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Lifestyle|| Top tips for cooking Christmas lunch for many…

Tips for cooking for 10

I learnt a lot last Christmas about the fun and stresses of cooking for, and serving, over 10 people. It might have made a few hours on Christmas day go speeding by, as I kept times, prepped veg and carefully fluffed up my par-boiled potatoes, but I loved every minute.

There were a few things which made everything easier for myself. I’ll definitely be taking note again this year, as I take on the Christmas lunch again. So I wanted to share these with you to help you all master that Christmas lunch too!

Lists

Not enough people make lists. In fact I’m the worst at remembering to write up a list before doing a food shop. But when you’ve got so many elements to a meal, it’s totally worth being a bit excessively organised.

List out what you have, breaking up the different veg even if it’ll get cooked together so you have a checklist too. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to eat with everyone and realising you don’t have the Yorkshires or pigs in blankets.

Underneath this, you can list when different things went on to cook, as well as the approximate time for taking out/stirring/turning. This way you can truly keep on top of everything and not have to rely on memory. You might even have some mental space to have a cheeky drink with your guests then too. After all, it’s really about the family get together!

Prep, prep, prep

This pretty much goes without saying. As mentioned above, any get together should be about the people and company, food coming second. Gasp, shock, horror I said it. I know me, the foodie. But there are only so many times a year the whole family are at one table, giggling and catching up. So you should really make the most of it.
Therefore prepping as much as possible beforehand, including laying the table ready, is so helpful to free up time on the day.

Use all appliances you can

Ok, my dad is going to read this and shiver in his boots. I don’t mean make more washing up..I mean don’t worry about oven space, think outside the box (quite literally). Can something be cooked in a slow cooker? Does your microwave have a grill or oven setting? Could you cook something a bit differently so it doesn’t battle for oven space with other components.

Another good idea is to see if any of your guests could cook anything off for you, and then all you’d have to do is reheat it. We did the pigs in blankets this way at Christmas and it was so helpful!

Foil is your best friend

If all the different components can’t finish cooking at the same time due to space, use foil like there’s no tomorrow. Cover trays and crock pots in a layer, crumple the edges to keep the heat in and it’ll stay warm.
You can then pop the foil covered dishes on the table, and simply remove once everything is ready and you’re ready for everyone to start digging in.

If your meal is served with gravy, this should help keep dishes hot by the time you tuck in.

Tips for cooking for a large family gathering

People are willing to help!

If someone asks if you need a hand, don’t be too proud to not take them up on it. It doesn’t mean you’ve done any less of an amazing job. In fact, I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t mind if you asked for a hand either! You’re still overseeing it all at the end of the day, they are just helping with a few bits to ensure you can keep a level head and enjoy it as much as everyone else. Last Christmas there were two of us in the kitchen doing the main bits, but pretty much everyone chipped in at one point or another – a proper team effort and it was fab!

Don’t panic. Take a step back.

This is easier said than done. I get it, cooking for lots of people is stressful and you do feel the pressure. But as I said earlier in the post, the most important part is actually being together. I don’t think anyone will mind if one or two parts are slightly off, dinner is served half hour late (I don’t usually specify an exact time to combat this), or you forgot the peas (I didn’t realise how many people don’t like them anyway haha). So breathe, and try not to get too hung up in the food.

And there you have it. My six tips for surviving serving up a small feast to friends and family. I hope these help in your planning for Christmas lunch – now go smash it!

Do you do anything in addition to these when cooking for a large gathering?

Chloe xx

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Chloe Tries|| Foodie Monthly – CHRISTMAS!

I get SO excited for Christmas. Well because…

  1. The Christmas lights and decorations. How beautiful does London look throughout November and December?
  2. The festivities and celebrations with friends and family.
  3. The FOOD. Ok, and the drinks.

Festive food and drink has to be my fave. All the cheese. Plenty of cinnamon spice. Eggnog. Bailey’s. All super indulgent, so yes I have been working out more in preparation for the amount I’m due to eat next week. That’s just me. I have my faves already – although I’m sure I might come across one or two more next week, so do keep a eye on my Instagram. Here are my top Christmas picks for this year:

Sandwich – The EAT brie, cranberry and stuffing on onion seed bloomer

One of the veggie options – it actually out does all the meaty ones I’ve tried! I’m a sucker for brie & cranberry but that’s because it’s a seriously good combo and this sandwich is amazing. This festive sarnie has a layer of creamy Brie, plenty of crunchy nut stuffing, sweet peppery cranberry sauce and fresh spinach, all served between two slices of fresh onion seed bloomer. It’s super festive, so fresh and absolutely delicious!

EAT Brie, cranberry & stuffing sandwich

Snack – M&S Cinnamon tortillas

These might not be new this year, but the Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Rolls are firmly back on this year’s list. Sweet and salty, the cinnamon, salty tortilla and milk chocolate goes together so well. Just a handful makes a perfect after dinner treat! Or they’re great for enjoying whilst binge-watching Christmas films next week – we all need some film snacks!

Best Christmas Food 2018 - Cinnamon Chocolate tortilla rolls

Burger – Shake Shack Xmas Shack

I covered the Xmas Shack launch in its own post at the end of last month, because it deserved being shouted about. I still stand by this. I’ve tried a couple of other festive burgers, and many of those which have returned to menus this year, but this really does top them. I didn’t think a chicken number would ever top my list, but this is one amazing Christmas burger!

Shake Shack, Xmas Shack

Just a reminder, the Xmas Shack, features a delicious, tender, crispy chicken breast topped with slightly melted gruyere cheese, pickled shallots, fresh sliced kale, an amazing cranberry bacon chutney & creamy gravy mayo. My tummy is rumbling just reminiscing about this. I need to plan my return before the menu finishes in January!

Cheese – The M&S Cheese fondue

This is actually a combo of two cheeses, emmental and gruyere, with a touch of calvados (brandy) – because what is Christmas without a touch of the stuff? It’s ready to bake in the oven in the dish it comes in, so it’s super simple. As for the taste – it’s heavenly. Rich, creamy, absolutely dreamy. So tasty. I loved it with a chunk of crusty bread. This is definitely coming out again this Christmas…in fact, I’m hoping it makes a appearance at tonight’s wine & cheese night. Our girls’ Friendmas celebration.

Best christmas food 2018 - cheese fondue

Hot drink – Mulled Wine with Amaretto

Yes, you read right. A glass of mulled wine with amaretto inside too. It adds a slight nutty touch, and yes makes it a little extra boozy. It’s bludy delicious! Highly recommend it. I fell in love with this combo after having it recommended to me by Allie (Rush and Teal) whilst we were in Edinburgh, and I will definitely be serving mine this way this Christmas!

Mulled wine

Cocktail – Glittery Espresso Martini

If I’m after a cold cocktail, those who know me well, know an espresso martini is always my go-to first if on the menu. We all know Christmas is the season for sparkly things, glitter and sequins. So what better than a shimmering espresso martini?!

best christmas food 2018 - espresso martini

M&S has a Sparkling Espresso Martini Cocktail Gift Set this year (£30), which provides everything to make these beauties! This is firmly on my wish list..but I’m tempted to treat myself especially for Christmas day when I’m prepping Christmas lunch. Yes, I’m taking it on this year!

Dessert – M&S Collection Chocolate Pine Cones

I tried these to finish a Christmas feast with M&S recently, and they were divine. Seriously indulgent. Cone shaped chocolate-mousse, the M&S Collection Chocolate Pine Cones are filled with chocolate sauce, dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with pretty edible gold glitter. They were seriously dreamy! And how cute do they look?! I think they’d definitely impress if you whipped these out after Christmas lunch this year!

best christmas food 2018 - chocolate pine cones

Ok, I’m actually looking forward to the pigs in blankets (as always) and plenty of sprouts too – Yes, I’m a sprout lover! And all the leftovers. Leftovers are fab right?!

I know a lot of this year’s faves are from M&S, but I’m really loving their ranges! They’re such good quality and really aren’t expensive (which is what I used to think!). I’d rather pay a tad more for good quality now anyway – it makes such a difference.

What are your favourite Christmas foods this year? Have you tried any of the above?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Sunday Roast @ Coin Laundry, Exmouth Market

I’ve been dying to go out for a roast for ages. I mean, I do make a bludy good roast at home – in fact, I brag about my mini herby roasties! But I still haven’t nailed those yorkshires. And to be completely honest it’s quite nice to go out for one, take a slow stroll back on an Autumn afternoon, and not worry about the clearing up. Especially if you can find a good spot…

Coin Laundry is a cool, relaxed spot on the corner of Exmouth market. It has an empty warehouse feel, with its high ceilings and open plan – almost like it’s been moved from the heart of Shoreditch or Hackney. It’s light and bright, and the interior is filled with blues, greens and woods, with flowers on the tables. It gives off a spring/summer season vibe, as though they’re bringing a bit of the outside in, yet it’s still cosy. Service was friendly and accommodating from the off, and it didn’t take us long to get our Sunday roast orders in.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

The Sunday menu runs from 11am through to 9pm – pretty good for a menu featuring roasts. There are a number of snacks, sharers and small plates for if you’re just popping in for a light lunch or nibbles over a catch-up, as well a few regular mains too (including a beef burger and cauliflower and okra curry). But on a sunday afternoon, there’s just one thing for it…a roast.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

The roast menu features four options, three meat and one veggie.

All served with roasties, seasonal veg, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

Vegetarian options often get slated when it comes to roasts. But this one, the Beetroot and woodland mushroom Wellington with porcini gravy, was actually pretty good! No soggy bottoms here – the wellington was delicious. Whilst whole/larger pieces of mushroom would have been preferred to finely chopped, alongside the beautifully roasted beetroot, it still had a great flavour. The mushroom gravy was delicious too – and there was plenty.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

The Slow roast lamb leg with mint sauce did however steal the show. The lamb was tender, with a fantastic flavour. There was plenty of bold mint sauce to accompany the dish too.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

The roasties were fluffy inside and nice and crisp outside, and the selection of seasonal veg was great too. We loved the mix of greens and pearl onions which is being served right now! As for the Yorkshire puddings, well they were massive! Overall a super generous portion – I was stuffed!

As for the drinks, as we all know we need a good drink to accompany a roast…

The drinks menu features a handful of cocktails, draught, canned and bottled beer, plenty of wine and spirit options too. The Mortimer’s Orchard Cider (draught), was delicious and helped continue the early autumn vibes as it was pretty warm out. The Stiggins’ Daiquiri, a mix of pineapple rum, lime and cardamom, was strong and a little tart, but went down oh so well.

Coin Laundry Sunday Roast

We literally had not even a slither of space for dessert. But if you do have a sweet tooth to satisfy, there is a dessert menu with three options – dark chocolate fondant, panna cotta and cheesecake.

OVERALL:

  • Price: Roasts are priced between £13.50 and £18 which is pretty reasonable for London. Drinks are pretty reasonable too – the pint was only £5 and the cocktail was £9.
  • Food: Fab roasts – the veggie option impressed, but the lamb did steal the show. Very generous portions.
  • Drinks: Plenty of options. The Stiggins’ Daiquiri was a fab cocktail!
  • Atmosphere: bright and contemporary, yet cosy, spot for Sunday lunch. Friendly service.
  • Wait: Not overly busy the Sunday we visited. Do book ahead if you can though.

There is a basement area too, with bar, which opens into the evening – open until 1am Thursday to Saturday. I’ve been along before for drinks and nibbles, and it’s a fab spot for this – read my post on this here.

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to review for East London Girl, but it was SO good I wanted to share with you too!

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Travel|| A festive weekend in Edinburgh

This was my first ever trip up North, to Scotland – and I fell in love. Like seriously. We walked many stunning streets, ate lots of delicious food, had plenty of gin and mulled wine, and stayed in the cutest airbnb. It was such an amazing weekend away with some of my fave girls – you can’t beat a girls trip! I’m already dying to go back. Here’s why…

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Where to stay…

I highly recommend doing airbnb, especially if you’re heading up with a group of friends. I’ve done airbnb a few times now, and it’s always been so simple and easy. It’s great having a place to yourself too, you can come and go and chill out all together. We made the most of it on the first night and ordered in takeaway, something you don’t necessarily do in the same fashion in a hotel.

Edinburgh festive weekend break

The airbnb we stayed in was SO cute! Minimalist, bright and airy with plenty of foliage it was the perfect Instagram spot for a group of bloggers. Yes, there were a couple of photo shoots which happened before heading out! It was super central too, only about a five minute walk to the train station, and it’s not overly pricey (from £100 a night). The host let us check in late, and was friendly and helpful on arrival too. I would definitely recommend this spot if there’s four or more of you heading up!

Edinburgh festive weekend breakEdinburgh festive weekend breakThe view from the front window of the Airbnb..such a fab location!

Where to wander…

It felt like you could pretty much wander anywhere in the city, and stumble across some of the cutest little cobbled streets and quaint shops. But there are a few spots you HAVE to stroll to…

Edinburgh festive weekend break

The Castle…a wander up to the castle is a must. Not only to see the castle itself (we admired from the outside) but for the views out across the city too!). It’s fantastic.

Edinburgh festive weekend break Edinburgh festive weekend break

Circus Lane…we actually stopped here for everyone to grab a photo too! It’s a popular little spot because it’s so sweet…living along here would be the dream!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Dean Village – a beautiful location along the river. You wouldn’t think this was part of the city. It feels like you’re on an adventure in the middle of nowhere. A cute location for a walk!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Where to visit…

Edinburgh’s Christmas…the Christmas market! Filled with stalls, bars, Christmas treats, rides, ice skating and a silent disco, it’s THE spot to visit to get in the festive spirit. We popped along for a mulled wine (or two), which we enjoyed on the roof terrace looking out over the rest of the market. What a spot! We also took a little stroll through too, taking in the Christmas bustle. I only wish we had more time here. I came away feeling super festive.

Edinburgh festive weekend break Edinburgh festive weekend break

The Dome…with the most amazing Christmas tree. This is one of the most magnificent bars I’ve seen at Christmas! It’s filled with twinkly lights, and so many Christmas decorations, including an incredible Christmas Tree above the bar. Another spot which is a must-visit at this time of year. Pop in for a drink or two!

Edinburgh festive weekend break Edinburgh festive weekend break

Hoot the Redeemer…a quirky, edgy basement bar with fab cocktails and music. It does get busy at the weekend, but it’s a great little cocktail spot. They looked pretty cool too…mine had a fish floating in it. Not a real one, don’t worry!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Where to brunch…

Checkpoint was a fantastic brunch recommendation by one of my colleagues. It has a simple interior, almost like a stripped back canteen giving it a not so special feel. The service was friendly, accommodating and helpful – they even offered to take a photo of the group as we were taking pics of the food.

Edinburgh festive weekend break

The brunch itself was pretty amazing. The Winter squash dish I tried (with cavolo nero, harissa yoghurt and eggs) was something else, so flavoursome. The shakshuka went down extremely well, and the potato gratin (with chorizo, tomato butter & a duck egg) was super delicious. The coffee was fab too – so smooth. A great start to one of our days exploring – and my fave spot of the two! With breakfast dishes priced between £4.50 and £7.50 it’s really well priced too!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

The Pantry was brunch stop two – it really is all about the brunch! The Pantry doesn’t take bookings so you do need to queue for a table. We waited about 45 minutes for a table for 5 on the Sunday we visited, and it was worth it.

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Service was ok (not as friendly or efficient as Checkpoint) but food was fab. I had the porridge special, with braised pears, ginger syrup and coconut yoghurt and it was the best porridge I’ve ever had. So creamy and thick, and the toppings added so much flavour!

Edinburgh festive weekend break

The V-guy (Veggie haggis, crispy halloumi, smoked paprika and thyme roasted tomato, confit mushroom,tattie scone, free range egg on sourdough and Heinz beans) was fantastic too. The veggie haggis a hit with all. The Sunshine on Stockbridge (Sweet potato, plum tomatoes, grilled courgette, guacasaca, free range poached eggs and poblano) was also a fab choice – everything super fresh and tasty! With dishes between £6.50 and £11.25 it’s a little more pricey than Checkpoint too, but we really did enjoy this on our final morning.

And Dinner…

We had a fantastic dinner at The Bon Vivant. It’s a cosy restaurant with next level service (super friendly), and delicious food. The menu is pretty small, offering more options for bites/snacks than mains – but the mains all looked ttasty. Although there was only one veggie option. The appetisers are a must. Small, individual bites, ensure you order at least a couple per person. All mains went down a treat. The salmon dish which was so tender and flavoursome. The dishes aren’t huge, so we did get some Parmesan and truffle chips too which I highly recommend doing too! We tried the house wine to accompany our meals, which was beautiful.

Edinburgh festive weekend break Edinburgh festive weekend break

With bites at £2, mains between £13 and £18, and bottles of wine starting at £22, it’s pretty reasonable for such a  fancy dinner spot.

And there you have it…my round-up of some of the best spots (discovered so far) for a festive weekend in Edinburgh. I fell in love and I definitely want to head back again next November to help me get in the festive spirit. It’s such a magical place.

Edinburgh festive weekend break

Have you been or are you planning on going?

Chloe xx

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Recipe|| Mac and Cheese – using up leftovers

Mac and Cheese is one of my go-to dishes. It’s super simple, so even when you’ve had a long, hard day in the office, you should still have enough patience and energy to whip a huge dish up. It’s also perfect for batch-cooking and can last a good few days for lunches or dinners.

Voucher Codes Mac and Cheese Recipe

It’s great for using up leftovers too, so we can avoid all that food waste. I love throwing in whatever I have leftover from a roast, or any veggies I have lying around. This makes it perfect for this time of year – all that leftover turkey, sausage meat stuffing (great for topping it!), cranberry sauce, sprouts (just shred them), and more.

I teamed up with Voucher Codes to create a video of my Leftover Roast Mac and Cheese. It’s my first proper recipe video, so it seems fitting that it’s one of my fave recipes…

I had so much fun creating this with the Voucher Codes team! One of the girls said I should start my own cookery channel – if only! It’s now my dream – I just need someone to do the video element hahaha.

My recipe is super versatile, allowing you to throw in whatever you have, and always goes down well. I took a huge dish to a dinner party recently, and one of the girls had my slow cooked lamb version and said it tops many she’s tried. I’m obviously not feeling smug at all.

It’s also pretty cheap to make. We worked it out at bout £1.30 per portion! Making it even more perfect for December when everyone is low on money after all the celebrations 😉

What’s your go-to recipe for using up leftovers this Christmas?

Chloe xx

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