I’m just going to put it out there and say that this recipe for macaroni cheese is the best recipe you will ever find. I’m not even slightly kidding, this is PHENOMENALLY good and just perfect for the upcoming cooler evenings and lazy Sundays on the sofa (that’s not just me right?).
Growing up we weren’t a big macaroni cheese family – in face I don’t think I really ate it. I had images of it being all gloopy and rubbery so just wasn’t really that fussed. The one experience related to macaroni cheese that I remember was when I was travelling. For an entire week in San Francisco those little pots of microwaveable mac ‘n’ cheese were all I ate. That sort of put me off, unsurprisingly. However a few years ago my Dad discovered a recipe for macaroni cheese that included mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Ever since that day we’ve never looked back. When the need for a comforting dish arises, this is the one. It’s the perfect dish for hangovers, lazy Sundays, evenings with friends or big dinner parties. Never underestimate the power of adding unusual items to a pasta bake to make people think you’ve made something extraordinary!
Cook your macaroni so it’s a little al dente
Make a big old vat of cheesesauce (don’t forget lots of ground pepper needs to be added)
Fry your mushrooms and cook your broccoli
Drain the artichoke hearts
Add a third of the macaroni to an ovenproof dish and throw in some of the veggies
Add a quarter of the sauce and mix it all together in the dish
Repeat twice and then pour the remaining sauce over the top
Layer the top with a sprinkle of grated cheese and sliced tomatoes
Bake for 45 minutes on a medium heat
Devour it ALL in one sitting
So tell me, what are your best autumnal comfort foods? What must I try next? Also do you ever add extra things to your macaroni cheese – have I missed anything that tastes amazing? Please send me your combo suggestions!
The other day I spotted the Autumn tag over on Jennie’s lovely blog and knew I’d have to give it a whirl asap. After all I love Autumn and I love a tag post. So let’s dive into all things autumnal and discuss the best season ever!
1 – Okay, we’re talking coffee. What is your favourite seasonal drink from Starbucks/Costa/Cafe Nero? Ooh this is a tricky one as I generally love all the red cup drinks from Starbucks. You can keep all the Costa and Cafe Nero ones – yucky coffee alert! I do love a Starbucks mint hot chocolate but I suppose that’s not really seasonal as you can get that all year. So I’ll go with my most recent Starbucks red cup favourite: The Praline Mocha. It was like drinking melted Guylian (or Gillian if you’re an Evans) chocolates. Bliss.
2 – Accessories – What do you opt for – boots, scarf, gloves? I always have everything I can possibly have, although I like to slowly introduce each item so that I can stay warm as it gets colder. So right now I’m in boots and I’ve got a thin scarf with my leather jacket and I guess in a month or so I’ll switch the jacket and scarf for wool versions of each and then throw the gloves on too. By December the bright pink woolly bobble hat will have made an appearance ready to take me through the end of Autumn and in to Winter. You can’t beat a few woolly accessories.
3 – Music – What do you love to listen to during the Autumn? To be honest my music doesn’t differ due to the season, although of course by mid October (so this week) it’s okay to get the Christmas songs on. But apart from that it’s a year round soundtrack of Taylor Swift, Aretha Franklin, One Republic, Ed Sheeran, Paramore, Lady Antebellum, 30 Seconds to Mars and a whole lot more.
4 – Perfume – what’s your favourite scent at this time of the year? I love the Daisy set of perfumes, so I’ll start wearing the black and gold bottle one soon (I have no idea what it’s called that’s how little I care about perfume).
5 – Candles – which scents will you be burning this season? We’ve just got a new Apple Blossom scented candle which is delicious and I’m really enjoying burning – although of course it’s not very autumnal! It just smells like the outdoors which is amazing right now with the dark sky outside. I’ve also got a bright orange autumn scented one that’s just begging to be started, but I’m holding off on that for a little bit as I know it’ll go so quickly as soon as I smell the gorgeous scent.
6 – What do you love most about Autumn? Ooh so many things, which are perfectly summed up in Sunny Sweet Pea’s recent post Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile. I love the fresh crisp air, buying a new coat and boots, the crunch of the leaves underfoot, the bonfire parties, the beautiful frosty mornings, bundling up in layers, the excuse of snuggling on the sofa with a good book, log fires, warming stews, jumping in muddy puddles, being chilly, stomping in the woods, the sound of the rain on the windows, adding marshmallows to hot drinks and so much more.
7 – Favourite make up look? I’m not a big make up person, in fact I don’t even wear it every day. So I don’t have a fave Autumn make up look to share with you all. Just lots and lots of lip balm and moisturiser.
8 – What are you looking forward to most during this season? Doing all the things mentioned in question 6 multiple times. Plus I also want to stomp round and explore more London parks than I have before – I’m hoping to find time to explore Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath properly this Autumn.
Exciting things are happening people! Just last weekend we were celebrating Becca’s 21st birthday in the Peak District and tonight we’ll be celebrating our parents’ 60th birthday with a rather awesome party with loads of family and friends. So far I’m LOVING October and all its celebrations!
This weekend’s party is at a National Trust property, near to my parents, so it’s set to be quite fancy, which has me excited as it’s an excuse to get all dressed up! It’ll be a nice chance to my usual uniform of jeans and a t-shirt or a jersey dress and black tights (plus statement necklace of course!). Oh and there’s a theme: a touch of purple. So something needs to be a shade of purple – the shoes, the dress, the nails, the bag, etc… Such decisions! I love an occasion so it’s been great fun the last few weeks as we’ve searched for the perfect outfit and planned the necessary accessories.
Today I’m sharing some of the things we found, which may or not be what we end up going for…
Check back in next week and I’ll share with you what we ended up wearing! But before then tell me, any favourite items which you think I must wear? I’d be interested to know. And if you we’re coming along too what would you choose, a skirt/top combo or dress and where would you get your touch of purple from?
As Fi mentioned in a previous post someone amazing (aka me) bought her the new Mary Berry cookbook. Now as is the normal occurrence when a new cookbook arrives, we set out to try a new recipe from the book straight away. Surely that’s the first thing anyone does when they get a new recipe book?
Presents for @fievans @mary1evans & @beccaevans93 #signed copies of #cookstheperfect
When looking through for something new to cook I knew that I wanted something quick, easy and warm – it was on one of those chilly September days, so comfort was at the top of the list. One of the first things I found was a recipe called Swiss Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Bake which fitted the bill perfectly. Another plus to choosing this recipe was that I had all the ingredients already, well apart from chicken, but I had turkey so figured that would do just as well.
To make the recipe of loveliness for 6 people follow this recipe…
Ingredients – 750g fresh spinach 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg salt and pepper 725g turkey – the original recipe uses chicken, but we didn’t have any so it was turkey for us. 2 tbsp olive oil 25g butter 200g button mushrooms sliced 1 garlic clove 200ml creme fraiche 75g Gruyere cheese, grated
Cook the spinach – Trim the thick stalks off of the spinach, wash and place into a large pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain it, chop it and return it to the pan. Next toss back into the pan, add the nutmeg and seasoning and toss the spinach over a high heat to dry it. Finally layer the spinach over the bottom of your baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Cook the turkey fillets – season the meat and heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Once hot, add the turkey in batches, frying over a medium heat for 2 minutes on each side. Layer the turkey over the spinach.
Make the sauce – melt the butter in the frying pan, add the sliced mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the creme fraiche a spoonful at a time and stir for a minute or two until there’s a creamy sauce. Pour the sauce over the turkey pieces.
Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 30 minutes.
We served this really simply with baked potatoes and brocolli, and it was exactly what we needed. Perfectly warm and comforting. Try it and see what you think.
One of the most memorable events of my life happened on this day 21 years ago. I can vividly remember being woken at 6am on that day and getting bundled into the car still in my pj’s and taken to my best friend’s house as Mum and Dad hurried to the hospital. Two and half hours later there was a phone call, just before we left for school, and we were given the news. Our little sister was here, three whole days early – how exciting! As an eight year old this was possibly the most exciting thing to ever happen to us and we couldn’t wait to meet this new person and start ‘playing’ with her and dressing her up!
Twenty one years later and that little baby is now 21 years old – eek! We are so lucky to have Becca as a younger sister; to spoil, wind up, natter with and be best friends with. I know everyone says their family is the best, but ours really is and this sister is one of the best in existence and below are a few of the reason’s why…
So Becca, sister extraordinaire, have an amazing birthday. You really are the best sister ever and you deserve an awesome day. And don’t disown us because we’ve put these lovely snaps up off you – you know you love them really!
Confession time. I’m an addict. I can’t ignore the sparkles and shininess. I’m unable to walk past any shop that has the bright coloured ones on display. Show me one that has big round beads and I’m a goner and if there’s one that’s neon it’s mine as soon as I spot it. Yes I admit I can’t say no to a statement necklace.
Being a supremely lazy dresser it’s obvious I’d fall for the statement necklace. What easier way is there to get compliments on your outfit? Simply bung the nearest beaded necklace on top of a plain Gap t-shirt and jeans or the nearest bright confection on with your beloved stripy dress and you’re set. However the last two weeks have been ridiculous in their statement necklace purchasing even for me. In the space of three days I’d bought three, one from accessorize that I’ve been pining over for AGES and could justify in a pre flight airport purchase and two from a Portuguese shop which was selling amazing necklaces for £10. Yes TEN ACTUAL POUNDS. I know! Thankfully Laura was as trigger happy with the spending as me and she also bought three necklaces. Basically we’re set for a few months with awesome necklaces!
And here they are all their glory… Tell us which is your favourite? It’s one of mine right?!
Hello and welcome to a post about all the books. It was only when I sat down to write this post that I realised that we haven’t talked books since this Desert Island Books post way back when in August. How exactly did that happen? And what an absolute travesty! Don’t worry though, this error is about to be rectified with an epic post all about books.
First let’s start with a Good Reads Challenge; back in January I set myself a challenge over on GoodReads to read 50 books in 2014. It’s something that I planned to do last year, but failed. I don’t know why, because I am always reading, but I got out of the habit of reading on my commute and I think that’s when things went wrong. Anyway, in January this year I set myself the same challenge and told myself that I had to complete it. It’s less than one book a week, which for a self confessed bookworm is definitely doable. And do you know what lovely readers? I’ve only gone and completed it three months early! Yes, by the end of September I had read a total of 50 books.
The full list of 50 is below. As you’ll see I’ve added a few notes and short reviews to some of the books on this list. Just to give you a bit of insight into what I thought each book. Reviews of books 1-37 can be found over on my old blog if anyone is interested in reading my thoughts on any of them.
1. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Roald Dahl
2. The Killing Floor, Lee Child
3. Pietr the Latvian, George Simenon
4. The Secretkeeper, Jodi Picoult – Another perfect Picoult book. Couldn’t put it down.
5. Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
6. Endless Night, Agatha Christie –The first Agatha Christie book I’ve read. Not completely sold, but will try another one again soon.
7. Wonder, R. J. Palacio – This is a book that I think should be compulsory reading for everyone, and if that’s not possible then at least in schools. The character of Auggie is remarkable and lovely and the way the story is told through different people’s viewpoints is really well done. I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone since I read it.
8. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
9. Star Cursed, Jessica Spotswood
10. The BFG, Roald Dahl
11. Allegiant, Veronica Roth – A great ending to the Divergent series. Without giving any spoilers the ending was unexpected, but actually pretty perfect, or at least that’s my opinion anyway. It’s not often I finish a trilogy and really like all three of the books and the final ending, do you know what I mean?
12. No Second Chance, Harlan Coben
13. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
14. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness – A beautiful story about life and death and family and childhood. It’s another one of those books that I think should be compulsory reading, just because it is so gorgeously written. There are some lovely quotes in this book; “You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” and “Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
15. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkein
16. Private LA, James Patterson
17. Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek
18. Running Like a Girl, Alexandra Heminsley
19. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck – still my favourite book ever.
20. Little Love Song, Michelle Magorian
21. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce – Wasn’t expecting much from this one and couldn’t get into it until suddenly I was gripped and engrossed.
22. Stay Close, Harlan Coben
23. Mistress, James Patterson & David Ellis
24. Six Years, Harlan Coben
25. The House at Paradise Street, Sofka Zinovieff
26. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
27. I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes
28. The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Melinda Salisbury – Loved this.
29. The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer – unimpressed. Sometimes I just don’t get things in the same way that everyone else does.
30. Beauty, Louise Mensch
31. Innocent, David Baldacci
32. Where There’s Smoke, Jodi Picoult
33. Sidney Sheldon’s The Tides of Memory, Tilly Bagshawe
34. Landline, Rainbow Rowell
35. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
36. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness – Gripped pretty much straight away. Must read the other two books.
37. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith – Still adore J.K and will devour anything she writes.
38. Half Bad, Sally Green
39. Ghostman, Roger Hobbs – This book was the winner of the CMA thriller of the year award, so I was 99.9% sure that I would like it. And I did! The book follows 48 hours in the day of a ghostman who is tasked with clearing up after a bank robbery goes wrong. We also delve into the past to learn how our Ghostman met his current employer and just why he is helping out now. This chops and changes quite a lot, and it took me quite a while to get used to it, but it was necessary and everything made sense in the end.
40. The Rise of Nine, Pittacus Lore
41. Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
42. Rubbernecker, Belinda Bauer – I was completely gripped by this thriller and read it in under 48 hours. So many twists and turns and a brilliant ending.
43. We Were Lies, E. Lockhart – So many good things heard about this, but I guessed the ending which was a bit dissapointing.
44. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell – I think this is my favourite Rowell book.
45. Daughter, Jane Shemilt
46. Before I go to Sleep, S. J. Watson
47. Second Honeymoon, James Patterson & Howard Roughan
48. Confessions of a Murder Suspect, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
49. Eeny Meeny, M. J. Aldridge – very disturbing, but I also couldn’t put it down!
50. Paper Towns, John Green
Looking at this list it’s really hard to pick a favourite of the year, I just read too many good books. The highlights I think were Little Lies, Eleanor and Park, I am Pilgrim, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, A Monster Calls and Wonder.
The only question now is how many more will I read before the end of the year?
What do you think of these books? Have you read any of them? What would you recommend I read next.
To be honest with you I’m very tempted to treat myself for completing this challenge. I’ve been wanting the eBook versions of The Harry Potter series forever and ever. Should I do it??
This coming weekend we’re off to the Peak District for 21st birthday celebrations (alas not mine) and I cannot wait! It’s going to be an awesome weekend. One of the great things about having weekends away like this is that they start and end with a road trip – one of my favourite things. There’s something about being under your own steam and able to stop off wherever you want en route that I love. I think it stems from that freedom you feel when you finally learn how to drive – it’s as if the world is your oyster and you’re not reliant on the parentals anymore! However, a road trip can go wrong quickly if you’re not properly prepared. So here’s my list of toad trip essentials…
Good friends or family as driving companions – invaluable as you don’t want to be stuck with someone you don’t like for four hours. Plus they have to enjoy a sing-a-long – Disney themed are the best kinds!
Good coffee – this goes without saying. Not only for keeping you alert and awake but because a takeaway coffee in the cup holder just means holiday. Being a Londoner means that I only ever have coffee in the car when I’m road tripping and headed somewhere I want to be – not to work, not for errands and not for anything boring!
Good music – for the aforementioned sing-a-long. No matter the length of the journey good music is an essential element. Whether it’s a Spotify playlist (my current fave album is Ed Sheeran – love!), Disney Sing Alongs or Legends this needs a lot of thought ahead of your trip to take into account who is on the trip, where you’re going and how long the journey will last! Just don’t forget the adapter to link your car to your phone – nightmare!
Good snacks – peanut m&m’s basically. They don’t melt, they taste delicious and they are super easy to eat one-handed!
Good navigation device – Not relying on the car sat nav is imperative, especially if yours is temperamental and has a tendency to turn itself when you’re out of signal, oh like in the middle of the bloody Peak District. Not. Helpful. So an old school map or your trusty iPhone is ideal
So another month is almost over, which is insane and crazy all at once. But September was a month of brilliantness so I’m not complaining that it sped by, if it had been slower it probably would have been less fun and exciting! So what have I been up to I hear you cry and what things have made me happy? Well the first two weeks of this month were ridiculous busy work wise, which I relished as well as not enjoying! I loved being busy and prepping stuff, getting organised and hatching plans for the coming months, but I could have done without the late nights and panics! However it showed me just how awesome my work colleagues are with lots of offers of help, coffee breaks and breakfast treats when it all got to much. How awesome is that?!
As well as being grateful for awesome work colleagues this month I’m very pleased to have brilliant friends who enjoy food, long walks and theatre trips. This month I caught up with lovely friends for a delicious Sunday lunch of Beef Bourginon as a reward for a mammoth walk in Richmond Park (my new favourite park fyi) as well as enjoying a brilliant piece of theatre with them too. Shakespeare in Love is astonishingly good and laugh-out-loud funny on numerous occasions. You really really must see it!
We’ve been stretching ourselves in the kitchen recently too, which I’ve really enjoyed! We’ve made homemade chocolate nak’d bars and risottos galore, not to mention I’ve been trying out my new cookbook. I was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous new Mary Berry cookbook, that’s been SIGNED! Talk about a prized possession! Thanks Lau. (and don’t worry there’s a new recipe coming from that VERY soon!).
Another happy thing in September involved hatching plans for upcoming birthday celebrations (sadly not mine!). With my little sis and both my parents’ birthday’s coming up it’s been a busy month of present buying and plans. I can’t wait to see there faces when plans are revealed and to spend lots of lovely family time with them over the coming weeks to celebrate with them. Talking of family time, Bex stayed with us for the first week of September, which was such fun! It was the perfect excuse for dinner out, baking and bananagram marathons. I love spending time with my amazing sisters, and I’m super lucky to have them nearby so often.
Buying myself little treats never fails to make me smile – shallow I know – and this month I’ve spoiled myself a little bit. There have been purchases of stripey tops (yes plural – more to come on that soon!) and lovely statement necklaces plus some holiday reading and magazines for a Sunday morning coffee shop trip. Bliss.
Last week I was super happy as I was on holiday and away from work for nine whole days. The weather in Portugal was sublime and there were barely any clouds in the sky. I made the most of having nothing to do other than relaxing. There were an awful lot of long walks, long lunches and lazy days on the terrace and in the hot tub. Just what I needed ahead of what looks set to be a busy few weeks!
What about you, what has made you happy this month, please do share! And don’t forget to link up with Belinda and the other Life is Good bloggers too.
For someone who has only been to a handful of weddings I seem to have been buying an awful lot of wedding and anniversary presents recently. I guess that when you’ve been going to one or two weddings a year for the past 8 years they soon add up. So actually maybe it’s not that ridiculous. For me July, August and September are full of either weddings or anniversaries and I love nothing more than shopping for the perfect gift for each pair. Now obviously when buying presents it’s about buying something that you know that person will love. But I also like to get a gift that I like too – I’m like that with all presents. Call me selfish, but I refuse to buy something that I don’t like – that’s why Becca never got the playsuit she wanted for her 19th birthday and why I refused to buy Fi that hideous bag she wanted. Side note: sometimes I wonder how I can be related to those two and their questionable tastes.
Let me also say that I don’t like wedding lists – I refuse to buy newlyweds a toaster or a cutlery set – boring, boring, boring. Plus most people I know have been living together for years and therefore don’t actually need these things as wedding gifts. Also if you invite me to your wedding please be warned that I am not going to give you money. I want to bring with me a physical present that I can place on the wedding gifts table. So yes, there’s my rant, basically if it’s a wedding or anniversary then I want to find the perfect gift for the couple, and it has to be something that I like too.
Anyway, with all the present buying over the last few months I had a sudden desire to write a blog post all about it. Because, well that’s the whole point of having a blog – to be able to write whatever kind of posts I want, when I want and how I want. And anyway I’m sure other people have been, and will be hunting around for wedding and anniversary presents too, so this post can only be useful.
Above are a few bits and bobs that I’ve had my eye on for various people over the last few months.
So far I have bought these glasses for two sets of people as they’re a favourite of mine and I really really want the tumbler versions for myself. They also do a wine glass in the same copper finish.
How cute is the picnic hamper? I think it’s the perfect wedding gift as it’s not too pricey, especially if you club together with others, it’s something that the newlyweds won’t buy themselves, but it can be easily enjoyed throughout the summer months.
The mug set are from the cotton espresso range, so it’s a cute play on words for the traditional second anniversary gift.
What gifts do you give and/or receive for weddings and anniversaries?
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about this and that.