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Photo: BBC

This post really needs no introduction. I’m obsessed, you’re obsessed and it’s the last ever one with Mary, Mel and Sue. We need to treasure every moment. 

1. Mary Berry reminds us all of our grandma. Just watching her takes you back to your childhood baking fairy cakes and spilling flour all over the floor.

2. But you also feel like you finally understand that secret naughty adult language. Remember all those jokes your older relatives laughed at that you didn’t get? Well now you do.


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3. Mel and Sue are the cheerleaders we all want to have on our team. Imagine having miniature versions of them to take to work with you every day.

4. Paul Hollywood is just like a pantomime villain. But secretly we just want to give him a hug.

5. With Selasi and Benjamina on board, baking is finally cool and their friendship is just adorable.

6. And Candice might just be the sassiest baker ever (see below Twitter post for evidence). And she seriously makes us want to up our lipstick collection too.

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7. Us Brits love an underdog and Andrew is the cutest one of all.

8. And don’t get me started on how much of a babe Jane is ❤️

9. Bake Off gives you an excuse to buy baked goods on the way home from work. No one can tune in without a cake in their hand, that’s just cruel.

10. And whilst this year might have made you doubt the sanity of the world and the British people, the outcry Bake Off’s channel move caused shows there’s a cause we can all get behind.

11. It’s never all bad, even if *shock horror* it’s all gone wrong and you drop your cake on the floor. Someone will always be there with a hug and Mary will find something nice to say.

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12. It feels good at the end of a long Wednesday to get home, know you’re over hump day and get stressed about cake. Because really in life, what’s more frustrating than a soggy bottom?

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Before I headed off on my Italian adventure (blog post to come soon), I was invited to sample the new summer menu at Prezzo London. And I thought what better way to kick off a trip to Italy than with some brilliant British Italian food? You can never have too much pizza or pasta!

So me and the boyfriend headed to the gorgeous Prezzo restaurant on St Martin’s Lane. It’s not an area of London I’ve explored all that much but it was bustling on a warm June evening (I promise we have had a couple!), with live opera down the road and all Londoners seemingly in a good mood. The lovely waiter welcomed us to our table with a view out over the National Portrait Gallery and The British Museum. She didn’t even complain that I was 15 minutes late – after some last minute holiday shopping and a disastrous eyebrow wax appointment due to a terribly-timed power cut. We kicked off with some cocktails – a Porn Star Martini for him and an Amaretto Sour for me. The boyfriend didn’t realise quite how girly his cocktail would be but it did make us laugh when it arrived. We chatted about all our exciting plans for our holiday to Sorrento – we could catch a boat to Capri? What would Pompeii be like? It was the perfect way to kick off a Thursday evening in the sunshine.

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When we’d finally shut up and got around to ordering food, we decided to sample the new summer menu. To start we opted for a Superfood Bean and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta. This is a lovely lighter option if you love a bruschetta but want some extra goodness – I really felt like I was getting some vitamins into my body. And it’s so nice to see something different from the usual garlic bread and proscuitto on the starter’s menu. I’m obsessed with goat’s cheese at the moment so the amount of it I saw definitely made me smile! Over starters and cocktails, we did some people watching – one of our favourite activities. We noticed there were a few people staring at us for taking so many photos and delaying our own eating! But other than that everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening and their food, chatting excitedly with their friends or partners and making plans.

Next for main I went for a roasted red pepper and goats cheese pizza – see I told you I was obsessed with goats cheese! It was nothing like any pizza I’d had before because they’d switched the normal tomato base for roasted red pepper tapenade. And it was seriously yummy. The boyfriend went for a light pizza and I have to say I felt a bit jealous – I couldn’t finish mine but he had a smaller flatbread one with salad on the side. I think I’d go for that if I went again. Whilst eating we both got chatting about why Italian food is just so great, I definitely think it’s my favourite type of cuisine and I guess it’s partly because it’s so good for a vegetarian diet. Also because I’m obsessed with bread, cheese and tomato – and quite often they’re the essential ingredients!

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After all that food we were really stuffed but I spotted a veggie Panna cotta on the dessert menu and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those before – so often they have gelatine in. So I went for a mini Panna Cotta with a Nutella hot chocolate on the side. It was definitely the best thing to finish on, so creamy and light so it squeezed in easily. I also tried a bit of the boyfriends mini vanilla cheese cake with salted caramel sauce. It’s never something I’d pick – everyone laughs at me because I always go for the fruity on a dessert menu. But boy was it good, I’d go as far as to say it was the best cheesecake I’d ever had. So I obviously ended up eating half of that too!

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We had the best time sitting in the bustling centre of London trying out some amazing food, I’d definitely recommend going down there and trying it all out on a summer’s evening (if they ever return to the UK!) It also got my stomach stretched perfectly, ready for the ridiculous amount of bread and pasta I would eat on my holiday to Italy so thank you Prezzo!

 

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My lunchtime staple is soup, I’m teased at work for how often I eat it. I just love a warm lunch to keep me going in the middle of the day and soup and bread really fills me up. Also it’s so easy and cheap to take into work, you can often get a 2 for £2 deal so half a carton of soup and a roll ends up costing me less than £5 for the whole week. And I can grab them all in 5 minutes in the supermarket on a Monday morning. Easy! But in the summer, I really have to switch things around a bit. It does feel a bit silly to eat hot soup on a sunny day (even if we haven’t had many of those recently). So I’ve been trying to get organised and I’ve been bulk buying the ingredients to batch make this salad for the week. It’s really yummy, really fills me up, is veggie and actually quite easy to make too. Thanks must go to Waitrose, who’s recipe I based this on. Here’s how you do it:

You will need (for five week day lunches worth):

For the dressing…

3 tbsp light olive oil

1.5 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar (or really any sort of vinegar works – even malt!)

1.5 tbsp light brown soft sugar

1.5 tbsp light soy sauce

1.5 tsp finely grated fresh root ginger (or more if you like a bit of heat like me)

For the salad…

2 courgettes

4 large carrots (peeled)

75g salted roasted nuts (I like peanuts, but the original recipe suggests cashews)

350g halloumi, sliced into bite-sized chunks

Mixed leaves – I usually go for a rocket and spinach mix because I like them best but it’s completely up to you…

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How you make it:

Mix together all the dressing ingredients and set to one side in a clear bowl.

Strip the courgette and carrots – I use a peeler for this (because I don’t have a fancy machine) but be really careful when you get to the end of the vegetable, I’ve cut myself one too many times!

Toast the nuts on a low heat in a pan – they don’t take long (notice mine burnt a little in the photo!)

Grill the halloumi chunks for about 3 minutes on each side.

Wash the leaves and place them on the plate (or in a tupperware pot if you’re making it for lunch the next day). Top with the courgette and carrot strips, then the nuts, and halloumi.

Drizzle your dressing all over – a little goes a long way.

If you’re planning to store for the rest of the week, put the dressing in a pot and drizzle on just before you eat. Everything can be stored just fine in the fridge so you won’t have anything to do in the morning except put it in a tupperware pot.

Enjoy!

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Ah it feels like an age ago now that I had a whole weekend to explore Lake Geneva and everything around it. In fact it was only two weeks ago, and one of my favourite weekend breaks ever. I just loved the easy-going nature of everyone in Switzerland and the changing landscapes of the lakes, the mountains and the city all together as one.

This post is a bit of an essay with a million photos so grab a cup of tea and get comfy, to find out exactly what I got up to.

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It all started when we arrived in our castle hotel in Lausanne, about 20 minutes by train from Geneva airport. It was the most beautiful day so we immediately headed outside to enjoy the sunshine and explore the lake.

There’s a gorgeous playground lakeside in Lausanne and it was very busy, with families playing on the giant chess boards, couples eating picnics on the rocks and children eating ice cream. We joined them and got a pre-dinner pudding of sorbet. It was my birthday, so if there’s any day you can have dessert before dinner, surely that’s it? We were happy to just sit and admire the amazing views. I’ve never been somewhere quite like it – with the snow on the mountain tops reflecting with the sun in the lake.

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After the sun went down and it started to get a bit chilly, we headed out for some pizza at PZ Pizza. It was super casual, but that’s much more me than a fancy restaurant. And the concept of the place was pretty cool too, you pick your base and all your toppings, a bit like a create your own. We finished the evening wandering through the town centre where a fair was going on. I found the whole thing a little overwhelming though, there was so many people! So we ended up heading back to the hotel for a snuggle and a catch up on MasterChef. Does anyone else do this when they’re away or is it just me?

Saturday was a day for exploring and we headed up to the Alps. The weather was pretty terrible, not rainy but cloudy and foggy – and even the man in the train station thought we were a bit mad to be heading higher into the clouds. After catching two trains, on the third and final one it was just us and the driver! It was a cute little mountainside train and we seemed to be climbing at quite a height. The views over the lake and the mountains were incredible, and as it turned out the best we would see that day.

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When we eventually arrived at a tiny train station, the heavens had opened and we were the only people for miles around. We were actually pretty scared when the train left, and we realised we were completely alone on the mountainside for a whole hour until it returned. But we spent the hour exploring, even though we could barely even see the hands in front of our faces! We spotted a log cabin in the distance at one point and it genuinely felt like something out of a horror movie, just waiting for the Abominable Snowman to appear! The picture below shows the boyfriend metres in front of my face and the views we were meant to be seeing. Can you believe how foggy it is?

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We gave up as snow began to fall and retired to a tiny cafe – again we were the only people there. We couldn’t see a thing over the hillside but in a way it was pretty magical, especially with the snowfall. We finally decided to catch the train back down, again all alone with the driver and laughing about how little we’d seen. It wasn’t quite what we planned but I think that made it even more memorable.

That evening, for dinner we headed to the best restaurant I think I’ve ever been to. It was called Eat Me, a tapas bar with dishes from all around the world. The menu was split into each continent with dishes listed from that area and you could pick a selection from each. The boyfriend had mini burgers from America and a spicy dish from Asia, and I had a hummus plate from Africa and a pasta dish from Europe. We also selected cocktails from the Caribbean and a chocolate pudding from America. It was such an interesting idea for a restaurant and one I am desperately hoping comes to London soon.

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Sunday was a day spent exploring the town of Lausanne, we visited the art gallery (and accidentally didn’t pay, although you’re supposed to!), the cathedral and the Old Town. I even roped the boyfriend into taking some photos of me (which you’ll see in a later post). On Sunday night we almost missed dinner as we didn’t realise everywhere closed in Switzerland so early on a Sunday, but we eventually found a cute little restaurant with posters of American TV shows all over the walls – there was Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and all sorts. I must mention that the metro was an absolute dream in Lausanne, it got us everywhere and we got a free travel card for paying the obligatory City Tax with our hotel room. We didn’t need to catch one taxi and barely needed to walk either.

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I’ve been writing forever so I must tell you quickly about Monday. We headed into Geneva city for our final day and it was absolutely beautiful. The lake which runs through the centre of the city is so clear, it reminded me of the Croatian sea. And I couldn’t help but think back to our murky Thames. We didn’t have much time til our flight so we ran round and explored as much of the city as possible, I’d love to go back and find out more. After that, there was time for a quick dash to stock up on Swiss chocolate for all our family and friends, and then time to head home.

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Thank you for making it to the bottom of this post, it’s probably my longest ever! Geneva is undoubtedly the most expensive place I’ve ever been, it is eye-poppingly expensive at times. But if you do it as cheaply as possible (we bought croissants and orange juice every day from the supermarket and snuck them into our room for breakfast!) then you can just about manage. And it is truly beautiful, unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen before. I would 100% recommend it for a weekend break.

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This weekend is my favourite, an excuse to be lazy and eat a ridiculous amount of chocolate. But if you’ve received a million eggs (or maybe accidentally bought them for yourself!) and you’ve got a little bit sick of them, then maybe this recipe is for you. It’s chocolatey and brilliant but will use up all those left over eggs. That way you can pretend you didn’t eat them all and you can be healthy again. Or you could just buy some more? Completely up to you! Basically these are the most chocolaty, Easter-themed yummy brownies I’ve ever made and I’m so glad I invented them. Let me know if you bake them too! I guarantee they will put a smile on your face, and all your family and friends too.

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What you’ll need:
300g of a selection of mini Easter eggs, I used Mini Eggs, Cadbury Dairy Milk Eggs and Kinder Mini Eggs but you can use whatever you like, Creme Eggs and Galaxy Eggs would work too, although I would only use one lot of eggs with a crisp shell.
200g plain chocolate (can be cooking or normal)
100g Cadbury milk chocolate (you can use other brands but this is my favourite!)
250g butter
300g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
175g plain flour

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This recipe will make about 20 brownies, depending on how big you like yours to be!

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and unwrap all your eggs if they need unwrapping!
Now for the fun bit, melt the chocolate (not the Easter eggs!), butter and brown sugar slowly in a saucepan.
Leave it to cool and then beat in the 4  eggs. Stir in the flour.
Grease two tins and then pour half the mixture over the bottom of the tins – this only needs to be a really thin layer.
Arrange half the Easter eggs on top of the mixture, then pour the rest of the mixture on top.
Finally place the rest of the eggs on the top of the mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

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These brownies are pure heaven, enjoy with a cup of tea and a great film over this bank holiday weekend.