.February Favourites 2014 | xameliax.
All my favourite products from the past month - enjoy!
.February Favourites 2014 | xameliax.
All my favourite products from the past month - enjoy!
.DIY Dinner Date | Steak, Bruschetta and Strawberry Cheesecake.
Last weekend Joe and I decided to stop in and make our very own dinner date! I absolutely love cooking but being back at home with my parents and having such a busy lifestyle during the week I hardly get chance to do it, so when I can cook for Joe at the weekends I really enjoy it. I managed to snap a few piccies of our super simple but incredibly delicious DIY Dinner Date so I thought I’d show you in case you wanted to surprise someone you love this weekend too! It’s all incredibly easy with a few cheats along the way so you only have to spend minimal time in the kitchen and can enjoy the evening together without working up a sweat! (no sniggering at the back)
Bruschetta is one of my favourites and it’s so easy to make. I whipped this up without a recipe and it was just right, you won’t believe how easy it is and just how good it tastes!
Half a Red Onion
3 garlic cloves
Salt & Pepper to taste
(Prep time 5 mins)
Slice the ciabatta at a 45 degree angle into 4 1-2inch pieces and place under the grill to brown slightly. While your bread is toasting chop up your cherry tomatoes (a mixture of halves and quarters) with your red onion and mix together in a bowl with a good slug of olive oil and 1-2 teaspoons of green pesto. Add Salt & Pepper to taste and set aside. Crush three garlic cloves (we love lots of garlic but simply adjust to taste) and mix together in a ramekin with a tablespoon of soft butter and spread over your toasted ciabatta. Spoon the tomatoes and red onion over your bread and finish with a few leaves of fresh basil!
We’re big olive fans too and these Bodega Olives are amazing! Just like Jamie Olivers World’s Best Olives they’re big, buttery and beautiful and these i found on the shelves in Sainsburys were dressed in simple lemon flavours - perfect for tickling the taste buds before our starter!
As this was a treat for the boy our main had to be Steak, Fries and a Peppercorn Sauce – one of his favourites! This course is possibly even easier than the starter and it only takes 12-15 minutes to cook - steak doesn’t have to be scary, ours was melt in the mouth and absolutely incredible. Here’s the foolproof way to cook a perfect steak:
Two Good Quality Steaks (we used Organic Sirloin out of preference)
Whole Black Peppercorns
Salt & Pepper to taste
(Cook time 15 mins)
Always take your steak out of the fridge, cover it and let it come to room temperature for about an hour before cooking - frying a steak when cold will make it tough and that’s everything we’re trying to avoid! Put your chippies in the oven and relax for a while, we only need about 7 minutes to cook the rest - more wine anyone? Generously rub your steaks with oil, salt and pepper on both sides and put a large non-stick pan on a high heat so it gets super hot, we want that sizzle! Splash a little more oil in the pan when it’s reached the rigth temperature and using a pair of tongs or a good fork place your steaks away from you in the pan. Turn your steaks every minute until they’re cooked to your liking. Ours were nice and thin and we like them rare - medium rare so 2 ½ - 3 minutes left them perfectly pink. I sliced into mine to show you the colour but if you want to leave them whole you can press the steaks gently to feel how they’re cooked: Using your left thumb, Rare feels like the middle of your right palm, Medium feels like the muscley area below your thumb and well done feels like the very top of your wrist. After a maximum of 4 minutes place your steaks on a plate and let them rest while you stir fry the veggies for about 3-4 minutes. Resting meat is also a really important step to stop them going tough. The peppercorn sauce recipe I use is a really simplified version but very tasty: crush a handful of peppercorns in a saucepan with the back of a spoon, add a tablespoon of beef gravy granules and gently heat with a big dollop of single cream. You can add a bit of water to create the consistency you like if it’s a bit thick but that’s it, easy peasy! All I needed was a little bowl for my fries to make it look a bit better on the plate and it would have been perfect, but it didn’t last long enough for Joe to notice either way - i blinked and his was gone!
Joe’s favourite dessert is a dark chocolate torte which is pretty easy to throw together but as I didn’t have my baking equipment at his house I cheated and picked up a Taste the Difference Strawberry & White Chocolate cheesecake instead – naughty naughty! It was absolutely delicious and meant I had more time to get ready before dinner and longer to spend with him finishing off our wine after cooking the other two courses. You could always whip up some cream with a vanilla pod mixed in and quenelle it (roll it between two spoons all fancy and stuff) on the side with a few fresh basil leaves if you wanted to add your own touch! We’re big Irish Coffee fans so we picked up some Jameson’s Whiskey and I made us the perfect Irish Coffee for afters too! Filter a really strong fresh bean blend of coffee and while that’s brewing pop a shot of whiskey in each glass with two teaspoons of brown sugar. Place a metal spoon in the glass to absorb some of the heat and pour over the coffee leaving about an inch of space at the top before giving it a good stir to dissolve the sugar. Place your spoon over the top of the coffee just touching the surface and roll your cream over it to make it float! You’re supposed to drink your Irish coffee through the cream but I have a terrible habit of mixing mine up as I prefer it that way and sadly it doesn’t look as good but trust me, it tasted amazing!
With steak I prefer a good hearty red, and you don’t get heartier than a Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. Wine is totally subjective so of course go for whatever you like to drink, but if you’re a little unsure, with red meat you can’t go wrong with a heavy bodied red wine like the above or a good Rioja. I found both of mine in Aldi - £13 for the Chateauneauf (which is a bargain) and £6 for the Rioja, but as a good rule if you’re on a wine budget, always go for the £6 wine that’s half price from £12 than the £6 wine that’s always £6. If you’re not a wine fan then a good old fashioned beer or lager would go down a treat with this or if spirits are your bag why not try a hefty shot of gin over ice mixed with cranberry juice, mint leaves and topped up with soda water!
All my ingredients including wine came in at £30 which is about half of what I’d pay if I’d have taken the boy out for a meal – you can’t grumble at that! It was completely delicious and because it was all really easy I had a great time creating it all and felt rather accomplished and nicely full afterwards. Don’t forget to doll up too! Just because you’re not leaving the house doesn’t mean you can slip on your favourite dress, curl your hair and paint those lips…just make sure you wear an apron!
What’s your ideal dinner date? Will you be giving this a go?
Tweet me @xameliax #DIYDinnerDate
.My New Everyday Lip Obsession | Revlon Lip Butters.
I’m a bold lip girl these days, the stronger the better, but sometimes I can’t bring myself to rock one early in the morning for work of if I’m just swanning around the house in my comfies. My lips are also terribly dry and sore at the moment thanks to the lovely winter weather so most of my matte lipsticks are a nightmare to wear which is why i finally caved and bought one (or five!) of the ever-raved about Revlon Lip Butters.
Yes they’re worth the hype and yes i will be re-buying and re-buying until they no longer exist. Thanks to several offers in Boots and a lot of hand swatching, i’ve made what i think is the Perfect Lip Butter Colour Collection for every occasion:
Creme Brulee - My favourite of the bunch and my go-to every day lip product. A beautiful brown nude that compliments all skin tones and is the perfect partner to a heavy smokey eye. Just enough pigment so it doesn’t wash you out but nothing too heavy - it’s amazing and i love it!
Sugar Frosting - An adorable light baby pink with a very very subtle shimmer. I love rocking this on it’s own for a cute spring look or paired over the top of one of my favourite MAC shades creme cup. Super pretty and also a good one for heavy eye makeup.
Juicy Papaya - One of the first butters i bought, Juicy Papaya is a lovely subtle coral colour which i like to pair with Dallas Bronzed cheeks and a cream coloured eye shadow. This one’s going to be great for Spring/Summer looks so watch this space.
Candy Apple - The very first of my butter collection and the reason it all began. After trying one of the Cherry Lips balms (and hating it) i was on the hunt for a wearable sheer red lippy - this one caught my eye and the rest is history. It does exactly what it says on the tin really and it’s perfect to add on top of your favourite red or alone for a more subtle look.
Sugar Plum - This is probably my second favourite from the bunch with it’s deep but sheer berry tones. Again, great for adding a touch of sultry colour to the lips without going the full Kate Moss #107 hog. I like to pair this with a winged liner look, a berry blush and no shadow for a bit of oomph!
All the lip butters are super moisturising and perfect for winter lips. They have a bit of a sheen but aren’t shiny and they fade very well too if you’re eating and drinking. I honestly can’t get enough of them and i’d highly recommend picking up your favourite shade next time you’re in Boots!
You can find all the colours from my ultimate butter collection on the boots website HERE for just £7.99 each!
Do you own any of the Revlon Lip Butters? What’s your go to shade?
Tweet us @xameliax @RevlonUK #lipbutters
.Film Of The Month | Non-Stop.
Last night I pootled off to the cinema to watch Liam Neeson’s new action blockbuster Non-Stop. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away but being a huge Taken and Unknown fan I thought I’d find Non-Stop mildly entertaining. It turned out however to be one of the best action films I’d seen in ages and I left the cinema jumping around like a kid on smarties!
A troubled Air Marshal who enjoys a drinky poo boards a routine flight to London when he receives a ransom for 150 million dollars via text message that threatens to kill someone on the plane every 20 minutes until the money is transferred. In the mist of trying to discover the identity of the hijacker it transpires that the Air Marshal himself could be the threat and an exciting twisted plot begins to emerge.
Let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to win any Oscars but it was fast paced, action packed and thoroughly entertaining! Yes there were some cheesy bits(guns being caught in slow motion mid-air) and a few ‘well that just wouldn’t happen’ moments like all the best action movies have but the storyline was utterly gripping and Liam couldn’t have been more perfect for the role. The close combat fighting scenes were epic and it kept you guessing right till the last minute, I can’t wait for this to come out on DVD so I can watch it again and again!
If you like action films (and/or have an inappropriate crush on Liam Neeson) then this is a must-see! Don’t be put off by the fact that ‘it’s a plane movie’, because it really does blow all the others out of the water (or sky)…and all with no snakes in sight.
*5 / 5*
.Beautiful Braziers for Busty Birds | Panache Minnie.
Last year I dropped a lot of ‘puppy fat’ when I started kickboxing and in turn went from a DD to a B/C in the booby dept. Although I was nicely in proportion it felt strange swapping my bustier bras for smaller cups as I’ve always been a little on the top heavy side. Thanks to a bit of Christmas padding and a month’s foray with a different brand of pill for a month (with very hormonal results!) my girls are back and I’ve found myself reaching for my heavier duty underwear once more.
I always used to think that supportive lingerie for those blessed in the bazzomer region couldn’t be as sexy as others until I discovered Panache. I already rock one of their Sports Bras* in my kickboxing classes and it’s so supportive I love it, but I’d never branched out into the world of Panache Pants until they contacted me about their new Minnie Design* in the Chloe range! It wins hands down with the most fun item of underwear in my draw with that gorgeous cherry red and adorable white polka dot pattern. The first thing i noticed when i unwrapped it from it’s pretty packaging was that the cups weren’t padded and that sent me into a bit of a tizz as i’ve never owned a non-padded bra before. But when i put it on i was absolutely amazed at the shape and support it gave me even without all the hidden pads, wires and other cup construction i’m used to!
I went for a 32D and i think i could have gotten away with a DD in this one as although the cups fit, i think they come up a little small. But with a bit of strap adjusting and fastening on the last clip at the back it looks gorgeous. The pants are great too! Sexy and fun and a really flattering fit, mine are in a size 8 and come up about right around the bum and thighs making them super comfortable. Pretty detailing around the edges and such good quality - no fraying or unfinished edges, you really do get what you pay for with Panache Lingerie and i’m incredibly impressed. The balcony bra is extremely comfy to wear too. I often find that with fancy lingerie it’s great for slipping into at the end of the night but it’s impractical for every day. This set however is perfect for both - no rubbing, digging in or riding up it’s an amazing way to wear pretty pants all day every day! Although certainly not on the cheap end of the scale as far as underwear goes with this set setting you back just over £40, you can really tell the difference in quality and comfort and i will definitely be treating myself to some more Panache products for special occasions.
What do you think of the Cleo Minnie?
Tweet us @xameliax @LovePanache #cleominnie
.Cake Through Your Letterbox | An Ingenious Idea From Sponge.
Before Christmas I wrote a feature for Bloom & Wild the flower company that posts beautiful bouquets through your letterbox (yes, your letterbox), a concept that I absolutely adore. Now a company called Sponge have gone one better and will do the same…but with CAKE!
I was sent an adorable Cake Card* and selection of Baby Sponges* to try from Sponge HQ as an alternative Birthday, Mother’s Day, Happy Friday (do we really need an excuse for cake?!) present for those you love and they were amazing! The cake cards are such a cute idea, perfect for that special occasion when you want your someone to have their cake and eat it too on the big day. In a letterbox friendly package your cake card opens up to reveal one or two hefty slices of delicious cake in a multitude of flavours and your very own personal message inside the lid. You can even add a personalised photo to sit behind the cake so your recipient can keep it long after they’ve demolished the sponge! I chose Red Velvet and Lemon for my cake selection and they were both incredible! Soft, light, moist and ridiculously moreish, the perfect gift for anyone with a sweet tooth and from just £7.50 delivered i think they’re the perfect way to say “Happy Gratuitous Cake Day”!
I also got sent a selection of traditional and quirky baby sponges which were the epitome of adorable! Individually wrapped and boxed in a variety of interesting and classic flavours they’re simply perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea if you’re feeling a little naughty! Those without fruit will last up to 10 days too so if you don’t manage to wolf them all in one go they’ll keep for another day. These would be amazing for a tea party to pop on a plate and impress your guests with and just like the cake card slices they were simply delicious. Bakewell and Carrot were my favourite but the boy loved Coffee and Chocolate! They also do ‘Sponge Friday' where if you order before 2pm on Thursday selected flavours of cake are only £9.99 (how can we go about getting this marked as an official holiday?) and there’s also the option to personalise your cakes or add balloons, candles and champagne at the checkout - it’s like a mini party in a box!
These are such an adorable gift and absolutely perfect for Mother’s Day which don’t forget is just round the corner – take a look at the Sponge selection on their website HERE and get your cake on!
What do you think of Sponge’s cake cards? Which flavour would you go for?
Tweet us @xameliax @spongecakesltd #cakecard