Monthly Archives: December 2013

Butternut squash risotto with chorizo and halloumi


I made this risotto last night with leftovers I found in my fridge, out of pure desperation. Risotto is so simple, can be jazzed up with whatever you have at home (frozen peas, roasted vegetables, goat’s cheese…) and C simply loves it, for now! Hence it’s my go to dish when I have two hungry boys to feed.

It doesn’t take as long to make as you would expect, either. With the pre-roasted butternut squash, I am sure we were sitting down to eat in just over half an hour, which isn’t too bad for a last minute meal (and better than ordering takeaway or popping a ready meal in the oven).

The portions below may seem small (the packet suggested 100g rice per person) but the squash is pretty filling and the chorizo makes quite a rich addition, we were pleasantly stuffed!


Butternut squash risotto with chorizo and halloumi
serves 2 and a half

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, diced
Olive oil

2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
small knob of butter
glug of olive oil
100g risotto rice
generous glass of white wine
450ml vegetable stock

1 small chorizo, sliced and fried for a few minutes each side.
wedge of halloumi (optional) – about 75g, sliced, diced and fried with chorizo

small handful of grated parmesan
dash of double cream (optional)


Lightly coat the butternut squash in olive oil. Roast in the oven at 200degC for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
I prepared mine the day before – use it in risotto, throw in a quiche or with pasta etc.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes, until softened.

Add the risotto rice and stir to coat with oil/butter. Pour in the glass of wine and keep stirring.

Once the wine has almost all gone, turn the heat down to low and pour in a cup or so of stock. Stir every now and again.
Repeat until rice has plumped up and is soft, you should use more or less all of the stock, depending how al dente you like your rice.

Add the chorizo, butternut and halloumi and stir to heat through. Finish with double cream and the cheese, as little or as much as you like.

Serve and enjoy :)


The Gift of Time #nofilter

Merry December, people!

We hope you are full of lovely food and drink and happiness!

I am just quickly sharing my birthday (Christmas Eve!) gift from Shake with you, as I really hope it will mean more food and recipes :)

Simple lights have basically given me the gift of time – no longer will I try to squeeze in baking/making and photographing bits and pieces while C naps!

Before – normal living room lighting.


After – hooray! We have light!


Now for some more playing around…

See you soon, I hope :)



Our everyday life: week 51

Everytime we go to the library C shouts “Daddy” at this dalek. I don’t even understand why, he’s never seen Doctor Who (neither have I) and it really doesn’t look like Shake…


Over the moon to have won these cupcakes. Not only did the look beautiful, they tasted amazing too – thank you Emma Jane!


Carol singers on the High Street – shame the weather has been so miserable.


We met up with friends at this lovely pub, used in this movie, and enjoyed delicious mulled wine. C played in the fireplace and covered everyone/everything in soot. Fab parenting skills ;)


Visiting Nana and making friends with a bear :)


You’d think Solicitors would be slightly more tasteful with their Christmas decorations? Can you see the Polar Bear?


Crazy about amazon boxes. Who needs actual presents?


Wrapping skills being put to the test…


See, he loves these boxes!


This was bought for C, but Shake and I ate it whilst he napped. Oops…


Baking birthday treats for my colleagues – they were grateful :)

IMG_3176 IMG_3181

…plus a little something for C’s nursery ladies


This is what winding down for bedtime looks like some nights.


It’s nearly my birthday!Christmas!! Wishing you all a very merry time with your loved ones.



Our everyday life: week 50

Glittery green playdough fun and games


Mamas from nursery go out and drink mulled wine. Plus more glitter.


So pleased he could put Daddy’s hat on BY HIMSELF.


Spent a good 15 minutes (in the bitterly cold wind) staring at the Salvation Army band. They even dedicated Jingle Bells to my boy :)


HO HO HO. A very authentic Father Christmas at the lovely Hatchlands.


The sweetest little donkeys!


Shake has deemed this a very good millionaire’s shortbread. Think I need to make him some at home…


Off he goes!




C’s new game; make your face as small as possible, then give your cheesiest grin!!


Shake made a gooooood dinner :) Tasty potatoes!


Let’s not cry about it, right?


Art week!


Lots of gifts being delivered this week, not that C is bothered what’s inside the boxes. He calls this his house!


Banana scoop…


Wishing you a happy and healthy week – feeling Christmassy yet?



Spiced coffee and chocolate wholewheat shortbread


When I found out about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I thought it was one of the best ideas I’d ever heard: bake cookies, send them to 3 food bloggers, receive 3 dozen cookies in return.

That’s my kind of fun :)


What’s even better about it? It’s not just another reason for food bloggers to bake, the purpose is to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We’ve managed to raise over $13,000 so far this year thanks to the expert organisation from Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen.

The cookies I made (recipe below) combined some of my favourite things in the world – coffee, chocolate and festive spices.


Baking these cookies during December is the perfect way to prepare for the Christmas season, as is gifting them to people you don’t know.

I actually knew of two of the three people I sent cookies to – Kate (The Little Loaf) and Iris (Whatever Gets You Through The Day) are two of my favourite UK bloggers (which made me extra nervous!).


Once my cookies had been carefully packaged and posted, I had the excitement of waiting for my cookie gifts. Poor Shake had to stare at the packages each day until I returned home from work to open them (not convinced I could have waited if I had been in his shoes…).


Our first treats were addictive heart-shaped cinnamon sandwich cookies (with cinnamon icing inside!) from Lucy. Thank goodness we love cinnamon in this house, but honestly they were so delicious and perfect with a cup of tea.


The following day we received two deliveries – sour cherry and almond shortbreads from Jennie and coconut oatmeal cookies from Jen. Both were incredible and we were thrilled to have a real variety of flavours and textures. You should really check out their blogs for the recipe details, I recommend all of them wholeheartedly!


My recipients sent some lovely feedback about the cookies, and I’ve been itching to share them with you, but the rule was we all post our recipes today! So, without further ado here you go:

Spiced coffee and chocolate wholewheat shortbread
makes approximately 36 small shortbreads


220g unsalted butter – at room temperature
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds of 1/3 vanilla pod
1 teaspoon four spice (mine was from France and included cloves, nutmeg, black pepper (!) and cinnamon)
2 teaspoons finely ground fresh coffee (you could substitute 2 tbsp instant espresso, but it won’t be quite the same)
220g plain flour – I used wholewheat, because I prefer it
100g dark chocolate chips/chunks

Don’t preheat the oven just yet – the dough needs to chill before baking.

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar for at least a few minutes, until thoroughly combined.

Add the vanilla, spices and coffee and mix again for a further minute or two so that the mixture is evenly speckled with coffee and spices.

Now add the flour and mix slowly, only until it has disappeared into the dough but has formed a ball – you don’t want to overwork it.

Lastly, stir through the chocolate chunks.

Lay a large piece of clingfilm on a flat surface and turn out the dough. Top the dough with another large sheet of clingfilm and start working with the rolling pin.

I warn you, the dough is sticky (but delicious).

Roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/4inch thick and relatively rectangular. Transfer to large dish or tray and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once refrigerated, preheat the oven to 170degC.

Use a sharp knife to cut out your shortbreads. Mine were approximately 2inch by 1inch rectangles. I’m not especially good at being consistent, so some were larger than others ;)

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 8 – 12 minutes, depending on size and shape made. You want slight colour around the edges.

Don’t panic if they are still very soft, the shortbread hardens as it cools.

Enjoy :)



Our everyday life: week 49

Sending goodies to my brother in the Navy – hoping that chocolate won’t melt!


C’s Grandpa came to visit – he loved it, especially the late night cuddle/stroll home after dinner out together.


These days almost all our photos are blurry. Cousins in a boat, escaping the shark (that was me ;) )


What is it about Accountants who like to bake? Who knows, but I’m happy to eat whatever my colleagues make :)


So many leaves in our garden…but thankfully we have a dedicated gardener.


Although every now and then he sneaks off…


Friday night at The Maltings seeing the incredible Martin Harley. Very civilised sit-down gig, apart from the drunk man who stroked me!


LOVE this little man!


Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Come back on Wednesday if you like cookies…



Our everyday life: week 48

We sure aren’t quiet when we go to the library! One of our local library’s has this awesome kiddy den chair!


After three weeks of being really under the weather I forced myself to go to the doctor. Their advice? Wait another week and see if you feel better.Baaaah!


C and his pal E causing trouble by the river. We joke that they will be up to similar tricks in 15 years…


Friday night, girls’ night. Nachos for three. Next time I’m not being polite, I’ll eat pudding on my own if I have to ;)


Although he is fast asleep (at long last) he isn’t letting go of Pig!


It sends a shiver down my spine each time we go to this babygroup – it’s held in the exam hall for my ACA exams!! Doesn’t bother C though!


Trying to let C explore boundaries without shouting “careful! watch out!” the whole time. Hard, at times like these…


Shake and C watching me complete my tax return. Exciting times this week!


Ginger love heart.


I decided to take part in Food Blogger Cooke Swap this year – recipe up next week! – here’s a glimpse into what I made for 3 other bloggers…


…and here they are packaged and ready to go!


Shake decided to bake this week and I honestly can’t stop thinking about (and eating) this cake. Another Ottolenghi winner! He used rum though, because I love it :)


Wishing you a happy and healthy week!