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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

Having just returned from a fab weekend away in Devon, spending time with family, and not having any food in the fridge (apart from a glut of courgettes and potatoes from the allotment) we were grateful for our table reservation at ASK Italian in nearby Lichfield last night.

We arrived around 5pm to a relatively quiet restaurant and were quickly shown to our round table in the centre of the restaurant. Service throughout the two hours that we were there was impeccable, and despite the restaurant gradually filling up there were plenty of staff members on hand should we need assistance.

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

We were invited to ASK Italian to try out the new kids menu, and Jack was more than happy to give it a go - although by the end of the meal the teens were left wishing they'd opted for the kids meal too!

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

The kids menu is just £6.75 and consists of four courses - a starter of garlic bread soldiers, vegetable sticks and dip, a choice of main course and dessert, followed by a babyccino to finish.

Jack chose a pizza for main course and a 'tip & top ice cream' for dessert, which was a scoop of chocolate gelato accompanied by meringue, strawberries and marshmallows, which he took great delight in throwing together in a bowl and mixing up, as you do when you're six.

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

The rest of us chose sharing plates of Calamari and Frito Misto (minus the whitebait) to start. I then had a salad (Insalata Ottima) for main, with the other three choosing pizza and sides of cheesy garlic bread and chips with garlic mayo.

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

ASK Italian - review & Giveaway

The food was excellent all round, as was the service, although there was a small incident where a member of the waiting staff spectacularly dropped a couple of bottles of Peroni, some glasses and a red wine next to our table, which made one hell of a mess, but was quickly cleared and many apologies were made.

I would definitely recommend ASK Italian if you're looking for a family friendly venue in pleasant surroundings, that serves up excellent quality food.

If you want to try out ASK Italian for yourself, I have a £50 voucher to give away to one lucky reader of this blog. All you need to do is watch the video below and complete the Rafflecopter form.

I was provided with a voucher towards the cost of our meal at ASK Italian

Friday, 31 July 2015

Gooseberry Fool

We've had our allotment for nearly two months now, and it's amazing what you can grow in that time. We've so far harvested leeks (left over from the last owner), a cauliflower (albeit a very small one), 3 good sized courgettes and piles and piles of potatoes. We've also managed to get hold of more courgettes, raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries from some very generous allotment neighbours - I'm not one to turn down free veg and will always find a use for it.

When I was around 8 (maybe even younger) I used to go to my Great Grandma's and top and tail the gooseberries from her garden with a pair of nail scissors. I used to love doing this, but I now realise that it was one of those tedious jobs that the adults would rather someone else did.

Three years ago another friend game me some gooseberries which I used to make gooseberry jam. I was pretty surprised at the time that the jam turned out to be quite red, instead of the green that I thought it would be. I think this is down to how ripe the gooseberries are at the time of picking, and these were very ripe. The more recent batch I had were ripe, although still quite firm, and when I cooked them with a little sugar they stayed green.

I left things simple with these, and used the cooked gooseberries to make some gooseberry fools.

Gooseberry Fool x

Gooseberry Fool - makes 4

150ml double cream
150ml Greek yogurt
4 heaped spoonfuls of cooked gooseberries*
  • whisk the cream and yogurt together until thick, but not firm
  • gently fold through the gooseberries, reserving a little for the top
  • spoon into glasses and serve
  • top with a little of the cooked gooseberries

*gooseberries cooked in a lidded pan - 7 parts gooseberries to 1 part caster sugar, cooked until they burst, and left to cool
    Gooseberry FoolGooseberry Fool

I love the sharpness of gooseberries and also used some of the cooked gooseberries in a Mojito, which was amazing - despite looking a bit like pond slime!

gooseberry mojito

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Chocolate Pancake Quesadillas & how you can save £1000 off your next school trip

We're well into week 2 of a mammoth 7 week (and 2 days) school summer holiday, and meal times seem to have gone out of the window. Some days breakfast gets eaten just before lunchtime and some days it gets skipped completely, to be replaced by a late night bowl of cereal. Once the new term comes around again though, I'll be nagging the kids to make sure they eat breakfast before they rush off for the bus, and reminding them that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and shouldn't be skipped, especially with the eldest starting his GCSE's this year.

I'm pretty sure that if I popped a plate of these pancake quesadillas in front of them though, they wouldn't be in such a rush to get out of the door.

Breakfast Chocolate Pancake Quesadillas

These were filled with banana & hazelnut chocolate spread and banana & peanut butter, but they can be filled with any of your kid's favourite fillings.

They're simple to make, and you don't even need scales to measure the ingredients, just use an average sized coffee mug if you don't have cup measures.

They can be made the night before so you don't even need to get up extra early in the morning to make them, just pop a few on a plate, cover over and place in the fridge.

Breakfast Chocolate Pancake Quesadillas - makes approx 6 pancakes

1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
tbsp chocolate Nesquik powder
tbsp melted butter + extra butter for frying

  • whisk everything together until smooth
  • add a little butter to a non stick frying pan and heat over a medium/high heat until melted
  • wipe the butter around the pan with a piece of kitchen roll
  • pour some batter into the pan & swill around to coat the pan
  • cook until bubbles come up through the batter and the pancake dries around the edges
  • flip the pancake over and cook for an additional minute or two on the other side
  • repeat with the remaining batter

Breakfast Chocolate Pancake Quesadillas

Breakfast Chocolate Pancake Quesadillas

Eggs are a great source of protein, and protein is good for brain function, so therefore pancakes are a great way to start your day, and fuel young minds until lunchtime. 

Kingswood know the role that educational trips and outdoor residential experiences have on fuelling young minds. Both of my eldest two children have been on school residential trips, where they've learnt a variety of new activities and skills, as well as having loads of fun with their friends. 

Due to this first hand experience of knowing how important these trips are and how they provide an invaluable learning experience for children, I'm sharing news of the Kingswood and Happy Egg Co. partnership, which is a great opportunity to give schools up to £1000 off their next school trip. Kingswood strive to ensure the adventures they provide are great value for money, and made available to as many schools and as many pupils as possible.

Happy Egg Co Trips for schools

By collecting codes from promotional packs of Happy Egg Co. free range eggs , up to £1000 can be saved on trips for your school during 2015, 2016 and 2017. Full details on the Trips for Schools promotion can be found on the website here, or by calling 0800 655 6564.

in collaboration with Kingswood

Monday, 27 July 2015

Cocktails, Cocktails, and yet more Cocktails!

I've noticed recently that everyone seems to be going mad for cocktails - they're all over social media, and it seems that my friends just can't get enough.

A couple of weeks ago myself and a few friends attended a cocktail making masterclass at The Post House in Stafford. It was a great evening, and we picked up a few tips on how to make some popular cocktails and shooters, including Amaretto Sour (my favourite), Porn Star Martini, Lemon Cheesecake, Mojito, Buttery Nipple (another good one) and the perfectly layered B52. We staggered out of that ninety minute session barely able to remember our own names, let alone any tips, but thankfully I made a few notes ready for my next cocktail session. I think the best tip that I walked away with was to add a little egg white to the Amaretto Sour, which gives a frothy, almost meringue like, head.

With my newly acquired cocktail knowledge I was well equipped to make a Ciroc Summer Punch with ingredients provided by World Duty Free for their Summer Drinks Festival, including the very unique looking 1 litre bottle of Ciroc Pineapple Vodka.

Ciroc Pineapple Vodka.

The plan for the latter end of the week and the weekend was to enjoy a few cocktails out in the garden, however the weather had different ideas. The only day that we didn't get rain was Saturday, which actually worked out ok as it was the day of the annual music festival in our village, however I spent the best part of eight hours serving behind the bbq stall. I still managed to enjoy a Summer Punch, but in typical British summertime style, I had it indoors.

Ciroc Summer Punch Ciroc Summer Punch

If you fancy giving this sweet refreshing cocktail a try, then just follow the recipe from mixologist Charlie McCarthy below.

Ciroc Summer Punch

Post House Stafford Cocktails
Masterclass cocktails & shooters


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