Crunchy Chickpeas

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I’m on a bit more of a health kick than usual eating consciously and trying to ensure that everything I put in my body has some decent nutritional value. I still enjoy the occasional snack though but obviously have been looking for healthier alternatives. These are perfect if you fancy the crunch and savoury flavour of crisps but without the guilt. They’re incredibly simple too.

You’ll need a can of chickpeas and flavourings of your choice. I used onion granules, garlic powder, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and a teaspoon of olive oil.

Drain and rinse the peas before drying well on kitchen roll.

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Remove the kitchen roll and add the flavouring of your choice plus a teaspoon of olive oil.

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Spread out in a single layer on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray and bake at 180oC until crispy shaking the tray occasionally to move them around. It’ll probably take between 30-40 minutes.

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After 30-40 mins they should look something like this:

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Enjoy! Oh, and these are great for little ones too!

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If you like these you’ll probably enjoy my Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds too.

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Slow roasted herby cherry tomatoes

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I’ve had a little bowl of beautiful cherry and vine tomatoes ripening nicely on the kitchen windowsill for a few days (they taste so much better when they’re not kept in the fridge), and have been looking forward to their deliciously flavoursome fate.

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By slow roasting them on a low heat with a few simple ingredients they’re elevated to a new herby, sweet, caramelised level.

Firstly take a bunch of fresh herbs. I used basil, thyme and rosemary from the garden as well as a couple of bay leaves from our enormous bay tree.

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I love the beautiful, delicate little thyme flowers that appear this time of year. Gorgeous and edible too!

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Very finely chop the herbs, leaving the bay leaves whole though, and put them in a bowl with the halved tomatoes and some crushed garlic. Drizzle with olive oil (I used extra virgin for added flavour and because the oven is set to a low temp).

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Place cut side up on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake at 130oC for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until they’re sticky, and starting to darken around the edges.

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They’ll come out beautifully sweet, slightly charred and caramelised, and have an incredible depth of flavour.

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Throw them on practically anything, if they last long enough… My three year old demolished half of them within ten minutes of them coming out of the oven! I had a few on my Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup for lunch, and Phoebe had some in her anchovy, olive and pea spaghetti for dinner, which she wolfed down! A hit all round I’d say. Enjoy!

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Dimple’s Decadent Mint Chocolate Brownies

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I recently discovered the most amazing food blog, Shivaay Delights. Dimple has been following me for a while,  but I only got around to checking out her blog recently and I’m kicking myself I didn’t do it sooner. Her recipes are inspired, and I couldn’t resist trying out these Decadent Mint Chocolate Brownies for an afternoon tea party today.

They’re everything you’d want a chocolate brownie to be… moist, gooey and rich, but with the added surprise of a welcome refreshing, almost palette  cleansing property, given by the addition of fresh mint. They are truly sublime and delightfully straight forward to make. I added a swirl of chocolate buttercream and a fresh mint leaf from the garden, to let my guests know they were mint chocolate. Enjoy the pics, and be sure to check out Dimple’s blog here.

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Pretty Ice Bowl

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It could be argued that this borders on the ridiculous and is utterly impractical, but I don’t give a hoot because it is incredibly beautiful, incredibly wintery and perfect for a Christmas drinks party. 

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With water, two Pyrex bowls and whatever fruits, herbs and spices you have to hand you can create a very unique centrepiece that is sure to be a talking point with all your guests.
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In the larger bowl put about half an inch of water in along with a few of the decorations, then pop in the freezer.
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When that has set, put the smaller bowl on top of the now frozen half inch of water, add a few more decorations and another inch or do of water. Freeze.
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Repeat this process until you’ve reached the top of the larger bowl, bearing mind most of the decorations will float. In short you get the best effect if you have more layers so the time it takes is worth it in the end. This is what you’ll end up with.
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Now it’s time to remove the bowls. Fill the small one with warm, but not hot, water and leave to stand for a couple of minutes. It should just lift out.
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Then flip the large bowl over and place in the sink. Running warm water over it should release it.
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Et voila! A beautiful ice bowl!
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Pop it back the freezer for a while as all that warm water will have started to melt it.

You could use this for all sorts of things. Keeping scoops of ice cream cold on a dinner table or keeping a fruit salad fresh are just two ideas. On a cold winters day you could put it outside your front door with a tealight (supported by by some cranberries) in, like so:
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I think I’ll be using this as an ice bucket on christmas day though.
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Pretty! Just make sure you put a saucer underneath it to catch the drops when it starts to melt.

Herby butter to smoother on the turkey.

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Turkey is a pretty bland meat, so to help our Christmas bird along a bit I’ve made a herb butter to spread underneath it’s skin. Putting it under the skin helps the flavours really permeate the flesh and keep the breasts extra moist.

It is so simple to make…
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Herbs of your choice (I used rosemary and thyme from the garden, and some fresh sage too), salt, pepper and garlic to give it an extra kick if you fancy it.

Finely chop the herbs.
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Soften the butter in a bowl and add the herbs before mixing thoroughly.
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Dollop the mixture onto some greaseproof paper and shape into a sausage.
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Roll up.
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This can be frozen or stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It’s also great with steak, fish, spread on bruschetta.