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Thursday, 16 April 2015

A weekend in the English Riviera

Over the Easter weekend we spent a few days in South Devon, firstly spending a few hours along the seafront in Torquay & Paignton before heading to our caravan near Brixham. 

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The site we stay on is nothing special but it's a great base for visiting Brixham, Paignton, Torquay and Goodrington. The site is situated a short walk from the Berry Head Peninsula, which can be reached by walking along the southwest coast path, and this is where we headed on Saturday morning, with a stop for breakfast at The Guardhouse Cafe.

There is a wide selection on offer at the cafe, including breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas, cakes, coffee, beers and wines. The husband and two eldest chose from the sandwich menu, and I chose bacon & egg on toast from the breakfast menu, whilst Jack had a toasted teacake.

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The hearty breakfasts set us up for a windy walk around the peninsula searching for eggs on the Easter Egg Hunt, using the clues on the worksheet (available from the cafe for a donation of £1 per child).

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We then headed back down the coast path, past the Berry Head Hotel, Shoalstone outdoor pool and Breakwater Bistro, into Brixham, where the first stop was for an ice cream at The Bay Ice Cream Company, in the Marina.

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Whenever we've spent a sunny day in Brixham there's always plenty to see and do around the town, my favourite of which is to park up on a bench beside the Golden Hind Museum Ship and people watch, whist the kids eat ice cream or fish & chips from one of the many shops & takeaways around the harbour.

This is one of my favourite Brixham harbour people watching photos, from Easter 2012

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A place that we've been to a few times over the years for lunch is The Bullers Arms, where we've enjoyed fish and chips. This time we were still full from breakfast so decided to pop in just for a drink instead.

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We headed back to the caravan site through the town, and called in to the Westcountry Deli on Fore Street to pick up some cheese, crackers and olives before braving the steep hill back up to Berry Head.

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If the weather is good whilst we're in Devon we always go to Goodrington Sands, which is a lovely stretch of sandy beach with car parking at each end and plenty of places for eating and drinking along the way. This time we were there on Easter Sunday, which was a lovely sunny day, and the kids joined in with the Easter Egg Hunt. 20 minutes to dig in the sand for a plastic egg sounded easier than it was, and unfortunately our efforts were fruitless, but plenty of fun was had jumping off the wall, playing football and frisbee.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

A few weeks ago I bought my very first Tagine. I've wanted one for a while but never actually got around to buying one. I found a a glossy red one in Dunelm which now sits nicely on my windowsill (as it won't fit into any of my cupboards!). 

We all love the Moroccan flavours in dishes that I've cooked previously (Moroccan Meatballs & Moroccan Lamb are two of them) so I decided to use up some sausages and throw everything into the Tagine and cook in the oven for a couple of hours, and it turned out perfectly, with clean plates all round!
  Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine - serves 4/5

12 good quality sausages (I used apple & herb)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled & chopped
1 Bramley apple, peeled, cored & chopped
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, sliced into wedges
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
500g passata
fresh coriander
  • Heat a frying pan and fry the sausages to brown them
  • Add the sausages to a large tagine, followed by all of the other ingredients apart from the fresh coriander
  • Give everything a quick stir to combine and distribute evenly
  • Place the tagine lid on and place in a preheated 150C oven for 2 hours
  • Serve on a bed of cous cous and scatter fresh coriander over
Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : this recipe is suitable for filling & healthy (just point the sausages or replace with lean chicken)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

Balsamic vinegar has a place in my kitchen on an almost daily basis. It stands next to its partner in crime, extra virgin olive oil, and they make the perfect pairing on my salads and roasted vegetables.

I've seen sweet recipes that use balsamic vinegar, particularly with strawberries, but I'd never tried it for myself. That was until I received two gorgeous looking bottles of Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

This isn't just any run of the mill supermarket balsamic vinegar that I would usually buy to put on my salad, this is totally different, and is pure luxury. I decided that the best way to try it out would be in a dessert recipe.

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts - makes 9

320g ready rolled puff pastry sheet
250g strawberries, hulled & sliced
1 tbsp caster sugar
Drizzle of good quality Balsamic, such as Due Vittorie Tradizionale
Creme Fraiche for serving
  • Cut the pastry sheet into 9 equal rectangles
  • Lay the strawberry slices onto each piece, leaving a border around the edge
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar
  • Bake in a preheated 200C oven for approx 20 mins, until golden brown & puffed up
  • Drizzle with Balsamic and serve with creme fraiche
Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

The combination of the sweet strawberries, creme fraiche and Balsamic was amazing, and it's a combination that has to be tried to be believed. The Due Vittorie Tradizionale is so smooth and so far away from the balsamic that I'm used to. It's a balsamic of the highest quality due to the 25 year aging process, and with it's £49.99 price tag it's one that's best saved for those special occasions.

More in my price range is the Due Vittorie Oro, priced at £9.99 for a 250ml bottle, which is only slightly more vinegary than the tradizionale, and to a balsamic novice like myself it tastes just as good. The more reasonably priced Oro is a great everyday balsamic that can be used as a salad dressing, with fruit and cheese, or as an alternative to soy sauce.

Due Vittorie Balsamic

Both bottles are now available in Ocado, currently priced at £44.99 for the Tradizionale and £8.99 for the Oro

I was provided with the Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar for the purpose of review

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Spanish Tapas Al Fresco with Lidl UK

We've been moaning for so long about it being cold and then all of a sudden we seem to have skipped Spring and gone straight into Summer. I've spent some of the day tidying the garden with two of the children, whilst the other one entertained his girlfriend, before we all sat down to a selection of Tapas outdoors in the sunshine.

For one week only, while stocks last, Lidl are hosting their Taste of Iberia week (9th - 15th April) and have a large range of Spanish treats (view the full offers leaflet here). My local store has recently had a complete overhaul so I went along to see how it had changed, and to pick up some Iberian treats for our al fresco dinner. 

Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

There are some great offers, but my favourite one is the Tapas in Clay bowls for £3.49 each. Within the packaging you receive two clay bowls each filled with either meatballs in spicy sauce or mediterranean chicken. I love this offer because of the clay bowls, which I've been looking to get for a while. They are also available to buy in a pack of 4 (minus the tapas) for £5.99, which means that if you buy 2 packs of the Tapas in Clay bowls you only pay an additional 99p for the tapas, which is a bargain in my eyes!

Spanish Tapas Al Fresco Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

On the menu along with the meatballs and chicken we had potato tortilla & chorizo pizza,

Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
Spanish Bacon & Potato Tortilla £1.99 / Chorizo Pizza 99p

Calamares a la Romana,
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
Squid rings in batter £2.49

Olives & sliced tomatoes,
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
Large whole Gordal Olives £2.49

Mini Chorizo snack sticks,
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
CaƱitas mini chorizo snack 99p

Oven baked Patatas Bravas & Chorizo
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
Patatas Bravas 99p / Fresh Chorizo £2.89 (pack of 8)

Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
Spanish Chrorizo, Cheese & Chilli Crisps 99p

Beer & Wine.
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco
San Miguel £6.99 (12 x 274ml) / Castillo de Alcoy Reserva £4.99

followed by a dessert platter
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

Rosegones Almond Biscuits 99p
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

Ensaimadas sweet pastry swirls £1.29
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

Churros 99p (& Chocolate Sauce)
Spanish Tapas Al Fresco

There's also a selection of bowls for serving your tapas - two types are shown above with chocolate sauce and patatas bravas in, and are priced at £5.99 per pack or 2 packs for £10.

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The only thing I was a bit disappointed with was the churros, which is probably my fault for not reading the cooking instructions before buying, as they needed to be deep fried and I don't have a deep fat fryer, so I shallow fried and then baked in the oven, resulting in a bit of a crispy churro.

Everything else was delicious, and well received by everyone, including the girlfriend who told her mum how nice it was when she came to collect her later.

This post has been commissioned by Lidl Uk


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