Get your Bake On: Swirl Meringues

Meringues.

Fluffy, chewy, crispy little morsels of deliciousness. I love the things…possibly a bit too much!

I made these swirled meringues the other day to adorn the top of a birthday cake I made for a friend and everyone seemed to respond well to them and said they looked pretty good. So, I thought I would share my ‘how to’ with you in the form of a video tutorial.

I kid you not folks, this recipe is idiot proof. So idiot proof even I have managed to make them look acceptable.

If you have a bake sale coming up, why not give these bad boys a whirl. They’ll catch everyones eye and they taste great too!

Happy swirling!

(Oh, and if you like what you see and you fancy giving my YouTube channel a like, I would really appreciate it!)


Recipe notes

Ingredients:

4 egg whites

115g Caster Sugar

115g Icing Sugar

Cook/Prep time:

20 minutes prep.

1hr 30min bake.

2hr cooling.

Oven temperature: 100’c (fan)

Yield:

Approximately 12 large meringue cookies, or a mixture of large round ones and small droplet ones.




#SportsNightIn – Planning a summer of sport with friends!

Summer is officially here. The weather this week has been truly balmy, I can’t actually recall a week where the weather was ever quite so hot, despite the fact Glastonbury is on! It’s a miracle!

Sadly I am not at Glastonbury watching the Foo Fighters this weekend, but I am sure I will enjoy watching it unfold on TV from the comfort of my own sofa, oh, and in my PJ’s. Comfort – very important these days.

Gosh I’m old.

On that point, now myself and my pals are hitting that illusive stage called ‘middle age’ and we have work, kids and busy lives to cope with, going out isn’t as appealing as it once was. Finding childcare for the kids so we can escape can sometimes be tricky so nights in are certainly how we roll these days. I love entertaining, as do most of our friends, and it’s great that the kids can all play together whilst the adults have a drink and some food. I feel really lucky that we get to do it actually, we’ve made many happy (and hilarious) memories over the years during these type of evenings.

With Wimbledon and The Tour de France on the horizon, as well as the F1 and the Lions Rugby tour which are already underway, it’s going to be a busy few weeks and months of sport watching in our household! I love Wimbledon. I’ve always watched and I vividly remember zooming home from Secondary school as quickly as I could to watch Tim Henman play a few years back. It’s such a great competition full of nostalgia, tradition and excitement. Can Andy Murray do it again I wonder?

I also love the F1. As much as I moan about the fact my husband spends 6/7 hours glued to the TV on race weekends (yeah, that is pretty annoying actually, the kids don’t look after themselves you know) I did used to enjoy sitting and watching a race play out. This season has certainly been more exciting than previous ones and it’s still all to play for halfway through the season.

In collaboration with Contact Numbers UK, I am sharing with you all my ideas for the perfect #SportsNightIn party. Any excuse for a drink and dinner with friends is fine by me!

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 As I mentioned, for us, staying in is the new going out so we are planning on having some friends over within the next few weeks for a #SportsNightIn party. Probably to watch a bit of Wimbledon.

I’ve been thinking of what food and drink I am going to serve up (see what I did there? Tennis? Serve? Never-mind…) and also about some games the kids can play whilst the adults are watching.

Here’s what I have in mind for my #SportsNightIn party so far…

Food

Party ring biscuit recipe

The most important part of any party for me is food. I have to make sure people don’t go hungry and I always over-cater but anything left over won’t go to waste, it just means food the next day is sorted already! Winner!

In my opinion, the best food for a sports night in party is either;

A one pot meal – such as Chilli, bolognese or lasagne, which you can just serve up with some rice, pasta or garlic bread and salad

or…

Buffet food – such as Bread, Quiche, Pizza, Meats, Cheese, Salads, Arancini and nibbles. Oh, and don’t forget the sausage rolls!

Cooked Arancini balls

And for afters;

Puddings – such as Profiteroles, Pavolva or some nice homemade scones with Jam and Clotted Cream.

Foods like this are ideal for a party because they can be prepared in advance and you won’t be stood, slaving away in the kitchen whilst everyone else is enjoying the sport and chatting. A BBQ is nice in good weather but it means that someone is always outside cooking and it’s also quite a lot of work for a crowd. A strawberry and cream pavlova would be a wonderful pudding to accompany a spot of Wimbledon watching – the tournament is famed for it’s strawberries!

Drink

Almost as important as food in my eyes! It’s always a good idea to have the usual suspects to offer guests for a party…

Beer

Ale

Wine and Prosecco

Soft fizzy drinks such as Cola, Lemonade and something I love to have, Elderflower Cordial with Soda water.

…but it’s also a good idea to offer a cocktail and maybe even a DIY ‘bar’ area with some spirits and mixers out so people can help themselves. Putting all the beers and bottles of wine in a bucket of water filled with ice in the garden is a great way to keep people out of the kitchen where you might be zooming about sorting food (and having a sneaky much on the stuff before you put it out obviously – chef’s perk) and keeps them all cold and your fridge clear of bottles.

Why not try filling a large drinks dispenser with Pimms? Another must have for Wimbledon watching! Then people can serve themselves and the first couple of hours of drinks are taken care of.

Pimms and Gin

A cocktail such as this Cherry Bakewell Prosecco is easy to make and looks just like champers. Perfect for accompanying you to your centre court seat at home!

Entertainment

Whilst you’re waiting for the main event of the sport to start, why not have some garden games setup such as giant jenga, boules, football or darts!? These are great ways to keep people entertained whilst you finish off any last minute preparations. Alternatively, just stick your fave music playlist on, turn the speakers up, sort out the garden furniture, and sit and chat with a drink and some nibbles. That would be my preference!

Decor

I don’t normally do much in the way of decor for a party, unless it’s a birthday or a football final (which we never make!) but I have just bought some bunting and some solar lights for the garden which I will put out when we have our friends over. I also love fresh flowers, especially Sunflowers and Peonies this time of year, and candles. I got a lovely big lantern that looks fab once a candle is lit inside it and I always put that on when I have people over. Make sure you put lots of seating out for people, even if that means bean bags or garden chairs indoors! Nobody likes having to stand for hours on end.


What sport will you be watching this Summer?

I’ll be back with an update on how my #SportsNightIn party went in a few weeks. I’m sure it’ll be eventful at some point if previous experiences of my life are anything to go by!


 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Contact Numbers UK. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Get your Bake On: Meat Ragu Arancini

I cannot tell you all how much I love Arancini.

Literally, I am pretty certain that if there was only one food I was allowed to eat for the rest of my life, it would be these. Yep, even over chocolate. Shocking, I know.

I don’t know what it is about these delicious fried risotto balls that I love so much, anything fried is normally a winner in my book, and if they are on a menu when we go to eat out, it’s a no brainer and I will choose to have them.

Making them at home is a labour of love I have to admit, there are lots of component parts to them which can take a while to make, such as the risotto and the meat ragu, but I promise you all they are worth it! What’s even better is if you have some leftover risotto or bolognese from dinner the night before, these little babies are way less stressful to make because you already have half the prep done! No food waste either!

open meat ragu arancini

So, what are Arancini and where do they come from?

Arancini are the ancient street food of Sicily. You and me grab a sandwich, in Sicily they grab an Arancini. Lucky guys eh?!

I was lucky enough to visit this magical little island, with it’s ominous and temperamental volcano, 6 years ago with my family and sample some authentic Sicilian Arancini. They didn’t let me down!

The origin of this typical Sicilian food isn’t actually well-known. People from Catania argue the origin belongs to them (they think arancini were created to help poor people through history to eat something healthy during emigrations) whilst those from Palermo state that the origin is in fact very ancient. They claim they were created by the Arabs and they called it “arancina” (translation; little orange) because its shape and colour once fried is similar to that of an orange. I’m inclined to agree with the folks from Palermo. Please don’t send a horse head my way for saying that…

Arancini are either round in shape (Palermo) or Conical (Catania) but because I am a novice, I can only make round ones!

They are essentially balls of cooked risotto, filled with whatever takes your fancy (normally meat ragu or ham and cheese) and then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. An entire meal in one little ball.

I hope you have a go at making these at home. I know it might look/sound daunting to start with but honestly, if I can make them, anyone can! Buon Appetito!


Meat Ragu Arancini recipe


 Arancini ingredients

Arancini before breadcrumbing

Cooked Arancini balls




Did someone say Cake?! (Review of Cake app which will change the way you pay for dinner!)

Myself and Mr Knutts don’t get the chance to eat out, just the two of us, all that often anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we are still very lucky and my lovely parents do have the sproglets an awful lot for us so we can get out and about to see friends or make appointments, but 3 kids is hard work for me, let alone my lovely mum and dad, so we try to not take the piddle and we also make the most of any opportunity we get to be ‘kid free’ and just the two of us.

Friday last week was one of those occasions.

We managed to get tickets to go and see the newly reformed, Guns ‘n’ Roses, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium. I was so bloomin’ excited! I love this band so much but because I was only 7/8 when they toured back in 1991, I have never seen the original lineup. Seen as we had childcare sorted for the day already, we decided to make a day of it, head up to London a little early and grab some food beforehand too. A real treat of a day!

A few days before the gig, I was contacted by a lovely lady called Annie to see if I would like to review a new app called Cake.

What is Cake?

Cake is an app which allows you to find and book a place to eat or drink, setup and see your meal tab in real time and pay for your meal, all in the app. If your friends also have the Cake app, you can all pick up the same tab, and use it to pay your part of it when you are finished meaning no more calling the waiter over to pay and no more awkward scrabbles to split the bill at the end!

The Cake app is summarised below;

1. Plan your night.

Tap explore and check out places nearby.

Use the filter in the top right corner to find something you like.

Hit ‘BOOK’ to request a table.

2. Settle up smartly.

When you’re seated, open a tab and invite anyone who has the app to join your table.

Let your waiter know your tab number

Choose how you want to split your bill

Everyone pays their share

3. Earn credit.

Filter by “Earn CAKE credit”

Browse all the places with great credit offers on

When you pay instantly earn a percentage back when you pay

Spend your credit at any place on CAKE, no restrictions

Even if your fellow diners don’t have the Cake app, you can choose to pay your portion using it and the remainder of the bill can be paid by your friends normally by using their card or cash and calling the waiter over. Simple!


 My experience of using the Cake app

After downloading the app and adding my bank card details onto it, myself and the hubster browsed the app and found somewhere near us to go for lunch. We decided on a lovely looking place that we have walked past once before with the kids but have never been in called, The Rum Kitchen. They have 2/3 restaurants in London but we chose to go to the one just off Carnaby Street in Kingley Court. It’s such a gorgeous little hub of a courtyard with loads of cool places to eat.

Kingley Court, Carnaby

The Rum Kitchen, Kingley Court, London

You simply hit ‘book’ once you have found somewhere to eat or, if you haven’t made a booking, just head on in, get seated by a waiter as you normally do and inform them when you place your order that you’ll be paying with Cake. You then give them your tab number that the app generates and they sync your order up to the app from their till.

We were shown to our table upon arrival and we sat and browsed the menu. It’s all Jamaican inspired food at The Rum Kitchen so if Jerk spice is your thing, you’ll love this place! The cocktail list was pretty exciting too. Chris chose a Dark and Stormy (a strong rum and ginger concoction which was punchy but yummy) and I had a Rumbustion which was Pineapple, rum and coconut milk. It was almost like a dessert! Really delicious and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

the Rum Kitchen cocktail

After quite a long wait (30 minutes even to take drinks orders – this was the only let down) we placed our food order and I told the waiter I was going to be paying using the Cake app. He knew what it was, said that was fine and placed our order. I was expecting to then see the order/tab appear on my app but it didn’t. I thought it was a bit odd, it just said ‘pending’ so I left it and assumed it would appear soon.

We ate our lunch, which was really delicious; sweet potato fries, chilli fries, spicy chicken burgers, spicy squid, jerk chicken wings…utter gluttony but we were making the most of things!

I checked the app again but the tab still hadn’t appeared. We had finished our meal so I called the waiter over and asked if we could settle the bill. I reminded him then that I was going to be paying with the Cake app and he remembered and within 2 minutes the tab was in the app on my phone. I could see everything we had ordered, check it and pay for it in an instant. I had kindly been given £40 credit in my app so I used this to pay for a portion of the meal and then I selected to use my card in the app to pay for the remainder. I was also able to add a tip in the app too. The app then informed me I had earned £5.45 in credit which I could use when I next eat using the app. Winner!

 

I’m not 100% sure that is how the app should have worked, I think the waiter should have enabled me to see the tab in my app for the duration of the meal so that if we had someone else with us who wanted to leave before we did, they could have paid their portion of the bill without having to call the waiter over. This is absolutely not a reflection on the app but on the staff at The Rum Kitchen –  I suppose it was an easy mistake to make and it didn’t really affect our meal but I was left a bit confused because it wasn’t working as I had expected.

That said, using the Cake app was brilliant and I would absolutely use it again. Some places you can choose to eat at in the app earn you rewards and cashback so you can then earn credit and use that to pay for a future meal. I think that is a great idea and would certainly mean I consider using the app again and again, especially if I ate out in London on a regular basis.


 There are a huge amount of places available to eat and drink in the app. If you have location services on your phone turned on, the app will find the places nearest to you that allow you to pay with Cake – this makes the whole process of finding somewhere to go really easy.

You can find out more about the Cake app by visiting their website or by heading to the app store to download the Cake app!

I would honestly recommend the app to anyone who eats out a lot, it’s a great way of earning rewards as you eat and it just takes all the stress away at the end of the meal. No waiting for the chip and pin machine, no scrabbling for cash, it doesn’t even matter if you’ve forgotten your wallet because your card is safely linked up to the app! I think it’s truly brilliant – thanks very much to the guys at Cake for letting me review it. I am now a Cake convert!

Oh, and Guns ‘n’ Roses blew my mind. A night I’ll treasure forever.


 Disclosure: I was gifted £40 credit in order to review the Cake app. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Get your Bake On: Baked Blueberry Breakfast Oats

In a futile bid to stop the summer belly bulge, I have tried to eat a bit better this week (if you don’t include the fish and chip supper Wednesday and the copious amount of cake I ate Sunday. Ahem). Why does stuff that’s bad for you have to taste so good?!

Since I was little, breakfast has been my nemesis. I’ve always struggled to eat too early in the morning (unless it’s a Bacon Sarnie/fry up obvs) and so I figured that if I make something ahead of time, I then have to eat it so it doesn’t go to waste. I have tried overnight oats and bircher muesli which are quite nice but when I saw a recipe similar to this one I’m sharing with you all over on Pinterest the other day, I had to have a tinker with it and see what I could come up with.

Despite the fact it might look a bit like a crumble, these baked blueberry breakfast oats are in fact not very sweet at all. Served warm with some cool and creamy vanilla yoghurt (or whatever you fancy) this is the perfect for fuelling you up until lunchtime.

Why not try this recipe with some different fruit of your choice? Some raspberries would work equally well, as would stewed apples or pears.


 Baked Blueberry breakfast oats recipe

Baked Blueberry Breakfast Oats