Category Archives: Lifestyle

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Only 7 sleeps until Christmas! Are you ready for it? One important thing to note is that these white chocolate cranberry pistachio cookies really are a must-add to your Christmas baking list this year. With splashes of red, white and green, it makes them the perfect cookies for the Christmas festive season but more importantly, they are just super delicious.

These, easy to make, white chocolate cranberry pistachio cookies are buttery, scrumptiously chewy and the mix of the white chocolate and sweet cranberries with the slightly salty pistachios nuts works so well. What are you waiting for, quickly check what you have in your pantry and bake these cookies now! I made them this weekend for my annual Girls Christmas Feast and they seriously all disappeared in seconds.

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Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Ingredients:
Makes about 24 cookies

115 grams (½ cup) butter, softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chopped shelled pistachio nuts
1 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
(Note: if using unsalted nuts, add ¼ teaspoon salt to the flour)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Grease a cookie sheet or cover your baking tray with a silicone mat or slightly greased baking paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy and pale in colour for about 3-5 minutes. This step is important for ensuring soft, chewy cookies. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Using a wooden spoon, carefully stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, just until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips, dried cranberries and pistachio nuts.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of the batter onto the greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies taste delicious fresh from the oven but also amazing still 1-5 days later when kept in a tin/container.

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Oh and don’t they also make a lovely present? Just wrap some ribbon around them or place them in a little bag or tin and you’re bound to make someones day. Merry Christmas everyone :)

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Baking, Christmas, Food, Lifestyle, Recipe

Brunch at New Tom’s, Notting Hill

On a gorgeous sunny autumn day a few weeks ago I met up with one of my close friends for brunch in my old hood, Notting Hill. When on Westbourne Grove I can never resist snapping pictures of Wild at Heart – one of the most stunning flower shops in London. I mean how can you not want to capture of all this floral loveliness?

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Also on Westbourne Grove, just by Wild at Heart, was our meeting place for brunch, New Tom’s. In this same spot used to be the well known Tom’s Deli (which I adored) but that sadly closed down last year after 24 years of operating! Anyway, luckily Tom Conran has now reopened in this great Notting Hill location with New Tom’s which is going to be a 12 month pop-up restaurant serving ‘avant-garde modern cuisine’.

He’s brought in chef Tom Straker (who trained with Heston Blumenthal at Dinner) to serve up unique and interesting dishes using only the freshest ingredients all from Chef Tom’s family farm in Herefordshire. The interior has also had a bit of a revamp giving it a lighter and more contemporary look but I like that he’s kept the traditional British sweet shop at the entrance as a homage to the old Tom’s Deli.

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Food wise the breakfast menu offers dishes like; Slow cooked duck egg mushroom duxelle, parmesan, bacon & onion brioche // Toms Eggs Benedict // Brioche french toast, summer berries, mascarpone & fresh fruit syrup // Pinhead oatmeal, rhubarb & crème fraiche // Delicious pastries plus good coffee and a good selection of healthy freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. We both however decided on the Poached hens eggs, avocado, sweet onions & sourdough toast + home smoked salmon.

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The poached eggs were slightly overcooked for my liking, but then again I love mine very runny. The sweet red onions and an avocado/mayo like mouse were an interesting – but nice – addition. I probably have to admit that I preferred the original concept of Tom’s Deli a bit more but I do like the more modern menu of the pop-up. It’s also a little bit on the pricier side for brunch but maybe that comes with the fancier menu and top chef. I think the New Tom’s pop-up is open until April 2015 so do check it out before it closes  (they take bookings – hooray!) and I am very curious to know what Tom Conran will open in this spot after that..

New Tom’s
226 Westbourne Grove

London, W11 2RH
www.newtoms.co.uk

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Brunch, Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Neville Hair and Beauty

Have I ever told you that I suffer from a weird phobia of getting my hair cut? Well basically I dread going to get my hair cut or trimmed because I am worried they will just put the scissors in it and I will lose a huge chunk of length. My hair actually grows soooooo slooooow and that’s why I just never want to cut too much off. Silly I know, because trimming your hair regularly keeps it healthier and probably will make it grow longer (as dead ends won’t keep snapping off). Anyway, recently I decided to face the facts that I really did need a haircut as my ends were looking awful.

I was recommended to visit the Neville Hair and Beauty salon in Belgravia/Knightsbridge so I booked myself in for an appointment to see Reece for a cut and blow-dry. And oh boy, am I glad that I did. The salon is well established and seems to be very popular amongst models and celebs in London. Hey what’s good enough for them, is good enough for me!

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The interior is clean and modern and service is effecient and offered with a smile. You can order a range of drinks and even anything to eat from breakfast through to afternoon tea.  Also you can immediately tell that the stylist that work here know what they are talking about. Reece and I discussed my fear of haircuts and he quickly made me feel at ease and offered some suggestions, after I showed him some photos of a more layered hairstyle. He said I would actually suit a more straight cut at the back (that way keeping my length) and for a change, as this doesn’t happen often, I felt I could trust him and he would make my hair look great – without losing too much of my precious long hair! After cutting my hair he blow dried it into gorgeous wavy bouncy curls. The did this with a round brush – a technique I’d never seen before and I loved the result. Insert quick mirror selfie ;)

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I would definitely go back to Neville Hair & Beauty to get my hair cut or get it styled for a special event. Reece was great and we even talked about our joint love for a textured long bob (also called the ‘lob’) hairstyle but don’t think I am that brave just yet – baby steps, baby steps ;)

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White low V Neck Jumper from H&M (link) // Plaid scarf from ZARA (similar HERE) // Wool with leather trim jacket from ZARA // Gorgeous wavy curls by Neville Hair and Beauty Salon // CatEye Sunglasses by Bailey Nelson London (link)

A week later and I am still loving my haircut, it feels less heavy and looks so much healthier. Do you ever get scared of cutting your hair like me or am I the only weirdo that feels that way? ;)

Neville Hair and Beauty
5 Pont St, London SW1X 9EJ
Phone: 020 7235 3654
www.nevillehairandbeauty.net

  
3 Comments | Posted in Beauty, Hair, Lifestyle, London

The Oak London, Notting Hill

The Oak London is one of those restaurants I have been to so many times, but shockingly have never featured it on the blog. Located in fabulous Notting Hill on Westbourne Park Road, it actually used to be within walking distance from my house making it my local favourite for a cosy dinner.  The Oak London is known for their delicious wood fired pizzas but everything else on their Mediterranean inspired style menu is also very tasty!

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The Oak London is always feels super cosy because of the dim lighting and candles galore. It is the perfect place for a dinner with friends or that special romantic date you might have coming up! I had birthday drinks down the road, at the Westbourne Pub, recently so me and two girlfriends decided to catch up and line up our tummies beforehand at The Oak in London. We started of with some wine, it was Friday night after all, plus the Nocellara del Belice olives and the sautéed chorizo with fennel seeds and lemon. These large green olives are my favourite, they are so soft soft & almost buttery in flavour.

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For mains, we ummed and ahhed for a while over the menu but in the end decided on their good-old-fave pizzas! Their pizzas at the Oak are always excellent. A real wood fired oven (that you can see from restaurant) produces the perfect base; crispy  on the outside and soft in the middle and they offer some yummy toppings. I had the Prosciutto (tomato, mozzarella, parma ham, wild rocket with parmesan) and my friends had the Campagnola (mozzarella, porcini, caramelised onion, wild rocket, goat cheese with truffle oil) and the Salsiccia (tomato, fresh buffalo mozzarella, Tuscan sausage, girolles mushrooms, with Gruyère).

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When it comes to dessert I always seem to have the Affogato at The Oak! Delicious hot coffee poured over vanilla ice-cream, plus if you’re up for it you can also add a some sneaky alcohol in the form of Amaretto, Grappa Di Moscato or Brandy! Nom nom…

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The Oak London in Notting Hill is definitely a winner. To-die-for pizzas, great food, friendly service and a cosy and romantic setting are the perfect formula for a lovely evening. And they have a great bar on the 1st floor which is perfect for pre-drinks (while you wait for a table on busy nights) or head there after dinner for some post-dinner cocktails!

The Oak London
137 Westbourne Park Road
Notting Hill
London, W2 5QL
(020) 7221 3355
www.theoaklondon.com

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Guilt Free Popcorn

Sometimes nothing beats a cosy night in on the couch, watching a movie and tucking into a big bag of greasy microwave popcorn! However, unfortunately delicious buttery microwave popcorn isn’t all that great for our waistlines.

So what if I told you that I’ve discovered a super easy way to make popcorn at home. No stovetops, no pots and pans or no fancy popcorn popping machine required…nope, all you need is a microwave and a paper bag. Oh and did I mention it is healthy? Yes people, this is the ultimate guilt free popcorn recipe right here!

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It is actually ridiculously easy and all you need to do first is buy a pack of simple flat-bottomed brown paper lunch bags. I just got mine from eBay here.

Guilt Free Microwave Popcorn

Step 1: Depending on how much popcorn you need, measure ½ or ¼ cup* of popcorn kernels and pour them into a medium sized flat-bottomed brown paper bag.
Step 2: Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal it, as seen in the picture below.
Step 3: Stick bag in the microwave and cook for about 3 minutes on high, or until you hear pauses of about 2 seconds between pops. Listen carefully because depending on the power of your microwave; the popcorn may be done in as little as 2 minutes and no one wants burned popcorn.
Step 4: Carefully open the bag (avoiding steam) and pop into a serving bowl plus add salt or other seasonings to taste.  Now go and enjoy your guilt free popcorn!

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*Did you know that 100 gram of un-popped popcorn contains 375 calories and that 100 grams of normal popped microwave popcorn contains about 400-500 calories per 100 grams. The real difference is however that 100 grams of un-popped kernels is about 1/2 of a cup which will make a LOT of popped popcorn. I think about 25 grams per person is the perfect amount and that’s only 100 calories when using the healthy microwave popcorn recipe! Winning :)

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Need some ideas for flavouring your popcorn?
Then try these toppings for some gourmet popcorn fun:

  • Spicy citrus: add chilli powder, orange zest, lime zest, salt and some dark-brown sugar
  • Classic: a shake of salt with a pat of butter (or olive oil)
  • Garlic: shake in onion powder and garlic powder and some salt
  • Cheesy: mix in Parmesan cheese with a little salt
  • Sweet tooth: a dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar (plus optional drizzle of honey)
  • Herbs: mix dried rosemary or thyme, with salt and garlic powder

Tip: Spraying the popped popcorn with a little olive oil or coconut oil spray will help the salt or other seasonings stick to the kernels.

Are you popping with excitement yet to try recipe this at home?

  
Leave a comment | Posted in 80/20 Diet, Food, Healthy, Lifestyle, Recipe