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slendier: the 8 calorie pasta alternative.

wow, when was first introduced to slendier i saw the words low calorie, fat free, pasta alternative and was instantly suspicious. i'm very wary of diet style foods and personally think you should enjoy a mix of healthy, traceable and sustainable fresh food whilst enjoying a little bit of what you fancy in moderation :) i also really enjoy making my own pasta so wasn't into jumping into an alternative. 

i wondered what kind of "pasta" could possibly only be 8 calories per 100g and it made me think of the things i've heard they put in low calorie and diet drinks. actually, as i continued to read the press release, i was pleasantly surprised. this is actually a brilliant concept! slendier is a pseudo-carb which is actually made from konjac, a starchy vegetable which is a japanese style yam. i guess i've heard of rice made from grated cauliflower, lettuce instead of bread and sweet potatoes as chips? so since its a vegetable and not made of chemicals, i'm happy!

i wanted to try it out as part of healthy pasta dishes - so how did i get on and what did i make?

lovely foodie finds.

a few lovely foodie finds from the last couple of weeks. i felt truly lucky to have some really thoughtful birthday presents from my friends and family - mostly food related of course - so wanted to feature them in a post. i've also been sent some brilliant products lately that i thought would fit well in a foodie gift ideas round up :) i hope you love these foodie bits and bobs and much as i do - to perhaps buy for a friend or even treat yourself!

little tokyo, leicester.

another birthday meal: a feast of japanese treats! based in leicester along braunstone gate, i can't believe this is the first time i'd been to this lovely little gem. i took a few quick snaps of the food before devouring this delicious asian banquet.

vegan cupcakes.

How lovely are these cupcake cases? They were a birthday gift from my friend Amelia. Since she's vegan (and vegans are allowed to enjoy desserts too!) I thought it'd be nice to try out some dairy and egg free baking. We made vegan cupcakes with lemon buttercream and pink, almond flavoured buttercream. 

lamb rogan josh.

having recently been sent some geeta's curry pastes and mango and chilli chutney, it seemed like the perfect time to try out one of my favourite curries. lamb rogan josh! i followed the recipe on the back of the paste whilst adding in some spinach and chobani yoghurt to finish. i just love spinach in curries! :)

so i here i present to you a saag and lamb rogan josh with geeta's curry paste...

cherizena coffee: handpicked around the world, blended in leicestershire.

living in the midlands, there are lots of lovely produce local to the area. obviously red leicester and stilton for starters, amongst melton mowbray pork pies and of course bakewell tarts. we most definitely (and much to my sadness) are not recognised for the likes of seafood or good old fish and chips. definitely wouldn't expect coffee to make the list either.

and so when i was told about leicestershire based cherizena coffee i was more than surprised. obviously, the fairtrade coffee beans aren't actually grown in the below zero temperatures of LE14. but this unique family run coffee company creates and produces its delicious flavours right here in leicestershire.

since my november birthday has now passed, people are now allowed to talk about christmas around me. and now i've seen those big ol' famous christmas ads i'm more excited than ever! so when cherizena sent me their latest christmas coffee to try out that was definitely the cherry on the christmas cake.

chorizo and thyme fougasse bread.

when i first saw lorraine pascale effortlessly make this bread on her baking programme, i knew i definitely wanted to try it when I had a proper mixer and dough hook of my own. there’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread; and the combination smokey chorizo and heavenly thyme that infused my kitchen definitely added to this.  

i seem to have acquired quite a few little kitchen gadgets and gizmos lately – my lovely granny bought me a pasta machine last christmas, my mum got me a huge mussel pot from france, i’ve raided kitchenware shops for ravioli presses, piping tips and tartlet tins and i searched high and low for a bamboo steamer to make my own dim sum.

i’ve always wanted to try out a proper classic mixer to help improve my basic culinary skills - and what better than the original kenwood chef? this comes with a k beater, balloon whisk and the much anticipated dough hook! argos sell a brill range of kenwood chefs and the like; including the gorgeous retro kmix, the sleek and sophisticated premier mixers and the timeless classic chef. i can’t believe they first launched in 1947!

happy national katsu curry week!

first and foremost, happy national katsy curry week! no i hadn't realised it existed either. but why on earth not would you not want to devote an entire week to the crispy coated, crunchy, fruity, saucy morsels on a bed of gorgeous sticky rice? to celebrate, yo! sushi have put the super mega katsu curry on the menu for £7 a bowl. with classic chicken, prawn and tofu to choose from, these beasts will definitely distract your attention from the rainbow of pretty plates on the sushi belt. 

almond biscotti with chocolate orange drizzle.

Last weekend i stayed at my mum's to look after her very cheeky little dog whilst she was away. On the Friday, I got a text saying "I've put a bottle of wine in the fridge for you and ingredients for almond biscotti, if you fancy it." Not one for being subtle, I knew that the rose was actually a mini bribe for the being a tray of biscotti in her kitchen come Sunday afternoon. 

I'm not quite sure why she requested biscotti as I've never made it before and feared it might be like the time she asked me to make scones (something she is amazing at anyway) and I accidentally used salt. Actually, I'm pretty pleased as it's not something I'd made before and think it would make for really cute homemade gift.

The recipe she left was this bbc almond biscotti one, which gave you options for various flavours and toppings such as pistachio and cranberry and hazelnut and date with a hot mocha dipping sauce. I went for the classic almond as in the recipe and then drizzled chocolate orange on top.

flesh & buns, covent garden.

this is somewhere that almost became my favourite restaurant before i'd even been. you know that feeling? where you just know as soon as you get there that you're going to want the whole menu? i'm absolutely enamored by japanese and chinese inspired cuisine, so as soon as i saw these steamed buns all over instagram i instantly knew i needed to try them. i realise these have probably been all over the place in the big smoke but coming from a little leicestershire town it's a real treat for me. 

i was down in london this week, luckily a couple of days before my birthday, and so it was the perfect excuse for grace and i to go wild on salmon, soya beans and steamed buns at flesh & buns ! 

goats' cheese, spinach and red pepper puff pastry tart.

this is my current favourite "cheat eat" which would be perfect for an easy midweek meal, sliced up with a salad for lunch or cut into pieces as party food. all you need is a puff pastry sheet, a sauce base and some tasty toppings! here i made it with tomato and marscapone sauce, wilted spinach, sliced somerset goats' cheese, half a red pepper and a couple of button mushrooms. put it in the oven on 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes and bam it's ready to devour!

carrot and ginger cake with coconut buttercream.

Carrot Cake

i absolutely love this time of year. the clocks go back, nights draw in, my birthday is just around the corner and the dip in temperature means i have an excuse to buy a new coat. then of course there are the autumn recipes; warming one pots, pumpkin soup, wholesome pies and comforting cakes and desserts with the likes of ginger and cinnamon. so inspired by the spice infused baking recipes over at schwartz, i set about trying out my first carrot cake. this variation on the classic recipe has a couple of extra teaspoons of ginger and a crunchy coconut buttercream topping. 

product review: fruitbroo.

fruitbroo: insanely tasty hot drinks. when beky from bristol based drinks company fruitboo got in touch i was instantly intrigued. i'm a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to drinks. i'll pretty much have a bottle of water in my hand 24/7, have a coffee at 9am and 2pm, only ever drink a can of coke with fish and chips, have a soft spot for cider and now and then can be found sipping on a peppermint tea with one sugar. 

i like the idea of fruit tea but am always disappointed when strawberry tea doesn't taste like a mouth full of strawberries. and the idea of hot ribena or juice really doesn't appeal. when these little treats arrived i was instantly keen to wittle down my favourite and see if it would be something that would ever come into my beverage routine. fruitbroo is a sort of hot drink cordial made from all natural fruit and spices. to make, you simply stir a teaspoon or two of the syrup into a cup of boiling water and voila!

have you picked a favourite already?