Best Ever Pumpkin Spiced Latte


Happy Halloween folks!

Love it or hate it pumpkin is very much the ingredient of the season, so here I go jumping on the band wagon and giving you lovely folks a recipe (at the risk of churning out another recipe the same as everyone else – which in this case can only be a good thing). Perhaps the drink of the season, the pumpkin spiced latte is exactly what you need to be drinking at the moment, wonderful autumn spices with the merest hint of festivity, what’s not to love?

Try to image what autumn would taste like, and you still wouldn’t be close to knowing how good this drink tastes! The delicious spices and dark brown sugar with a huge dollop of whipped double cream and a scattering of nutmeg. I’m slightly concerned that I’ll be making this again and again – it’s pure joy!

Waking up on a cold October morning, which also happens to be the dawn Halloween, what better time to give this decadent beverage a try? A magnificent blend of strong espresso, warmed milk, puréed pumpkin, dark brown sugar and spices all topped off with delicately whipped double cream and lashings of dark orange chocolate and freshly ground nutmeg – I’m in spiced pumpkin latte heaven. Starbucks who?

Speaking of Starbucks, I’m lead to believe that there is actually no pumpkin in their spiced pumpkin latte – that’s right NO pumpkin! They use sugary syrups to get the flavour instead of actually using natural ingredients. Barmy!

Using natural ingredients doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the sweetness, this recipe wouldn’t be right without a little sweetness as (dare I say it) pumpkin can be a little bland, a bit of a nothing flavour, or so I feel – and the bitterness of the espresso needs rounding off slightly. I opted for dark brown sugar – seeing as it’s best for gingerbreads and such recipes I thought it would be perfect here – and it was. Used sparingly you’ll get the perfect match of bitter vs sweet.

With top marks being awarded for seasonality, I certainly feel this is one to impress your friends with, invite the girls over for a catch up and serve up these beauties – they’ll go down a storm any time of the day. Pop in a little cinnamon stick in for everyone to stir their whipped cream in with and serve with some gingerbread cookies… It’s like taking a big bite of autumn.

Best Ever Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Recipe type: Drink
Cuisine: Autumnal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 120ml puréed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 150ml freshly brewed espresso coffee
  • 300ml milk
  • 150 ml double cream, whipped
  • 30g dark chocolate (I used dark orange)
  1. Start by brewing some espresso or very strong coffee.
  2. Spoon the pumpkin, sugar and spices into a saucepan, heat gently over a medium heat until the flavours meld together (about 2 minutes), you'll start to smell the wonderful aroma of the spices.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and coffee, then using a whisk vigorously whisk in the milk.
  4. Allow to sit for a moment whilst you whip up your double cream. Using the back of a large kitchen knife, run the blade horizontally along the whole back of the slab of chocolate, this will create little curled flakes of chocolate.
  5. Pour the coffee mixture into warmed mugs, top with a big dollop of double cream, grate over some nutmeg and top with the chocolate curls.



Donna Hay’s Classic Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs have got to be the ultimate comfort food. I love them, the boyfriend on the other hand has never been convinced – that was until he tried this recipe. I’ve tried plenty of recipes before, but never have I found one as good as this. It’s a Donna Hay recipe, she uses a combination of pork and beef mince which is definitely the secret. The bold fragrant aroma of sage and fresh basil work beautifully in unison in this dish – a real palate pleaser. The sauce is so fresh tasting, I’ve made it twice now and both times it was delicious. This recipe simply wouldn’t be complete though without a large glass of read wine.

I urge you to try this recipe, it makes a large batch (far too many meatballs for two, about 30 if I remember rightly) which is great as they freeze so well in batches ready for a speedy week-night supper when you are in a hurry; the sauce also freezes well.

Given all the changes to my blog recently I’ve been cooking from recipes and books for a while, rather than being adventurous myself, it saves time and produces a fool proof delicious meal every time, so I bring you this one from the wonderful Donna Hay.

All that is about to change though as I embark on what is likely to be a labour intensive festive cooking extravaganza, meaning I’ll be putting my creative culinary skills to the test. I’m helping out at my cousin’s Christmas open day (he owns a Butchers and Delicatessen) and has asked me to provide an array of festive baked goods for people to sample and order ahead of Christmas. I guess that means I’ll have a busy December lined up, I’ll be sick of the sight of mince pies. It also means I’ve been running about like a headless chicken in search of hamper baskets, cellophane and various other wrapping items at a reasonable price.

Donna Hay Meatballs

Click here for Donna Hay’s Classic Meatballs recipe!



The times they are a changin…

…come gather round people, I’ve been making some changes.

I’m new here, well in the world of WordPress anyway. I’ve been somewhat unhappy with my blog lately; it’s almost as though the design and Blogger domain name have been holding me back (that was the dot blogspot bit). I’ve had a good crack at this blogging game now, indeed I’ve been writing this blog for over two years and feel that I’ve fallen behind on all things current (as usual), so I decided it was time to educate myself and learn how to move my blog over to it’s own domain name and host it through WordPress rather than Blogger.

Blogger has served me well until now, but as I progress, the technology I use needs to help me do this with ease and Blogger wasn’t allowing me to, so I left Blogger. I’ve been struggling to keep up with posting as I’ve tried to learn exactly how to approach this migration, it’s fussy stuff you know! I hate creating gaps in my blogging schedule, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back to get things right. I had just had my blog re-designed again (albeit it wasn’t very different to the old style) but I guess with moving the site there is no better time to give it a fresh new look – I hope you like it.

With this vibrant new look expect to see lots of fresh new recipe posts and seasonal goodies as the autumn is well under way. I’ve been dying to start making gingerbread and many other festive treats. I’m in the process of testing out various Christmas recipes for an an open day at my cousins butchers and delicatessen on Saturday, so look out for the posts to follow.


Autumn: the perfect season – and Jamie’s PBJ Brownies

Call me barmy, but autumn is definitely my favourite season; the sound of the rain lashing down on the window pane whist the day creeps into night, the crisp golden leaves blowing in the wind. There is something quite wonderful about this moody weather when you are tucked up in bed with the feather duvet wrapped around you, heating on and a lovely cuppa in hand. Utter bliss.
The colours of autumn really are magical, rusty orange leaves, plump pumpkins and nutty brown pine cones, in contrast to the cold weather it makes me feel all warm inside. Should the beautiful colours not be enough to make you feel warmed through, pulling on your thick woolly tights, hats and gloves will surely do the trick.
As the autumn gets into full swing I’ve many projects up my sleeve, some crafts for the kids, calving pumpkins and baking cookies for bonfire night, we will explore Bluebell Woods, which is a beautiful woodland close to our home (albeit the bluebells will be long gone), but in their place we will discover acorns, berries and squirrels jollying about. I had an idea for autumn leaf collages; they can stick the leaves together and pop them into frames for their bedroom wall, what could be better than displaying the beautiful crimson and golden leaves to mark the turning of the seasons?
But, undoubtedly, the thing I love most about this time of year is the food. Country casseroles and puffed up pies with thick bubbling gravy; what’s not to love? Richard bought me a copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food for my Birthday – perfect for this weather. Not so perfect for my Slimming World… but a few recipes here and there surely couldn’t hurt. I made Jamie’s PBJ brownies – and they are delicious… recipe below.
The other, perhaps more obvious reason, I love the autumn is that we inevitably start to see the supermarket shelves fill with mince pies and advent calendars. I smile to myself every time I hear someone groan that it’s only October and why do the supermarkets feel the need to bring Christmas to us so early. I can’t help it, I love it. It’s the anticipation of it all. I love to shop for presents, I love to wrap them and I love to set about making something delicious and festive in the kitchen.
This year I’d like to do lots of baking – sausage rolls, mince pies and many other delicious treats to offer friends and family over the festive season, not to mention the mulled wine! Anyhow – enough about Christmas for the time being, here is the link to the PBJ Brownie recipe. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Why I’ve Joined Slimming World

I’ve decided that enough is enough, my poor waistline can no longer cope with all the indulgence I can’t seem to help myself from eating. I’ve always loved food, but since starting this blog that love of food has turned into an obsession, mostly an unhealthy one. It’s true, I love butter… but it’s time I had a break from cakes and creamy pasta dishes. I’ve gained a stone in weight since I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago – that’s contentment for you, but I’m not happy that my jeans are tight and I feel sluggish and lethargic sometimes.
I’d been thinking about joining Slimming World for a while, so I finally got round to making the plunge. I was very nervous walking into that village hall full of slimming ladies, who all seemed to know each other. The ‘newbie’ feeling, we’ve all had it at one point or another, but it doesn’t get any easier does it? That feeling that everyone is staring at you. But, honestly the group is so lovely, the ladies are so welcoming and two weeks in I already feel completely at ease.
I’d built up an idea in my head that slimming or dieting was going to be so difficult, but the SW plan makes it feel fuss free and like you are not depriving yourself of the foods you love, just cutting down and making healthier more informed choices. Never in my life have I felt the need to diet before, but at 10st 1.5lbs and only 5ft 2inches tall it’s quite necessary. My BMI suggests that I’m verging on being overweight, a scary thought! All in all, I have 1st 1.5lbs to loose, which is pretty much 10% of my body weight! 
I made the rather silly decision to start SW the week of my Birthday, so as anticipated I didn’t do so well the first week, I over indulged on fish and chips and far too much alcohol. I went to the group weigh in fearing the worst – but I’d actually lost 1lb. Harrah! Okay, so it’s only 1 measly pound, but a loss is a loss, and I’ll take that! This week I’ve been much better than last so I’m hoping I’ll have lost a bit more.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but essentially SW is about food optimising, having lots of healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats, potatoes, rice and pasta. Yes pasta! And cutting back on your wheat (bread) and dairy (milk and cheese), then there are your syns, the things like chocolate and wine, which you can have, but in moderation.
Being the avid cook that I am, I’ve purchased a few of the recipe books to ensure I stay on track and find it easy to make the right choices. So far I’ve cooked a whole host of dishes that have been very delicious. Trust me I was surprised, who knew curry without cream and spag bol without parmesan could taste so good. To show you just how delicious the SW meals are I wanted to share some snaps with you. For Slimming World recipes you can visit their website.
The recipe is from the SW A Taste of Asia book and it got huge thumbs up from the boyfriend, who was more than sceptical about a ‘healthy’ version of a special fried rice. “It’s better than take-away” he confessed!

Egg Fried Rice

Chinese Lemon Chicken

Fetê du Port, Nice

I’ve already told you lots about my impromptu foodie trip to Nice ‘Food in the French Riviera’– arranged by Your Nice Apartment, but there was so much to tell you, I couldn’t possibly explain it all in one post. Today I want to tell you all about the Fetê du Port and famous Chef’s Village (Village des Chefs).
The Fetê du Port is an annual event in the Port of Nice; it happens every September and is well worth a visit. If you are planning a trip to Nice, make sure it coincides with this date, it’s a real party atmosphere and the locals love it. We were advised to get there early as it is so popular, so feeling pleased that we’d listened to this advice, we queued for the Chef’s Village early and were among the first to sample the delicious food on offer. From foie gras to orange and truffle polenta; the food really was to die for. The local paper reported that the turnout was around 40,000, so considering we were among the first 80 people to get stuck in I thought this was great!
Bringing together various top chefs from around Nice and the south of France, you can imagine the standard of food on offer. But, it wasn’t just the food that was so exciting, the fete has many other stalls with drinks (wine in particular) and crafts on offer. There is music and a procession with brightly coloured fancy dress outfits, it’s a real show!
So firstly the food pictures, I’ve added a caption to each explaining what the dish was and what Chef/Restaurant made it. They really did taste as good as they looked. I particularly liked the rich red wine beef stew with orange polenta and shaved truffle.
Beef Stew with Orange Zest Creamy Polenta and Truffles
Christian et Thomas Millo, Auberge de la Madone
Looking back at this picture is making me remember just how delicious this taster was!
Rabbit Stuffed with Foie Gras, Nicoise Vegetables and Sweet Spices
Marc Laville, Nice Art Bistrot
If you’ve never had foie gras you really must try it (just put your guilty conscience aside)
I think you’ll agree that the images speak for themselves, the food was divine. But aside from the food there was plenty more to enjoy at the Fetê du Port…
40,000 people turned out!
Wonderful Parade 
Marching Band
Chefs Village

If you missed my last post ‘Food in the French Riviera’you must check it out for details of the gorgeous apartment we stayed in and the wonderful food tour of Nice that we were lucky enough to be sent on.