Evening dinner in the garden

The weather recently has been glorious. There is something about sunshine that really lifts the mood making you feel happy. There is nothing nicer than enjoying a relaxing evening dinner in the garden on a hot day. The sun is still warm enough to be nice but not so hot that it is unbearable. If you are still you might get a chance to practice your wildlife photography. We had blue tits nesting in a box at the end of the garden and blackbirds nesting in our tree. They have hatched now but the baby blackbird is still expecting his mother to feed him. I managed to capture the baby waiting hopefully for his mother. It is funny watching how he keeps an eye on where mum has gone, waiting expectantly for a worm. Quite happy to fly but not to fend for himself.BlackbirdHot days often take the edge off hunger. Meals need to be filled with taste and flavour rather than be filling. For our evening dinner in the garden I decided to bake some tuna steaks. Cooked long enough to be cooked though but still juicy and full of flavour they made the perfect dish. I served them with some salsa and some coleslaw mixed with a little chopotle paste for added flavour. I love a sauce on my tuna and I had plenty of apple and mango sauce left over from topping corn cakes. I added some chilli flakes to this to add a bit of zest and poured it over the top of the tuna.

Tuna with apple and mango sauceAll the parts of the meal were simple to make and did not involve much cooking. The apple and mango sauce was prepared by peeling and coring the apples covering with enough water just to cover them. This was simmered until the apples turned to much. Stir in some mashed mangoes and add chilli flakes to taste. This can be served hot or cold, I opted for cold as it was more refreshing. The tuna is just baked until cooked. To prepare the coleslaw and salsa the ingredients just need to be chopped. Perfect for a hot day as you do not need to spend hours in a hot kitchen.

Tuna with apple mango sauceThere is nothing nicer than having a glass of wine in the sunshine with a lovely meal. Luckily I had some i heart Pinot Grigio chilling in the fridge. It’s light crisp taste with a hint of citrus made the perfect accompaniment to the tuna. The i heart  wine range have just introduced a limited edition range for the summer with a pretty label which is a pleasure to look at while you have a glass.

I heart wine

There was plenty in the bottle so we were able to sit in the sunshine and enjoy a couple of glasses, relaxing as the evening got cooler and the birds started singing in the trees. The dog lazed in the sunshine, springing up from time to time to patrol the garden. A noise from the tree threw him into a barking frenzy until he decided it was too hot to bother and lay down again.

I heart winesI hope these long summer days stay warm for a while longer so we can enjoy more long lazy evenings in the garden. If it stays nice like this next time I will bring out the barbecue and let my husband and son cook while I enjoy sitting in a deck chair.

I was sent the wine in return for an honest review, my opinions are my own.

Joining in with the kitchen clearour linky on Madhouse Family Reviews as I used up the rest of my apple mango sauce.

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Having a pizza party

I love pizza. I would be quite happy eating pizza every day if I had the option. I could have a different topping each day of the week and never get bored. I think my addiction to pizza started as a child. In the seventies my parents took me to America and we went on a trip across a number of different states. My dad had a conference in Tennessee and to get there we drove across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and into North and South Carolina. The whole atmosphere of America in those days was a complete contrast to that of Belfast in the seventies. There were drive in movies, motels with ice machines and when eating in restaurants there just seemed to be so much more food. Life just seemed so much more relaxed.

When we reached Tennessee we were staying in an apartment. It had an outdoor pool which we loved to visit every day. One day we went down to find it was shut, snapping turtles had managed to get in and we watched fascinated as they were removed. The man who took them out of the water demonstrated the power of the snap to us by thrusting a stick at their jaws, which was quickly broken in half. As we were on holiday we chose simple options for eating. One day some of my dad’s friends visited and we had a pizza party. In those days pizza’s were simply not delivered in the UK and we were amazed when they arrived with boxes of large pizza’s that were cut into wedges. Being Americans they also bought along plenty of different salads and large packets of crisps (or chips as they call them). There were also large gherkins to place on the size of your plate. We all really enjoyed the meal.

Chicago town pizzasRecently Chicago Town sent me some of their new pizza snacks to try out which gave me an excuse to have a pizza party of my own. With lots of different varieties of pizza and a couple of salads, it was a a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and eat in the garden. My son was not sure which one to choose first when he saw the selection. I served them with a spicy couscous salad and a beetroot salad which worked perfectly. The Chicago town range of pizza snacks contains subs, small deep dish pizzas and a new pizza melt. There is something for everyone.  They are all ready in around 15 – 20 minutes when placed in a preheated oven so are ideal for a meal in a hurry.

Chicago town pizza

Chicago Town Pizza Sub

The Chicago Town pizza sub is served on a crispy sub base and comes with several different toppings. There is the Hawaiian consisting of ham and pineapple and the signature tomato sauce. For those more conservative with their pizza toppings there is the cheese and tomato sub. A mix of edam, red cheddar and mozzarella mixed with signature tomato sauce. If you are more of a meat fan then the Meat Supreme Sub is for you. Melted edam cheese, pepperoni, ham, mushrooms and red onion with the signature tomato sauce. We ytr

Chicago town sub

Chicago Town Deep Dish Pizza

I am not normally a fan of deep dish pizza but Chicago Town’s small deep dish pizza’s are different.  The base is dish shaped and holds lots more topping, rather than just having a thick base. This is much more tasty. There are several different flavours. The New Yorker which is full of pepperoni slices, red onions, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce which is ideal for meat fans. The chicken and bacon deep dish pizza is a combination of chicken breast, bacon, ham, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce which is just to my taste. Finally there is the pulled pork which is a blend of pulled pork and fried onion with barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese, ideal for those hot summer nights.

chciago town deep dish pizza

Chicago Town Pizza Melt

The pizza melt is a new idea, a pizza sandwich in a burger bun. It is rather novel, my son was quite impressed when he saw it. Place in the oven, sandwich the two halves together and enjoy. If you are like me and enjoy cold pizza it would also be great in a lunch box.

chicago town pizza meltThere are two flavours, the Meat Supreme Pizza Melt and the Pepperoni Pizza Melt. The Meat Supreme is topped with edam and cheddar cheese, pepperoni, smoky bacon, smoked ham and mushroom. The Pepperoni is a classic combination of edam and cheddar cheese with pepperoni and tomato sauce.
chicago town pizza

The pizza melt is a great idea and would be lovely as a side dish at a barbecue party. If you are looking for other side dishes to serve with your pizzas why not try a carrot and raisin salad

 photo CarrotSalad_zps8085110f.jpg

For a refreshing drink this apple, cucumber, elderflower and mint cocktail is ideal.
Apple Cucumber Elderflower and mint cocktail

Do you ever have a pizza party? What do you serve?

I was sent some vouchers to buy the pizza in return for an honest review.

Steak with peppercorn sauce

Steak is a special treat. It is one of those dishes that you order when you go out to a restaurant as a special treat. I don’t cook it at home very often, saving it for special occasions like an anniversary meal or Valentines day. We will also splash out when we have a barbecue as there is something really special about the taste of steak cooked over charcoal. When Donald Russell asked me if I would like to try their pave rump steaks I couldn’t really refuse. Donald Russell are a butcher based in Aberdeen, their steak is from naturally lean, outdoor reared, UK grass-fed beef and has been matured for a minimum of 35 days.

Rump steak with peppercorn sauce

The timing was ideal, I have been wondering about ordering from Donald Russell for a while but was unsure how well meat would travel through the post. I did not need to worry, the steak arrived on the day specified in an insulated box. The box contained dry ice packs to keep the meat cold and it worked really well. The steak arrived in the ideal condition. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and freezes at -78C so needs to be handled carefully. I remember it being used in the theatre when I was taking part in plays as a child to produce atmospheric clouds of vapour. The dry ice packs were easy to dispose of and not dangerous.

rump steaks

I decided I was going to make a peppercorn sauce to go with the steaks. I love peppercorn sauce, the flavour works to bring out the flavour of the steaks perfectly. It is easy to make as well, slightly similar to making a white sauce but with a couple of extra steps. The steak would be served with mushrooms, tomatoes and a side salad. For the men in the family I also did some chips, it is almost obligatory to have chips with steak.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

First I had to cook the steaks. I decided to fry them gently following the instructions on the Donald Russell website. They are very precise in their instructions, the steaks should not be overcooked. They need to rest for twenty minutes to come up to room temperature before cooking and after cooking left for ten minutes to rest. This allows the juice to move through the meat bringing out the full flavour.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

It was definitely worth the effort, the steaks were delicious. Full of flavour, every mouthful was a delight. The steaks would make a perfect addition to a Summer barbecue, wowing guests with their taste.
I was also pleased with my peppercorn sauce. It had just the right amount of pepper and cream to complement the flavour of the steak. It had been worth tracking down green peppercorns in brine to make the sauce, which was not easy.

Perppercorn sauce

The sauce is made by simmering the peppercorns in butter then adding wine and beef stock. This is allowed to reduce and then cream is added. A little flour is used to thicken the sauce and in no time you have the perfect accompaniment to the steak.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

Peppercorn sauce recipe

Peppercorn sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 15g butter
  2. 230ml beef stock
  3. 3 tbsp green peppercorns
  4. 2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  5. 30ml red wine
  6. 30ml cream
  7. sea salt, to taste
  8. 3 tsp cornflower
  9. 2 tsp cold water
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in pan over a medium heat
  2. Add the green and black peppercorns and stir.
  3. Add the wine and the stock, bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for five minutes until reduced.
  5. Add the cream and cook for five minutes until thickened
  6. Mix the cornflour with the water and add to the sauce.
  7. Stir for another couple of minutes until the sauce thickens
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/

I would definitely use Donald Russell again, the steak was lovely and tasty and the delivery was straight forward. The meal was a definite treat which the whole family enjoyed.

rump steak in peppercorn sauce

I was sent the steak in return for an honest review.

Link up your recipe of the week

Create a pizza legend with Dominos

Friday night, a great excuse for a takeaway. How do you fancy creating your own pizza legend by choosing your own toppings and getting the chance to win it free for a year? Dominos are giving you the chance to do just that with their new create your pizza legend hub. Intrigued by the idea of creating a pizza with added fairy dust I gave it a go.

Dominos pizza legendsThe creator hub is really simple to use, click on the create your legend option and you can create your own pizza. First choose from six types of crust like thin and crispy, stuffed or Italian style. At this stage you also choose the size of your pizza, large or medium. Next choose the type of sauce you want on your pizza, tomato, bbq, sundried tomato and garlic or tikka. Then fun then starts after you add your cheese, you get to choose from a large range of toppings. Up to nine toppings can be added to create your perfect pizza. You can then add the extra ingredients like magic or soul to make a unique pizza legend. Once you have chosen the moment you are going to eat your pizza you can add it to the pizza legends gallery for the chance to win. Of course you can order your pizza as well and you get a discount code if you do this.

Pizza legend

As my family were hungry and they are lovers of meat I decided to create a pizza called Feed the Dragons. I chose a BBQ stuffed crust and added

  • Red onions
  • Cumberland Sausage
  • Smoked Bacon Rashers
  • Tomato
  • Chicken breast strips
  • Dominos herbs
  • Extra mozzarella cheese
  • Pork meatballs

The pizza also had a little magic and stardust as an added extra treat. I then waited for delivery to see how it would turn out. While waiting I created some salsa and coleslaw to serve with the pizza. I made these as part of my Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo and I knew they would make the perfect sides.  My son was impatient and kept asking how long it would take, but within half an hour the pizza arrived.

Pizza legendWhat do you think of my creation? Do you think it is the perfect pizza to feed dragons? I have to say it was very tasty and my son was quite happy to get stuck in. If you want to try my pizza you can order it online using the Pizza Legend ID: FEEDTHEDRAGONS

Pizza legendIt is lovely to have pizza as a special treat and I liked the way I could customise the pizza myself. It makes ordering a takeaway a little bit more special. Will you be having a takeaway tonight? What would you add to make the perfect pizza?

I was given some credit to create my pizza and try out the service but the opinions are my own.

Degustabox – April 2015

Degustabox is a food subscription box. For £12.99 a month you receive a box  packed full of food and drink items worth more than the subscription. There are usually between 9 and 14 items in the box, many are new to the market. It is a great way to find out about new products. There is something exciting about receiving a Degustabox and opening it to find out what is inside. I last tried Degustabox in November and was happy to try this months box. The Degustabox  April 2015 has an international food theme with products from different countries.

Nandos Peri Peri Grooves

Opening the box I found three packs of Nandos peri peri grooves nestled at the top.These are ridge cut crisps based on the Nandos peri peri chicken range.  There were three flavours, peri peri sizzling hot, peri salted and spicy chicken.  The peri salted is a new addition to the range which also includes smoky barbecue. They were really tasty and went perfectly with the dips I made for my Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo.

Nandos crispsKinder

Everyone loves chocolate and I found two bags of Kinder chocolates in the box. Kinder chocolate with cereals are mini bars of chocolate with a milky filling and added crunch from five different cereals. Kinder Choco-bons are round balls filled with a creamy milk centre and a hint of hazelnut. Once you start eating these it is nearly impossible to stop.

Kinder chocolateBarry’s Tea

If you know me you will know that I am a bit of a tea addict. A box of Barry’s tea was a welcome find in the box. Barry’s tea is made in Ireland and makes a very tasty cuppa.

Barry's teaCirio

Tins of tomatoes and tomato purée are one of the things I always have in my kitchen cupboard. They are useful for so many dishes from spaghetti bolognese, to stews and curries. I love these little pots of tomato purée, they are just the right size. I am intrigued by the tomato fillets and will be trying these soon.

CirioVeetee

I really like this microwaveable rice from Veetee. It is ready in two minutes and one box is enough for two people when served with a main course. There were two flavours, spicy mexican style and peri peri rice.

 

Veetee rice

Schwartz

There were two packets of the new Schwartz authentic curry range, Balti and Korma. I have never perfected the art of making a curry from scratch so these will be very useful.

Schwartz

Debeukelaer Cookies Bakery

When I first saw the box for Debeukelear Cookies Bakery I thought that it was a packet of cookie mix. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and found it contained four individually wrapped cookies. The biscuits are inspired by traditional family bakeries in Greenwich Village, New York and they are gorgeous. These are creamy cookie but they also come in brownie cookie and crispy cookie.

Degustabox-April-2015-15I shall tantalise you by showing you a close up photo, they are lovely large biscuits and I love the newspaper style wrapping they come in.

Degustabox-April-2015-16As well as food products there were a range of different drink products in the Degustabox.

IdrinQ

This is a new generation drink that is meant to help you think smarter and bring things into focus. It contains amino acids and B vitamins that may have become depleted in the body to enable this to happen. It has an interesting taste, almost cherry in flavour.

IdrinQ

Scheckters

Scheckters organic energy drink is a 100% natural energy drink with no artificial ingredients. It provides an energy boost without an energy crash using a blend of natural ingredients. It has a lovely taste as well, I could taste lemon and pomegranate in the drink.

Scheckters

When you order your degustabox you can specify if you would like a version that contains alcohol or a version that does not.  The final product in the box will depend on your choice.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher beer is India’s best selling beer and a bottle of this is included in the degustabox with alcohol. It is a refreshing beer that will go perfectly with a curry.

KingfisherChosan

In the non alcohol box there is bottle of wonjo hibiscus juice. This is inspired by recipes from South Africa and is a lovely refreshing drink for a warm. day.wonjo

I was really pleased with the selection of products in the box and have found some new things that I will be looking out for when I go shopping.

Discount Code

If you are interested in trying a Degustabox yourself I have a discount coupon code which will give you a £3.00 discount off your first box when registering. The code is: W21TR

 You can find more information and order your Degustabox on their website:

 I was sent a Degustabox in return for an honest review.