Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

Making a risotto is scary right? Wrong! Risottos really aren’t that tricky to make. Like most people, I was nervous before trying one for the first time, but it was really quite simple. One of my favourites to knock up is a chicken and mushroom risotto.

Start by cutting up chicken breasts – one per person – and cook them off, before setting aside. Melt some butter in a deep frying pan – a generous amount – and add one large, finely chopped onion – red or white, your choice. Allow the onion to sweat, along with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, until they start to soften. Now, add some chopped mushrooms and bacon and allow them to start cooking too.

To the veggies, add your risotto rice, the pack will indicate how much per person and mix around. Let that cook until it starts to turn translucent, before adding around a glass of white wine. When that’s started to cook down, add some chicken stock. I made around a litre, but only put in a quarter to start with. Keep stirring the rice and add more stock as it’s absorbed into the mix.

20181120_155728

After around 15minutes, return the chicken to the pan, adding any extra stock as required and after another 5minutes, providing the rice is cooked through, take the pan off the heat, throw in some grated parmesan and allow that to melt into the dish. It should look creamy and ready to serve.

20181120_162210

Dish up and sprinkle some extra parmesan and black pepper on the top.

20181120_162358

Advertisements

Brighton Snailspace Trail

We’ve been giant animal hunting again! As the Snailspace trail around Brighton and Hove entered its final day, my husband and I finally got around to going to find as many as we could.

With the weather perfect, we couldn’t have chosen a better day to walk some 15 miles around the city, looking for the sculptures, which came both as large snails

 

and smaller ones, which had been designed by schoolchildren.

sdr

 

We started off at the train station and worked our way through the Laines, where we came across a Martlets shops. Martlets is the hospice benefiting from the trail and thankfully, stocked trail maps, which made our task that little bit easier. We also nabbed ourselves a ‘snuck’ – cross between a snail and a duck – as a little memento of the day.

snuck

After finding most of the Brighton-based snails, we decided a little lunch was in order, before pushing on into Hove.

It was a packed day along the seafront, but with the weather so glorious, it wasn’t hard to understand why. In total, we probably found around 50 of the snails, both big and small. We knew we wouldn’t find them all – there was over 100 in total – but some were too far out to find on foot. We made full use of the app – £1.99 to download – which added a little extra fun to the day. We collected several rewards, but couldn’t use many of them, but I shall be going through them again today to make sure all competitions have been entered.

We found our final snail as the sun was setting and it was a sunset worth watching.

By the time we returned to the city centre to head towards the train station, the Christmas lights had come on, which really added something to the day – I’m a huge Christmas fan.

 

 

This is the second time we have completed one of these trails in Brighton – we did the Snow Dogs a couple of years ago – and it’s always great to see how the city embraces the idea. There was a lot of excitement in the build up to the event and if you missed the event, there is still a chance to see all of the snails at their farewell event on the 30th November to 2nd December at St Augustine’s Event Centre in Brighton. This is a ticketed event, which can be found online. The snails will then be auctioned off for the Martlets and these things always go for a lot of money, which is fantastic for the hospice. If you think you can give one of the snails a home for life – and they are ridiculously cute – check out the website, where you can also make a donation or grab your own Snailspace merchandise.

I’m looking forward to whatever trail arrives in Brighton next, but currently I’m not aware of any, anywhere in the country that are coming up. So, if you know of any, please do let me know!

mde

Potato & Bacon Bake

I was looking for a different idea for potatoes, so thought I’d see if I could do a ‘potato bake’.

I started by finely slicing potatoes and onions and cooking them in boiling water, complete with a dissolved chicken stock pot for around 5 minutes.

20181113_161657

Then, I placed the par-cooked veg into a baking dish, along with some chopped up bacon scattered throughout and some generous blobs of cream cheese (I used a supermarket own brand). Once the dish was nicely packed, I ladled over some of the cooking water from the saucepan to about a quart of an inch below the rim.

20181113_164013

Pop some more cream cheese on the top and cover with foil.

20181113_164422

Place in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 20minutes, after which, remove the foil and return the dish to the oven for a further 20minutes, to allow the top layer of potatoes to crisp up.

Dish up with a slotted spoon, so you don’t get too much of the liquid on the plate and serve with whatever you fancy – on this occasion, we had chicken kievs (I was feeling lazy!)

20181113_174247

The potatoes went down very well with Hubby, who went back for seconds, so they must have passed the test!

Ashford Snow Dogs

I cannot believe how quickly time has flown since we got married just over two weeks ago. Work has been crazy busy and craftwise, I’m making more dragons at the request of a friend – I need to make a total of 5 before Christmas, one of which is a present for someone who couldn’t make our wedding. I do have another Christmas project up my sleeve, but I can’t comment on that, as they may well read this post and that would spoil the surprise.

20180806_191954

On Sunday, we decided to have a little break for the whirlwind world of work and headed to Ashford, where there is a Snow Dog trail, running through until 18th November. Very similar in idea to the Gromit Unleashed 2 Trail we did in Bristol earlier this year, it’s all to raise money for a hospice.

There are dozens of giant Snow Dogs dotted around the town, some accompanied by Snow Pups, which are just too cute for words.

We probably spent around 3-4hours wandering around the town looking for the statues and found most of them. There were a couple a little further out that we didn’t get to, but we did manage to get the ones at the Designer Outlet – even if parking there was a struggle!

I fell in love with so many of the Snow Dogs and we even found a Two Tone one, which was perfect for my Ska-loving husband!

sdr

We did play along with the app for a little while, but we the internet signal let us down, so after we couldn’t register some of the dogs we found, we sadly gave up with that. It’s worth doing though, especially if you live in Kent, as there are lots of little prizes and discounts you can pick up from the sponsors of the dogs.

Hubby also bought me my own miniature Gizmo, but I’m not allowed to have him until my birthday tomorrow – he looks like this, just much, much smaller!

sdr

It was also lovely and moving to see what effort had been put in to marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in the town. One Snow Dog is dedicated to the animals killed in conflict and is set in a memorial garden.

sdr

Next up, we will be visiting the Snails Pace trail around Brighton.

Wedding Crafts

So, we’ve finally done it – we’ve tied the knot!

Posts have been incredibly few and far between, because I have been ridiculously busy crocheting dragons and making dragon eggs. In total, I made 51 dragons for the sit-down meal.

51 dragons

50 were for the guests to have as favours and one was for my late Dad and he guarded the wedding cake for us.

I spent 6 months crocheting and only finished the final one two days before the wedding last weekend. I was really happy with the finished results though and everyone really seemed to love them. Many guests have been sending us updates as to what their dragons have been getting up to – some have been to the beach, the theatre, the pub and one has flown all the way back to California, stopping off at Jurassic Park to visit distant relatives on the way!

If you would like to make your own baby dragon, I found the pattern here. It has certainly served me well and after 51 one, I now know the pattern by heart!

For the dragon eggs, I simply ordered some very large polystyrene eggs from HobbyCraft – on last look, the don’t appear to do that size at the moment, so I was lucky. Then came the task of covering them with drawing pins. After clearing out every shop in my home town of drawing pins, I ordered more in from a stationery company online. Each egg took around 4 hours to make and roughly 4,000 pins.

20181010_120343.jpg

It’s very simple though, just start at the bottom and slightly overlap the pins, to give the appearance of scales. I did mostly gold effect and one silver. You could spray paint them to be whatever cover you fancy, but we really liked the natural colour of the pins. They do get very heavy and caused great amusement as weebles when only half done – are you old enough to remember these toys??

But the finished effect was brilliant. I was really happy. To put the table name in, we cut the bottom off a metal heart place name holder and stuck it in the top. My chief bridesmaid made some amazing nests for them to sit in.

The finished room, I think looked fabulous.

20181021_09473120181021_095047

You may have guessed, but we had a dragon theme and even had the most glorious dragon made out of flowers for the day. It was completely magical. My chief bridesmaid’s husband also made us a fairytale signpost to help guests to find their way around the reception, it was just fantastic.

sign

The best part of the whole day though, had to be when I was going up the aisle and seeing the look on my husband’s face as he waited for me. I had been delayed by the photographer, so everyone was beginning to think I wasn’t coming – that was never going to happen! My groom looked so handsome and I’m now married to my best friend and can’t wait for our next adventure.

just married

It was completely the best day of my life and I wish I could do it all again where it was so incredible. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just have a replay function for life when we wanted it?

44535071_10156930425565701_3926121985725169664_n

More Cheese Gromit?

With our wedding now fast approaching, I can only apologise for not writing more on here. I have been totally swamped with work and wedding prep, that I have had little time for anything else. The wedding is now just over 6 weeks away and I have my second dress fitting today.

On the dragon front, I have now crocheted 35 of the little darlings, which will act as favours and table settings. I still have 16 to go, plus table centres, a seating plan, place names and table names.

20180806_191954

However, we did manage to squeeze in a flying visit to Bristol for their Gromit Unleashed 2 trail over the August Bank Holiday. It was such a welcome, albeit brief, break. We headed up on the Saturday afternoon after I had finished work – crocheting accompanied me throughout the journey! We started off in the Clifton village area of the city, where we found our first character – Feathers – on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

sdr

 

It was a lovely afternoon and I soon spotted a Gromit a short way away, before finding my first Wallace of the hunt. After a very welcome ice cream, it was off to find our AirB&B for the weekend. We had a great setting in the centre of the city and it would have been perfect, had it not been for the drum and bass firing through our window from a nearby pub from 5pm through until 6am the next day.

We found some more figures when we went out for dinner in the evening and we even found a bar with the Bubble Bobble arcade game, which took me right back to my childhood 😊

The next day, we woke to an absolute deluge outside our window, thankfully no longer accompanied by endless drum and bass. Undeterred, we sported our fetching waterproof jackets and headed out to find breakfast. On the way, we found a couple more statues to pose with too.

As the day went on, we got wetting than I ever thought humanly possible. We were so wet, even our waterproof coats gave up on us! I could ring mine out!! The sheer craziness of what we were doing just added to the fun of it all and we really couldn’t care less about the rain. Staff at one hotel, which was housing a minion Feathers, was kind enough to offer us a towel each and I tried to pull off a few moves to get my legs into a hand dryer – unsuccessfully!

The hunt continued, in museums, on the docks, in shops! We went everywhere and by the end of the day, we concluded we had no choice – new clothes had to be bought, as we hadn’t bought a change with us.

After a poor night’s sleep thanks to our friendly pub again, blasting out its favourite sound until 5am, we were up and out early on Bank Holiday Monday. First, breakfast, then time to check off a few statues we had missed the previous day, before jumping in the car to find a few on the outskirts of the city. Our search finished at the mall, where my lovely fiancé bought me a mini-Gromit figurine for my birthday – not until November, so I need to forget about it until then!

It was a brilliant day and a bit away and a big pat on the back to the organisers of the trail, which was raising money for Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. I believe the statues will be auctioned off in the coming weeks to raise more money and I have to say, I would love to own one of the Gromits!

Chocolate Courgette Cake

Thanks to my future father-in-law, I found myself with a mini-glut of courgettes. My fiancé isn’t overly keen on them, so after dishing up ratatouille and roasted courgettes, I figured I needed a different approach.

I’d heard of chocolate courgette cake, but never tried it myself. I put the idea to the other half, who looked less than impressed, it must be said, but nevertheless, I pressed ahead, determined not to let these lovely veggies go to waste.

After trawling the web, I found this recipe, which I followed, apart from I used 1tsp of ground mixed spice, as I couldn’t seem to find ground cloves anywhere. I used the two 23cm round tin method and they needed the best part of an hour to cook, so keep checking with a skewer after 40minutes of baking.

When it came to what to fill the two sponges with, I was at a loss for a while, but after rummaging through the fridge and cupboards and realising the shops had closed as it was after 4pm on a Sunday, I decided to just make something up.

Armed with half a block of butter, half a pack of cream cheese, the leftovers from the tub of soured cream and some icing sugar and cocoa powder, I set to making a form of sorts of butter icing. I blended the butter, cheese and soured cream together before adding a couple of dessert spoons each of the icing sugar and cocoa powder, before beating together again. After tasting, I thought it still tasted of cream cheese, so added more of the two dry ingredients. After another mix, I really liked it, so put half the mixture on the first sponge, sprinkled with some chocolate chips (which I confess, along with the walnuts I’d forgotten from the original recipe!) and topped with the second sponge, before spreading the rest of the icing on top.

I found this a lovely, moist sponge and very tasty – even my courgette-hating fiancé enjoyed it. Now that has to be a recommendation surely!!!

chocolate courgette cake

Rosegal plus size dress of summer promotion
plus size dress of summer