[HOW TO] Home Cooking

cooking

I love cooking. But I’m not a very adventurous cook. I think, like many people who work fulltime, I tend to stick to the same tried and tested recipes most nights, out of convenience rather than anything else. So I recently decided to set myself the task of trying out a new recipe every weekend that I’m home – which is probably about once a month in reality. Most of these are main dishes which can then be added into the weekly rotation. I thought I would share a few of my favourites:

  1. Chicken Sauternes with tarragon and pea and lemon rice. This was a very decadent but delicious meal and surprisingly easy. I’ve actually only made this once but I keep intending to make it again. The recipe if from Lorraine Pascale’s How To Be a Better Cook. I really love Lorraine Pascale’s cookbooks – the recipes sometimes look a little daunting and long but actually they just explain every step really clearly and are so easy to follow.
  2. Lasagne. I can’t really believe that I hadn’t made this until recently. I make Bolognese a lot but only recently decided to venture beyond. My recipe (for the béchamel really) is from another Lorraine Pascale book: Home Cooking Made Easy. I still stick to my own tried and tested Bolognese recipe – in fact I usually make this for us a meal one night and save half for a lasagne later in the week. The leftovers make great packed lunches if you have a microwave for reheating.
  3. Courgette and green bean salad. This salad also from Lorraine Pascale’s  How To Be A Better Cook. It makes a lovely spring/summer lunch and is very light and refreshing.
  4. Meringues. I love meringues and always remember my mum making these for summer desserts when we were little. When we went to a dinner party at a friend’s house for New Year, we offered to take dessert – and then panicked!! But I borrowed the recipe from my mum (from a very old Sainsbury’s dessert recipe book) and they were so simple. Made them again for the same friends for dinner last weekend too!
  5. Red pesto. This is a recipe by the other much talked about food/chef bloggers of the year, Hemsley + Hemsley. I got their cookbook for Christmas. This recipe is actually from their website and is easy peasy. I throw everything into my Nutribullet and it’s ready to go.
  6. Lamb rogan josh. This is another recipe from How To Be a Better Cook and is so good. I’m a fan of curry recipes that use the spices to make a paste and this one tastes really authentic (I got the balti serving dishes in the photo above in Aldi!).
  7. Veggie chilli. I had the much talked about Deliciously Ella cookbook for my birthday and I love this recipe. The grated carrot creates a deliciously sweet alternative to the mince and I skip the kidney beans, just adding the black beans which are kinder on the stomach. An added bonus is using the Le Cruset dish we got for our wedding!
  8. Hummus. Another Deliciously Ella recipe. Not really a meal as such but a great healthy snack option for the office. Again, I make this in my Nutribullet and it always works.

If you want to see what I’m cooking up in my kitchen, make sure to follow the blog on Instagram @sugarandspicesg

[BEAUTY BYTES] St.Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion

st tropez shower and glow

St.Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion is currently helping to prolong my honeymoon tan. I love it. So in a quick beauty byte, I thought I’d tell you the 3 reasons I love St. Tropez’s 3 minute tan:

  1. It’s quick and easy. 3 minutes is all this tan needs to work. Simply shower, turn off the water and, whilst still wet, apply the fake tan. Wait 3 minutes and wash it off. If you want to maximise those 3 minutes – grab yourself a hair mask and leave that to work its magic as you tan!
  2. It’s no mess. The fact that you apply this tan in the shower means it doesn’t go everywhere. And because you wash it off, there’s no stickiness and virtually no smell. Just remember to wash your hands.
  3. It’s so natural. This is a gradual tan and so it builds up over 3-4 applications. It might not be noticeable for the first couple of goes, but persevere as it will start to show and the results will be a beautifully natural tan.

If you want to try this tan, InStyle magazine is giving away a sample size tube of the In Shower Gradual Tan right now. If you want to tan your face, St. Tropez recommend their St.Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan Face.

Have you tried the St. Tropez In Shower Gradual Tan?

[WKEND PINSPO] #justaddaskirt

H&M skirts

This weekend we’re “just adding a skirt”!! Laura, of one of my favourite blogs Wearing It Today, set herself the challenge this week of #justaddaskirt. It’s a simple concept: to remind herself of all of the wonderful skirts she owned and that they were just as easy as jeans to wear – a tee with a skirt!

After a quick look through my wardrobe I realised that I had got rid of many of my beautiful patterned skirts (either because they were too small or too old!) and most of my skirts were black which didn’t really lend itself to the challenge. So, as all good fashion bloggers do, I went shopping!! First stop, H&M. The high street fav has their sale on right now and I found some brilliant bargains – including the two skirts above. Both of these skirts were a fiver! So naturally they both came home with me!

I’ve had a look online at H&M for some more sale skirt options (they are cheaper in store than online, if you can get to a shop!).

Just add a skirt challenge

Shop the look: 1. I love this one (also only £5 in store!) but not in my size – boo! 2. This one reminds me of Laura’s Stella McCartney skirt – on a budget! 3. This is one of the skirts I bought. 4. This skirt would look great for a summer wedding and would work well with either a white or black cami – just add a pair of heels and a clutch and you’re good to go. 5. And this is the other skirt I bought – it’s black again but I like the textured spot fabric – it breaks it up. As well as the front split.

Will you take the challenge this weekend and #justaddaskirt? Check out my Instagram for how I’m styling my new skirts this weekend and for work next week!

[HOW TO] Wear White

How to wear white

  1. Get the right underwear! Seems obvious but maybe not. Make sure to try on your choice underneath your white dress too. I bought the white dress above for my honeymoon, so threw my white wedding knickersinto my suitcase and figured I was sorted. Turns out, white doesn’t always work with white! Cue a quick trip to Italian lingerie store Intimissimi for “the right pair”!
  2. Be careful what you eat. I chose spaghetti for dinner in this white dress. Risky. But it didn’t have the dreaded tomato sauce – it came with mussels, garlic and oil, which don’t stain – so badly! I also used my napkin!
  3. Finally, don’t be afraid! For so long I’ve been terrified of wearing white but I think my wedding day may have cured me of that fear!
  4. Oh ok then, another two for good luck!! Toughen up your white look with black accessories à la Alex at The Frugality.
  5. For a more summer holiday look, team with delicate gold accessories to really highlight your tan.

Will you be wearing white this summer? Do you have any handy tips?

[BEAUTY BYTES] No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Sun Protection

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED BB Facial Sun Protection

My husband* and I have just spent two and a half weeks exploring the Amalfi coast and island hopping through the Bay of Naples on our honeymoon.

The weather, needless to say, was hot, hot hot!! With my pale English complexion, it’s important for me to protect my sun from the sun.

No7 sent me a couple of products from their Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Sun Protection collection to try out while I was away.

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Anti-Ageing Sun Protection Spray SPF 30

The No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Anti-Ageing Sun Protection Spray is a fairly light formula which absorbs quickly without being too sticky. It is also quite moisturising which is great on holiday as you just need to use the one lotion when you’re on holiday which means less to pack and less time spent getting ready to get out in the sun!

The No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED BB Facial Sun Protection is unlike any other sun screens I’ve used before. While giving powerful triple protection against sunburn, it also offers the added bonus of a healthy, tinted complexion.

The No7 Protect & Perfect Intense BB Facial Sun Protection contains a skin brightening complex to help improve skin tone and colour whilst helping to prevent dark spots and hyper-pigmentation. It also works to help restore more youthful skin.

For holiday I was less keen on the facial protection as I don’t really like to wear make up when I’m in a hot climate. But for back in the UK, I’ve been swapping my foundation for work days and using this instead. If you can’t live without make up, at home or abroad, this is a great option to ensure you’re protected but also have coverage too.

If you’re heading off on your holidays soon and are looking for a package that does everything, this No7 Suncare Bundle is an absolute bargain – it contains the Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Anti-ageing Sun Protection Spray reviewed above, as well as the Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Facial Sun Protection, the No7 Facial Recovery Aftersun and the No7 Hair Spritz.

*still getting used to writing “my husband” but I love it!

[WKEND PINSPO]

Weekend dressing is the most fun, if you spend your Mondays to Fridays in work clothes. But sometimes the ease of a uniform (whether enforced or your own style) can make free-style dressing on Saturdays and Sundays more challenging. In our new series, we’ll be hunting out some pinspiration for your weekend wear to take you from the bar to brunch.

Planning a Friday night out at the pub? In the summer months, there’s no need to dress up too much, choose a pair of boyfriend jeans and add heels to elevate your look from day-to-night. Make a statement with a bold clutch:

friday night drinks outfit

Shop the look: Topshop boyfriend jeans (1); Hush striped tee – ON SALE! (2); Dune clutch via Selfridges (3); and Carvela at Kurt Geiger heels (4).

If you’re planning some retail therapy this weekend, a must is a pair of comfortable shoes. This look keeps things relaxed by teaming a pair of Converse with loose-fit jeans, a floaty vest top and a fits-all bag:

saturday shopping outfit

Shop the look: Next jeans (1); Accessorize fedora (2); Accessorize straw trilby (3); Fat Face jacket (4); and Accessorize shopper (5).

There’s no better way to end the weekend than with a lazy Sunday brunch. It’s all about looking put together while feeling oh-so-chilled. It’s set to be another sunny weekend, so make the most of the good weather and don a pair of denim cut-offs and add a lace top for light and breezy look:

sunday brunch outfit

Shop the look: H&M lace top (1); and River Island at Asos denim shorts (2).

What are your plans for the weekend?

[HOW TO] Pack For Your Summer Holiday

Suitcase holidays travel

My hubby (still feels strange to write that!) and I have just got back from our Italian honeymoon. We spent two and a half weeks touring the islands in the  Bay of Naples and the Amalfi coast. It was wonderful. But moving around every few days with a heavy suitcase has made me reassess how I pack for my holidays.

Capri

This post from Garance Doré totally sums up my attitude to holiday packing. Wicker baskets – lovely idea but how?? Beach towels – great in theory, HEAVY and BIG in practice. Straw hat – stylish but impossible to pack. Toiletries – bulky, heavy but oh-so necessary! Souvenirs? How do you even begin to fit your holiday purchases in?

Holiday purchases carpisa purse

The answer to these holiday packing dilemmas? Here’s what I’ve learnt (if you want to read Garance’s take, you can find it here):

  • Wicker baskets – great for weekend trips and picnics at home, when taking the car! Not for holidays. Unless you can snag a really cheap version at your destination.
  • Beach towels – leave them at home! A Pareo or Hamman style towel which are much thinner and, therefore, lighter are the way to go – plus, as they are cotton, they work as a sarong/cover-up too. I spotted these everywhere on the Amalfi coast but my suitcase was already so full and heavy that even a light towel/sarong was too much. Instead, I’ve hunted out some reasonably priced versions at Notonthehighstreet.com.
  • Straw hat – wear it, don’t pack it. This is not the approach favoured by Garance but I am still quite attached to the look, so wear my hat for my trip.
  • Toiletries – if you can do without your usual brand, buy abroad. If you’re travelling with friends/partners/family, share the load and the bottles. Alternatively, order them online at Boots, to pick up at the airport, after security and ditch anything left before heading home.
  • Holiday purchases. This is a trickier one. Leaving space in a suitcase can feel like a waste but also means no room for those inevitable purchases. One way I do it, is ditching the toiletries I packed and making room for them. Alternatively, throw in a couple of rolls of loo roll – they’ll come in handy on your travels and are surprisingly big – you could certainly fill the space they leave with a pair of new holiday sandals and a few pieces of holiday clothing!

What are your top travelling tips?