Thursday, 12 January 2017

A sunny winter stroll...

I enjoy going out for long walks and I find it more appealing than ever on those winter days when the air is crisp and clear and the sun is shining. January is the perfect time to blow away the cobwebs and get outside to enjoy those bright days which seem to herald all the promise that a new year can hold. Last year I purchased this grey coat at the end of the winter season in Zara and I am so glad that I got it, because it is the type of coat which is so easy to throw on with jeans and a t-shirt. It is structured enough to add a polished edge to a casual outfit and it is warm too. I do not share fashion content with you very often because I do not always feel confident, I would rather keep it real with you and admit that, instead of pretending that I feel vastly confident every day. This is the real me and I know some of my readers struggle with confidence, as you tell me so in your comments and emails daily. Personally speaking, there is no magic formula for confidence but I just try to embrace my shape, wear clothes which suit me and most importantly relax...ultimately life is too short to worry about what anybody else thinks, so be happy and find something to smile about every day. There is always something.

We live close to the water and when the sun is shining there are some beautiful reflections to enjoy, so we headed to the marine lake close to where we live, to soak up the afternoon sunshine and the incredible views. 

It felt so good to go for a long walk after so much time spent relaxing over the holidays.
I teamed the Zara coat with high waisted skinny jeans and over the knee boots from Primark, an Iron Maiden t-shirt from Pull and Bear, a Zara chain handle handbag and my favourite pair of Balmain sunglasses. I love outfits like this which are easy to put together, comfortable and casual.

The sunset over Hilbre Island was breathtaking, it is moments of pure tranquility like this which make me pause and think about things...we get so caught up in the rush of life that it sometimes seems impossible to take a moment to appreciate our surroundings, but indeed it is vital to do so. 

The new year is a time to reflect, to measure how far we have progressed over the past year and to look at what we want to achieve over the next twelve months. In all honesty, I find the thought of the blank canvas of the year ahead exhilarating; there is always something to enjoy despite the challenges life presents us with. 

There is always so much to think about in life, but nevertheless sometimes it is important to think about absolutely simply stand and look at a beautiful view and to breathe in the sense of possibility. That is what this walk was all about, unwinding and appreciating our surroundings...taking a moment to seek solace in nature. 

When it comes to clothes I usually resort to a particular default look when I do not have work events to go to. My weekend casual look often consists of jeans, boots, a t-shirt and a coat paired with a smaller handbag (I use a bigger handbag in the week to carry my laptop in) it is funny how I own so many clothes and yet I usually end up resorting to the same style formula! 

Outfit details:
Coat and bag- Zara
T-shirt- Pull & Bear
Sunglasses- Balmain
Boots and jeans- Primark

In seemingly no time at all, the day gave way to twilight and the last of the golden light disappeared in to the hazy blue sky.

It was a lovely afternoon and the fresh air and peace and quiet was just what I needed. It was so calm and relaxing and the stunning views were unforgettable. It was nice to press the reset button and to welcome 2017 in a way which seemed only fitting, enjoying each moment in a way I sometimes neglect to do. 

What do you all think, do you like going on walks and what aspirations do you have for 2017? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time



Sunday, 8 January 2017

Winter vegetable casserole...

Happy new year everybody, I hope you all had a good time over the holidays. At this time of year, I find that there is nothing more comforting than a hearty one pot dish to enjoy on those cold and gloomy evenings. After all of the excitement of the holiday season, January seems like a cheerless month, devoid of the vibrancy and the sense of anticipation which abounds in the approach to Christmas. Another challenge January can present is a lack of spare time; I have spent the past week catching up and as a result I have not had much time to cook. I decided that this weekend was the perfect time to revisit one of my favourite recipes, winter vegetable casserole.

At first glance, this does not sound like a very inspiring dish but it has so much going for it because it is easy to make, it requires simple ingredients, it can be made in one pot and it is so rustic and satisfying on a cold winter evening.

One diced onion (I used red onion)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons curry powder (depending how spicy you like your food)
salt and pepper
1 medium swede, peeled and chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 parsnips, peeled and chopped 
3-4 potatoes, peeled and chopped 
200g red lentils 
2 litres vegetable stock 
Sour cream (to serve)

In a good quality stockpot (I used a cast iron casserole dish), heat the olive oil over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until softened.

Add the various vegetables, stir well with a wooden spoon to combine them, fry them until slightly browned and then add the curry powder.

At this point, add the vegetable stock and turn up the heat to bring the pan to a boil. Add the red lentils and turn the heat down to a simmer, stir well again and then cover the pan. Leave to simmer for a good 20-25 minutes (or until the vegetables are tender), popping back to stir occasionally.

The stew will begin to thicken nicely due to the lentils (which is why stirring it often is important to prevent it from sticking to the pan), taste it to check seasoning levels and ensure that all the vegetables are tender before serving. It may not look pretty, but trust me when I say this is such a filling and delicious dish for this time of the year!

When it is ready, ladle in to serving bowls and top with a little sour cream or plain yogurt.

Crusty bread, naan bread or garlic bread all work well as accompaniments and you can also serve this with boiled rice, chips, couscous or a jacket potato. It is so warming, filling and tasty that this is the type of recipe I just love to eat on a chilly night. I made a large tray of extra crispy roast potatoes to go with this and we heated up some vegetable samosas to accompany it too.

Once cooled, this can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, or frozen in a lidded container for later use. I also find it goes well with a stack of poppadoms and chutneys as a curry alternative, or simply served on its own for a speedy lunch or supper. This is one of those go-to recipes which does not require much time or expenditure, exactly what I like when it comes to a lazy one pot winter meal.

What do you all think, do you like one pot dishes and which recipes are your favourites during winter? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time, 



Thursday, 29 December 2016

A festive night out in Manchester...

I always like to make time for a relaxed night out before the holidays begin, so we went to Manchester last week for drinks and dinner. We headed to The Refinery in Spinningfields first, a stylish new bar from the Drake and Morgan group, where we decided to unwind with a round of espresso martinis which are always one of my favourite drinks on a night out. 

The space has a contemporary interior, with a sweeping bar area and tables adorned with romantic candelabras. After another round of drinks at The Refinery we headed off to Asha’s for our dinner reservation. I have been eager to dine at Asha’s for a while; I love Indian food and I have heard good things about it. 

The first thing that struck me was the elegant interior of Asha's; the low lighting, polished dark wood and spacious booths gave it an understated yet glamorous air. We settled in at our table and I selected a bottle of Acacia Tree Chenin Blanc which was the perfect partner to our meal, with light citrus layers. We ordered poppadoms to begin with and the accompanying chutney selection was tasty, I especially enjoyed the apple one which was zesty and bright. The cream cheese naan bread was a treat too; soft and doughy with a good amount of cheese filling. 

My main course of paneer jalfrezi had a fiery kick of spice and plenty of fresh pepper and paneer in a thick sauce. My dining companion opted for his favourite Murg (chicken) korma, which was creamy and mild with a sweet coconut flavour and tender chicken. 

All of the dishes were well presented with refined flavours and service was excellent too. 

It was time for dessert and we shared a warm chocolate chilli tart which had an intense chocolate flavour and a hint of chilli which was not too overpowering. 

47 Peter St, 
M2 3NG

We enjoyed a coffee to complete our meal before we set off in to the night having enjoyed a festive evening in Manchester, with great cocktails and delicious food. Happy holidays! What do you all think, do you like to make time for a festive night out before the holidays begin? As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Thursday, 22 December 2016

An evening at Yard & Coop...

Last week I went along to an event at Yard & Coop, which has just opened in Liverpool following on from the success of Yard & Coop Manchester. The evening was the chance for us to sample the menu, try some cocktails and find out what the restaurant is all about.

I was happy to retreat from the rainy evening outside and the real tree which hangs inside the entrance creates a cool atmosphere which continues downstairs in the spacious bar and restaurant. The aesthetic within is bright and stylish, with colourful armchairs and a bar (the 'Yard') complete with a great selection of spirits for the wide range of cocktails.

A striking chicken mural adorns one wall and the wooden ‘Coop’ is full of cosy booths. We were warmly welcomed by the team and the expert bartenders whipped up a round of ‘Rule the Roost’, a sweet blend of lychee and rose liqueurs topped with lychee juice and prosecco.

We chatted as we enjoyed our cocktails and soaked up the bustling ambience of the restaurant, then after our welcome drinks, we moved to the Coop where we took our seats in a booth and decided what to order. Although the focus of the menu is of course the buttermilk fried chicken, there is a choice of mac n cheese balls as well as salad and halloumi options to cater to vegetarians too. I opted for the buttermilk fried chicken breast with bourbon barbecue sauce and fries.

The portion size was generous and the chicken was tender with a crispy golden crumb and a topping of finely sliced chillies which added a welcome fiery element which worked well with the sweet and smoky barbecue sauce.

I also enjoyed a side order of ‘not chicken nuggets’, halloumi fried in crispy crumb coating which were tasty and ideal to share.

There is a selection of sauces available to accompany your meal, and large plates such as fries loaded with toppings and towering burgers also jostle for space on the menu. After our meal we headed back to the bar and settled in to a booth complete with vibrant printed cushions, where we sipped a round of whiskey sours and gin and tonics to complete our evening.

This place has relaxed charm in abundance, which makes it an equally appealing spot for cocktails or for a casual bite to eat.

Yard & Coop 
Hanover Street 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Yard & Coop and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Sunday, 18 December 2016

Small plates and cocktails at Love Thy Neighbour...

Bold Street is one of the best places in Liverpool for a good variety of restaurants and you can find so many types of cuisine along this bustling street, encompassing everything from Indian street food to fish and chips. I was intrigued to try out one of the newest additions to Bold Street recently, Love Thy Neighbour is a bar and restaurant with an interesting menu including superfood smoothies, brunch dishes, small plates and those all-important cocktails.
The interior design aesthetic is quirky and cool, with stripped back wooden panelling, neon signs, potted plants and custom logo artwork on the walls. It is a fresh concept with plenty of laid back charm and it embodies everything which appeals to the Instagram generation. After a warm welcome, we settled at a table by the window where we could watch the world go by as we sipped a coconut infused espresso martini and a warm apple spiced bourbon, which was so festive with a delicate spice and zesty freshly pressed apple. 

The sourdough bread served at Love Thy Neighbour is sourced from bakery Wild Loaf and we enjoyed thick slices of it with hummus before tucking in to roasted sweet potato wedges which were irresistible. We moved on to sampling a selection of small plates, all of which delivered in terms of both taste and presentation. 

The coriander falafel, spiced aubergine, confit yellow cherry tomatoes and Harissa dressing was an accomplished dish with bright flavours and I loved the kick of spice from the Harissa.

The next plate we tried was salt baked beetroots, raw golden beetroots, Blacksticks blue cheese and charred endive orange dressing, which was a revelation with bold flavours of earthy beetroot which contrasted perfectly with the punchy sharpness of the cheese and subtly sweet dressing.

The vegetarian and vegan dishes at Love Thy Neighbour are inventive with an eye for interesting combinations, as illustrated by the satisfyingly fluffy chickpea pancake with avocado and macerated heritage tomatoes which was tasty and filling. The goats curd with baked butternut squash, watercress and walnut pesto was also a favourite of mine as the tangy goats curd worked well with the butternut squash. 

The versatility of cauliflower is often overlooked, so I was pleased to see slow cooked cauliflower, celeriac, Ras El Hanout, golden raisins and toasted almonds on the menu; this dish successfully combined sweet and woody flavours and the fragrant spices added an exotic element. 

We could not resist sampling one of the freshly made smoothies, which was so refreshing and I think these would be the ideal pick-me-up during a busy day in the city. 

It was time for dessert next and we were lucky enough to sample two slices of cake from Studio Raw, which make raw and vegan cakes. One slice had a mince pie and Christmas pudding base with a mulled blood orange spiced cheesecake topping and the other slice was chocolate and almond. Both cakes were divine and the mince pie and Christmas pudding slice was incredible, combining sweet, zesty and fruity flavours.  

There is such a relaxed ambience at Love Thy Neighbour, it is the kind of place where hours just fly by without you realising it; always a good thing in my opinion. It is great to see another place offering small plates and cocktails of this quality, as well as an impressive array of  vegetarian and vegan dishes. Above all, this place has bags of personality and it does not take itself too seriously, which makes it all the more appealing. 

Love Thy Neighbour 
108 Bold Street,

What do you all think, do you like places which offer a selection of dishes to cater to everybody and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,