Saturday, 29 June 2013

Make! Beef cheeks 3 ways: Red wine braised beef cheeks

The reason I say 'beef cheeks 3 ways' is that I'm going to be doing a bit of a series on this delicious and economical cut of beef. Recently I've been branching out with the meat I buy as an attempt to be more adventurous in my cooking, whilst also saving on my shopping bill. Beef cheeks appealed to me because they are cheap, substantial and can be transformed into a variety of decadent meals.

Where to source the meat: You are unlikely to find beef cheeks in your typical supermarket meat aisles. We ordered these in advance from our local butcher; as they're not a commonly used cut your butcher will most likely need a few days notice to get these in. In terms of quantity we found that 2 beef cheeks will feed four people, and the cheeks we bought were each about the size of 2 decent sirloins. I'd recommend you ask your butcher to trim the meat for you as I've heard this is a pretty difficult and unpleasant job if you're not much of a butcher yourself! We bought enough for a few meals so that I could cook some that day and freeze the rest for trying different meals with later. As for cost, I worked out that our butcher had charged us around £2.50 per cheek, which seems extremely cheap to me as I'd normally use braising steak for this type of casserole. In my opinion the cheeks are much tastier and even more tender once cooked.

Here's the recipe. This is to serve 4 people.

2 beef cheeks, trimmed (score the surface with a sharp knife so these will cook more easily)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbspn tomato puree
1/2 bottle red wine
500ml chicken/vegetable stock
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 150c/130c fan
Fry onions and garlic in some oil in a large casserole dish
Add beef cheeks and fry for a few minutes to colour both sides
Add chilli, tomatoes, puree, stir and bring to a simmer
Season with herbs
Add red wine and stock. Stir and allow to simmer for a few minutes
Cover and put in oven


The dish will cook in about 3 hours. Check that the meat is tender - you should easily be able to break it apart with a couple of forks.

Leave out of the oven for a few minutes before serving so that the meat can rest. Break up the meat a bit and stir before dishing up with bread/rice and seasonal veg. I stir fried some green beans and mangetout in butter and it went nicely with the dish.

If you have any leftover, keep it in the fridge and it will taste even better 24 hours later!

Do you have any tips for cooking with cheap/overlooked cuts of meat? Please let me in to your culinary secrets!

Hannah x

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: First attempt!

Linking up with Transatlantic Blonde for my first What I Wore! You can tell it's my first time by the look on my face. I always love seeing everyone's outfits on this link-up so I thought I'd be brave and join in the fun today.
Jacket from Topshop, Dress from Mango, Sandals from Forever 21, Bag from H&M.

I will try to get better at this - please bear with me!!!

Healthy scalp and hair: Vichy Dercos products

The Vichy Dercos hair care line is one I came across recently when buying some skincare products online. Thanks to the world of online reviews I often discover things I want to try whilst attempting to buy something else entirely! After years of turning to a certain famous brand of anti-dandruff shampoo whenever faced with an attack of scalp flakiness, I was keen to try something different. I do find that shampoo pretty effective but I honestly just got a bit sick of going back to the same one and having its distinctive smell permeate my bathroom time and time again!

These are the Vichy products I discovered on the Escentuals website. They occasionally have a 30% off sale so you can stock up on products while they are cheap. Currently it's 30% off French pharmacy brands including Vichy, so the shampoo and conditioner were £5.50 each instead of the usual price of over £8.

I find the Dercos anti-dandruff shampoo starts to take effect quickly and my scalp was clear for a few months after I last used up a bottle. The conditioner is a lovely rich, smoothing treatment that's good for hair like mine which, although straight,  can be a bit staticky and uncooperative if not well-conditioned. The products have a fairly strong fragrance but it's pleasant and I like my hair being a bit scented.

Typically I buy very cheap hair products but I think these are worth spending a bit more on, especially at the current reduced price. If like me you are prone to scalp flakiness I'd recommend a try!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Liebster Love!

Many thanks to the lovely Kristine at Mommy K's Korner for my Liebster Award nomination. I was so touched to receive this :)

To accept the award I will do the following:

Link back to the blog that nominated you,
•Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers, 
•Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator, 
•Share 11 random facts about yourself, 
•Create 11 questions for your nominees, and
•Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

Some great blogs I've been reading recently and would like to pass on this award to are:

Family Life at Number 2
Fabulosity Studio
Cous Cous and Cork Wedges
In Love With the Small Things
Pretty & Small

Please check out the links and take a look at these wonderful blogs!

Now here are Kristine's questions for me:

1. Coffee or tea?
I need those 2 mugs of coffee to wake me up in the morning!
2. Bags or shoes?
I have more fancy bags than shoes so I'll say bags. I am prone to fits of handbag lust.
3. What is your biggest fear? Being squashed in big crowds. AAAAArgh!
4. What is your favourite movie?
Hmmm, probably 'Some Like it Hot'. Marilyn Monroe just totally captivated me in this film.
5. Favourite book and author? Probably 'The Adventures of Augie March' by Saul Bellow
6. Favourite item of clothing? Currently, some faded blue skinny jeans.
7. What make up item you cant live without?
Blusher. A nice bright one to make me look alive!
8. What will you buy if you only have a hundred bucks?
A gorgeous party frock.
9. What will you do if you have a million bucks?
Move into a massive house! But I'd stay here, in my favourite city :)
10. What is the biggest sacrifice you ever did for love?
This is dreadful but I can't really think of one. I suppose I've been pretty lucky in love... or maybe just selfish!!! No, nothing I've done for love has felt like a sacrifice.
11. Fame or fortune? Definitely fortune. I like my chilled-out life so fame in no way attracts me!

11 Random facts about me:

  1. I am a morning person. Usually.
  2. Back in my 'wild' twenties I was renowned for falling asleep at parties. Can't stay up late.
  3. I've always loved to travel. Aged 17, my best friend and I spent a summer travelling across the States from San Franciso to NYC, by Greyhound Bus :)
  4. Beyonce is my favourite celebrity. I love her!
  5. Last week I went to the cinema for the first time in 2 years. I saw The Great Gatsby and it was amaaaaaaazing!
  6. I love to cook but rarely follow a recipe.
  7. The gym is not my thing but walking is, and I'll happily walk for miles and miles.
  8. My favourite country to visit is Italy, and I'm always plotting to try and return there.
  9. Sashimi, oysters, tartare, carpaccio... raw fish and meat are the foods I enjoy most.
  10. I hate camping. I wish I loved it but I have done enough camping in the Scottish weather to put me off for life!
  11. My thirties are the best time of my life so far, which is not something the 18-year-old-me would have expected me to say ;)

Here are my questions for the bloggers I nominated:
  1. City or beach?
  2. What song or album best defines your youth?
  3. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you choose?
  4. What superpower would you like to have?
  5. If you had to eat the cuisine of only one country for the next month, what would it be?
  6. Who is your greatest influence?
  7. What piece of advice would you give to the 18-year-old you?
  8. The colour you like to wear the most is?
  9. Spicy food or sweet food?
  10. Do you have a favourite perfume?
  11. Train-traveller or jet-setter?

I've really enjoyed taking part in the Liebster Award and I can't wait to read the answers of those I nominated, if you'd like to take part too! Many thanks again to Kristine for this kind gesture of blogging-friendship :) xxx

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Days Out in Glasgow: Holmwood House

If you've been to Glasgow you'll probably be familiar with the architecture of Alexander 'Greek' Thomson and his unique take on neoclassical style, which made him one of the leading architects of the nineteenth century. In our locale there are many examples of his work, ranging from tenement blocks and terraced houses to grand mansions like Holmwood House. All the different types of dwelling he built, for inhabitants of a variety of social classes, share the distinctive flourishes of design and beautiful attention to detail that was typical of his work. This house in Cathcart, on the South Side of Glasgow, is considered one of the finest private homes built by 'Greek' Thomson, and is now looked after by the National Trust and open for public view.

We visited Holmwood on a wet day last weekend. The house is as beautiful on the inside as out, and retains much of its original marble frescoes, carved wooden paneling and painted wall decorations, which are so much brighter and bolder than I would have imagined for a house of this period! It is astoundingly decadent, but beautiful at the same time. One of the bedrooms, painted in gold stars, even made me think 'hmm, could this work in my house?!'

The guides at the house were so informative, friendly and interested in little V too. Kids are very welcome here and there is even a lovely antique rocking horse that small children can ride on. There are nice gardens, a shop and tearoom on the premises. We are now keen to return for some of the Hallowe'en festivities at Holmwood as apparently this is one of the biggest events on the property's calendar and they do lots of activities for families which the staff are very enthusiastic about. I think V will love it!

Holmwood House is worth a visit if you happen to be exploring Glasgow's South Side, or if you are an architecture aficionado! As has been the case for us at many National Trust properties, the wonderful staff made a big contribution to our lovely experience. A nice afternoon out on a rainy day.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Follow me on Bloglovin

I've just signed up to Bloglovin, and you can follow me there by clicking on the Bloglovin icon to the right. Bloglovin seems like a good alternative to Google Reader and I've noticed a lot of bloggers using it. I hope you'll follow me!

Hannah xxx

My Summer Scent: Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess

Haha! I have to laugh a bit about the name of this perfume because I am pretty far from a bronze goddess. Even after weeks in the sun I am still pale. Can I get some 'Marble Goddess' perhaps, Estee Lauder? OK, I'm not really a goddess either.
My lovely husband brought me this perfume from duty free on his return from a recent work trip, and it's absolutely the most gorgeous summer fragrance I've ever had. I can't stop spraying it. When the weather heats up, I typically like quite fruity scents. A recent favourite was D&G L'Imperatrice - a fizzy, peachy scent. This one is different, but I like it even more. It's warm, a little coconutty, a little beachy and even a tiny bit spicy. It's like expensive suntan lotion on warm skin, accompanied by a pina colada. I'm really enjoying this perfume. Thanks husband!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Make! Turkish Coffee Granita

I was inspired to make this pudding by the brilliant Toast & Butter blog, where I found this recipe for Espresso Granita. Thank you Toast and Butter! I loved the idea of this for a refreshing sweet after a big weekend meal, though I decided to put my own spin on it by using Turkish coffee instead of espresso. I made up my Turkish coffee with lots of green cardamom pods to give it that lovely aromatic quality, and I strained the grains out of the coffee using a muslin cloth before allowing to cool and then freezing.

The verdict? Utterly divine and definitely an experience to be repeated!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Days out: Edinburgh Zoo

I love a day trip to the zoo. Current highlights at Edinburgh include the giant pandas and the new 'Penguins Rock' with baby penguins hatching all the time. Little V was most excited about seeing tigers and monkeys very close up!

Make! Cheat's chicken jalfrezi

This is a good shortcut recipe for busy parents or just anyone who has limited time for cooking. I used to shun pre-prepared ingredients like the frozen sliced peppers I used here but now they make feeding my family a lot easier!

Slice 2 onions, 2 garlic cloves and fry in a large pot in a small amount of oil.

Add 3 diced chicken breasts and 2 tablespoons jalfrezi curry paste (I like Pataks).

Add a few handfuls sliced frozen peppers. I get these from the frozen section in Asda. Add 1 tin chopped tomatoes, some tomato purée and a little water.

Simmer until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened up to your liking.

I served this with some whole grain basmati rice. It is very quick and definitely a 'cheat's' curry but still really good!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Make! Melanzane alla parmigiana

How I love aubergines. I posted recently about an adapted version I made of this dish - my melansagne! But I find it hard to beat a classic melanzane alla parmigiana and I love making it, especially in a heart-shaped dish :) This rich and saucy aubergine will be appreciated by most guests, children, and particularly vegetarians. It makes for a gorgeous starter, a decadent side dish or even a delicious main if you simply choose to serve it with some pasta. This recipe from The Guardian is similar to how I make mine. I always salt my aubergines before cooking as that just seems to work better for me.

Tonight this was our dinner with some spiral pasta. Aubergines are currently a bargain basement 50p each at Asda so I think I will be branching out and trying some new aubergine dishes soon! Do you have any good recipes for this gorgeous vegetable?

Days Out: Inveresk Lodge Garden

Today we passed through Inveresk (near Edinburgh) on our way to visit my husband's grandmother, and we decided to have a stroll around the National Trust gardens at Inveresk Lodge. It was a sunny morning and the gardens looked beautiful. V enjoyed a bit of exploring around the grounds and it was a good way to break up the day's travelling for him.

The upper part of the garden is laid out and planted more formally, then there is this wilder, kinda romantic lower area with ponds and woods.

It's a lovely serene environment and although we didn't have long to spend there this time, I'd definitely like to return with a picnic another day.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mothers, daughters and body image

Yesterday my cousin shared this link on Facebook, and I wanted to share it here too as it struck a chord with me and I think it will with many of us who are daughters and mothers. This open letter from Kasey Edwards to her mother demonstrates how our negative feelings about ourselves can rub off so easily on to our children. It really made me think about how, as a mum, I should strive to project a positive body image and to consider how I will go about this. I hope I can always place an emphasis on character over beauty; on healthiness over the 'thin' ideal that's so often pushed at us.

And if you are a mother, just remember that to your precious little one, you are the most beautiful person in the world. And what could be better than that?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Summer Vibes

Summer is making an appearance here in Glasgow.

An appropriate book arrived from Amazon this morning: 'Tigers in Red Weather' by Liza Klaussman. I hope it's as good as The reviews promise!

And a summery little number I can't stop listening to right now is 'Summer Breeze' by The Isley Brothers. Could there be a more perfect song to accompany a tall glass of Pimms out in the sunshine?

Monday, 3 June 2013

Cheer up with bright lips! Dior Addict Lipstick in Delice

2 things I can't get enough of: Dior Addict Lipsticks and coral lips in summer.

The latest shade I can't stop wearing is Delice: a sheer but bright coral. It's been the lipstick in my handbag for weeks and is easy to wear day or night. These lipsticks are very moisturising and can be applied lightly to give a subtle flush to the lips, or built up a bit for a bolder effect. 

And you can see me here, basking in the coral...

I like the way this colour brightens up my face. A bright lipstick can give you a lift even when looking a bit dull and sleep-deprived! 

I saw the newest Dior 'Bird of Paradise' collection in House of Fraser the other day, and it also has some amazing lipstick shades. I decided it was best to resist this time! Well done me. That's £24 saved for a nice lunch.

Do you have a favourite coral lipstick? Do let me know! 

Hannah xxx

Victorian details

One of the nice things about tenement living is the Victorian features of the flats - if they've been lucky enough to survive that is! Someone had a good go of obscuring some of the nice features in our flat, no doubt at a time when these decorative Victorian flourishes were out of fashion. Recently we stripped back layers of nasty tiles and wallpaper then brought the features back to a neutral matte white, which shows them off nicely. I now want to find a light fitting that is big and bold enough to complement this ceiling rose, without stealing its thunder! All suggestions are welcome as I just haven't been able to find the right thing yet.