In the Kitchen: The Utlimate Comfort Food – Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese

Do you have an ultimate comfort food? I do. In fact I have two that vie for the title. The two contenders are macaroni cheese with lashings of cheese sauce and homemade chicken and ham pie. Either of these is my go to cheer-me-up-now food. Or at least they were until about two weeks ago. Now I have added a third favourite into the mix; cauliflower and broccoli cheese.

Side note: I’ve just realised that for me comfort food is all about the sauce! Yay for that!

I made and ate my first cauliflower and broccoli cheese two weeks ago and I was immediately in food heaven. Of course now I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to get in on this deliciousness. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this marvelous creation? And why has it taken me so long to actually make it? Okay so I know the answer to that. My childhood was full of a completely irrational fear of vegetables. I know that most kids have this issue but I swear I was worse than your average vegetable hating child. The only vegetable I would eat without complaint was leeks – which isn’t actually a standard vegetable to give children, is it!  People must have hated having to cook for me! Luckily for me I grew out of this and while I still have a pea phobia and I hate cooked carrots, I am now a vegetable eating machine.

Albeit one that  hadn’t eaten cauliflower cheese until this year!

 

Comfort Food - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Look at all that creamy goodness! So this is quite possibly the easiest thing to make. Once you’ve mastered a cheese sauce you are set to go. Simply cook the broccoli and cauliflower and layer in a dish. Then pour over your cheese sauce and bake in the over for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling deliciously.

Confession time, we added cheddar and blue cheese into our sauce to make it extra tasty, and then I devoured this in a matter of minutes. But it’s okay because the vegetables clearly cancel out the amount of cheese sauce. Right?

What’s your go-to comfort food. Do you have a recipe for it? Link me up people!

Laura xxx

The Book Corner: The Rosie Project vs The Rosie Effect

 

The Rosie Project was one of my favourite books of last year. It had me crying with laughter and thrusting it into the hands of everyone I know with the simple words ‘you’ll love it’. So it’s no surprise that I was absolutely gagging to get my hands on the sequel, The Rosie Effect. Thankfully my sis was listening to me and on Christmas Day I found it under the Christmas tree and got reading it post Christmas. And after finishing The Rosie Effect, what do I think?

Well I was disappointed, to put it mildly. It just wasn’t that funny. And considering that’s what made the first book so good it’s a right royal shame. Don’t get me wrong it has some funny moments, but it’s not hilarious and there were definitely no tears due to laughing as I read it. As for the story it was all quite forced, it just didn’t seem to flow and it felt like the author was trying to squeeze the story out, rather than letting it flow like it had in The Rosie Project.

One of my favourite things about The Rosie Project were the characters of Rosie and Don, you couldn’t help but fall in love with them and their relationship just worked perfectly. It felt so genuine and right. But the Rosie and Don in The Rosie Effect weren’t like that. It was forced and they weren’t really very nice. They seemed like an entirely different pair of characters, which is such a shame as that’s why the first book worked so well. I really wish book two would have lived up to the promise shown in The Rosie Project. Don’t you hate it when the sequel doesn’t match up? Has that ever happened to you?

– Fi x

In the Kitchen: Mug Cakes

 

So hands up if you got the best Christmas present ever? No you’re all wrong, I most definitely win hands down. As I got this awesome recipe book. A book all about mug cakes. Um, amazing! I’ve been a fan of mug cakes for ages, but I’ve always stuck to bog standard chocolate mug cakes for some reason, but now I can go crazy! There’s a peanut butter one, a honey one, banana bread, coffee and walnut, a blueberry muffin and even a rainbow coloured cake to try! Ooh I can’t wait. Is it wrong to have one a day, do you think?

Mug Cakes - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

There is really nothing not to love about the mug cake, but in case you’re not sold let me help you out. A mug cake is the best ever because:

1. You only need a couple of spoons and a mug (obvs) to make it. Even the most rubbish homemaker has those. You don’t even need scales, which is often an infrequent bakers first problem.

2. You don’t need lots of friends to help you eat a huge cake and there’s no chance you’ll end up eating ten helpings of cake if you have zero willpower like me.

3. You don’t have to do any washing up. Just put your three utensils in the dishwasher.

4. You can make so many different flavours really easily. Love peanut butter, just add a blob of it. Fancy chocolate orange, simply add some flavouring.

Have I sold you on the wonders of this simple cake? I really hope so. And if I haven’t I’m sure I will when I pop back with the amazingness that is the peanut butter mug cake. So keep your eyes peeled for that. I can make a mug cake advocate of you yet! If you are a mug cake afficionado let me know your favourite flavour combo. I may have this book but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to more ideas. So throw them my way.

– Fi x

Thought of the Day: Be Curious

 

Be Curious - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

(c) Juskteez Vu via Unsplash

 

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

Stephen Hawking

Getting Crafty: A Harry Potter Inspired Gift

Greetings chumlets! Today I’m sharing the easiest present ever to make, honestly this gift took me less than an hour to complete and I was able to use up fabric and thread I had already. The only thing I had to buy was a £2.00 embroidery hoop, so minimal effort and money required. That’s not to say the person receiving the gift isn’t worthy of lots of time and effort. It’s just I knew she’d like the end product – it’s a Harry Potter inspired gift after all! Plus pre-Christmas, when you have 101 things to do, time is hard to find! So yes if you’re after a cheap but thoughtful gift for someone, read on.

Harry Potter Inspired Gift - Getting Crafty - This and That Blog

So above is the end product: a quote embroidery for the wall. What do you think? I chose the word Always because it’s from Lau’s (the lucky recipient) favourite book series, Harry Potter.

This is a series that we’re both so obsessed with that we regularly discuss the books, even though we finished them all years ago, and will squeal when the other uses this word in normal conversation. This is the one word that sums up the Harry Potter series for us, so it had to be in my Harry Potter inspired gift. It’ll always be in our lives, and this one word in that book is one of the best parts and the proof we’d always had that a certain character we’d always championed was worth championing. So yes it’s a word that I knew she’d get straight off and appreciate (even if the rest of our family thought I was insane and needed an explanation!).

I won’t spend hours outlining how you make this item, after all it’s so simple you just need four items (needle, thread, fabric and an embroidery hoop) and the ability to do running stitch. That’s it. If you’ve got those two things you’re good to go. Oh and maybe some felt to back it when you’re done – it depends on how much of a perfectionist you are!

Weirdly I was worried it would be hard to make, so I kept putting it off, but in the end it took me less than an hour to finish it. Doing this small bit of embroidery has definitely given me the bug to try some more in the not too distant future, but what should I go for next, any thoughts? Decisions decisions…

– Fi x

The Book Corner: A Wishlist

There’s nothing I like doing more than making a wishlist. Wishlists are fun. You can mentally shop for something without actually spending money. Then when you do have money you can look back at your wishlist to see what it is that you want to buy. See clever clever things indeed. Plus if anyone ever wants to buy you a present then they have your wishlist right there in front of them too.

Today I wanted to share a reading wishlist. It’s a combination of books in my To Be Read (TBR) pile and those on my ‘want to read but don’t own’ pile. In no particular order they are…

More Than This, Patrick Ness

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Coraline, Neil Gaiman

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries, James Patterson

Hello from the Gillespies, Monica McInerney

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Half Wild, Sally Green

I’d absolutely love to read all of these this year. But in reality that’s probably unlikely. I doubt I’ll buy them all to start with and then it’s fitting them all in. Plus I need to be in the right mood to read certain books. I am pretty much always in the mood to read crime and YA, but anything else really depends.

Do you have a reading wishlist for the coming month or year? What’s on your TBR pile? Any thoughts on which of these beauties I should immerse myself in first?

Laura xx

Getting Crafty: New Wall Art

So the time has come for us to show the awesome presents our little sister made for us for Christmas. We both got new wall art and both pieces were just perfect. She really did an amazing job in making the two gifts really personal. I’m definitely going to steal these two ideas in the future!

First up is the brill present she made Laura, just using a frame, string and some pins she managed to create an amazing piece of artwork – a black and silver ‘L’. A cool idea right. Plus it’s beautiful and looks like it was created by a professional? Honestly I’m sure she could charge a small fortune for making another.

 

And now to my awesome new wall art. She only went and copied out one of my all-time favourite quotes from a favourite film. Isn’t it awesome?

New Wall Art - Getting Crafty - This and That Blo

 

{For those of you not obsessed with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, this is the speech that Aragorn (swoon) makes near the end of the film. I love this part of the film so much that I know the quote off by heart!}. Can you believe that Becca thought it was rubbish and warned me I wouldn’t be impressed with the gift? What a crazy cake she is, hey?!

Is anyone else massively inspired to have a whirl at making something similar in the future? I know I am!

– Fi x

Clothes Rail: American Eagle Love

Guys, the most amazing thing happened at the end of last year. One of my two favourite America-only shops, appeared in our own fair isle. Eek I can not tell you how excited I was when I spotted American Eagle in the UK. It’s the sort of shop where I could buy all of the things I see. But alas my shopping there has been limited as I’ve only been able to take advantage of it when I’m in the US, which if I’m honest has not been enough recently. I don’t think I’ve been over to the States for four years (cripes how did that happen?!?!) so as you can imagine American Eagle shopping has been non-existent.

 

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

Flower patterned Jumper / Grey bootcut trousers

So as you can imagine my excitement on that December morning at Westfield when I stepped through those hallowed doors. I say excitement but if I’m honest there was a fair amount of trepidation occurring too, what if the shop didn’t live up to my memories of its awesomness, what if the sizings were rubbish, what if everything was stupidly priced, just what if I’d been pinning all my hopes of an awesome wardrobe on this shop that could never deliver?

I should not have worried as it was every bit as amazing as I remembered and everything about that trip was just perfect. There were lovely snuggly jumpers that I struggled not to buy straight away, there were jeans that fitted perfectly (and that were on offer) and there were loads of gorgeous pjs and scarves that I just wanted to snuggle up in. In short, my perfect shop was still simply perfect. Hooray!

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

 

Gold Bag / Leopard Print Shoes

On that first day I refrained from buying anything – I know, gold star to me – but I did add a lot of things to my Christmas list. And come Christmas Day I was the very proud owner of these lovely chelsea boots, this perfect snood and this snuggly jumper that goes with everything. I was definitely one happy person on Christmas day (not to mention lucky).

I’ve not been back since that first day as without Christmas to stop me buying stuff I know I’d spend all my money in just one shop. However, that’s not stopped me sneaking a look online on a regular basis. So far I want to buy the lovely things sprinkled throughout this post. Not a bad selection, right?

American Eagle Love - Clothes Rail - This and That Blog

 

Gemstone Necklace / Lace Skirt

What about you, is there a shop you’ve been waiting to appear in the UK and when it did what was your reaction? Was it happy or had you built up the shops awesomeness?

Smiley Happy Things: My Top Ten of Now

Greetings chums. Here I am again to share a few of my favourite recent events, also known as my top ten of now!
Into the Woods. Has anyone else seen this film yet? I went last night {Orange Wednesdays for the win} and really enjoyed it. If I’m honest it wasn’t what I was expecting, but still good. Does that makes sense. I guess I forgot that it was originally a musical so there’s that musical humour in their. I thought all the singing was good and I’ve got some of the songs stuck in my head still. So that’s a good sign!
Getting organised. I’m in full on planning mode right now. I’ve got one Feb weekend all booked up with my two sisters in a cottage and plans are forming for something similar over my birthday weekend. Fun times. There’s nothing better than planning holibobs.
Birthday party planning. On the whole planning theme I’m also starting to organise a joint 21st and 30th birthday celebration. Oh how I wish I was only turning 21!
Vanilla Spice Lattes are back! Yep they are back in Starbucks – I think I like the VSL more than the red cups and PSL. Yep I said it.

Top Ten of Now - Smiley Happy Things- This and That Blog

A weekend in Leeds; birthday shenanigans for the gorgeous Mrs G, prosecco, good food and marvelous friends.
The fluffiest cat in the world. ^^^This fluff ball is also in Leeds. All I wanted to do was shout “He’s so fluffy, I could die!” all weekend.
Unexpected midweek dinners with the immediate family. There’s really nothing better than an Evans catch up over Venison pappadelle.
First class train travel. It makes a two and a half hour journey on a Sunday much more bearable!
A quiet night in on the sofa. Literally this is all I have planned for tonight. I’m clearly winning at life right now.
What’s been getting you lovely lot through the first two weeks of January?
Laura xx
p.s. I am aware that there’s only 9 points here. But hey who. Clearly it’s been a long week!

Thought of the Day: Take Criticism and Smash It

Spencer from Criminal Minds is one of my favourite TV people and it turns out Matthew Gray Gubler, the actor who plays Spencer, is also pretty awesome too. Don’t believe me? Just read the below. An inspiring quote we could all do well to remember when faced with criticism or negativity. And it features unicorns. He’s basically winning at everything.

Take Criticism - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

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