In April

Planning: our upcoming trip to New York 

Singing: along to musical songs with colleagues on Belgrave's roof terrace 

Learning: from the amazing bloggers at Ice Lolly's Blog at the Beach

Drinking: Aperol spritz 

Trying: The new Banyan restaurant on City Square. Hint - it's awesome, and the teriyaki pork belly is a must try 

Finishing: watching House

Starting: The Good Wife 

Spending: a glorious weekend visiting Richmond and Northumberland 

Walking: on Bamburgh beach 

Cooking: a pretty sweet Sunday lunch 

 

A North Yorkshire getaway at Ox Pasture Hall

Rewind back to February. After a long, dreary January I was in drastic need of a break, so when the Ox Pasture Hall, a luxury hotel in North Yorkshire, got in touch asking if I'd like a night away, I jumped at the chance. It's taken me a while to get around to this post due to being horrendously ill for a good month or so, but even just looking over these pictures is making me feel better, and motivated to jump back into life!

We drove up one grey Saturday afternoon (feeling slightly hungover if I'm honest!), and just over an hour later we were pulling up to one of the sweetest hotel's I've ever seen. Situated in the country side, surrounded by nothing but calmness, I honestly felt the stress start to leave as soon as we pulled up into the carpark. 

The hotel itself is stunning - stone built and full of rustic charm, each room is warm and friendly. I was lucky enough to stay in a luxury suite compiling of bedroom, living room and bathroom, and oh was it a luxury. I spent the afternoon relaxing in the beautiful bath, and it's fair to say no bath at home has had the same appeal since! With twin sinks, it felt like a spa. The bedroom was also incredible. A king sized bed with a glorious country view? Yes please!

After an afternoon relaxing, we strolled down to the restaurant to finish the perfect day with a good meal, and the food may just have been the best thing about the whole day.I started with the most delicious beetroot and goats cheese tart, whilst Tom opted for pickled herring. For a main, I went for duck, one of my favourite meats that I don't get to eat very often. Falling off the bone and served with the most amazing creamed potatoes, Tom had definite food envy despite how good his lamb also was! We ended with a shared dessert - raspberry crème brûlée that was the best sweet treat to end the meal.

The next day, following yet more great food in the form of a full English, we took advantage of the blue skies and drove in to Scarborough for the day. Only a 10 minute drive, and a further 15 minutes from Whitby, you couldn't pick a better location for exploring all that North Yorkshire has to offer.

It's been a few years since I've been to Scarborough, so it was so nice to be back and see how it had changed. A brisk walk along the beach, an hour whiling away 2p's in the arcades and a lazy lunch is a pretty great way to spend a Sunday if you ask me!

How much of North Yorkshire have you explored?

Dan

Disclosure: I was provided this stay for free but all thoughts are most definitely my own!

2016 travel plans

The last few years have been good for travel. 2014 saw a mega Asia trip that included Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, and 2015 followed with visits to Barcelona, Rome and Sorrento, with lots of UK mini breaks along the way.

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So what will 2016 bring? Well, New York is already in motion. We fly out in May, and I can't wait to spend seven days eating and exploring all that NYC has to offer (Sprinkles Cupcakes I'm coming for you!).

Whilst New York will be epic in every way possible, it won't be a holiday. I'm fully prepared to come back feeling exhausted, and not like I've had a holiday at all, and with us currently in the process of starting the house buying process, starting news jobs (Tom), and being crazy busy at work (me!), relaxation will be needed. That's where Croatia comes in.

From Hvar and the surrounding islands, to Plitvice National Park with its crystal clear lakes and tumbling waterfalls and the steeped with history Dubrovnic, I long to see everything Croatia has to offer.

In terms of the UK? There's a nice trip to Northumberland and Edinbugh planned for later this month, and I'd also like to squeeze in a trip to Brighton. It's been on my list for a few years now! 

I absolutely love hearing other people's travel plans, so thought I'd also share a couple of my friends dreams for 2016:

Beth Nunnington

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 "2016 is finally the year that I visit South America. I have been fortunate  to travel to many places in Europe and Asia but Latin America is an area of the world I am yet to explore.

First on the list is Ecuador, I have always dreamed of visiting the Galapagos Islands as I am a huge animal lover. My late Granddad used to chat to me about Darwin and his theories so I also really want to go in his memory. It’s definitely not a cheap travel destination but from my research I believe it is a once in a lifetime experience and worth every penny. Hopefully we will be able to afford to do a cruise, we’re not going to book it in advance and are hoping to get a cheap deal once we land!

 Kirsty Rogers

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"We've got a variety of holiday plans this year, a lot with family which should be fun! First off we are going to Northumberland for a long weekend with the lovely Danielle and Tom, which we try to do once a year. After that, we're off to Sorento with my Mum and Dad along with my sister and her fiancée. Should be fantastic! We're definitely going to visit Pompeii to satisfy my history bug, probably Herculaneum as well. Naples is also in the list. A full week of Italian food and wine - yay! Then in June I'm off to France with my boyfriend Sam's parents, which should be really nice. Lots of cycling, good food and wine. I'm sensing a theme here...haahaa. After that, we might try to get away for a weekend in September, just a little something for me and Sam. We shall see!"

This is my entry to Ice Lolly's Send me Away competition. I'd love to hear from Glasses Girl, Queen Beady and Forever Miss Vanity! 

What are your holiday plans for the year? 

Dan x

January Eats

Well, welcome to my first food roundup of the year! I really enjoyed doing these last year, and so it's something that I'm gonna attempt to continue for 2016. Although we all know that continuity isn't my strong suit...

Without being one big old cliche, January for me was about getting back on track with my diet. At the end of December I bought Joe Wicks Lean in 15 book, and I've been roughly following his principles throughout the month. This has meant trying lots of his recipes, as well as trying not to eat out too much (I know, I know...).

This beef stroganoff was the first recipe I made from Lean in 15, and it went down so well I made it again two weeks later. It is literally the easiest thing in the world to make, and it feels like such a treat.

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I Instagrammed a picture of these a few weeks ago, and had so much interest that I remade them to blog the recipe. Sweet potato rostis with chorizo and a fried egg, they're a bit of fuss but perfect for a post workout weekend breakfast.

For the first meal out of the month we tested our Evelyn's, a relatively new cafe bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Whilst I enjoyed the Korean fried chicken, I feel like the homefries could have been crispier, and couldn't help comparing them to Ox Club's offering

Another Joe Wicks' special, this chicken, leek and mushroom pie is another great recipe from the book. Again super easy to make, we had this for leftovers the next day and enjoyed it all over again.

When Tom's parents asked us if we fancied a trip to ilkley we were really excited to try some of the local restaurants, and ended up at Bar T'at. The food was pretty great, and I've been thinking about the sticky toffee pudding ever since.

I've said all I need to say about these paneer skewers in my recipe post, but they are definitely one of my food highlights of the month! For a healthy take on Indian food definitely give them a go.

What have you been eating this month?

Dan

Indian spiced paneer skewers

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So I'm just gonna go straight in and say that this is paneer at its finest. I cook with paneer a lot. To be honest, whenever I make Indian food these days I rarely use meat, opting instead for paneer and either chickpeas or potato. In a curry it is delicious, but I'd never cooked it as a standalone dish.

I was first introduced to paneer at Prashad a good few years ago with their tikka paneer (I cannot visit without ordering a portion!) and over Christmas we grabbed a hasty lunch of paneer kebabs from the deli counter at Selfridges, which was the inspiration for this dish.

With no heavy sauce, this is a great alternative to a curry if you're trying to eat well. Don't like paneer? Use chicken instead! 

Ingredients - makes four kebabs
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp chopped ginger
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
Splash of oil
3 tbs natural yogurt
500g paneer
2 red peppers

Method
1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan for around a minute, then grind in a pestle and mortar. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.
2. Slice the paneer into small rectangles, and then coat with the oil in a container. Add the spice mix, and shake well to thoroughly coat. Add the yogurt, and mix again. Leave to marinade for at least an hour, but ideally for a couple of hours of over night. 
3. Cut pepper into pieces that are a similar size to the paneer. Add the marinated paneer and pepper to a griddle pan that has been warming for a couple of minute. Griddle for around 10 minutes until crispy, turning onto all sides regularly to avoid burning.
4. Combine on skewers and serve.

Looking back on 2015

Well, another year over! I'm pretty sure I say this every year, but where have the last 12 months gone? If life could just slow down for a bit that would be great.

In 2015, I:

  • Travelled to Barcelona with some of my favourite people
  • Added a gorgeous but naughty kitten to the family
  • Explored more of the UK, including Knutsford, London and Skipton
  • Celebrated an 18th, 21st and a 50th
  • Ate some incredible food, shoutouts include Ox Club, Bundobust and Livin Italy, 
  • Booked a trip to NYC
  • Ticked Rome and Sorrento off my travel bucket list

Here's to an even better 2016!

Dan x

Pan fried gnocchi with sausage and burrata

One of my favourite types of food to cook at home is without a doubt Italian, but until now that mainly meant dealing with pasta. I've made gnocchi before, and although I enjoyed it it had nothing on pasta. Until, that was, I pan fried it and changed the gnocchi game forever. Crispy bite sized pieces of heaven? Yes please! A simple red pesto sauce with a kick of chilli, accompanied with mouthfuls of sausage meat and melting creamy burrata and you have one seriously satisfying dish.

Even better, it's only a few ingredients and ready in about 20 minutes! If you fancy a break from leftover turkey then definitely give it a go! 

Ingredients - serves two
A packet of gnocchi
Knob of butter
3 sausages
3 tbsp red pesto
1 tbsp water
A pinch of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of frozen peas defrosted
1 ball of burrata
Fresh basil to serve

Method
1. Score each sausage lengthways, remove the skin and break up into small pieces. Add a knob of butter to a large frying pan and gently fry until it begins to brown. Whilst cooking, defrost peas.
2. Add the gnocchi, and cook for around 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp on the outside.  Add peas and pesto and cook for another minute, before loosening with the water. Add a pinch of chilli place and salt and pepper.
3. Spread into a flat layer, and scatter torn up burrata on top. once slightly melted, top with fresh basil and serve.

Dan x

Brunch at Ox Club

If there's one thing my life has been lacking lately, it's brunch. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I went out for brunch, and that is very unlike me. I have my favourite places to go in Leeds, sure, but something fresh and different was definitely needed to reignite my favourite meal.

Enter, Ox Club. Situated in Headrow House, the latest offering from the guys behind Belgrave, their brunch menu is out of this world. With a mixture of more unusual dishes alongside more classic options, there is something for everyone. In terms of setting, they've got it spot on with an open kitchen and stripped back decor, and with dishes from £6-£10 for top quality food it's definitely going to a highlight of the Leeds food scene in 2016.

We opted for:

Flat iron steak and cheddar eggs
Perfectly cooked steak served in the best way - those eggs were divine! Creamy and with just the right amount of cheese. The home fries rounded the dish of perfectly, and overall it was a great choice for a savoury dish.

Ricotta Pancakes
Served with honeycomb, blueberries, creme fraiche and wildflower honey, I think these might just be the best pancakes I've ever had. Just looking at the picture is making me want them all over again! Thick, fluffy and the best way to end any brunch. 

With other dishes on the menu including Korean fried chicken and smoked avocado, I'm already wondering when I can fit in another visits...

Dan x

Luxury hot chocolate

When the cold weather hits, is there anything better than a thick, rich hot chocolate? I'm not a coffee drinker, so when the autumn/winter drinks come around it's hot chocolate all the way for me, and I usually make it my mission to try as many festive flavours as possible. This year I decided to experiment with making my own, and *big claim alert* I think it might just be the best hot chocolate I've ever had. It isn't just me who thinks it either, it was actually Tom who said it first.

Chocolatey, warming and a kick of spice from the cinnamon. Perfection!

Ingredients
180g good quality 75% dark chocolate
300ml full fat milk
1tsp brown sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks
Whipped cream
Cinnamon for sprinkling

Method
Add chocolate, milk, sugar, vanilla essence, ground cinnamon and one cinnamon stick to a large pan, and melt slowly on a medium heat, stirring regularly. Once melted, turn up the heat slightly and keep warming until hot. Serve with whipped cream, remaining cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It could not be easier!

This is literally my perfect hot chocolate. What would you put in yours?

Dan x

November Eats

How can I be writing my November Eats already? I swear the year has just flown by, and now there's only one month left! I didn't think I'd eaten much exciting food last month, but writing this has made me realise just how wrong that is! Let's get to it:

Humpit is one of my favourite places for a work lunch, one that makes me very happy without feeling like I've over indulged! I could eat this every week...

Ahh Bundobust, how happy was I to try their new (and IMO best) menu last month. Those biryani balls? SO GOOD.

One of the few interesting things made in my own kitchen last month, this pan fried gnocchi with pesto and burrata is easily one of the best things I've made. So good we're having it again tonight! Recipe coming soom.

Lunchtimes on London work trips are usually fun, and this mezze from Comptoir Lebanese was a great option, even if we only managed around a third of it between two!

A day off in Manchester usually means a trip to my favourite Solita, and that was confirmed when I saw that the parmo was returning to the menu for a short period of time. Sweet Jesus this is good. The cheesiest of bechamels with perfectly fried chicken. And yes, it is massive.

No trip to Manchester is complete without a visit to Home Sweet Home for a big slice of cake. Enough said!

To celebrate my lovely friend Kirsty's birthday, we headed to another favourite restaurant - Livin Italy. I swear this place gets better every time. If you're in Leeds and are yet to go, what are you waiting for?

The month ended with a last minute trip to Trinity Kitchen to sample the offering from Dim Sum Sue. This Hong Kong Pork Bao was incredible - the pork was amazing and there was so much flavour! Food puts me in a seriously good mood, and this made my mood next level.

What was your favourite meal of November?

Dan x

A Christmas house

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Happy December! I have to admit, I've been feeling festive for a while and have had these decorations up for a week or so already (too soon?), but if you're yet to sort yours out then maybe these will give a bit of inspiration.

We decided to go for a silver, copper and black theme with a frosted tree, and I'm so pleased with the results. In the dark with the lights turned on it looks so warm and festive. The copper tones go amazing with the soft lights, and the black helps to tone it down a bit. We got the bulk of ours decorations from Next, and finished it off with some initial letters from Anthropologie and a couple of teardrop baubles from H&M Home.

For the rest of the house we've tried to add a few festive touches, including using some tree decorations as wall decorations, laying out gorgeous gold lights across the fireplace and adding a 'Merry Christmas' garland across the mirror. The wooden reindeer and tree are the only things that survived our house move last year but I still love them!

I'm pretty much in love with my living room right now, and plan to spend a lot of time making the most out of how pretty it looks over the next few weeks!

Dan x

The ultimate meatballs and sweet potato mash

I've always been a firm believer that pasta can make any dish better. Lasagne, mac 'n' cheese, ravioli - all some of my favourite foods. I've always chosen to pair meatballs with pasta, until one day the idea of sweet potato mash came into my head and I couldn't get rid of it, and hence this dish was born. Perfect meatballs, creamy mash and THE BEST tomato sauce I've ever tried, this is perfect for the colder months, or if you need a bit of cheering up.

Meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped fine
2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
1good pinch of whole sea salt
2 good pinches of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 large free-range egg

Sauce
2 tins chopped tomatos
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful of chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper

Potato
2 sweet potatoes
1 glug of full fat milk
50g of butter

Recipe
1. Separate the beef mince and mix in the dry ingredients and mustard, making sure mixture is thoroughly combined. Stir in egg, take a small handful of mince mixture and roll into balls. This mixture should make around 12.

2. Chop the sweet potato and put on to boil for around 15-20 minutes

3. Finely chop the garlic and the onion and add to a pan with olive oil, gently fry until they begin to colour then add the chopped tomatoes. Simmer for around 15 minutes, adding the balsamic vinegar and basil leaves halfway through. Stir and season well with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, place the meatballs in a separate pan with olive oil and gently fry.

5. Once the meatballs are cooked, mash the potatoes with the butter and milk, stirring afterwards with a spoon to create the ultimate creamy texture.

6. Place the meatballs onto the sweet potato mash and pour the sauce over, garnish with pepper, a few fresh basil leaves and parmesan is you so desire (which I always do!)

Enjoy!

Dan x

Current: home wants

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Why is it when you are trying to save money every single shop seems to have amazing stuff in? There's always something on my interiors wishlist, but at the minute it is about a mile long! 

The White Company is my ultimate fave when it comes to candles, and one day I WILL own their amazingly soft white sheets (They currently have 20% off everything - somebody stop me!). This bar cart has been on my list since it popped into my inbox on the Oliver Bonas newsletter, how stunning is it? I can imagine it all style up, and can't actually get it out of my head. Cox and Cox is one of my go to's for interiors browsing, and I'm desperate for these chairs. Finally, for the little details I've been wanting some hanging pots for my indoor plants for a while and love the look of these leather and brass ones, and who doesn't need a marble cheese stand?

Dan

Bundobust Winter Menu

Whenever I'm in need of a quick drink and bite to eat, there's one place that tops the list everytime - Bundobust. I've spoken of my love for them before, and I'm pleased to say that it has only grown with the launch of their new winter menu. Paneer, biryani balls and the most mouthwatering flatbread, these dishes are my favourite to come out of their kitchen so far.

Here's what's new:

Biryani Bhaji Balls

One of my favourite dishes on the new menu, these are arancini inspired balls, lightly spiced and featuring a hint of rose, fried and served with a delicious tomato sauce.

Punjabi Hadhi

So much more than a 'soup', this dish is ridiculously good. Crisp gobi bhaji dumplings top a creamy yoghurt soup made with onions, coriander seeds and ginger, providing the perfect contrast of textures.

Paneer & Mushroom Tikka kebabs

I adore paneer, and this is simply it cooked at its best. Perfect. Just try it for yourself!

Chole Bhatura

A rich chickpea curry served with the best Indian flatbread I am yet to try. Unlike many curries, this isn't heavy at all, and the flatbread is even gluten free for those who try to avoid it!

Tarka Dhal & Rice

A classic lentil curry, this is a true winter warmer. I love lentils, and this dish just works so well as is the ultimate comfort food.

October Eats

October always gets off to a good start, with my birthday being in the first week. This year, we had family round and cooked a Mexican feast for everyone to enjoy. Potato and chorizo quesadillas, spicy chicken taquitos, pulled pork tacos and mexican spiced potatos were on the menu, and it all went down pretty well! 

My birthday itsself was a chilled affair - it fell on a Tuesday which meant I spent it at work, but still managed to fit in a lunch at Sheaf Street Cafeteria followed by this platter of chocolate from my lovely colleagues.

The Great British Bake Off final meant a bake off of our own and work, and this was my entry into the creative category. I didn't take home the prize, but I still think it was a pretty good effort!

A day off meant a trip to the new Wahaca in Manchester. It's been around two years since I went to one in London, but the food was every bit as good as I remembered. That sweet potato? Oh my. I need to learn how they cook it!

I was kindly invited down to the Maven bar in Leeds to sample the new range of ciders from The Blind Pig. Pictured are the bourbon and blueberry and whiskey, honey and apple cocktails, both of which were amazing! I'd never heard of Blind Pig cider before, but I actually think they are a really great option if you fancy something a bit different to drink.

The month ended with a trip to the Tetley, where I definitely made a good food order with this absolutely huge portion of fish and chips!

What was your favourite meal of the month?

Relaxing With Ocean Finance

When Ocean Finance challenged me to take some time to relax, I decided to take a whole day and do exactly what I wanted. With so many things often getting in the way of relaxing, taking a day for myself was a great way to recharge and get ready to hit the ground with work and everything else life throws at you.

So, 24 hours to spend some alone time. Here's what I did:

My day started with a bit of pampering in the form of a manicure at Mint. Whenever a special occasion comes around, Mint is the place I go for a spot on manicure that lasts around three weeks, and it always helps me feel good in myself. Nails sorted, it was time for some solo strolling around Leeds. We spend so much time in our home towns/cities, but it can be easy to miss just how special they are. Take some time to just wander around, no distractions, and take it all in. You might be surprised about how it clears the mind.

Lunch was next, and that meant a trip to Sheaf Street Cafeteria, a great place to enjoy good food and just enjoy your own company.

Back home, I opted for the ultimate relaxation tool - a bath with some of Lush's finest products. 'The magic of Christmas' bubble wand did not disappoint, and turned a bath into the ultimate relaxation tool. Follow with a fire and some Ben and Jerry's, and I think I might have had the perfect day.

What would you do if you had a day to yourself?

Dan

Current: home favourites

I'm an absolute sucker for buying decorative pieces for my home, and with a recent birthday allowing me to go a bit more crazy than usual with the spending, the last couple of weeks has seen my home filled with quite a few lovely new bits and bobs. Is it just me who has gone from spending all my money on clothes and makeup to home bits? No? Good. 

Here are a few of my current home favourites:

Retropacks

I ended up with a discount code for Retropacks in my Icelolly event goodie bag, and quickly signed up. I've now received two months worth of prints and am rather obsessed! You basically pick a range of instagram photos each month, and they deliver them in a box small enough to fit through your door. The quality is great, and they look amazing. If you're in a rush though bear in mind that mine to around two weeks to be delivered each time.

White Company Wild Mint and White Tea reed diffuser

The candle version of the Wild Mint and White Tea scent from the White Company made it to my official favourite of all time, so when I opened this reed diffuser from Tom on my birthday I was thrilled! My birthday this year was pretty home scent heavy, with my brother also getting me a goegous candle and reed diffuser. It's good to know they know me well! The mint from this really carries and literally scents the whole room, and just smells so fresh and wonderful. I love it!

Cacti

My current obsession, my little family of cacti has continued to grow over the last few weeks. Thanks to Ruby Bloom, my new favourite shop in Leeds. We purchased all our cacti from there, as well as the gorgeous grey pot the big one sits in. We popped the rest in used candle pots, and I just love the effect. Recycling win!

Fox cushion

Yet another birthday buy, I couldn't resist this cute cushion when I was it in John Lewis. I love how it looks with my grey chair, and think it just adds so much character to the room! Plus it's a bit more substantial than my lumpy Ikea cushions that currently cover the settee...

What are your current interiors favourites?

Dan

 

Italian style mac 'n' cheese

It's no secret that mac 'n' cheese is my favourite food. As in, 'if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life' favourite food. It's perfect for a treat, after a bad day, and if it's on the menu at a restaurant I will struggle to choose anything else.

Because of all this, I'd like to think I'm somewhat of a mac 'n' cheese expert, and that gives me great authority to say YOU NEED TO TRY THIS RECIPE. Oozing taleggio cheese and salty pancetta, combined with a hit of truffle oil and drizzled with pesto, this is the ultimate autumn comfort food.

Ingredients

  • 300g Italian style pasta
  • Pancetta, diced
  • 50g butter
  • Three heaped table spoons of flour
  • 500ml full fat milk
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 200g taleggio cheese
  • 50g parmesan
  • Pesto
  • Truffle oil
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

Recipe

  • Whilst the pasta is boiling, begin to make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the flour, stirring until combined to make a paste. Slowly incorporate the milk, mixing thoroughly to create a smooth consistency. Add in a sprinkle of nutmeg and the mustard, and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring often. Take off the boil and mix in the taleggio, stirring until melted.
  • Fry the pancetta until crispy
  • Combine pasta and pancetta, and then stir through the sauce. Tip into an oven proof dish, drizzle with truffle oil and grate over a generous amount of parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has gone crispy.
  • To make a pesto drizzle, mix a good quality pesto with water and oil and serve on the side

 

September Eats

How has September been and gone? I'm literally in shock. I know each month I say I can't believe where time has gone, but this month has been speedy on another level.

With a trip to London and a few days off relaxing in Cheshire, September was another good food month, so here's what went down:

This was a recipe stolen from Steph over at I am a Food Blog, and oh is it a good one! Gruyere potato pancakes, served with sour cream, bacon and poached egg. Literally the dream.

Faced with a Friday off and no plans, I did what I usually do, and picked a day trip based on a restaurant that's been on my 'to try' list for a while, which lead to wandering round Harrogate and feasting at the Yorkshire Meatball Company. My 'hot balls' in pesto sauce with lentils was insanely good, and with dozens of different combinations I can't wait to go back.

September also brought about a trip to the Mere Golf Resort and Spa, where I had the nicest Asian style fish and chips. Asian batter fish, parsnip fries and curried mushy peas. Just wow.

This little beauty was a Jamie Oliver special, cooked by Tom one Saturday night. Rosemary chicken, buttered greens with bacon and dauphinoise potatoes.

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Yep, cake in a jar. When the company I work for rebranded, we were all treated to one of these to celebrate, and I think the fact that it had been demolished by 10:30am is testament to how good it was.

The Black Swan in Leeds is a real favourite when it comes to heading out for a drink, so when I was invited to try their new Autumn food menu I was pretty excited. With a host of amazing dishes including a beef and bone marrow burger, onion three ways, apple crumble creme brûlée and the confit pork belly (pictured above), I was really impressed with how much thought had gone into each dish. 

A trip to London means trying out more new restaurants, and this time we decided to hit up Jackson and Rye for this truffled mac 'n' cheese, and it might just my favourite meal of the month.

With pictures of Crosstown doughnuts constantly flooding my Instagram, there was no way I was leaving London without sampling something, and the creme brûlée one I opted for went down a treat.

What did you eat last month? 

Reasons to smile

Sitting down and taking note of the reasons you have to be happy is pretty important, and something that I like to do quite regularly. It's easy to lose track of all the good things in life, so when the Centre for Advanced Dentistry got in touch and asked me to share my reasons to smile in time for World Smile Day, I took the opportunity to take stock of life.

Turning 24

October is my birthday month, and this year that means turning 24. I absolutely love birthdays, what's not to love about cake for breakfast, celebrating with family and overeating at your favourite restaurant?

Evie

It's amazing how having a pet can improve your home life, and since getting Evie in February not a day has gone by without her making me smile. From her constant need for attention to her manic moments, she really does brighten a dull day.

My home

We've recently took a bit of time to improve our home, and I feel really lucky to be living in a house that finally feels like us. Renting can be a pain as I have so many ideas swirling round in my head, but I need to remember how fortunate I am to be renting a house that I've been able to paint, get a kitten in, and is only a 15 minute walk from work.

2016 plans

As soon as it gets to Autumn I end up in major planning mode for the next year, and 2016 is already looking like it's going to be a good one. Flights to New York have been booked (squeal!), and plans are in motions for a summer break to Croatia, as well as possibly nipping over to Copenhagen, all of which make me one happy Dan!

What reasons do you have to smile?

*This post was a collaboration with The Centre for Advanced Dentistry