How is it June already?! I’ll admit it; I’ve been a bad blogger recently. Between suffering from both sunstroke and migraines and having family to stay; I haven’t put in as much time as I like to and have even spent less time on social media. However, I still managed to discover a few brands I previously hadn’t heard of. Here’s a quick round-up of the brands that came on to my radar during June. Some of these companies have been around for decades and others are small businesses that are still emerging but they all have one thing in common; I wish I knew about them sooner.
- Alpha Betty’s – This clothing brand is still relatively new but I am so lucky to have it virtually on my doorstep. I came across Alpha Betty’s at a rather quirky local craft fair held in a nearby church. Always one for a slogan tee; I was instantly drawn to the range of ‘Hangry’ pieces for children but settled on a nautical looking ‘Made in Southsea’ top for her instead. Currently selling at local events; I can see this brand becoming much bigger, very quickly.
- Evebox –Beautiful gifts bundled together and sent directly to the recipient; sounds good right?! This gifting has only just launched but I have already bookmarked it in my browser ready in preparation for birthdays, anniversaries and even Christmas. You can select a box based on recipient, occasion or price and with a range of presents from tea to fine chocolate and luxury skincare – there are thoughtful ideas to suit many. I’m loving the ‘Luxury Marble‘ one.
- Cocobelle Baby – The smell of coconut goes hand in hand with the feel of summer. We were lucky enough to try out this virgin coconut oil to see if it would make a difference on little miss’ sensitive and eczema prone skin. I didn’t know that there was different grades of coconut oil before trying this but I could tell the high quality of this product even on first use. It made her skin silky smooth and helped prevent the awful nappy rash that goes along with teething from getting worse.
- Lancashire Farm – Like many people, even if I take a shopping list with me, I often buy items at the supermarket just because they are on offer. Sometimes this works in my favour and on other occasions it doesn’t. I’m very glad I took a chance on the low fat flavoured bio yogurts from Lancashire Farm – perfect combination of full flavour and creamy taste despite being low in fat. The mango one is definitely set to be one of my fave desserts this summer.
I can’t wait to see which brands and products fly on to my radar this month. Let me know if you are part of a small business, local company or emerging brand that I should know about.
Pudding; the best part of a meal in my opinion! Summer is here now; so it’s time to ditch the dense cakes and filling crumbles in favour of something a little lighter. Whether you’re counting calories, or looking to deliver a wow factor dessert, meringue is a wonderful way to get a sweet treat. Incredibly versatile, and surprisingly simple to make, they can be the main element or play a small part in a much more dramatic recipe.
Looking for inspiration? Here are four ways you can use meringue:
- Toffee Coffee Pavlova – Two of my favourite flavours paired. This dessert sounds too good to be true and from the moment I saw this recipe on a food blog, a couple of years ago, I was dreaming of sampling it for myself. Needing only a handful of ingredients; this dessert is both easy and inexpensive to put together making it a dinner party dream.
- Sandwiched Meringues – These bite size drops of heaven are not for the faint-hearted! Don’t be fooled by how beautifully delicate these look; they pack a serious sweet punch but are worth every mouthful. Chocolate filling brings two rose shape meringues together for a sugary hit perfect for that mid-afternoon low point. Whilst the rosettes can be slightly tricky to master; the finished product is incredibly impressive.
- Tropical Fruit Mess – Eton mess has to be one of my all time favourite desserts. Not only is it incredibly simple to make; it can be constructed in seconds and ingredients played around with depending on preference. Only last week I enjoyed my first traditional ‘mess’ of the summer at a local café and I’m already anticipating many more portions of this style dessert. I like to substitute the traditional berries with tropical fruits for a refreshing, and somewhat summery, twist on this British classic. Pile the fruit high or use lashings of cream, it’s completely up to you but one thing’s for sure, you wont be disappointed.
- Meringue topped Espresso – There are thousands of ways to enjoy your coffee and it’s really not uncommon to add some sweetness with sugar or syrups but how about meringue?! When this Korean trend started popping up on my Pinterest feed towards the end of last year I thought my eyes may have been deceiving me. However, when you think about it, giving your coffee a meringue lid is no different to adding sugar or buying a slice of cake to accompany the drink. Whether this trend gets picked up in the UK remains to be seen but I’d be open to sampling if it appeared on a menu near me.
What’s your favourite use of meringue as a dessert? Will you be trying any of these ideas for yourself? Let me know in the comments section.
I love to cook, ever since helping my Dad in the kitchen at an early age, but with an energetic one year old to look after I’m no longer able to spend as much time preparing a meal as I’d like. This means I tend to keep a few ’emergency meals’ in the freezer just in case time runs away with us or we don’t have a chance to eat until after little girl has gone to bed. There’s nothing wrong with a ‘ping’ meal as I’ve heard them be described. However, like many things, there are good ones and bad ones and I’m not about to waste a meal on something bland or watery. When I saw that Iceland were stocking a range of Pizza Express ready meals that had been exclusively made for them; I couldn’t wait to try them out.
With OH coming through the door late from work and leaving not much time before I would have to run a bath for LG; last night was the perfect excuse to put the Pizza Express ready meals to the test. To the freezer I went; it would be ‘Prawn Liguine’ for him and ‘Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne’ for me. As the microwave whirred, delicious smells began to fill the kitchen, it was a good first indicator. *PING*, it was ready in only a shade over ten minutes and once plated it looked as good as it smelt. Now for the taste test.
The Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne completely outshone any Spinach and Ricotta ready meal I’d ever had before. Every element had so much flavour but it was so well balanced that it was not overpowered by one specific taste. There was a good amount of filling and you could actually see the authenticity of the ingredients as opposed to it becoming one watery mess like some microwave meals do. I wasn’t disappointed and, more to the point, I wasn’t left hungry.
Now I didn’t actually taste the Prawn Linguine, I’m not that great when it comes to fish dishes, but when serving I took note of the large amount of prawns included in the meal as it’s not uncommon to find a prawn ready meal with next to zero prawns in it. I’ll be honest, I was a little bit concerned by the two chilli pepper symbols on the packet and the vibrant red slices dotted across the plate but I’ve been informed it was a ‘nice heat’ which packed flavour rather than a punch!
Verdict? Need you ask – it’s a resounding yes! We loved the meals and they will definitely become freezer favourites for those last minute dinners.