I thought I would share with you some recipes I used to make afternoon tea recently. My menu was made up of roasted red pepper shots, feta and ricotta pastry swirls, sandwiches, scones, lemon cupcakes and balsamic berry chocolate mousse. I was in a bit of a panic the night before, wondering if I would be able to make everything on time but it actually worked out ok. I made the red pepper shots and chocolate mousse the night before but managed the rest in about 3 hours the next day, with some help on the sandwiches.
Roasted red pepper shot – This recipe came from the BBC Good Food website. You basically just add all of the ingredients to one pot and then blend it once cooked. Nice and easy and you can keep it in the fridge overnight or even freeze it if you want to be extra prepared.
Feta and ricotta pastry swirls - These were a last minute addition to the menu. I mixed some leftover feta, ricotta, spinach and spring onions in a bowl and then spread it over some ready made puff pastry. Then I rolled it up and cut it into slices about 2cm thick. These went into the oven for about half hour and were served warm.
Sandwiches – These were pretty simple. We did some cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches and some turkey salad and cranberry sandwiches. I had a bread maker for my birthday a few months back so used that to make some fresh bread.
Scones – I used a Delia recipe for these. This was actually the first time I had made scones and was happy to find that they are pretty easy to make. We served them warm from the oven with clotted cream and raspberry jam. I will definitely be making these again!
Lemon cupcakes – This isn’t the exact recipe I used (mine came from a book I have) but it is almost exactly the same. The only difference is that I grated some lemon zest into the icing and also the juice of about half a lemon.
Balsamic berry chocolate mousse – This recipe came from a book I was given for my birthday a few years ago. Chococo is the perfect recipe book for chocolate lovers and, as well as this delicious mousse recipe, it also contains some amazing cakes and biscuit recipes and teaches you how to make chocolate truffles.
My attempt at banoffee cupcakes didn’t go exactly to plan and I ended up with banana and fudge cupcakes instead. They still tasted pretty good so here is the recipe if you want to have a go. They do take longer to make than average cupcake recipes due to making the toffee (or fudge) from scratch so aren’t the ones to make when you’re short on time!
250 g unsalted butter
250 g caster sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed
250 g self-raising flour
250g unsalted butter
550g icing sugar
9 tsp caramel, plus some extra for decoration
300 g caster sugar
80 ml water
350 ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and put your cases in the tin. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes or 12 muffin sized cakes.
2. To make the cakes, beat the butter for a minute or so and then beat in the sugar until it becomes pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs gradually.
3. Stir in the mashed banana.
4. Gently fold in the flour.
5. Separate into the cake cases and put in the oven for around 20 minutes.
6. To make the caramel, heat all the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat and stir until it thickens. This is where I went wrong. I left the pan without stirring it which meant that the caramel over-thickened and turned out more like fudge once it had cooled.
7. To make the icing, beat the butter until it is creamy and then gradually beat in the icing sugar. I like to use an electric whisk as it makes the icing really fluffy! Lastly add the caramel. Even if your caramel ends up thick and crumbly like mine, you can still mix it into the icing and it will taste just as good! Add a tiny bit of milk if your icing needs thinning for piping, or just swirl the icing onto the cakes using a knife.
8. Decorate with the leftover caramel / fudge.
Lush has so many lovely products but this Popcorn Lip Scrub is one of my favourites. It is made from sugar and salt, and flavoured with popping candy which smells and tastes delicious. The scrub also contains coconut and jojoba oil for moisture.
It is brilliant at smoothing lips before applying a lip balm and I always use it before putting on lipstick as it makes sure that the colour looks even. At £5.50 for a 25g tub, I think it is great value. I have been using mine a few times a week since November and have barely made a dent!
Every Queen product I have ever tried has been brilliant. My most recent discoveries are the Medicated Cleansing Lotion and Skin Freshener. Queen Cosmetics specialise in products for sensitive skin so like the rest of the range, both products are extremely gentle on your skin. The cleanser is thick and nourishing and can remove even stubborn waterproof mascara. The skin freshener is perfect for removing any last traces of make up which might be left after cleansing.
Sometimes I get allergic reactions to products I try (like the Radical Exfoliating Pads I tried out recently). These Queen products are the only things I can use on my skin in the few days following an allergic reaction and I can always rely on Queen to get my skin back to normal.
The cleanser and toner cost £16.25 for 250ml and they are definitely worth the money. Even though I know I will keep trying other cleansers and toners in my search for the best skin care products, I will always make sure I keep a bottle of each of these in the cupboard!
1. Went to see The Lion King in Edinburgh.
2. The Falkirk Wheel.
3. Edinburgh Christmas Market.
4, 5 & 6. Better late than never – Christmas photos!
7 to 12. Skiing for New Year in Montgenevre.
1. Jam Classic Wireless Speakers
I love how little space these HMDX speakers take up! You can either use them wirelessly from 10m away or connect to phones / iPods using an aux-in cable. We actually use ours in the kitchen where we are very low on sockets so just recharge every few days. The battery lasts for around 12 hours and the sound quality is good seeing as the actual speaker is so small. I think these would make a great Christmas gift and they come in blue, red, purple, green and grey! RRP £39.99
2. Snuggly Bear Massaging Booties
These slippers from HoMedics are just fantastic! They are warm and cosy and at the same time give you a lovely foot massage! RRP 19.99
3. Fudges crackers
Fudges sell a variety of delicious crackers and biscuits which make lovely Christmas gifts. There is a big range from cheese crackers to florentines and even mince pies. RRP £2.65 for packet pictured
Paperblanks always have a lovely selection of beautiful notepads which make perfect stocking fillers. I love them! RRP £11.99 for design shown
5. Ribbit Handheld Massager
Again from HoMedics, this massager makes a cute stocking filler! It is available in three colours – blue, green or purple. RRP £9.99
6. Green People Nurture and Nourish Gift Set
Green People have quite a few gift sets and lots of great products. This Nurture and Nourish set includes a beautifully scented shower gel and body lotion. RRP £17.95
1. The beach at Nairn
2, 3 & 4. Culloden Battle Field
5. Brodie Castle
6, 7 & 8. Crathes Castle
9. Cute tree inside a pub!
10. Forth Bridge
11. Caerphilly Castle
12. Castell Coch
13. Ice wine all the way from Canada!
14. Delicious strawberries and chocolate
15. My new festive earrings!
16. Personalised birthday chocolates from Sent With A Loving Kiss
17. A freezing cold morning walk to work.
18. My new magnetic nail varnish