Sponsored Post: Christmas Party with #Lidlsurprises

Christmas Party with Lidl

If you’re like me, now we’re approaching Christmas, there will be a lot of festive occasions to attend on your social calendar. Over this past weekend I’ve had both a 21st Birthday Party and Christmas get together and as I was nominated to cook for both occasions I decided to have a little fun with my guests and serve them (unknowingly) a top notch Christmas style buffet from none other than Lidl! Below are some of the photos from the two events with a festive flavour plus my guest’s reactions once they found out it was a #Lidlsurprises buffet. For more inspiration and Christmas Recipes head on over to the Lidl website.

Currently there is a wide range of Christmas foods available in store under the ‘Deluxe’ brand so it was much easier to hoax my guests as they cooed over the table of nibbles. My guest’s ages ranged from eight to seventy and anywhere in between so I needed to cater to all tastes and dietary requirements.

For savoury foods some hits from the Deluxe Chilled range included the British Cheese Board, Scottish Oatcakes, Scottish Biscuits for Cheese and Italian Prosciutto. Plus favourites from the Deluxe Treats range included Strawberry & Cream Mini Shortbreads, Luxury Fruit and Nut Mixes plus Baklava (seriously, buy two packs of these (or more!) – they were gone in seconds!)

For dessert we also enjoyed a Deluxe Frozen Tarte Aux Framboises which easily served more than our 11 eleven guests and was fab with a splash of cream.

Lidl Christmas Buffet

Lidl Vegetable Crisps

Lidl Buffet

One guest reaching for another Baklava!

Lidl Deluxe Chilled Desserts

Our delicious desserts – these went down a treat with all ages!

Tarte Aux Framboises

There were a lot of guesses of where the food was from and when I announced it was all from Lidl, people were so surprised (even dumbfounded in some cases!) with one person saying they’d “never guess it was from Lidl, it’s superb” and another saying “the quality is fantastic, I”ll be getting some more bits in before Christmas!”

You might recognise this Christmas ad below from TV. Just like my guests, these guests had a hard time guessing where their Christmas drinks were from!

n.b. Products are available until stocks last, all prices are correct at time of publication and prices may vary by store.

All in all, I myself was blown away by the quality of the Lidl products and especially loved the cured meats and chocolate nut selections and I think just maybe I’ll be leaving out a Deluxe Baklava instead of a mince pie on Christmas eve so that Father Christmas can have a #lidlSurprise of his own this Christmas!

What Christmas food from Lidl will you be trying this year?

Thanks for Reading,

Twitter | Facebook | Bloglovin’
If you love baking check out my new book ‘How to Start a Successful Cake Business‘ – now available on Etsy and Amazon Kindle Store

The Vegesentials Challenge + Win 7 Days Worth of Vegesentials Smoothies *CLOSED*

The Vegesentials Challenge

Since hitting my 30’s I’ve been trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I’ve made a few obvious changes like upping my water intake and trying to be more active plus dropping a few extra lbs and super charging my skincare routine to prevent those dreaded wrinkles. Someone once told me that you should sandwich your skin between two layers of hydration – on the outside, moisturise your skin with your skincare regime – and on the inside, internally hydrate yourself with water and nutritious foods.

This metaphor is something I can really buy into, as I know from personal experience what a difference staying hydrated and sticking to a regular skincare routine can do. It not only has improved my skin but it makes me feel much better about myself too. As part of my lifestyle changes I’ve also been adding much more fresh fruit and veg into my diet and have already seen an increase in my energy levels and general wellbeing.

But I wanted to go a little further in my quest for a healthier lifestyle and started exploring new foods and products which is when I discovered the brand Vegesentials and decided to take on The Vegesentials Challenge! They are the UK’s first raw fruit and veggie drink brand and have made a range of smoothies, each one made from half fruit, half vegetables which offers a much higher nutritional value than fruit smoothies or juices alone. The challenge itself involved trying to have 7 a day of fruit and vegetables (instead of the recommended minimum of 5) and recording any changes or benefits I found within a week.

The Vegesentials Challenge

The Vegesentials Challenge

For a week I tried to pack in as much fruit and veg as I could with each meal and snacked on both fresh and dried fruit and raw veg. I also had a Vegesentials smoothie with lunch most days to again up my intake of fruit and vegetables. I found out that in Europe it’s mostly recommended adults have 5-6 portions a day whereas in Australia it’s around 8 portions a day. Also I discovered that it’s now believed that 5-a-day should be increased to 7 portions of fruit and veg a day in the UK as this is the optimum amount at which health factors such as risk of cancer (25%) and heart disease (31%) significantly decrease.

During the week I also started snacking on much healthier foods such as natural greek yogurt in place of sugar or sweetened fruit yogurts, had nuts and plain popcorn instead of chocolatey treats and cut out artificial sweeteners and sugar from tea and coffee.

I tried six different flavours of Vegesentials smoothies (each one contains 1 or 2 portions of fruit and veg) and found only one flavour I didn’t like which contained kale, which I’m generally not a fan of anyway, but the other flavours were surprisingly sweet and not unpleasant at all. My two favourite flavours were the Carrot, Peach and Cucumber, and the Cucumber, Pineapple and Spinach Smoothies which actually felt like a treat!

Observations I made throughout The Vegesentials Challenge:

  • They are not thick smoothies but more like juices – just something to think about if you’re expecting something on par with the texture of a milkshake.
  • All the smoothies tasted nice and not unpleasant at all – don’t let the colours put you off!
  • I felt full after having a smoothie and didn’t need to snack mid-afternoon if I had one at lunchtime.
  • My energy levels increased a lot in the daytime and I found I relied less on caffeine to get me through the day.
  • I felt less bloated and my stomach looked smaller.
  • My skintone improved, making me look brighter and my eyes looked more sparkly.
  • It was a much easier challenge than I anticipated!

I want to stress here that taking The Vegesentials Challenge isn’t a quick fix to lose weight or a fad, I genuinely think that adding them into my diet played an important part in helping me make some lifestyle changes as it’s made me think twice about what I’m putting into my body and what the affects may be. I will be continuing to have Vegesentials smoothies, just not every single day as it’s good to change things up and think they will help me when I need an energy boost or I’m feeling sluggish.

Want to WIN a weeks worth of Vegesential’s Smoothies?

To say a massive thank you to all my amazing readers, each week throughout September I will be running lots of competitions with some fabulous prizes.

Today’s prize is 7 Days worth of Vegesentials Smoothies!

The Vegesentials Challenge Smoothies

How to Enter

To be in with a chance to win this competition

Answer this question:
How many days did I do The Vegesentials Challenge for?

AND simply follow me on:

bloglovin’ OR Twitter OR Facebook OR Pinterest OR Instagram

THEN Leave me a comment below to say where you have followed me and the answer to the question!

Terms and Conditions

The competition is open to UK entrants only aged 18 and over, one entry per person.

A winner will be chosen from all valid entries using random.org.

Competition closes 9pm Monday 22nd September.

Thanks for Reading,

Twitter | Facebook | Bloglovin’
If you love baking check out my new book ‘How to Start a Successful Cake Business‘ – now available on Etsy and Amazon Kindle Store

Easter Treats 2014

chocolate raspberry hazelnut paella recipe easter

If you’re after something a little different this Easter holiday here is my round-up of a few favourite alternative Easter treats (don’t worry, chocolate is still very much on the list!)

1. OK so call me crazy but I really like the sound of this Chocolate Paella recipe. It’s like a chocolatey rice pudding with hazelnuts, raspberries, chocolate (obvs) and white chocolate buttons. What’s not to love?!

chocolate raspberry hazelnut paella recipe easter

Paella de Chocolate: Chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut paella

Serves 6 – 8 people because it’s really chocolaty!!

Cooking time: 25 minutes


300g of Spanish paella rice such as bomba or calasparra

2 tsp granulated sugar

20 ml vanilla essence

10g of extra brute chocolate powder

25g white chocolate callets (mini buttons)

1 orange (for peel and zest)

160g of dark chocolate (I use 53% for this recipe)

25g raisins

25g chopped toasted hazelnuts

200g fresh raspberries

650 ml water


1 paella pan or a 30cm large heavy bottom frying pan

1 small saucepan

1 microplain or small box grater


Place the rice into a heavy based saucepan with the cocoa powder and half the vanilla essence.

Add in 500ml of water with the orange peel and give it a quick stir. Place the pan onto the stove and turn the heat up in the pan to a rolling boil and then down to simmer for 14 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure the rice doesn’t stick.

All you are looking to do here is infuse the rice with a little orange and vanilla, open up the pours, inject the cocoa rouge colour into the rice but you are not playing with the starches of the rice. After 14 minutes the rice should still be firm.

Remove the rice from the pan immediately and spoon it out onto a big plate, or tray or anything you can find to halt the cooking process. Spread it out really thin so it can cool almost instantly. Then remove the orange peel. I refer to the rice as ‘par-boiled’.

Place the paella pan onto the stove and add in the sugar, raisins and the rest of the vanilla extract and the remaining water then bring to the boil, turn down to a medium heat.

Taste it, this is your Caldo – your broth, and this has to be spot on… if you want to add a dash more vanilla, then now’s your chance… Get ready the next stage is full on and you cannot leave the stove!!

Quickly throw in the par-boiled paella rice.

Then give it a good stir through to spread the par cooked rice out evenly. Leave it to gently bubble away for about 4 minutes so the caldo can get to work with the rice, remember this is the first time the rice has had chance to absorb the sugar.

Then drop in the dark chocolate. And give it one more stir, just one swoop through the pan and then that’s it

From now on remember this rule…move the pan, do not stir the paella.

Turn the heat to low, let the rest of the broth be absorbed by the rice, this takes about 1 minute. Once the broth has totally disappeared, check that the rice is al dente – cooked but with a slight bite, then remove from the heat.

Bring the hot pan out of the kitchen and into your serving area, I like to get everyone involved at this point, all those little fingers going to work

As a family you can sprinkle over the white chocolate (you can either use callets as I have, or chips or you can even snap and shave off from a block. Just let it melt on the top.

Then add the hazlenuts and a good grating of orange zest, plus a little squeeze of a wedge or 2 for good measure!

A Rest is so important: about 2 or 3 minutes is my golden rule,

Well if you can stop the kids delving in….
(Recipe courtesy of Antony Bennett – www.latasca.co.uk).

page divider

2. This caramel tea is super delicious. You know me, I love tea so I’m easily pleased! But this truly is so nice as a sweet treat or a posh Easter gift.

caramel tea east india company easter

Caramel Tea for Easter, £10.00
(Available at The East India Company flagship store on Conduit Street, or online at www.eicfinefoods.com)

This smooth blend of pure Ceylon black tea with rich notes of caramel offers a full-bodied decadent cup with a sweet aftertaste. With its distinct aroma of caramel, this tea is the perfect way to awaken the senses on Easter morning.

Brew time : 2g tea in 200ml water for 4 minutes

page divider

3. For low (no) calorie easter treats, I love the range of Lush easter products. Typically I buy Fluffy Egg bath bombs this time of year (as all the easter products are limited edition) and it smells like sweet pink candyfloss and produces many many bubbles!

This year the new products include Golden Egg (I think they may have had this last year too?), Carrot Cone and Funny Bunny Knot Wrap – the latter two being full of lovely little bath and body treats, giving the perfect excuse to have a little pampering over the bank holiday weekend.

Golden Egg bath melt ballistic

A brand new invention… this egg is a bath bomb coated in bath melt mixture. It will unexpectedly sink to the bottom of the bathtub while the outer layer dissolves, popping to the surface as the fizzing centre is revealed.
Ingredients The outer bath melt mix is made using our beautiful fair trade, organic Colombian Peace Village cocoa butter and olive oil from a brand new permaculture project we’re working with in Palestine. Scented with the best selling Honey I Washed the Kids fragrance, it’s coated with PET free golden lustre.
Inspired by chocolate cream eggs, we reverse it and coat the hard bath bomb centre with a creamy bath melt shell. £3.50 each


Inside this carrot-shaped cone you’ll find a rabbit hidden within a slice of Carrot soap; a Bunch of Carrots for the rabbit to enjoy; and a Golden
Egg, a reward for the bunny for eating all of his carrots! You’ll discover the contents as a story, along with a maze game for the lucky recipient to play as they search for the Golden Egg! Vegan 

Funny Bunny

Tied up inside this organic cotton Knot-Wrap is a selection of limited edition Easter treats. The organic cotton Knot-Wrap is from re-wrap, a women’s co-operative in India. By choosing the Lush Knot-Wrap gift options, instead of traditional paper wrap, you are helping us save 11.6 tonnes of waste per year. Especially relevant at times like Easter when excess packaging is so prevalent.
CONTAINS: two Bunny bubble bars; A Bunch of Carrots reusable bubble bars and a Fluffy Egg bath bomb. Vegan

page divider

4. For a grown up Easter treat try this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes by Eric Lanlard. They are a combination of chocolate and spicy ingredients, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Omit the chilli and cayenne pepper for a result more akin to a chocolate hot cross bun!

eric lanlard mexican cupcakes

Makes: 12 Cupcakes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

175g (6oz) plain flour
225g (7.5 oz)caster sugar
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
1 tsp white wine vinegar
5 tsp sunflower oil
chili pepper cake decorations, to

For the Frosting:
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, broken into
150g (5oz) unsalted butter
150g (5oz) icing sugar
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate
of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl. In a large bowl, blend together the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract,
vinegar, oil and 250 ml cold water. Mix the dry ingredients into this mixture until the batter is smooth.

2. Divide the mixture between the paper cases (it will be fairly liquid) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a
skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make the frosting: melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water,
making sure the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. When melted leave to cool. Whisk the butter and
icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk in the cooled melted chocolate and the cayenne pepper. Pipe
the frosting onto the cooled cakes and top with chilli pepper cake decorations to finish.

page divider

5. There’s still time to enter my Easter Fashion Competition which finishes on Easter Sunday! Follow the link and you could win yourself your favourite fashion item for spring summer.

page divider

I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend and enjoy the bank holiday (fingers crossed for good weather) and don’t eat all your chocolatey treats in one go!

Twitter | Facebook | Bloglovin’
If you love baking check out my new book ‘How to Start a Successful Cake Business‘ – now available on Etsy and Amazon Kindle Store