Thursday, 28 February 2013

World Book Day- a little plea from me

World Book Day is coming up. Celebrated mainly in schools, this day is dedicated to all things literature and stories that capture the imagination.

I LOVE reading, like seriously adore it, I will read anything from a graphic novel/comic books to a Dickens classic - its beautiful. So it's sad to think that alot of people do not read anymore like they used to when they were kids so I am trying a little campaign.

On 7th March (World Book Day) tweet me, facebook me, comment, tag me in a post with a book you are reading/recently read, where you are in the world and your all time favourite book/author. Three little things to do next Thursday, not too much to ask?


I want this tweeted, re-tweeted & re-re-tweeted. If I can a response from all 100+ of my followers on Glipho and Twitter I would be extremely grateful & you will make a 23 year old book worm very very happy.

If Natalie Portman doesn't persuade you to take part, I don't know what will.

No Drama xxx

A Welsh Breakfast with a side of Nostalgia

I am a nostalgia junky. I cannot wait for my next taste. I crave the feeling of nostalgia through my senses, making my toes curl with happiness.

I am a nostalgic eater. Certain smells can return memories for some people, but for me taste brings back so many memories and I can feel every moment clear as day. The taste of barley in a hearty broth reminds me of my grandad. He'd always make us broth with bacon ribs and dumplings when I was a little girl. My job would be to roll up my sleeves and make the suet dumplings, my pigtails and dungerees would be covered with flour but I'd have a sense of achievement. To this day I cannot replicate my grandad's recipe to its exact delight, which saddens me as I can't get my nostalgia hit, but makes me smile as the love my grandad put into his food cannot be carbon copied. You cannot recreate a dish that a grandad and his 5 year old granddaughter made together. The tastes are different, the experience is treasured.

So on a day when I wasn't looking for a hit of one of the happy memories from my childhood, we came across it by accident. Louis and I were wandering around Bury, we had decided to get the tram and have a good hearty walk and we would reward ourselves with breakfast. We entered a kind of non-descript cafe and sat down. I was more concerned with getting a cup of tea as I was freezing until I glanced at the menu and saw the most glorious words "Welsh Rarebit". My dad hands down makes the most amazing welsh rarebit and from a very young age introduced me to this delight and I thank him for that (my dad is also the reason why I love peanut butter and cucumber sandwiches)
I ordered the dish not expecting too much and what came was a beauty to behold.

It looked amazing. It tasted fantastic. So good that I even thanked the chef for making welsh rarebit that was so authentic and made me want to order three more plates of the stuff.
This meal made my week.

Funny what nostalgia can do isn't it??

No Drama xx

Inspiration and Motivation

Some days you feel the need to work out, you have a focus, a purpose and the determination to get your butt up and exercise.... but sometimes you have days where you want to hide in a dark room in your pj's surrounded by every naughty food man can sum up and cry with joy as you eat a years worth of calories in one sitting... how-ever wrong and sexy that may sound....

So some days I need inspiration to motivate me to get up and going. My usual motivations do not come in the usual form of inspirational quotes, some of them are brilliant, but part of my brain goes "Yeah okay, I hear what you're saying.....have a cookieeeeee". My version of inspiration comes in the form of humour and an idea that really gets me thinking. Such as;

This gets me laughing and then the thoughts come crashing "What if there WAS a Zombie Apocalypse?" "Oh dear god, I'd be fucked!" Cue sports bra being snapped on and off on a run I go.
May I point out that I do wear other things besides a sports bra, but it's the first thing I think of when preparing for exercising. Forget the trainers, I gotta protect my goods.

Speaking of "goods" my other form of inspiration comes in the form of (in my mind) a gorgeous lady, Kat Dennings.

She is beautifully shapely and has a stomach to envy, she is fit but without losing any of her curvage (which may be an impossibility for some of us....)
She is currently my motivation for kicking my ass at the gym, I want to be healthy, I want to be happy and I want to look this amazing....

I'm on my way though... I have lost over a stone now since my last epiphany, which I am super proud of. I have become an expert at the plank and can now manage 5 press-ups boy-style. I have a way to go, but my Gym Playlist on my ipod and Kat Dennings keep me going.

What are your inspirations in your life?? Is there anyone you look up to?

No Drama, flex those muscles!

A pinch of spontaneity

When I'm out in Manchester and we decide to have lunch/dinner out I never like to go to the same place everytime if I can avoid it. I love the experience of trying new things, seeing new decor and looking at new menus. Sometimes this is a magical experience and you find a gem that you can recommend to all your friends, or an abismal place that you swear you will never go to again.

So walking through the streets of Manchester blissfully happy that it was the weekend and blindly stumbling through the Northern Quarter following our noses as to what delights we could find, and like an oasis we came across Dough; a classy, modern looking joint with a tempting aroma.
Dough is a pizzeria, if you couldn't guess from the name, and works on the premises of selling the classic pizza but with a base that kicks ass and a variety of endless pizza toppings and combinations.
Because we were S...T...A..R..V...I..N...G we decided to have a little nibble and chose Dough to Dip- Which consisted of eight dough sticks with hummus, sweet chilli sauce, pesto, oil & balsamic and garlic butter. OH MY GOSH, they were heavenly! I meant to take a picture but bloody tough because they were too delicious so nerrrr! I was so happy I could have kissed the waiter who brought them over (he was a bit of a dish aswell....bonus)

So after we demolished the dough sticks we had the choice of what pizza to have. Seriously the combinations and toppings they had were out of the flipping world. From Morrocan ; Tender spiced lamb, red onions, dried apricots, mozzarella, our tomato sauce, fresh mint and topped with honey yoghurt TO Jamacian - A rum infused HOT jerk sauce with chicken, bacon, peppers, spring onions, black eyed beans and mozzarella.


I opted for the Smoked Chicken - Smoked chicken with smoked cheese, spinach, mozzarella, pine nuts and our tomato sauce.

Beautiful isn't it?
Louis chose the Breakfast Pizza - Mozzarella, our tomato sauce with oven roasted crispy bacon, sausage, mushrooms, free range egg and a sprinkle of chives.

Which also looked delicious...

The pizzas were fresh and hot and the combination of flavours worked so beautifully that I left feeling extremely satisfied. Where we were sat we got to see the whole process of the Dough kitchen staff making each individual pizza which such loving attention that it seemed almost a shame to eat them.


I definitely recommend to take a peek at this joint if you're in the area, but bring me back a dough stick?? I'd be your best friend forever!

Full to the brim and no drama xxx

Birthday Cake Bakes

My lovely Louis has gotten another year older. Woo! Of course I had to make him a cake, and usually I just make a cake I think he would really enjoy and surprise him with it. This year he made a request for my whisked vanilla cake with mascarpone cream, raspberry jam and whiskey sugar syrup. Phew!

I made the vanilla sponge by;
175g/6oz caster sugar
175g/6oz self-raising flour
175g/6oz butter or marg
3 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/Gas Mark 5 and butter a cake tin.
2. In a large bowl cream the butter/marg and sugar together with a wooden spoon until light and creamy. In another bowl mix the eggs and vanilla extract (I like kirklands) together.
3. Slowly add the flour and eggs alternatively to the sugar and butter mixture, beating between each addition until the mixture is well mixed and smooth.
4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

I baked the cake the day before and left to cool. On the day I made a whiskey sugar syrup with a shot of whiskey a tbsp of water and 2tbsp of caster sugar. I let the ingredients warm together on a low heat whilst shaking the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved turn off the heat and leave to cool (you don't want to boil off the alcohol...oh no!). Split the cake and brush the cooled sugar syrup onto each side of the cake. As I was cheating and using raspberry jam bought from a supermarket (albeit very very nice jam) I decided to add a spoonful of the left over sugar syrup and some fresh raspberries into the jam as I wanted a bit of a kick and freshness. Spread the jam concotion onto the cake and make the mascarpone cream by mixing four tbsps of caster sugar with a tub of mascarpone, whipping double cream to stiff peaks and combining the two.

Then spread the cream onto the cake. There will be plenty left over for you to pipe a design ontop or to have leftover for scones for an afternoon tea (ohh errrr), unless you really like more filling than cake, who am I to judge, you eat your darn cake how you wish. CAKE EQUALITY!!! EQUAL RIGHTS FOR CAKE LOVERS!!!! FREEEEEDOMMMMM!!!!
Anyway...... Here is my offering....

and a sneak peek inside.....

I completed the cake with some melted chocolate designs I made the night before. I made a teeny piping bag out of baking parchment (check out this video on youtube it helped me loads) filled with slightly cooled melted dark chocolate and when crazy on a sheet of baking parchment. I made squiggles, swirls, hearts, stars, fluer de lis, zig-zags and dots. In the end we only used the best heart and may attempt of writing Louis' name (which I was rather proud of).
Whilst I was dusting the cake with icing sugar the rest of the dark chocolate creations fell victim to a hungry Louis. I was too busy to hear their pleas for help and only noticed when there was a single solitary chocolate dot left to tell me the sordid tale of how his friends had been devoured by a monster until the birthday creature came to finish him off. The horror!

Happy Birthday Louis.
I Love You.

No Drama x

I am a little bit addicted to peanut butter

Okay, maybe that's an understatement, that's like saying Jackie Stallone overdid the plastic surgery a little bit.

I love the stuff. It's my dad's fault, at a young age my dad introduced me to peanut butter and cucumber sandwiches (do not knock it until you've tried it) the salty, slight sweetness of the thick peanut butter, mixed with the fresh, crisp, crunch of a slice of cucumber... ahhhh heaven. As a 23 year old I still have this sandwich ever so often because as you know I love nostalgia and any excuse to revisit old memories whilst eating peanut butter (WIN!)
I don't just love eating peanut butter, I enjoy cooking with it. Give me a recipe with peanut butter in it and I'll be your friend for life (Slice of Barnes I'm looking at you!). From making my own tahini paste (peanut butter and sesame oil), to making chicken satay to my "All American Cookies" (chunks of white, dark and milk chocolate and lots of peanut butter). I still have yet to make my own peanut butter from scratch (perhaps another blog in the making??? Oooo I AM getting inspired)
Anyhoo whilst discussing with the lovely Slice of Barnes about our love of peanut butter (and David Beckham) I discovered a peanut butter brownie recipe. Oh. My. Gawd.

I made baked goods for my work colleagues to support my Louis participating in Movember and as some of my work mates are a bit peanut butter obssessed too, I decided this would be a killer recipe!
Ingredients you will need:-
  • 225g crunchy peanut butter
  • 200g bar dark chocolate , broken into pieces
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour

1. Set aside 50g each of the peanut butter and chocolate. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment. Gently melt remaining peanut butter, chocolate and all the sugar in a pan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has just about melted. Turn off heat and use a wooden spoon to beat in the eggs one by one. Stir in the flour and scrape into the tin.

2. Melt reserved peanut butter in the microwave on High for 45 secs, then drizzle over the brownie. Bake for 20-25 mins until it has a crust, but the middle still seems slightly uncooked.

3. Melt reserved chocolate, drizzle over the brownie, then cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

This recipe was damn well easy and I knocked it up rather quickly and my colleagues are currently mumbling incoherent delights as they get crumbs over my desk! I of course HAD to try a square and it is so delicious the little pockets of melted peanut butter are absolutely genius. I think next time though I will melt milk chocolate on the top to add some extra decadence.
Here are the finished brownies:

I mean, just LOOK at these bad boys.....

Have you experiemented with peanut butter, better yet is there anyone that DOESN'T like peanut butter?

Let me know, and if you try the recipe I want some too!

When did Geek become Chic?

Ok so I have a confession I am a Girl Gamer, I, SamWise, actually enjoy playing video games.

There's some negativity around girl gamers, mostly because of the current fad of appearing to be "geeky". You know what I'm talking about.... sexy pictures of ladies holding up World of Warcraft packages declaring "OMG, I'm such a GEEK". Personally I HATE the word geek, it was said with such harsh force towards me as a teenager in high school that I brushed it out of my vocabulary, but now to see the same high school "buddies" wearing Pacman shirts and false glasses proclaiming themselves as "Geek" not only angers me but baffles me. What fresh hell is this? Shows like the "Big Bang Theory" gave "geeks" some credit, some cool edge and about time if you ask me. Why are people singled out for wanting to get on with their work and being clever? But this "geek-chic" became too popular, so much so that the people that would afflict the hatred on to "geeks" became "geeky" themselves. Confused, yes, me too.

It seems like society is doing several turn arounds like this. All Fall fashion had been very gothic, crosses everywhere, black lace, velvet, dark make-up. Perfect for my 14 year old self, the same clothes that are fashionable now, singled me out as a teenager and made me a bullying target. Its the same with the "geeks" thing, I wear glasses to see. Do you? No didn't think so.
There is a slight bitterness tone to the beginning of this post as I had such a horrid time in high school, because I was different, because I was bigger, because I was clever, because I didn't want to fit in with the rockport wearing, pineapple hairdo, "popular" pricks. But I won't let the bitterness rule me though as it did when I was a teenager and I was rather a depressed child and this lead to self-harm. If only some of the people who said horrid things to me could have seen the REAL affect it had on me. I'd like to think they would be ashamed.
But that is the past and I believe karma will serve its justice one day.

Anyhoo, back to the games....

I'd like to say that I never enjoyed playing video games and blame it on my partner, but alas, this is not so. Ever since I was young I loved going apeshit beating the crap out of people on Street Fighter on SEGA and when my big brother came to whine at me for going on it all the time I'd manage to persuade him to play Super Mario on 2 player with me (I had to be Luigi to sweeten the deal), then my parents bought me a Gameboy. Man, I loved that freaking thing, the worst memory I have though was whilst we were on a car journey to Wales and the batteries died, I sulked the rest of the way there.

Then game consoles evolved and we were the proud owners of a Playstation. I was so happy. Me and my brother would play Smackdown together either fighting against each other, in a tag team or participating in a Royal Rumble. Nine times out of ten I would win, not because I had some special skills, but because I was unashamedly a button basher. I rather enjoyed playing Harry Potter games on the playstation as well as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Tomb Raider but my favourite was Croc - legend of the Gobbos. I loved those little cute furry bastards and I would save every one of them over and over again if I could.

Then we got a playstation 2 and I basically spent all of my time playing the many, many, many different versions of Guitar Hero. Then I met Louis and all my time was spent with him being young and happy. Playstation then released PS3 which my parents never got, but they bought a Wii, which I have yet to really, really like.
I had never even touched an XBox until me and Louis moved in together in May 2011, and I must say it was hilarious, I couldn't use it at all. I kept using the wrong toggles and I would end up looking at the floor or at the sky, but I gradually got the hang of it, so much so that Louis decided I was ready to co-op with him.
We worked through all of the Gears games, Portal, Mortal Kombat, Tekken 6, Left for Dead 1 & 2, Fear 3 and War in the North (War in the North is fucking epic by the way!). I then started exploring on my own with Skyrim, Oblivion and then Bioshock came into my life.

It was dark it was gritty, and it was full of suspense. I LOVED IT. Set in 1960, the game puts the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. As soon as I completed it I rushed out and got myself a copy of the sequel Bioshock 2 and ever since completing that I have been itching to get my hands on the next installment. Bioshock Infinite was due to be release in October this year, but the company said they wanted to be 100% happy with the game and it was either realease it and have something not to their standards or move the release date back and having something amazing when it is finished. It's a bitter-sweet decision but if it benefits the experience I'm all for it! So I shall be waiting patiently for March 29, 2013.
I might ask Louis if I can have the Special Edition....

Wholesome Honest Eating- A Post-Christmas Blog

Hellooooooo are you on a Christmas Come-Down? I was last week when I unceremoniously stripped the Christmas Tree bare and shoved him into a box with all of its trinkets, baubles and beads for 11 months until the festive period arises again.
Although how cute does my "fireplace" look with its handmade stockings?
I'm feeling a bit more refreshed this week, ready for a new year and excited for the months ahead to come.
I had my sisters over for Christmas Eve where we played games, drank wine, made mince pies and watched films until the early hours of the morning. We woke early (I got everybody up because I was giddy) my sisters opened their presents and we went to my parents to open more present and have bacon barms and hot coffee. We spent the big day at my Mother in Laws (Julie). After exchanging presents I cooked Christmas Dinner; Julie and Louis were my assistants (I even got a "Yes Chef" from them at one point!!)

After this glorious meal it was safe to say we were stuffed and the weeks after we didn't feel like having anything too rich 1. We are trying to lose a bit of weight and eat healthier (when I say we I mean me) 2. If I see anything else with bacon I might die. Seriously we had bacon barms for Christmas breakfast, bacon lardons with cabbage and chestnuts and the bacon from the top of the turkey was shredded and put into the gravy (I think I went bacon mad for the day!)
So the following are a few healthy meals that we have had the past weeks.

Homemade Texan Burgers with sweet potato and maris piper "chips". I flavoured the mince with some cajun spices, chopped onion and some smoked paprika, these were then baked in the oven and a slice of low fat cheese was thrown at them in the last few minutes. The "chips" were baked in the oven for about 25mins with a dash of olive oil and some crushed cloves of garlic. I put the burgers on granary barms with shredded iceburg lettuce and red onion. Delish!

Thai Turkey cakes with noodles and beansprouts. Turkey mince is kind of ignored in cooking which is a shame as it is light, low in fat, much cheaper than beef and allows herbs and spices to sing. I wouldn't recommend eating turkey mince without good flavourings with some strength as turkey is rather bland, and bland food makes my tastebuds collapse into themselves, my tongue self combusts and my head turns into a black hole.
I flavoured the turkey mince with fresh chilli, fresh coriander, fresh ginger, a squeeze of lime and chinese five spices. After rolling into patties I sealed the sides in a frying pan and then baked them in a preheated oven. I made a stirfry sauce with soy sauce, a dash of fish sauce, ginger, coriander, the remainder of the lime and a squeeze of honey. When the turkey cakes are done cook the beansprouts, rice noodles and some chopped spring onions in a large frying pan (or wok) with a touch of sesame oil (light olive oil if you don't have any), add the stir fry sauce and simmer until the noodles are soft. When plating up add some fresh coriander to the top.

Last Friday Louis wasn't feeling to well and requested some comfort food. This is where losing weight in my house is a problem, if Louis wants something I am more than happy to deliver because that makes me happy and I like cheering him up. We very much use food as comfort in our house, there is nothing better than coming home after a rubbish day and sitting with a bowlful of cheesy mash with a touch of mustard powder YUM (I WANT cheesy mash now. DAMMIT!) So my solution was to make a healthy chicken casserole with some dumplings to apease Louis comfort and I would only have either one dumpling or none at all.

See it CAN be done. Would you try any of these recipes? How are you doing after the festive binge?

P.S. The baby pictures above the fireplace are of me and Louis. Guess which one is which?

No Drama xx