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christmas jammie dodgers.

it's that time of year again... time for christmas baking! i especially love getting festive ideas from fellow foodie bloggers, as well as browsing markets for cute christmas products and getting lost on christmas recipe pinterest boards. the mackays baking challenges are especially fun to follow, as their high quality, innovative preserves are such a pleasure to work with and the foodies are all really enthusiastic about their creations. 

this summer i made bakewell tart macarons with their premium morello cherry conserve. this season i was gifted their new mulled wine christmas jam and christmas marmalade with cranberries. with a newly purchased biscuit cutter and letter stamper i was armed with a plan... christmas jammie dodger inspired biscuits!

#getflavour with loyd grossman's limited edition mint masala.

everyone has their favourite curry, their favourite way to make it and their favourite accompaniments. mine has to be salmon tandoori skewers served with homemade tikka masala sauce; not too spicy and with lots of tomato, cream and garlic. sometimes though, it's easy to be naughty and reach for a jar which is ready made and good to go. 

the likes of loyd grossman have always been there when i need a curry in a hurry or pasta in a flash. so when their friendly lot got in touch about a new flavour, i was intrigued. what springs to mind when you hear the words mint masala?

christmas at bistro 1847, birmingham.

'Tis the season of Christmas menus and bistro 1847's festive flavours most certainly didn't disappoint. With the likes of brussels sprouts, blue cheese and potato crackling gracing the menu, the Birmingham based restaurant have launched their Christmas 2014 offerings with an emphasis on vegetarian and vegan ingredients.

festive afternoon tea at the hyatt regency, birmingham.

you all know i love afternoon tea and i certainly love christmas. combine the two and you get the best of both worlds; delicate sandwiches filled with the likes of turkey, cranberry and brie, festive takes on the classic scone and the gentle scent of warm mulled wine swirling across the table. myself and a few other midlands bloggers went along to sample the festive afternoon tea at the hyatt regency birmingham, which will launch on 1st december, starting from £19 a head.

mac 'n' four cheese.

what could be better than a bowl of pasta, covered in cheese and baked until crispy? perhaps a bowl of pasta, covered in four types of cheese and baked until crispy. gooey, oozing four cheese sauce. if you're on a diet for the office christmas party, look away now, this will definitely break the calorie budget. 

chocolat chocolat personalised chocolate bars.

Why would you ever want your name in lights when you have have it in chocolate? chocolat chocolat create handmade chocolates in their quaint cambridge shop, which is based in a 19th century building. Luckily for the rest of us they do delivery too. The lovely lot let me have a go at their new create your own custom chocolate bar tool. Of course, isn't everyone a sucker for anything personalised?

pomegranate sour.

A delicious drink for a worthy cause; bottlegreen have turned bottlepink to raise money for Breakthough Breast Cancer. The refreshing blend of exotic pomegranate and sweet elderflower will be sold across the UK with 10% of sales donated to charity. 

I wanted to show my support by featuring the drink in a recipe inspired by one of my favourite cocktails, the amaretto sour. This is a mocktail but can be created as an alcoholic version too.

cooking with mash direct: veggie hash and bangers & mash.

i've got a confession to make. it's a rare occasion that i actually make mashed potato. okay i said it. does it make me a naughty food blogger? i just actually like the varieties of mash you can get these days, not to mention the laziness of having to wait for potatoes to boil. i use premade mash in bakes, in pies, with steak, in gnocchi... i even used it in gluten free lemon drizzle cake. 

so when mash direct got in touch with their farm cooked fresh potato and vegetable delights, i cleared my diary and prepared for a week of potato eating that bodger and badger would be jealous of. 

my top tips for making macarons.

If you read my little space on the internet now and again, you may have noticed my growing love for macaron making. This was especially heightened by the macaron masterclass I went to back in early summer, where I learnt lots of tips and tricks for the much sought after macaron. 

I will tell you now I never was a natural baker, my first attempt at brownies is testament to that (99% melted milk, dark and white chocolate and 1% dry ingredients is not advised). However when people now tell me they can't bake, I don't believe them. it's all about having time, patience and loooove guys. Come with me now, let's make macarons. 

birthday eats and foodie treats.

i felt well and truly spoilt on my birthday, with some lovely thoughtful foodie gifts and a few fantastic meals out too. with a few days off, i went off to manchester with my pal amelia, went away to liverpool with boyfriend sam and on the sunday my mum had made a birthday tea party on the sunday. warning: it's really quite birthday indulgent and picture heavy.

afternoon tea at hard days night hotel, liverpool.

if like me, you love both afternoon tea and the beatles back catalogue, hard days night hotel is somewhere you need to visit. i was whisked away for a surprise birthday trip to liverpool last weekend and my boyfriend had booked us in for their high tea. cue perfectly sliced sandwiches, warm scones, bottomless tea and a cheeky glass of bubbles. i was in my element.

pulled pork belly buns with chancham marinade.

Created by sisters Chani and Chami, the unique Sri Lankan flavours of chancham sauces include the spice tamarind, mildly smokey, hot jerk and zingy chilli marinades, as well as their infamous pepper sauce. Made in britain to a classic bajan recipe, the sought after pepper sauce began it's roots in the family run cafĂ©, before it's popularity saw it to the production line. A fruity and fiery combination that can be added to everyday dishes as well as used as a dip or condiment, this is not for the faint hearted. 

As a self confessed spice wimp, I began my chancham taste testing with the spiced tamarind as it only had 2 and a half chillies on the 5 chilli scale...

ebi raisukaree: a wagamama inspired recipe.

I like to think of myself as someone who loves to try new things at restaurants. But at some places, there just seems to be that dish. No matter how much you browse the delicious dishes shouting "Pick me! Pick me!" that dish will always win you over. at Wagamama, that dish is Ebi Raisukaree. a fragrant coconut and lime sauce with red chillies, coriander and your choice of chicken or prawns. I hope Wagamama don't mind, but I just had to recreate it at home. 

peanut butter chocolate cake.

happy birthday to me. today i reach the grand old age of 26 and intend on eating lots of cake and drinking more cocktails than usual. 

it seems that on your birthday in britain you're supposed to bring in cake, sweets and treats to work. or in my office sometimes even a box of samosas. although i begrudge the tradition of the birthday girl or boy having to cough up the goods (just shower me in gifts already!) i secretly love this time of year for the very excuse to get my bake on. 

this fudgy chocolate brownie cake with peanut buttercream was the very cake i took in this week, before irritatingly announcing it was my friday and escaping the office for long weekend of fun.

happy birthday to the smokehouse!

If The Smokehouse @ The O Bar in Leicester were a child it'd probably have taken its first few steps, have a couple of cute little baby teeth and established their favourite tv children's programme. For today, The Smokehouse turns one.  N'aww.

Since it's very first days as the pop up brainchild of the orange tree group, through Leicester street food markets and now as a permanent residency, I've sampled a fair few of their excellent burgers from their ever developing menu. I went along to enjoy their latest Autumn menu, as well as sing happy birthday in my head to the lovely little place. 

mini pistachio macarons.

Bitesize morsels of my favourite ever macaron flavour in my favourite ever colour; pistachio. I've been really getting into macaron recipes lately and since I got a new KitchenAid (I know, right? I still can't believe it) it made sense to give these a whirl. I also bought some pistachio cream a few months ago at Battersea feast festival - it was just crying out to be used in these little treats. If you think Nutella and peanut are good, imagine what is essentially pistachio butter. exactly.

mackerel, spring onion & dill fishcakes: cooking with john west.

since their very first sea voyage in 1857, scotland founded john west have been catching, canning and being creative with seafood for many, many years. a well known household name, the brand ethos has always been about bringing the best quality canned wild fish to the everyday tables of britain. in the last few weeks i've been experimenting with the latest steamed fish, lunch pots and new flavours that john west had to offer. here's how i got on...