Summer Bucket List 2015

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Summertime. Those few magical months where playtime seems a bit more possible. More options are open for frivolity and the longer days mean more time to play. Each summer I like to make a bucket list to keep my hopes for the warmer months on track. So here's a little collection of 15 things I want to do this summer. Do you fancy any of these, too?

1. Unearth my watercolours and spend some time unwinding, creating and making a huge mess.

2. Visit an outdoor swimming pool with a picnic blanket and a hamper of goodies - perhaps (read: definitely) including a chilled bottle of prosecco.

3. Have a BBQ. Halloumi, salmon and marshmallows must feature. Although not in conjunction, of course.

4. Take Jack rock climbing. And if he loves it as much as I do, take it up as a new hobby together.

5. Work on my tennis serve. *Hums Wimbledon theme music and purchases sweat bands*

6. Go to the beach. Dip my toes in the sea. Slather sunscreen on my face. Get sand EVERYWHERE.

7. Take up daily yoga and stick at it.

8. Find and make a wonderful sorbet. I like the look of this Watermelon Sorbet and this slightly naughtier Raspberry Mojito Sorbet.

9. Attend a food festival and eat ALL of the samples. All of them.

10. Geocache my way around Loughborough before we leave. Have you geocached? I'm hooked.

11. Fly kites! And sing let's go fly a kite... Obviously.

12. Watch some live music. With a pimms cup and boho flower chain.

13. Visit the IMAX and watch a film in 3D. I wouldn't say no to Jurassic Park again to see Chris Pratt in 3D... 

14. Picnic in the park. Again a bottle of prosecco wouldn't go amiss and a flask of Earl Grey for the afternoon accompanied by my favourite banana cake would be just lovely.

15. Get a Loughborough sign picture (it's a right of passage around these parts) with Jack to round off our time at Loughborough. This summer is my last of living here, and boy, am I gonna' make it a good'un.

Lottie Loves: 79

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Instagram of the week: What a treat! My lovely friend and I skipped along to see Matilda this week. It was such great fun and we jazz-handed our way through the whole performance.

1. My sister and her lovely boyfriend, Liam came to visit this weekend. We had such a wonderful time and a whole plethora of adventures, including my being introduced to Geocache. Have you heard of it? Do you geocache yourself? I'm addicted after one day... Such fun!

2. This slow cooker pulled pork looks INSANE.

3. Isn't this weather wonderful? I'm craving iced earl grey tea to accompany these hazy days and love the look of this recipe.

4. Here's a list of words you've been saying wrong.

5. No churn ice creams are the way forward for those without ice cream makers. These 5 recipes sound divine, especially the blackberry lavender.

6. Fancy a little food photography? These tips on food photography are a great place to jump off from.

7. I tried Nandos quinoa salad this week with extra halloumi. And my word! Delish. Totally worth an order and it made quite the delightful change from chicken.

8. Jack and I played tennis doubles with Josie and Liam this weekend. It was such a laugh to play together and I've missed playing sport outside in the warm air. I'm looking forward to more.

9. Taza's guide to urban living is super helpful.

10. Can we just have a moment of appreciation for Jurassic World (and Chris Pratt's arms...)? I mean C'MON what a good film. And I love this article on why zoo keepers love Chris Pratt.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

No-Prove Pizza

Friday, 26 June 2015

This is one of my all time favourite recipes - and that's no exaggeration.

I head for this no-prove pizza recipe pretty much every week. It's my go-to when I'm in the mood for a pizza, partly because it's so damn delicious but mostly because it takes less than an hour to whip up from thought to plate. Hurrah! Speedy pizza makes for happy eaters. And that's a fact, friends. The trick with this recipe is no yeast! So there is no proving and hardly any kneading. All you need is a teaspoon of baking powder in its place and hey presto! You will have yourself a wonderful, thin-crust delight in a fraction of the time. It's the perfect addition to any weekend + best served with sweet potato wedges and a big green salad.

This recipe can also be customised to your choice. Of course you can change up your toppings, but you can also mix up the sauce and try BBQ or pesto if you fancy. And you can even change the base, this recipe also works with spelt flour, just directly swap out for the plain white flour. So you can even make a kinda' healthy pizza, loaded with veggies and with a spelt flour base. And have it on your plate in less than an hour. I mean COME ON. This is living, isn't it?

Let's pizza.

For No-Prove Pizza you will need: 

240g plain flour
120ml water
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ball mozzarella 

suggested toppings:
75g sliced chorizo
1/2 pepper green pepper, sliced
handful of mushrooms, sliced

Preheat the oven to 200c. Begin by combining the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

Add in the water and then use your hand like a dough hook to bring the dough into a ball.

You should have something that looks a little like this. If the dough is too dry add a splash more water or knead the dough with wet hands. If the dough is too wet, knead on a heavily floured surface. 

Once the dough is smooth, roll into a round base on a floured surface.

If you don't have a rolling pin you could use a wine bottle to roll your base. 

Whip up a quick tomato base by combining the tomato puree, oregano and 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

Put the base on a baking tray and then spread the olive oil over the base.

Followed with the tomato sauce.

Tear up the mozzarella and chuck it on.

Followed by any and all of your toppings. Fold the corners of the pizza over to make a crust and then bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the base is cooked through.

Slide your pizza onto a serving platter.

Salivate a little...

Slice up and serve!

Lottie Loves: 78

Friday, 19 June 2015

Instagram of the week: We're celebrating Jack's birthday this weekend and we both can't wait for a couple of days of fun. This years cake request was lemon + the creation above is full of homemade lemon curd. HB, my love!

1. So I finished Orange is the New Black and cried at the end. Am I alone? It might have been an emotional day... And now I feel slightly bereaved.

2. Grilled baby back ribs with root beer and bbq sauce. I mean COME ON.

3. 29 travel hacks.

4. If you're like me and need a little motivation for Summer projects then these 5 TED talks to inspire Summer productivity should be right up your street.

5. This treehouse is INSANE!

6. I had a very middle-aged moment this week. I got a new fabric softener and was so excited to see how delicious it made my clothes smell. Ashamedly excited.

7. These black and white animal portraits are stunning.

8. I saw Spy this week with a lovely friend and we had such a giggle! It really is a funny film. At one point I snorted in the cinema... Boy is it a good place those places are dark.

9. Daily habits to make you smarter.

10. This sparkling cucumber watermelon sangria looks like a must for any sunny, summery weekend.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Lottie Loves: 77

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Instagram of the week: I could quite happily move in here. In fact, can I please?

1. Orange is the New Black. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. *confetti canon emojis for days*

2. Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies? Er - YES PLEASE I'll have six.

3. I love making my own stationary and Emily's Quick Summer Stationary ideas look so simple yet utterly adorable.

4. 10 useful links and tools for bloggers. Always handy.

5. Things to avoid when eating in restaurants.

6. Making a Cookbook. A daunting but exciting prospect.

7. Y'know, it's funny how a new pair of specs can make one so happy. It's also funny how I get slightly competitive at the optician - well yes I can read the bottom line, thank you very much!

8. Instagram is by far my favourite social media platform, so these 8 fun instagram accounts were really up my street. I especially like Waiting Dogs.

9. So Japan has started to shave their dogs into cubes... Thought you oughta' know.

10. 12 things you absolutely have to do on a Sunday. How many have you ticked off? If not all 12 you should probably just take Monday off, right...?

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Bruce Bogtrotter Chocolate Fudge Cake

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

"Eat!" she shouted, banging her thigh with the riding-crop. "If I tell you to eat, you will eat! You wanted cake! You stole cake! And now you've got cake! What's more, you're going to eat it! You do not leave this platform and nobody leaves this hall until you have eaten the entire cake that is sitting there in front of you! Do I make myself clear, Bogtrotter? Do you get my meaning?"

I can imagine the taste of that chocolate fudge cake every time I read Matilda, Chapter 11 - Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cake. The way it might stick to the back of the throat in all its chocolatey glory and how it would pair just perfectly with a tall, frosty glass of milk. Roald Dahl always had such a way with food description - remember the chocolate river of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Or those revolting Snozzcumbers of The BFG? I even remember The Twits' bird pie - but I think that's partly because I was horrified by such a creation... Anyway - such descriptions have stayed with me and still continue to enchant and delight me whenever I revisit my favourite childhood books. And I'm still obsessed with the idea of Bruce Bogtrotter's cake.

So I'm thrilled to find a recipe that really is how I imagine Bruce Bogtrotter's Chocolate Fudge Cake to taste like - it's just a little bit smaller (I mean who has cake tins 18 inches wide?!). This recipe is originally one from Carnation Caramel and I love the flavour and texture that the caramel adds. The icing is deliciously sticky and rich whilst the sponge is light and full of cocoa. The sprinkles add a burst of delightful colour and are compulsory when this cake is served for a birthday, which this particular creation was. HB, Al! 

And even though no self-respecting food blogger should be posting a thick, sticky totally non-diet-friendly chocolate fudge layer cake in the Summer time, I say balls to that.* Why should those with birthdays in June be subjected to a fruit salad laden with candles? They should not. Also, this cake is blummin' delish. So all-year-round eating is certainly recommended.

*If you did come here on the hunt for Summer recipes then you could always try this raspberry and lemon ice cream or this baked sweet potato falafel + herbed cous cous dish. Sorry for saying balls.

Anyway - let's whip this baby up.

For Bruce Bogtrotter Chocolate Fudge Cake you will need (makes one 2-tier cake): 

For the cake

175g self-raising flour
2 and a 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
150ml corn oil
150ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp carnation caramel (from a 397g tin)

For the icing

The rest of the carnation caramel (from a 397g tin)
125g dark chocolate
1 tbsp icing sugar
5 tbsp sprinkles (optional)

Begin by lining two 18cm sandwich tins and preheating your oven to 180c.

Then sieve the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb and sugar together in a large bowl.

Stir together until combined.

Then in a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, oil, 1 tbsp of the caramel and 1 tsp of vanilla extract together. 

Once whisked, pour the wet mixture into the prepared dry mixture. 

Stir until smooth and just about ready to swim in...

Pour equal measures of the cake batter into your prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins. Once cool, transfer to a cooling rack (remove the baking parchment too) and leave to cool completely. If you add icing to warm cakes it will just melt and that's kinda' heart breaking.

So once your cakes are cooled, prepare the icing. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. 

Once melted take off the heat and stir in the rest of the tin of caramel and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

Once smooth sieve in the icing sugar. It's important to sieve the icing sugar at this stage or you will risk ending up with lumps in your icing. 

Stir once more until smooth. 

Then put your first cake on a serving plate a evenly spread a few spoonfuls of the icing over the top.

Put your second cake on top and spoon on more icing. You can cover just the top layer if you'd prefer, but as this is a Bruce Bogtrotter cake, I wanted to cover the sides in icing too. 

I mean really lay this stuff on thick - you won't regret it. 

Add sprinkles if your feeling festive or fancy! 

Sit back and admire your handiwork! 

I mean - top marks for you!
You can store this cake in the fridge but is best served at room temperature.
It's also pretty darn amazing when warmed up in the microwave, too. Definitely add vanilla ice cream. Definitely.

Lottie Loves: 76

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Instagram of the week: We were treated to a little bit of summer weather this week! I celebrated with the most delicious frozen mango and raspberry smoothie and yoga on the patio.

1. This week has been all walking + writing + clearing out. It's been good to have a deep-clean and a refocus. 

2. These Raspberry-Almond Cookie Bars make me want to dribble everywhere. Everywhere!

3. I'm always interested to see what recipes are most popular on blogs, A Cup of Jo's 12 Favorite Recipes all look utterly drool-worthy. Especially that grown-up grilled cheese - oof!

4. 5 podcasts for bloggers, designers and creatives. I'm looking for some new listening for walking, I'm certainly going to be trying out a few of these.

5. Rosie's Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Spelt cookies looked so wonderful I couldn't help whipping up a batch this week. And I can confirm - they were delicious!

6. 28 people on the most life-changing thing they did in their 20s.

7. I would really like to cut my hair like this. Or just to look like RHW, please. Either/or.

8. This Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake looks like a real summer crowd-pleaser. Not to mention a gorgeous addition to any table!

9. Will I ever get over my obsession with chickpeas? Probably not. I could happily scoff handfuls of these Baked Rosemary Parmesan Chickpeas.

10. Edible gummy legos. I have a feeling Jack would go crazy for these.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x
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