Lottie Loves: 65

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Instagram of the week: Spring sky. I could swim in that blue.

1. Ooh, Madonna! That must've hurt. But you've given the internet so much joy.

2. Joy's Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies look insane! I know my Mum and I could polish a tray of these bad boys off, no problem.

3. Live Long and Prosper, Leonard Nimoy.

4. Christina Aguilera does Britney and NAILS IT.

5. 18 relationships destroyed by THAT dress. It was a crazy Thursday, right? #blueandblack4eva

6. Still cannot get enough of John Legend and Common's Glory. Gorgeous song.

7. Little ways to make a long-term relationship feel sparkly new.

8. SO EAGER to use my bundt tin. 28 recipes to make in a bundt tin this spring.

9. 15 things that emotionally strong people don't do.

10. Uptown Funk's 'Oldtown' cover is just TOO GOOD.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Top 5 Oscar Moments 2015

Monday, 23 February 2015

I put my cup of tea in the cupboard this morning. Want to know why? Because I was up until 5am watching the 87th Academy Awards unfold and consequently was feeling a little nuts.
As always, it was a great show honouring a selection of some great talent. Whilst each ceremony is full of funny, emotional and shocking moments I've gathered a list of my top 5 favourites.

5. Dakota Johnson is snaps at her Mum on the Red Carpet
In at number 5, is Dakota Johnson and her mum, Melanie Griffith disagreeing on the red carpet over 50 Shades of Grey. It's just a liiiiiiittle bit awkward. But oh Dakota, it happens to the best of us. 

4. John Travolta makes it up to Idina Menzel 
Did you catch the Oscars last year? When John Travolta introduced the wonderful Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem? Well this year he made up for his little blunder with a lot of face touching. It was cute and creepy in equal measures.

3. Eddie Redmayne wins the Oscar for Best Actor
And he couldn't have been more adorable. Even if you were backing another horse, it is really hard not to be thrilled for him. A brilliant British actor and a well deserved award. Also woop woop for The Imitation Game too, as they picked up Best Adapted Screenplay.

2. Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech ft. Meryl Streep
At number 2 is Patricia Arquette and her emotionally charged, feminist acceptance speech. Meryl Streep and I are totally in agreement and awe of how she is using her platform to speak out for the better. Also her Oscar is thoroughly deserved and if you haven't yet watched Boyhood, make sure you do. It's a wonderful, groundbreaking film worthy of Best Director and Picture.

1. The Glory Performance
My favourite moment of this year's Oscar awards show was undoubtedly John Legend and Common's performance of Selma's Glory. The crowd were in tears, I was in tears and when Glory went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song there was a palpable feeling of joy in the audience. It's quite spectacular. And a wonderful, powerful song.

For a full list of the Oscar nominees and winners click here.

Lottie Loves: 64

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Instagram of the week: New reads! Have you read either? Any thoughts?

1. Election style Oscar predictions. Interesting...
PS - you may seem a theme evolving over this post!

2. New to blogging? Here is a handy little blog post explaining some blogging jargon.

3. The language of flowers. Are you fluent?

4. This purse organisation system makes me so happy. SO HAPPY.

5. Emily's Oscar Party Sandwich Bar is so cute! Are you staying up to watch the show tonight? I'm going to have to fit in a tactical nap...

6. I've treated myself to a new food processor, and I have to say, it's love.

7. School lunches from around the world. Weird.

8. I was so inspired by Rosie's workout post this week and especially loved her links to workout at home routines.

9. This is what tea in 22 different countries looks like. The picture chosen for Britain made me laugh.

10. A pug puppy reenacts all of the Oscar nominated films. You have to watch this one.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

BREAKING NEWS: January is over.
That's right, folks. The rumours are true. January has well and truly gone and dare I say it, I think Winter might be following too. Signs of Spring are filtering into our gradually lightening days and I couldn't be more excited. Daffodils are sneaking into supermarkets, I'm only wearing two layers when I venture outdoors and people are finally coming out of winter hibernation, ready to play once more. 
So to celebrate the end of our winter hibernation and the beginning of Spring playtime, I thought I'd share the perfect little dinner party dessert. A doddle to make, easy to store and totally impressive and delicious. Panna cotta is also light, refreshing and luxurious, making it the ideal way to end a meal of fancies and delights. 
Panna cotta always reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who makes a mean panna cotta (along with just about everything else, too!). When I was younger, I used to devour her panna cotta which she'd often serve with a mixed berry compote. My favourite fruit in the compote was the delicious, plump strawberries and that's why I've decided to top my simple vanilla pudding with the same. They are the perfect sweet accompaniment with a subtle but sharp tang of lemon. It's kinda heavenly and is certain to impress.  

For Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote you will need (makes 4 ramekins):

3 gelatine leaves
250ml whole milk
250ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g caster sugar

For the strawberry compote:

300g strawberries
1/2 lemon
2 tbsp caster sugar

Begin by soaking the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft.

 Then over a a medium heat melt together the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.

Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmer. 

Then squeeze out the gelatine leaves of any excess water and add to the cream mix. Stir until the leaves are completely dissolved. 

Pour the mixture into four ramekins or molds. You can use a funnel at this point if you have one to hand.

Divide equally between four ramekins. Leave to cool and then cover and pop into the fridge for at least one hour.

For the compote, top and halve the strawberries. 

Then in a small pan, combine the strawberries, sugar and juice of half a lemon. 

Stir and then cover and leave to simmer over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the strawberries are a glossy, dark red and the liquid is syrupy. Store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.

 When ready to serve simply grab your ramekins of panna cotta.

Pile on your strawberry compote. 

And that's it! Serve up and tuck in to these little bowls of love.

Healthy Food Swaps with Waitrose*

Monday, 16 February 2015

When Waitrose contacted me back in January and asked if I'd like to take part in their Healthy Food Swaps challenge I said yes.* Of course I said yes - it was January and I was all over kale and kicking that awful post-Christmas slump. I had a couple of conditions though - no crazy dieting or cutting out meals.

Thank goodness the good folk at Waitrose know that a happy and healthy diet doesn't mean skipping meals, just eating smarter. So the objective of the Healthy Foods Swaps is to make small but concious changes to your current diet. Subbing in healthier alternatives to current, less-beneficial foods. So mayonnaise for avocado, or fudge for medjool dates (this seriously works, must try!). Little, but important changes to make your body happier and healthier. 

But besides the Christmas indulgence, I considered my diet to be in pretty good condition. I avoid takeaways, drink in moderation and generally cook up pretty healthy stuff. But with a little scrutiny, I noticed I was a habitual eater. I love to make my favourite no-yeast pizza on a Saturday, and eat mostly vegetarian food throughout the week. Sure, my comfortable routine isn't the end of the world, but it did mean I wasn't getting enough of certain foods. So with a little thought I have managed to swap out foods high in refined sugar, salt and carrying added preservatives. During the Healthy Food Swaps challenge I (mostly) consumed things that made my stomach, health and instagram feed happy. Triple win. 

I first addressed the elephant in my diet (excuse the painful metaphor) - refined sugar. Without even realising, I was consuming a load of refined sugar that can actually be easy to avoid. Sneaky food producers manage to wedge sugar into a lot of our daily food items. Take your morning cereal, full of fiber and wholegrains but is probably also packing a punch of unnecessary refined sugar too. Luckily changes in the breakfast department can be delicious and exciting. Go for porridge bedecked in fruit, amazing protein pancakes or if you're feeling more adventurous then you could even whip up your own granola as I did a couple of weeks ago.

By making your own breakfast dish you know exactly what is going in, not to mention you can customise it to your taste. And refined-sugar free breakfasts have been wonderful. I don't tend to crash mid-morning after a sugar-high. Also, granola is just oh so pretty to instagram. What's not to love?

Secondly I tackled the lack of dark, leafy greens in my diet. Great sources of leafy greens include spinach, broccoli and kale. But if I'm honest I find eating them a bit of a chore and I'm not a fan of the ever-trendy kale. Whilst I had no desire to start eating kale salad (and am still baffled by people who insist it's delicious) I started to whizz up kale into my lunchtime soups. It packs a great punch of flavour and substance. I particularly like this alkalising green soup. I've been making a batch on Monday and enjoying it throughout the week.

Similarly with spinach I would put a large handful into a smoothie and blitz. It made no difference flavour wise, but I was getting another fix of greens. I'll be giving Popeye a run for his money any day now.

Finally, as my diet consisted of mainly vegetarian food with the odd chicken or beef dish, I wasn't getting nearly enough fish in my diet. This meant I wasn't reaping any of the benefits that come with omega 3, which include promoting heart health, bones and teeth health and lower cholesterol. 

This Fish-in-Foil recipe that I posted last week is ridiculously easy and was so simple to add into my routine, not to mention delicious! I'm now consciously endeavoring to eat fish at least once a week and I'm enjoying mixing up my cooking repertoire.

So, did the healthy food swaps work for me? 
Short answer: yes!

Waitrose had challenged me to stick with the Healthy Food Swaps for just one week, but as the changes were small, gradual and delicious, I found the swaps were sustainable and actually enjoyable. Whether it's a placebo effect, or my new found consumption of linseed is actually making a difference to my health, I feel great. I feel full. And most of all, I feel glad that I am balancing my diet and eating consciously. I urge anyone who feels stuck in a diet or lifestyle rut to trial Healthy Food Swaps.

And congratulations if you've reached the end of this post! We'll end with a picture of a good stack of blueberry pancakes, topped with honey and linseed. Simply because a happy and healthy life also includes balance and finding joy in what you eat. This, I believe, is essential.

Lottie Loves: 63

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Instagram of the week: Breakfast in bed with my love is such a treat.

1. Happy V-Day, love bugs! Treat yo' self and your loved ones and eat a bucket load of chocolate.

2. I need these Chicken Pittas with Whipped Jalapeno Feta in my life RIGHT NOW.

3. I watched Still Alice this week. It was tender and touching and made me cry on four separate occasions. Watch it & enjoy Julianne Moore's stunning performance.

4. 10 times reporters asked female celebrities the wrong damn question. JUST SHUT UP, would ya?

5. Sticky Pecan Buns forever and ever.

6. You know, I'd make a great wizard. I've always wanted a pet owl, particularly an Eastern Screech Owl. For now I'll just stare at them on the internet like every other normal person...

7. Pondering going out tonight? A former maître d' explains why you should stay at home on Valentine's Day.

8. I love this DIY fingerprint jewellery! Would make such a lovely gift.

9. 50 Shades rubbish is EVERYWHERE. Mostly it's getting on my nerves, but Innocent Smoothies' Innocent List of Fifty Shades of Grey did make me laugh.

10. 17 ways to make yourself happier right now. Love yo' self, superstar.

Have a happy weekend, friend! x

Blueberry Pancakes

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

I've seen a lot of blogs this week suggesting what to cook/bake/create for Valentines Day. These are wonderful blogs and the recipes are utterly delightful but I just have one question. Who CARES about Valentines when there is another day in February dedicated specifically to eating pancakes? A whole day for pancakes! Love and the like is all well and good, but a day for pancakes is on another level.
Consequently, rather than love heart cookies or killer brownies I am bringing you the fluffiest, juiciest, most delicious blueberry pancakes. They are just begging to be smothered in maple syrup or honey, topped with bacon and devoured. And I bet if you served these bad boys up to your valentine, they'd be getting down on one knee, anyway.
There is little else to say besides they're flippin' awesome (that's a pancake pun you can take to the bank) and you should get cooking asap.

For Blueberry Pancakes you will need (makes 16 small-medium pancakes):

140g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
150ml milk
2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly)
100g frozen blueberries

To serve:
Honey/Maple Syrup/Golden Syrup

Begin by sifting the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a bowl.
Then in a separate jug mix together the melted butter (allowed to cool slightly so it doesn't scramble the egg), milk, vanilla extract and egg. Beat together.
Then add the wet mix into the flour mix and beat with a fork.

Keep going until smooth and you have a soupy consistency. If the batter is a little stiff, add a splash more milk.
Now put a pan onto a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. Don't be tempted to put the pan on a high heat as by your third of fourth pancake, they will start to burn. 

Ladle batter into small circles and sprinkle over a few blueberries.
I use frozen blueberries in this recipe as in general, you get more bang for your buck. So go ahead and load those little cakes up! 

Once bubbles appear on the pancakes - flip 'em! Try getting creative with your flipping if you're feeling adventurous. 

To get those lovely blueberries to ooze some juices, press down on the back of the pancakes until you hear them sizzle.

Keep going until you're out of batter and then stack 'em high.
Add the topping of your choice. 

For breakfast, I opted for a small vat of honey.
And then watched it drip, drip, drip. 

 Dive in, fork first!

Happy Pancake Month to you!

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