Friday, 26 December 2014

Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Pancetta Pasta

One of my favourite dishes to eat at a restaurant is Zizzi's Penne Della Casa. I've tried for a while to make something that tasted similar and now that I've created a dish that I'm happy with, I thought I'd share the recipe with you all!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Salt and pepper
50g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots (sliced up)
250g chicken breast (sliced into small chunks)
8 rashers of smoked bacon or pancetta (chopped up into small 1cm strips)
400g chestut mushrooms (sliced up)
1 tsp plain flour
150ml double cream
2 tbsp red wine
Pinch of nutmeg
Handful of spinach leaves
300g penne pasta
Parmesan cheese


1) Put enough water in the kettle for your pasta and turn on. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and chicken, turn down to a low to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes (leave a bit longer if the chicken doesn't look like it's cooked on the outside). Add the bacon, cook for a couple of minutes and then add the mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes until they look softened.

2) Meanwhile, put your boiling water in a large saucepan, add a little salt, bring to the boil and add your pasta. Cook for the time instructed on the packet.

3) Go back to your frying pan. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Take off the heat while you add the cream and red wine, then return to the heat and add the nutmeg and spinach leaves. Leave to cook over a low heat while your pasta is cooking.

4) Once your pasta is done, drain it, and reserve a little cup of the starchy water. Add the pasta to your sauce and stir in. Leave this on to cook for a couple of minutes and add a little of the starchy water to loosen if you feel you need to.

5) Serve up and sprinkle with parmesan if you desire.

This pasta is one of my favourite home cooked meals now, but it is quite heavy and a little naughty with all that cream, so I do save it as a treat. The first photo in this post I didn't include spinach or parmesan and added a side salad to make it a little healthier. The second picture is exactly the method I used above. 

What's your favourite pasta dish? I'm pasta-mad so would love to hear any recipes you like to use.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Festive Baking

I've been baking up a storm in my kitchen the last couple of days in preparation for Christmas. I love cooking, but baking cakes isn't always the best idea if you haven't got enough people to help you eat everything. So this time of year is the perfect excuse when there are lots of festive gatherings!

After finding a recipe for pistachio cupcakes on BBC GoodFood I am obsessed and have made them multiple times. They're very moist and just melt in your mouth. 

As it's Christmas, I tried to make them look a little bit more festive with green icing, stars and some pearly balls. They were supposed to be Christmas trees, but the icing didn't come out quite as dark as I had hoped. 

You can find the recipe for the cakes here. The only part I changed was the icing as I prefer buttercream icing. It does make them a lot richer and more calorific, but it's it doesn't count, right!?

I also baked some chocolate chip shortbread cookies. It was my first time making cookies/biscuits and I also have a new electric oven which I'm not quite used to yet, so these didn't go quite to plan - I should have taken them out the oven slightly sooner. But nevertheless they taste good, albeit slightly harder than they're supposed to.

I found the recipe for these on the Dr Oetker website, which by the way is fantastic for baking recipes. A few weeks ago I made a chocolate fudge cake that was delicious! You can find so many great recipes online now, which is great because cookbooks are so expensive unless you get them secondhand or on sale. 

Have you been baking this Christmas?


Friday, 12 December 2014

Jack and Jillaroo Obsession

This is my second order from Jack and Jillaroo...and I am not ashamed to admit that!

I know my little one is still 17 weeks from being born, but these Newbie Cherub Dribble Bibs are irresistibly cute and fantastic quality. They're made from bamboo cotton towelling which is said to give no allergic reaction, is extremely absorbent and also anti-bacterial.

Personally I love them because you can get lots of plain, basic onesies and dress them up with dribble bibs. And they should last longer than any clothes you buy because they are for 0-1 years.

This time around I got two of the single sided bibs in Navy Gingham and Pale Blue Gingham. And, also a double sided bib in Royal Denim Blue with Pale Blue and White Stars.

The only one tiny negative which I will say is that one of the poppers in this order came off. Luckily it snapped back in, but obviously I can't give a full review as to how they will last with a baby pulling and tugging at them.

If any of you have used them, leave me a comment and let me know what the quality is like over time. I'd love to know.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Current Favourites

Escentric Molecules 01 - 
This perfume has been raved about by bloggers for a few years now and I am about to do exactly the same. The scent is quite hard to describe, but on me it is quite peppery and fresh. It's subtle and clean which is something I prefer in a perfume, and I've never had an 'oops I've sprayed too much' moment! What seems to be most infamous about this product, is it's ability to grab people's attention, and it surely does. I've never before had strangers ask me what I'm wearing.

Nars Sheer Glow - 
I've got this in a few different shades now to match my skin on it's weekly fake tanning cycle. It's been in my makeup drawer for years and I find it hard to believe anything could drag me away. It applies so easy, gives great coverage and doesn't cause my skin to erupt. The only downside is the price, but I've wasted a lot more money over the years testing out different foundations so it's better to stick with one I know I love.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette - 
The perfect mix of colours for a multitude of eye looks. I take this everywhere with me! The shades are soft, pigmented and very easy to use. This palette is actually an updated version of the original Natural Eye palette. Most of the shades are exactly the same or very similar, but they did get rid of Nude Beach which was an incredibly glittery shade that was impossible to wear.

L'oreal Super Liner Perfect Slim - 
This is a really good replacement for L'oreal Super Liner in Carbon Gloss. It's so easy to use and in fact I think I prefer it now as the nib is sturdy enough that it doesn't wobble but not so stiff that it drags on your eyelid.

L'oreal Miss Manga Mascara - 
Full, volumised lashes, with no flaking and easy to remove at the end of the day. Win!

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water - 
For a long time I used Bioderma Crealine to remove my makeup, but the price tag is hefty. Garnier Micellar Water does exactly the same job in my opinion and I can buy it in any supermarket or pharmacy.

What are your current favourites?


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The First Trimester

One thing I have found extremely useful since finding out I was pregnant is reading and watching videos all about pregnancy and mummy-hood. There are so many amazing things that happen when you're carrying your baby, but there are also lots of worrying and pretty crappy things too. I could not even begin to tell you how often I have googled a symptom I've been experiencing and then scared myself senseless over all the possible explanations. So for all you mummy's-to-be who would like to know what can happen in the first trimester, I hope this post might help.

The first symptom I experienced was a strange one; aching hands. I've only read of this being a problem later in pregnancy, but for me, my hands ached before I even got a positive pregnancy test.
I then started to get fatigue, nausea, headaches, dizziness and acne from about 5-6 weeks of pregnancy. I think the nausea really peaked from around 7-8 weeks and stopped at 12 weeks. But during this time, smells really affected me and were so much stronger than they would usually smell. I could barely sit in the same room as my puppy without feeling sick, which as silly as it may sound, was quite upsetting. Sometimes a smell would hit me so quick I would have to run to the bathroom. To ease the nausea I found sparkling water and starchy (but not too fatty) carbohydrates were my best friends. I also had little snacks in my bedside table for when I got peckish in the middle of the night, because as soon as I got hungry I would feel sick.

In terms of emotions, I had quite a few crying episodes over absolutely ridiculous things. I'm not that unused to my hormones controlling me, but I remember one time I cried because I wanted to eat junk food!! I also had weeks of awful anxiety after my first scan because the baby was measuring 3 weeks smaller than my dates. It turned out that because I had been on the pill so long it had messed up my cycle and after my proper 12 week scan, everything was on track.

At almost dead on 12 weeks I found that most of my early symptoms completely disappeared, which for a while was a bit nerve wrecking because I barely felt pregnant and had no idea what was going on in my little bump.

Now I am well and truly into the second trimester at 22 weeks. I've been able to feel my little one moving about since 16 weeks, but it wasn't till 18 weeks that I really felt a big kick!! 

If you've been pregnant, how did you find the first trimester?

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