole...

...2 hours, umpteen wheelbarrow loads of soil and several spirit-level assessments later we had a perfect hole (ish). Apparently making a hole level when the ground is on a slop already is pretty difficult, not to mention the fact that the two end of the ponds had different depths...

...they were a bit nervous to start with...

...needless to say, once they got in they loved it...

...but Freddie did get stuck upside down a few times...

...they even learnt how to fly out!

They proceeded to repeatedly miss bedtime for the next week, refusing to leave their new haven; which resulted in a few late night trips down the garden to encourage them in to bed with the chickens. Cheeky twosome. Love them!!! x x x x

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday Treats - Honey Oat Bread

I've said it before but Sunday really is a great day for making bread; it's relaxing, stress relieving and smells heavenly. Treat yourself to Sunday!

Homemade bread can sometimes taste a bit like 'homemade bread'; a taste some people love (me included), but I get it, sometimes you just want some indulgent, sweet, store bought white bread. This Honey Oat Bread is my version of just that - but without all of the unnatural sugars, preservatives and chemicals.

Time Saver: Try using a break maker for this recipe instead for a full proof way to achieve great results. Plus you can start it off and then leave it whilst you get on with your other Sunday jobs, whilst enjoying the smell of freshly baked bread. Follow your owner's manual, but if you've lost it - add warmed liquid ingredients first, leaving the yeast until last. Don't forget to add the warmed honey and sprinkling of oats once the dough has risen in your machine (about 1 hour before end of cycle).

530g white bread flour
80g rolled oats uncooked
250ml milk
125ml water
3tbsp butter
100g honey
1.5tsp salt
7g dried yeast

For topping
2tbsp honey
2tbsp oats

Serving: 1 medium size loaf or 8 rolls


1) Gently heat milk, water, butter and honey - then pour into a large mixing bowl

2) Add all of the dry ingredients in to the bowl, omitting half the flour, and stir to combine all ingredients. Leave for 5 minutes, or until mixture begins to look spongey... That's the yeast doing its thing.

3) Gradually stir in the rest of the flour. Time to get messy - get your hands in the bowl, making sure all ingredients are well mixed.

4) The mixture will probably be a little sticky - this is perfect. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough. Knead knead knead for at least 10 minutes. If it's still sticky after this, add a little more flour and water if it's too stiff.

5) Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1- 1.5 hours, until dough has doubled in size. TIP: On top of a boiler is great for this, or in an airing cupboard.

TIP: Now get on with your daily jobs and start looking forward to some lovely lunch time sandwiches with home made bread!

6) Knock back (punch the air out). Then place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle the width of your loaf tin. It should be about 1cm thick. Roll up the dough tightly and place in lightly oiled loaf tin. Cover, and leave in a warm place for 1-1.5hr, until dough has doubled in size.

TIP: Time for some more chores. What a productive morning you're having!

7) Preheat your oven to 190degrees (170degrees fan). Gently warm the honey for the topping, and pour over the top of the loaf. Sprinkle with the topping oats.

8) Cook for 45minutes until beautifully golden. Take out of oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack. YUM!!!

9) Enjoy your home made, just sweet enough, touch of 'store bought' loaf of bread. If you've got any suggestions, please let me know!

TIP: Why not try making some rolls instead of a loaf. After the first rising period, break up into small balls and place on a greased baking tray. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1hour. Then cook in a preheated oven (170degrees fan) for 30-40minutes. Mmm rolls with soup for work :)

Sunday love x x x