Thursday, 28 March 2013

My new discoveries in the kitchen

Here's my top kitchen crushes this week.....

Yellow! The  daffodils are out, the sun is shining, chicks are chirping.  Now we just need a bit of warmth and we're set!  I know Spring isn't far away and I think yellow is definitely my colour this Easter!

Left to right, top to bottom....

1. Spring shirts! LOVE this shirt from Boden.  I also love the yellow beetle car too but I don't think Boden ship these ;)  The shirt is a definite staple piece this spring and I love wearing shirts!

2. Coasters!  Yep, I always need a good coaster because I am always spilling my drinks and they make terrible marks everywhere!  These are from Laura Ashley.  There's also matching placemats :)

3. Picnic time!!  Oh my goodness I'm getting excited about the spring now - picnics, camping, or is it 'glamping' nowdays?  Whatever, a nice glass of wine, a nice packed lunch, a picnic rug and some sunshine.  Perfect.  Just perfect!  This picnic rug is from John Lewis, made of wool and just £15.00.

4. A new beauty wonder-cream! Oh my goodness I love it when I make a new beauty discovery!  Balmology balms are blended from natural plant oils and free from preservatives, emulsifiers, fragrance and fillers -  I have fallen in love with their Comfort Balm (made with calendula and camomile - smells incredible) and has made my hands and dry skin magically soft and radiant.  Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream used to be the winner in wonder-balms but I think Balmology's Comfort Balm might be the beauty wonder-cream of the future.  I can see all the celebrities having this balm as their little secret handbag staple.  You can only buy online at the moment here - but it's just a matter of time before this balm goes global!

Have a lovely Easter break everybody!!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What makes a great cafe?

All pics from Angie's iPhone taken on location from the past year around the coffee shops of the world!
I have a confession to make: I take a lot of photos of coffee.  I recently looked through the photos on my  phone and realised that almost every other photo was of a mug of coffee.  And, in a strange way, documented my coffee and cafe adventures over the past year.  So I made them all into a collage.  I Love the result! You can almost smell the coffee!

Which got me thinking - what does make a great cafe?  So here are my Top 10 things that make a cafe (or coffee shop) a really great one!

Cool staff – Who greet you with smiles and remember your name.  They also remember your (fussy) coffee of choice; i.e. Double shot soy latte with 1 sugar and a magic wish.

Music – some background laid back vibes you don’t really recognize but makes you imagine you’re somewhere in Europe.  Even if the weather outside is freezing.

Armchairs – or sofas; a comfy chair and a coffee are a match made in heaven.

Great coffee – Of course!  A barista who knows what they’re doing, a nice blend of beans.  And nice milk texturing.   Soya milk options essential.  Train your staff to know about coffee.

Free WIFI - Of course!  – where do you think I’m writing this post from?

Toilets – all that coffee’s gotta go somewhere!

Chinaware - I’m not into big mugs.  I think the big mugs of Starbucks and Central Perk era are well over.  I love small cups with great coffee in it – size isn’t everything y’no.

Location - Somewhere near some pretty shops for browing before/after go down well too.  A cafĂ© beside the beach also scores highly – obviously ;)

Eats – a great menu!  I love cafes that have all day breakfast – and a nice smell of cinnamon.

Company – who you choose to share a nice mug of coffee and conversation with, is very VERY important ;)

Photos from a few of my favourite cafes; Left to right from the top…
Moore and Moore, Freemantle
Colonna and Smalls, Bath
Lemon Lane, Claremont Western Australia
Greens Leederville, Perth, Western Australia
The Swallow Bakery, Cheltenham UK
The Dancing Goat, Swanbourne, Western Australia
Colonna and Smalls, (again) Bath
Society Cafe, Bath UK
Huffkins, Cheltenham, UK

Tell me your favourite cafe and let's go for coffee!!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


I LOVE lunchtimes.  I think the vision of lunch gets me through a drag morning on most days. But I'll be honest, I've got stuck in a bit of a lunch 'rut' recently and I needed some inspiring to re-excite my lunch times again.

So, as you know, my body really doesn't get on well with wheat and some gluten. But I'd heard some good stuff about Spelt (still has gluten, but lower amounts and also doesn't contain the genetically modified protein that is found in wheat that causes a lot of problems in our bodies..)  In technical terms, Spelt is a hybrid of wheat and contains only marginal proportions of 'Gluten'.  So low that even some Coeliacs find they can tolerate it. So, if you get bloated after eating wheat, feel tired, sluggish, then maybe give the Spelt a try.

I bought my fresh (made only 30 minutes before I bought it - wow, that is fresh - said the man behind the counter) Spelt Loaf from Wholefoods Market.  It was huge (reminded me of a hedgehog) and smelt delicious.   I am totally converted.  My lunch yesterday (above photo) really made my week!

Look at how colourful it was!

And, just in case you're wondering, here's what it was!

2 slices of whole Spelt Bread - one slice with Egg Mayonnaise on, the other with 1/2 an Avocado on.
A mixed salad with some grated organic carrot and tommy toms!
A nice grind of fresh black pepper (no salt! - I put so much Pepper on everything...)
And some honey and mustard dressing...which was just these ingredients:
..4 tbsp Dijon mustard
..2 tbsp honey
..80ml lemon juice
..225ml rapeseed oil

That's it!

Super-dooper quick and nutritious!  Go on - give it a try!  Health-up your lunch and swap your bread for Spelt!

You will feel so much better :)

What did you have for lunch today?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Weekly Round Up

OMG it's freezing here in the UK right now.  It's supposed to be Spring; chicks are supposed to be chirping and bunnies bouncing around in green fields where Easter holiday makers are having picnics.  Instead it's -9 degrees  - It's so cold I had to submerge myself in a scolding hot bath last night just to be able to defreeze my poor toes.

It's a good job I have my new teapot to slurp on a piping hot mug of my favourite new loose leaf green tea.  I am so in love with my new teapot - simple things make me happy!

I had a delicious lunch at my friend Anjna's house on Friday - Anj is an amazing cook (much better than me, she actually grinds her own spices!) and so when she invited me over for lunch I didn't need to think twice - I know I'm a blinkin nightmare to cook for because of all my allergies... but Anj really did an awesome job at cooking up a very special treat!

Mackerel with a fennel and apple salad full of spices, fennel seeds, cinnamon and yogurt dressing  - Wowser! Yes, Please! (I'm still licking my lips).  We then scoffed out way through gluten free scones for afternoon tea.  

I gave Anj a bit of a training session on blogging too as she's going to start a blog with her cooking adventures.  I don't know why she thinks I'm such an expert! I'm still learning myself.  I can't believe it's been 2 years since I started blogging and when I started I seriously knew nothing. I fumbled my way through and started to pick thing up along the way and muddle through.  And I still do!  But one thing I would say to anyone wanting to start a blog is that it takes time, and you just have to start.  Just start blogging and the rest will come... it is a bit like riding a bike.  I know it sounds cliche,  but it really is.   

Of course, when Anjna's blog is up and running I will tell you all to check out her amazing recipes!

I hope you've had a warm and snug Sunday everybody!  I'm off to find coffee and a warm fire!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Snap, Crackle, POP!

Here's a really quick and easy sweet treat for an Easter alternative to Chocolate!

You can also make this completely gluten free if you substitute the rice krispies for Gluten Free rice pops.  The Doves Organic brand do a great box of gluten free rice pops (you can get these from Wholefoods Market).

Rice Krispie Cookie Hearts


5 cups of rice krispies - I used Sainsburys (use gluten free rice pops if required) .... a whole £1 cheaper than Kelloggs (sorry Kelloggs)
60g butter
350g marshmallows (I used multi-coloured and turned my marshmallow goop pink...!)
A bag of Vanilla Wilton Candy Melts (I bought mine from Hobbycraft).


First melt the butter over a saucepan of water (double broiler method).
Then, when that's melted, add the marshmallows and melt those too.

Now this is the good bit - watching marshmallows melt and stirring the goop is very satisfying.  I will challenge you not to dip you finger in this!

Then take off the heat when it's melted and cool for about 2 minutes.  Then add the rice krispies.  Yes they will 'Snap, Crackle... and Pop!'

When combined pour out into a baking try and spread into a big giant rectangle shape.  Here's how one American Mum did it.... HERE (Which is where I got this idea from!) .  I forgot to take a photo of this bit because it all got a bit sticky from here on it - marshmallows that are melted are Uber sticky.  Just warning you!

Leave to re-harden in the open air for a good hour.

Use a cookie cutter (I used a heart-shaped one!) to cut out shapes.  Lay on a piece of parchment paper.

Melt the Candy Melts in the microwave for 30 second blasts until melted.

Spoon over Rice Krispie 'cookies'.  Decorate with sprinkles or chocolate letters like I did (I had some left over from a cake I made and fortunately could spell out 'Cool' and 'Hey U' with the letters I had left...hehe).

Marshmallow 'Pops'

Reserve a few Marshmallows and pop onto a lolly stick.
Dip into the candy melts and then into coloured sprinkles - A very quick and easy and pretty pop-idea that is gluten free too!!

Two great ideas for gluten and wheat free diets and those who want to avoid chocolate this Easter.... but still enjoy something sweet!!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring fever... welcome back Kitchen Crushes!

Hey!  How's it going everybody?  Sorry it's been a while.  Feels like I've been away from the Blog Town for far too long and I've missed you all.

But don't worry, I'm back!   And there's going to be some exciting stuff going down at Dishes Undressed HQ.  So stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy some new Kitchen Crushes.  Even though the weather hasn't shown any spring-like conditions yet, I am feeling inspired by Spring and all the lovely things it will bring!  (Ooh that rhymed.) So here's some cool things that I'm really loving at the moment - I know you'll enjoy them too!

Top left:
Can you believe these pumps are from ASDA?  Nope.  Me either.  And would you believe me if I told you they were a tenner?  Nope.  Me either.  Well believe it right here.  YEY ASDA!  Find them here.

Top right:
Ashley Olsen does it again with this really simple, really cute look for spring.  Denim Shirt, black jeans and sunnies.  *claps*.

Bottom Left:
Bento lunch box!!  I LOVE Bento boxes - what's a Bento Box I hear you cry? (Here's an explanation.) Well it's a bit like airplane food that's all compartmentalised and small and perfectly laid out / designed. It originated from Japan.  These cute little Bento Boxes remind me of airplane food which, although is a bit hit and miss at the best of times, I do love receiving an airplane meal because it's so CUTE and mini - and all the little tubs and boxes the food come in fascinate me.

These ones can be bought here Monbento Original Bento Box from Amazon.

Bottom Right:
Courgette, bacon and cheese slice.  Yup, make ahead and pack 'em in your Bento lunch box and you're good to step out into Spring! Perfect for a Spring picnic!

Don't you go anywhere!  I'll be back real soon!