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merry christmas from recipes and reviews!

Merry Christmas from my little blog to all you lovely readers. Thanks again for all the support, love and foodie tips this year - here's to 2017! Here are a few little festive baking ideas to try out during the Christmas season.

christmas not-so-pudding brownies.

A Christmas pudding for those who don't like Christmas puddings. Made with a gluten free chocolate brownie base, these festive treats are utterly chocolatey and indulgent. I'm not that all into Christmas puds myself, I'll have one on the big day but I cant take it or leave it really. I'd much rather scoff some delicious chocolate brownies - and if sticking white chocolate and marzipan holly on them makes them acceptably Christmassy then I'm all for it! 

k west festive afternoon tea, london.

It's not quite Christmas without a festive afternoon tea. Am I right? Getting truly in the festive spirit, I went along to enjoy the K West Hotel and Spa afternoon tea a few weeks ago. Amongst crazy Christmas markets, gut-busting brunches and photobooth snaps in Shoreditch, we jumped on a tube to Shepherd's Bush for lots of tea, cake, sandwiches and... did I mention tea? Usually a glam rock inspired affair, the hotel had put a merry twist on their usual rock 'n' roll inspired menu.

the ultimate turkey, cranberry and cheese toasted sandwich.

Why wait until Boxing Day for turkey sandwiches? I’ve teamed up with the guys at Fire & Smoke to bring you a mouthwatering festive sandwich to enjoy now. Think stacked up flame grilled turkey breast, oozing cheese slices and a good dollop of good quality cranberry sauce. Squish it all together in toasted bread and voila! Forget December, this Christmas inspired recipe is delicious any time of year…

my new kitchen tour.

If you follow my little space over on my social media channels, you may have seen I recently bought my first home - yay! With exciting times ahead, I was lucky that the home I found already suited a lot of the decor from my rented house. My kitchenware featured a lot of natural wooden elements, country cottage inspired pieces and some quirky finds too. My favourite colour is also green, so those lovely tiles worked in my favour. I have to admit, as most foodies would, the kitchen was top of my buying priorities. And I definitely fell head over heels for this one. Since the move, I thought I'd finally share with you a little kitchen tour and a few new kitchenware buys for my home from the likes of Joseph Joseph, Next and Orla Kiely.

cherry bakewell mince pies.

Christmas? Bakewell tarts? Just two of my favourite things, ever. Super simple to make, these cherry Bakewells switch out classic raspberry jam for spiced mincemeat, before being topped with delicious almond frangipane sponge. If you've stopped by before, you'll know I can't help but turn my favourite recipes into Bakewell tart alternatives, and Christmas is no exception. Decorate with marzipan holly to give that unmistakable glace cherry topping a festive twist. All that's missing is a cup of tea!

king prawn, spinach and basil pesto gnocchi bake.

The perfect midweek meal for seafood lovers. Taking moments to assemble, pop in the oven for a wholesome bake which goes towards one of your five a day. Featuring fresh basil pesto from Giovanni Rana, the recipe simply stirs together cooked king prawns, gnocchi and wilted spinach before being scattered with Parmesan and cooked until golden.

feeling festive with the pizza express christmas menu.

It's that time of year again... time for the Christmas menus! Not one to shy away from seasonal, ever changing menus and specials, Pizza Express are fully on board with the foodie festivities. Offering Christmas specials on their starter, main, dessert and drinks menu, I was kindly invited to their Leicester branch try out their newest additions.

coconut and lemon snowball macarons

Inspired by the classic snowball cocktail, these macarons are filled with a zesty lemon buttercream and topped with a sprinkle of coconut. The coconut is just for the snowball effect really, and since lemon and coconut are a taste combination made in heaven. Follow my super easy homemade macaron guide (and some of tips and tricks on my blog too) to rustle up the perfect macaron!

a breakfast banquet with brioche pasquier: #shareamoment

Bringing people together with breakfast! Whether it be smashed avocado on toast, a piping hot bacon sandwich with lashings of tomato sauce or stack of sugary pancakes, everyone has their favourite breakfast dish. Out for brunch with friends or staying in for a lazy weekend breakfast, a good natter over a cuppa is the perfect way to #shareamoment. In their latest campaign, Brioche Pasquier are encouraging bloggers to embrace breakfast with both hands, sharing a moment with their delicious pastries and brioche. When I say both hands, I mean a cup of tea in your right hand and a jam filled croissant in the other.

macaroni ham 'n' cheese.

An indulgent twist on the classic macaroni cheese – perfect for the colder nights and rainy weekends. Cosy up with a comforting bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese, featuring the extra treat of slow cooked ham. From Fire & Smoke, their low and slow fired grilled hams are packed with mouthwatering flavours that are delicious as part of a recipe or on their own. Ideal for creating the ultimate American inspired dish, their glazed pork joints are grilled over crackling flames and then wood smoked for extra flavour. Along with a creamy cheese sauce and pasta, this recipe makes for the ultimate comfort food!

christmas is just around the corner: introducing co-op's festive irresistible range.

Christmas spices, mince pies, mulled wine and lots of cheese... Christmas is just the best time for food. Party food in particular is always a treat! I love a good spread of festive favourites, ready to delve into whilst catching up with friends and family. I went along to discover what's in store for Central England Co-op for the merriest of seasons - and had my first mince pie of 2016. (Well, that's assuming I haven't forgotten about all the leftovers I ate back in January). 

Like Co-op shops themselves, the lovely team have aptly opted for the tagline "Christmas is just around the corner." And it's true, December 25th really is just around the corner. I for one can't wait to open the first door on my advent calendar...

chocolate orange macarons.

'Tis the season for chocolate oranges! And what better recipe than to sandwich indulgent Terry's chocolate orange infused buttercream between light and crisp chocolate macaron shells. A perfect sweet treat or homemade gift idea for the festive season. Although they're not Terry's... they're mine.

pink grapefruit & gin basil smash.

A fragrant, tangy and zesty cocktail recipe that gin fans will love. Featuring Fentimans new botanically brewed Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, this gin cocktail meets aromatic fresh basil with bittersweet grapefruit tonic for a refreshing and colourful drink. 

The newest Fentimans flavours range from the likes of Ginger Beer & Muddled Lime to Rose Lemonade. As a gin lover though, I couldn't wait to play around with their great quality tonic waters in my cocktail recipes. The pink grapefruit in particular muddles together fragrant juniper berry, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass along with natural citrus flavours, quinine and grapefruit juice, making it the ideal match for your favourite gin. 

#abowlshared with butterkist.

As much as I like (love) dining out, planning brunch dates and going for cocktails, there's something to be said about a cosy night in. With the Danish influence of hygge [pronouced hoo-guh] lending itself to being wrapped up indoors with friends and family, it's hard not to get on board with the cosiest lifestyle trend around. The concept is all about being comfortable, homely and happy all through the year, but I feel it's even best enjoyed around the colder months. Think chunky jumpers, slow cooked meals, curling up in front of a good film and spiced Autumnal drinks. Bliss.

When Butterkist got in touch to test out their newest popcorn varieties with a girls' night in. #ABowlShared was the perfect excuse to embrace ultimate hygge with a film night a couple of warming popcorn hot chocolates. Plus, salted caramel popcorn... who could resist?

chocolate afternoon tea at cuppas of rothley, leicestershire.

Love chocolate? Love afternoon tea? Live in the Midlands? This place needs to be next on your hitlist. For £13.95 per person, Cuppas of Rothley serves up a chocoholics afternoon tea in a 1940s inspired setting. The vintage style tea room, set in the lovely Leicestershire village, has a handful of charming chairs and tables where diners can enjoy traditional afternoon teas as well as lunch, brunch and light bites. 

butternut squash and red pepper ravioli in a sage butter sauce.

butternut squash and red pepper ravioli in a sage butter sauce

I love making homemade pasta. There is just such a richness to the finished result, which makes it a very special treat indeed. It’s a labour of love and I always enjoy thinking up ideas for ravioli and tortellini fillings as well as sauces for fresh spaghetti and pappardelle.

In creating a recipe with Bertolli, it made sense to use it as an opportunity to embrace real, fresh pasta and Italian inspiration. On their recipe page they have a whole host of warming and wintry pasta dish ideas too. From classic spaghetti bolognese to macaroni cheese with prosciutto and leeks, I was drawn to their inviting Penne with Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Chilli. I was instantly inspired to recreate a dish with the same delicious flavours.

In this case it had to be Autumnal; with sweet butternut squash and roasted red peppers at the centre of the dish. The luxurious, silky sauce is enriched with Bertolli with Butter and flavoured with aromatic sage and the crunch of toasted butternut squash seeds. Their butter is so versatile too, making for great pasta dishes, as part of cooking or simply layered on some warm, crusty bread. Here the buttery sauce adds extra flavour, which laces the ravioli beautifully. It’s also part of the filling mix, for that extra hint of luxury.