Peanut Butter Fudge

Monday, 31 December 2012

As promised, I come bearing an indulgence.
This year, I made a batch of this wonderful, peanutty fudge and wrapped little stacks of it in cellophane, adorned them with ribbons and handwritten labels and handed them out as Christmas gifts. They all went down with delight and I think they will be a stock present for Christmas and birthdays to come! They are also brilliantly cost effective (students, I am talking to you), so if you're a little tight on cash after Christmas and some of your friends (selfishly) have birthdays in January, these are perfect for showing someone you care.
Alternatively, you can just make a batch just for yourself. There is nothing wrong with celebrating making it through a monday. Nothing at all.
These are some of the easiest, most tempting and devilishly naughty little indulgences I've ever made and are definitely to be made before your New Year resolutions, if you feel a tray to yourself is a necessity. So hurry up and grab the peanut butter!

For Peanut Butter Fudge you will need:

125g butter
500g dark brown sugar
120ml milk
250g crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g icing sugar

To begin with, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Once melted, add in the milk.

Then stir the brown sugar through, bring to the boil and leave for 2-3 minutes. Don't be tempted to pick up that spoon and stir!

Unstirred, boiling, smelling phenomenal!

Remove from the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir well until smooth.

In a separate bowl, weigh out your icing sugar and then pour in your hot, lava-ish mixture.

Stir. Stir well. You may have to get the guns out until the mixture is stiff and smooth.

Like this! Looking remarkably fudge-like. Always a good sign at this stage.

Pile into a pre-lined baking tin and flatten down or make some kind of pattern. I found I didn't have the patience to flatten it completely so opted for an artistic, uneven effect...
Cool slightly and then chill completely in the fridge. I left my batch for about 3-4 hours.

When you're ready, cut into squares with a sharp knife. Sample at least 3 chunks. If you manage 5, I salute you.

Pile decoratively and gift with love.
Or just reward yourself with a load. From me: to me, thanks for being you.
I think I could get away with that...?


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ok, so I said we'd have a catch up on the 26th but everything just runs over at Christmas, doesn't it?
Anyway, as promised I am now here and ready to debrief! I hope you all enjoyed the festive period and ate loads, I did.
I also took a tonne of photos. My iPhone is my new best friend for snapping everything up so here is a selection from my Instagram December.

A pair of very photogenic chillies that my Mum was drying out.

Experiment with frames and Christmas coffee. Verdict: like both. Salted Caramel latte now holds a particularly special place in my heart.

Home for Christmas! Lovely misty walks with my pup, Archie. He doesn't pose as much as my cat, but is still a very handsome boy indeed.

Caption competition photo. I think he's being told off...

Regent Street. Can't resist the beautiful London lights over Christmas. Or the opportunity to stroll through Selfridges and pretend I'm buying everything.

Omelette experiments. A recipe will be coming your way soon. I have a feeling it is going to be a feel good January staple!

Spare ingredients = imaginative homemade christmas or birthday presents. Blanched Almonds drizzled in three shades of chocolate. Wrap in cellophane, attach a ribbon and write a label with love.

Rather jolly wreath decorating my front door. Adorned by my Mum, mounted by my Dad. Teamwork.

There is my posey little kitten. And me. Posing too, I know. Guilty, guilty...

My sister and I in chunky knits. Hanging around the kitchen with the animals, waiting for leftovers.

HAM. No more to be said. 
Oh my God, look at it.

Caught Archie posing! "I'm a hound dog arooroooooroooo!"

Shameless selfie from yesterday. Wedding attire, dress from Phase 8 - it's a new favourite. Gorgeous affair with lovely people. Today I do not look like that at all. In PJs watching Harry Potter. No photo of that I'm afraid. It's for your own good.

And that's my little December collection.
I expect I'll squeeze a few more in before New Year.
I'll also try and get a naughty recipe to you before the clock strikes 12 and we all start the New Year detox. Keep an eye out.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Hello World!
Just dropping in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
I'm sorry I've been quiet for a while, but I've been running around with my Mum, buying food, cooking up delights and attempting to make Christmas all look effortless and lovely. I think we've succeeded today, the house is calm and smells delicious.
I hope you all laugh, love and eat well today. We'll have a catch up tomorrow shall we? It's long overdue!
For now, here are a few snaps I've managed to grab today.
Enjoy your day xxx

Dressed up and playing with Instagram. Yes of course, World, I look like this all year round...

The homemade Christmas hamper I created for my parents. I've been dying to share this with you for ages, but my Mum is my number one blog reader and I didn't want to spoil the surprise for her. The hamper is packed with  Punjabi Orange Pickle, Cinnamon and Chocolate biscuits, Cheddar and Cracked Black Pepper crackers, Peanut Butter Fudge and a nice bottle of red. The fudge recipe will definitely be coming your way!

My little Kit was forced to wear a garish headpiece that cheekily made it through the tasteful decoration screening. He's sulking now. Will win him back over with some stuffing later.

Josie and I, all done up. I'm wearing my lovely new apron, courtesy of my parents. I wasn't cooking at this point but I can't stop wearing it.

Now, where's that turkey...

Lean Green Speedy Soup.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I have this theory.
If I eat really, really well before Christmas, I won't put on weight from the tins of Quality Street I steal away into my room and eat. Alone.
It's not a watertight theory, but I'm going to go with it. And if it doesn't work, at least I've eaten well and haven't feasted of pie every day, as much as I'd like to.
So I've befriended this simple little recipe that's easy on the wallet and the waist.

You will need to serve 2:
4 spring onions
1 potato
500ml vegetable stock
140g spinach, watercress and rocket

Begin by chopping the onions.

Fry them lightly in a tablespoon of preheated olive oil until soft. 

Peel and chop your potato and add it in to the pan with your onions. Cook gently for 2 minutes.

Pour in 500mls of vegetable stock and simmer until the potato is tender.

Add in all of your salad leaves, one handful at a time. They will wilt down almost instantly so don't be alarmed by how much you seem to start off with. 

Simmer the leaves for a minute and then transfer to a blender. 

Ready, steady...

BLEND! Whizz the green goodness up together until the soup is a smooth, consistent shade of green.

That is a healthy, healthy green. Crack in pepper and a little salt to taste. 

The soup is surprisingly thick, so banish any fears that it will be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cabbage soup esque!
Still can't get over how green it is. Simply gorgeous! 

Serve with a crust of bread and a little cream if you're feeling decorative.
See, that only took about 20 minutes and I bet you'll feel healthy as a horse when you've finished it all up. 
I hope you enjoy eating salad - winter style.
Guaranteed smugness.

Signature Beef Pie.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The idea of making pies has always been one that has gripped me. To be able to produce a crumbly, meaty, family-unifying meal is surely an invaluable skill, right? So I've practiced a couple of times and I've settled on a recipe that I think I'll be going back to for years. I've wanted to share this one with you guys for ages, but wanted to get it perfect! 
And guess what, nobody will know it's been made on a student budget or skill set, promise!

For the filling you will need:
500g diced beef
50g flour
2 carrots
2 red onions
7-10 mushrooms
1 can Guinness
150g strong cheddar cheese  
Salt, pepper, rosemary

For the pastry you will need:
400g plain flour
200g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cold water
1 egg for glazing
To begin with, mix 50g of flour with salt and pepper.

Coat each piece of meat in the flour mixture. This will not only seal each individual piece but give you an irresistibly thick pie gravy.

Dice up your onions and chop your carrots.

Slice the mushrooms.

Combine together in a pan and soften. Once soft, add in the floured meat and brown.

Now for the Guinness. I'm a bit of a Guinness novice and my can punished me thusly:

Pour into the pie contents once the meat is brown. Add salt, pepper and rosemary to taste and then whack in the slow cooker for about 4 hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can put it in the oven for 2 hours at 180c.
If you're reluctant to use Guinness/don't fancy drinking the other three cans, my Grandmother shared a little tip with me. Crumble a beef oxo cube into a mug, add a tablespoon of Marmite and fill the mug to the top with boiling water. Mix et voilĂ ! Guinness alternative. 

Now to make some wonderful, buttery pastry.
I've gone with my favourite shortcrust recipe that never lets me down and is oh-so therapeutic to make.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Begin by combining the flour and butter. Make sure it is cold and diced. Crumble together and then add 4 tablespoons of water.

Once the pastry is in a ball divide it into two thirds and one.

Roll out the two thirds and line the bottom of a dish with it.

Trim the edges until it just overlaps the dish.

Pile your filling into the dish.

Grate the cheddar over the top. You can omit this, but it adds a wonderful richness.

Roll out the top and cover your pie. Marry the pastry together with a fork, make a slit in the middle to release steam and make some decoration to top. I've gone with traditional leaves but don't hold back if you're feeling adventurous...

Brush with an egg.

Whack into the oven for 45 minutes and serve with buttery mash and steaming vegetables once you can see the filling bubbling through the pastry.
I served mine with pride for my sister's birthday and it served six and there was still leftovers for lunch the next day!

I hope you treasure this recipe as much as I do.  
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