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Let's Cook: Chicken Katsu Curry

20/01/2019


Eating well should be a sustainable habit, but it can sometimes feel challenging if you're also on a budget. It has been three months now since I moved into my own home with Liam and it's been important for us to ensure when we plan our weekly meals they are nutritious, keep our taste buds happy and our budget on track!

When we chose to eat out one of our favourite cuisines to enjoy is Japanese. If you were to order a Chicken Katsu Curry from a chain restaurant it would typically set your bank balance back by £10 per person, however, we were able to replicate this for a fraction of the price for approximately £2.60 a plate!

Would you like to know how I made it? If so, keep reading...


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Ingredients
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- Two Chicken Breasts 
- 125 ml Buttermilk
- 1 Heaped Teaspoon Medium Curry Powder
- 1 Garlic Clove (Minced)
- 60g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 160g Basmati Rice 
- 12g Creamed Coconut

For the sauce:

- 1 Garlic Clove (Minced)
- 1/2 White Onion
- 1/2 Carrot 
- Teaspoon Of Oil
- 1 Teaspoon of Garam Masala
- 1 Teaspoon of Medium Curry Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric 
- 1 Heaped Tablespoon of Plain Flour
- 1/2 Heaped Teaspoon of Mango Chutney

For the pickle dressing:

- 1/2 Red Onion
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1/2 Red Chilli
-15g Coriander

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What To Do
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1. Flatten and tenderise your chicken breasts by placing them in between sheets of greaseproof paper and bashing them. 

2. Mix the buttermilk, curry powder, garlic and a pinch of sea salt together in a bowl and place in the chicken breasts to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours. 

3. Sprinkle your breadcrumbs onto a tray/plate and cover your chicken breasts, pressing down to help them stick more. 

4. If you would like to save on time you can fry your chicken breasts in the saucepan with 1/2 cm oik and cook for 8 minutes, turning in between. However, I prefer to oven bake for 25 minutes on 220 degrees in a fan-assisted oven.

5. Whilst this is cooking you can begin with your sauce! Cut all of your vegetables finely and fry in a large pan on a medium to low heat with oil. Add the spices and keep mixing until the vegetables begin to caramelise. 

6. Stir in the flour and mango chutney and pour in 400ml of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

7. In a saucepan add your rice and add 320ml boiling water. Break in the creamed coconut and stir. Place on the lid and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure to turn that when you turn the heat off that you leave the lid on to keep the moisture inside. 

8. Finally, add all the onion and chilli into a small bowl and squeeze in the lemon and mix with your hands as this will help pickle the vegetables to add more depth to the flavour. 

9. All that is left to do is plate up and tuck in.

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Nutritional Information
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Per Serving

621 Calories | 54g Protein | 85g Carbs | 9g Fat | 4g Fibre

Let's Bake: Leftover Christmas Chocolate Fudge Brownies

06/01/2019

Christmas may be over, but the excessive quantities of chocolate that remains are not. Rather than consign them to the back of the cupboard, why not turn your chocolatey treats into delicious cakes and bakes instead?

For my first bake of 2019, I decided to make Leftover Christmas Chocolate Fudge Brownies using a load of random chocolates that I had left over such as Lindt Lindor, Malteaser Truffles, Terry Chocolate Orange pieces and more.

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Ingredients
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- 24 Leftover Chocolate Pieces
- 200g Melted Chocolate (Dark/Milk)

- 100g Softened Unsalted Butter
- 250g Caster Sugar
- 4 Large Eggs
- 95g Plain Flour
- 25g Dark Cocoa Powder
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

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What To Do
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1. To begin with grease and line a baking tin (or a brownie tin if you have one) and preheat your oven to 180°C or 160°C if you're using a fan-assisted oven.

2. Break up your chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl and melt gently. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool until needed.

3. Into the bowl of a food mixer place your sugar and butter and beat on a medium speed until fluffy in texture.

4. On a slow speed add your vanilla essence and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate and add the sifted flour and cocoa until combined.

7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Placing each piece of leftover chocolate evenly into the mixture.

8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes until firm to the touch but still a bit fudgy – the chocolate will continue to cook slightly for a few minutes after coming out of the oven.

9. Remove the tin from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before cutting into pieces and enjoy!

Recommended servings | 24

#HollysMustHaves: Winter Edit

16/12/2018


Photography by Sophie Lobban



Winter seems to add an extra element of complexity to looking good. On the one hand, you can play with layers, textures and contrasting colours. Yet on the other, you have to dress warm enough to walk from one place to another but not so warm that you find yourself completely undressing every time you walk into a heated room. But you can be both stylish and comfortable during the winter. That doesn't mean going bare-legged or refusing to bundle up — It just takes a little creativity.

Your clothing and outfit choices can affect your personality, mood, and emotions. In winter it can become our natural instinct go grab the darkest pieces in our wardrobe, in an attempt to absorb heat and keep warm. However, subconsciously over time, it can become quite a depressive colour to wear, and I think as the colder months already can be more difficult on peoples moods due to the dark nights I think we all need to inject a little colour into our winter wardrobe! I love wearing colourful clothing because it either lifts the mood or expresses a mood that I am feeling that day.

Marks and Spencer create some amazing trend-led pieces and their latest collection with Holly Willoughby is no exception. Her winter launch reflects her signature style, comprising of 14 versatile pieces; jam-packed with colour, that if you were to add to your wardrobe would be guaranteed to last the whole holiday season and beyond. With prices starting from just £17.50, if anything that has caught your eye I'd recommend acting fast.

As I've always been a huge fan of a jumper and skirt combo I was immediately drawn to this pairing and had to have it. I decided to pair it with a leopard print faux jacket to add another layer to the look, playing with contrasting prints and textures. Which is your favourite item from the collection? Let me know in the comments.

SHOP THE LOOK





This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencer - all words are my own.

Let's bake: Toffee Apple Cake

28/10/2018



Autumn is finally here. The nights are becoming darker, leaves are turning crisp and the air is slightly colder. So, as the nights draw in lets retreat to the warmth of the kitchen and bake treats with all the flavours of the season.

This Toffee Apple Cake is perfect for any part over the Autumn season; whether you're hosting a frightful feast for Halloween or a banging showstopper on Bonfire Night. This show-stopping bake is a marriage of flavours of classic apple desserts with spiced sponge, vanilla icing and a sticky caramel icing. If you bake only thing this autumn, let it be this cake.

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Ingredients
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For the cake:

- 400g bramley apples peeled and roughly chopped
- 250g light muscovado sugar 
- 225g softened salted butter
- 375g self-raising flour 
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 3 medium eggs, beaten

For the buttercream:

- 70g softened salted butter
- 250g sifted icing sugar

For the toffee icing and decoration:

- 3 small apples
- 50g salted butter
- 100g dark muscovado sugar
- 3/4 tbsp milk
- 100g sifted icing sugar
- 5 bay leaves to decorate

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What To Do
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1. To begin with grease and line 3 x 18cm round sponge tins and pre heat your oven to 200°C or 180°C if you're using a fan-assisted oven.

2. Place your chopped apples (no additional water needed) into a microwaveable dish and heat up for five to six minutes or until the apples are well-cooked and softened.

3. Mash the apples to a coarse puree and set aside to cool slightly.

4. Sieve the self-raising flour into a large mixing bowl and add all of the remaining cake ingredients together. For the apple puree, it doesn’t matter if it is slightly warm, but should not be hot or the baking powder will work before the cake mixture is in the tin.

5. Beat the mixture together until it is just starting to come together and then divide the batter between the three tins ensuring they are levelled out before placing in the oven. Bake the cakes between 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, risen and just firm to the touch. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out to cool on a wire rack.

6. Once the cakes are completely cool, make your buttercream ensuring the consistency is creamy and thick enough to spread. Sometimes it may be beneficial to place your buttercream in the fridge to completely cool if your kitchen is quite warm.

7. Weigh your buttercream mixture and divide by two, using a palette knife to spread the mixture into each layer of bottom two layers of cake.

8. For the toffee apples, put the apples in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Swirl around to remove any wax, then drain. Once they are completely dry, insert lolly sticks into the stalk end and set the apples on a sheet of baking paper.

9. Weigh and sift the icing sugar, and get the cake out of the fridge. It’s important to get the apples and icing sugar ready now, as you need to work quickly with the toffee icing.

10. Put the butter into a small saucepan with the muscovado sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. Heat gently until the butter has melted and sugar dissolved, then bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes (it’s best to use a timer) or until it reaches about 113-116°C on a thermo-pen or sugar thermometer (although it’s not essential to be completely accurate).

11. Remove from the heat and quickly dip the apples into the toffee, rolling them around in the toffee to coat. Place on baking paper to set. Immediately add the sifted icing sugar plus 1 tablespoon milk to the pan, whisk until smooth (you may need to add another 1 tablespoon milk), then immediately pour the icing over the chilled cake, spreading it to the edge to allow it to drip over the sides. Allow to set.

12. Make a small hole with a skewer near each apple stalk and poke in a bay leaf. Place the apples on top of the cake to serve and once cooled grab a knife, cut into your servings and tuck in! 

Recommended servings | 12-14




Giraffe World Kitchen | intu Eldon Square, Newcastle

30/07/2017


Sitting in a prime location of Newcastles City Centre, on the top level of intu Eldon Squares new dining quarter you will find Giraffe World Kitchen. Giraffe World Kitchens motto is "Exploring the world of food is our passion. Our obsession. It gets us up in the morning and into the kitchen, never knowing exactly what we'll come across next." As the name suggests, Giraffe sells itself as something of a global affair. Take a quick glance at its extensive offerings and you’ll find everything from American short ribs to Japanese Katsu and spicy Mexican burritos. It’s rare to find such a celebration of different cultures and flavours all within one menu! Both brilliant for those who are considered fussy eaters or, like me, want to try a little bit of everything.   

First Impressions 

The restaurant’s interior evokes far flung corners of the world with an artwork feature wall inspired by India and Thailand, a chefs table covered with Moroccan pendants, global inspired patterned tiles and furniture upholstered in a range of colourful fabrics and leathers. We were greeted by friendly, happy staff and were shown to our table. Even though there was a heatwave on the day we visited and the waitresses suggestions (due to it being like a sun trap) against my better judgement, for the need to be seated somewhere photogenic I chose one of their corner booths. The overall atmosphere was a more informal vibe, however, for mid-day dining, this is absolutely perfect for our day date after a long afternoon of shopping. We were handed over our menus and offered table water, with well-informed staff willing to help you through your choice. With such a diverse selection of delicious cuisines deciding was really difficult so I took all the advice the staff offered. It was great to be able to try some foods I’d never had before, that world kitchen status is no lie!


What We Ate

To start we couldn't choose just one, so decided to share both the Shredded Chicken Tacos and Salt & Pepper Squid. The shredded chicken was incredibly juicy and flavourful. Just like you would get at an authentic Mexican restaurant. Accompanied with guacamole, sour cream and chipotle, what more could you possibly ask for? I won't lie, I was a little bit disappointed when I realised I could only have the one as Liam had tucked into the other. Needless to say, all was not lost as we still had our Salt & Pepper Squid to enjoy. Already a firm favourite of ours when we dine at Asian restaurants, these small fried balls of squid are simply delicious. Crispy yet tender squid served with a sweet chilli jam and fresh lime for an extra kick of flavour.

After tough deliberation and a gentle nudge from the waiter, for my main I opted for the Spicy Rice Bowl and Liam ordered the Ranch Steak & Eggs. Liam's meal only lasted 0.05 seconds as amongst me taking photos he had managed to almost eat all of his as he was so famished (blogger boyfriend problems) so sadly I can't really explain what his tasted like. However, I assume from the speed it was consumed it must have been pretty tasty. However, I can honestly say the Spicy Rice Bowl is the perfect way to make your mouth sing with joy. Understandably a firm favourite on the menu at Giraffe, the whole bowl is full of good-for-you things; nourishing brown rice with perfectly cooked chicken, sugar snaps, red peppers, crispy onions, chilli and soy sauce and topped with a fried egg. The entire bowl was dressed in a variety of different spices, but so well balanced I just couldn't stop myself from going back for more.

Even though our stomachs were practically bursting at the seams we knew we had to order dessert. The Churros arrived hot and crispy, rolled in sugar and cinnamon, and served with a warm dulce de leche dipping sauce and the Rocky Road Sundae was just what I needed to cool down as the heat had started to get to me. Delicious layers of vanilla and salted caramel ice cream, with chocolate brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and mini marshmallows. Need I say more, they were both the perfect sweet treat to round off our meal.

Final Thoughts

To summarise, if you’re looking for a relaxed dining experience with happy, friendly staff, a great variety of food; with a lean to the healthier side that gives you value for money then I’d totally recommend dining with Giraffe World Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I look forward to going back very soon! 




This post is in collaboration with Giraffe World Kitchen, all words are my own.

Those Three Words

08/01/2017


Those three words... Is it cancer? From the moment you find that lump in the shower. The second before you make that call to the doctors. The days that follow before your appointment. To being referred to a specialised unit. Those three words compacted into one question have the ability to change everything. 

The month of December, in the run-up to Christmas started perfectly normal. Stressful, yes. But normal. I had a little bit of last minute shopping to do, a few more gifts to wrap and was working my arse off at work so I could enjoy the festive break. There was nothing I couldn't cope with... Then it happened. I found a breast lump. An innocent check in the shower; which I'll be the first to admit I did not do half as often I should have been doing, turned quite quickly into "WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!" Apologies for the language. But I think eloquent thinking kind of goes out of the window in situations like these. So there I was, trying to make the decision of whether to ignore it and just hope that it was hormones doing their thing; after all, I am only 23 and still developing (right?!) or admit to myself I knew it was weird and it needed checking. I knew I had to go for the latter.

There is no way to really sugarcoat the whole experience that followed. I haven't cried as much as I had over those two weeks in a really, really long time. I genuinely thought I'd make the appointment with my GP, I'd be seen and be told it was nothing to worry about it and be sent on my way. I mean what do I know about what is normal and what's not when it comes to boobs? For crying out loud, I'm the girl with no boobs. But that didn't happen. He confirmed there was a 2cm stationary lump and it needed to be investigated further. The unit I was being referred to was described as a one-stop clinic; meaning they would go through all stages of what they needed to check there and then and you would receive all your results within a day. And, it was only a two week referral time. Why do some complain about the NHS again?!

So as I stood at the reception desk, with the referral slip in hand waiting to book my appointment, those three words popped up again. This time, I couldn't stop the tears I'd manage to hold together when I was in the GP's office. On my own, overwhelmed with the idea that in less than two weeks time there is a small chance I might be told I have the big C and there's nothing I could do about it. Those who I told offered to come with me, but I refused all offers. To take someone with me would suggest there was something I needed to be supported for and I was sure I would be in and out and it would all be over as quick as it had begun. But of course, those two weeks from the first appointment to your referral begin to take its toll. When you suffer from anxiety, giving you time to overthink is never going to be a good thing. Those three words. When I was in my car on my way to work. Having a laugh with friends. Watching the TV. Before I went to sleep. Those three words just wouldn't leave me alone. When you receive the letter in the post with the date of your appointment the word cancer is sprawled across the pages. I understand it's to prepare you for the worst; because there is a possibility of that being the final result from the checks you receive on the day, but it's still an unbelievably scary prospect to be faced with on paper. I had been holding it together in front of everyone, projecting the attitude of "it is what it is, I'll take it as it comes" and I just couldn't do it anymore. The night before my appointment I had completely unraveled. It was a week before Christmas, I wanted to be happy and looking forward to spending time with loved ones and instead, I was consumed with fear. I didn't want to be strong anymore, I just wanted the problem to kindly fuck off. I would cry and then stop. Then those three words would come back and I would cry again. It was time to let someone come with me. Regardless of the outcome, you need someone for support.

My GP had given me the impression that the first stage they would take would be to attempt to drain the lump; as it may be a cyst, and if it was to disappear immediately then I would be done and could be on my way. So after waiting an hour with posters plastered around the room with the word cancer screaming at you from every angle, to be seen and told I needed to be a radiographer when I returned I was a little overwhelmed and had another breakdown. By this stage, the waiting room was filled with women of all ages; some who evidently had cancer, those coming for further scans after beating cancer and individuals like myself, waiting to find out what the hell was going on. Needless to say, it's a place I never ever want to find myself sitting in again. Even talking about it now is making me feel nauseous. Four hours went by, I had my scan and luckily my lump wasn't anything that needed further investigation and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, you might be thinking after all of this why would you waste time writing this post? And you're somewhat right. I'll be honest, I didn't really know if I was ever going to find the words to write this post. I mean really, how do you explain to the worldwide web that you had a cancer scare? I know I'm not the first person to go through this process and I certainly won't be the last. But awareness is everything. What if I hadn't been so lucky and had just left it? Then what? When it comes to cancer, your age is just a number. The importance of checking your body regularly is just so important. It can save your life. 

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