Thursday, 30 March 2017

How To Make Your Kitchen As Efficient As Possible

When you’re a busy parent – or simply just busy – you want to come home to a place that is neat, tidy and organised. Your kitchen is one of those places that has to stay tidy in order to stay organised, or chaos reigns. Those with large kitchens may find they love the space but hate the amount of countertop space they have to leave things lying around on. Those with a smaller kitchen always have to cram everything into the little space they have. Either way, your kitchen needs to be more efficient to run correctly!

It’s not just about making the space you have work for you. Having an efficient kitchen means having one that isn’t wasting energy and is environmentally friendly. It’s bringing nature inside with some plants to make the air feel clearer. It’s installing solar panelling to run your laundry practices so you are using the power of the sun to clean clothes. Above all, it’s getting a Selectra energy comparison to make sure you’re paying what you should be for your bills, rather than paying over the odds for energy you aren’t using. With a little remodelling, you could be enjoying a newly efficient kitchen that works for you, so check out our tips below:

  1. Doubling up your oven or sink space may seem like a lot of expansion for nothing, but you could be making a lot less work for yourself. Two ovens mean that one is used for cooking and the other could be keeping plates and food warm. Two sinks mean you have one used for chopping and preparing vegetables and the other for dishes. It’s going to make your whole kitchen more efficient – if you have the space.

  2. We all love to walk into the local shops and buy the latest kitchen gadget. Or those glittery saucepans. Or an apple cutter in the shape of an apple. The trouble is we aren’t being efficient with our space if we are cramming every single kitschy kitchen gadget into every corner of the room. Strip out your kitchen and donate to charity what you don’t use. If you haven’t used it within the last six months, you don’t need it!

  3. It’s a long-fought battle, the gas vs electric stove top debate. Gas may offer you instant heat and the ability to control the temperature as you cook, but many electric stove tops offer induction elements, which cook faster. Electric stove tops are also a healthier option as you are at less of a risk of a gas leak!

  4. If you are a fan of a cup of tea, ditch your electric kettle. The number of times you switch to boiling it over the course of the day adds up. Warming a stove top kettle is easier and the water stays warmer for longer. Investing in a good teapot and cosy will also have the same effect, so go back to basics with your hot drinks.
A green kitchen is more than just the food, it’s ensuring you’re optimising your space and your energy output for the most efficient kitchen you could want.

This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Top Uprades For A More Comfortable Bathroom

Many of us put a lot of time and effort into making our homes more comfortable. Usually, two rooms are the main focus of this: the bedroom and the living room. We tend to pile them high with cushions, comfortable bedding, and other soft furnishings in an effort to make them as cosy as can be. But why just focus on these two rooms when bringing the comfort factor to your home? 

The room that perhaps is used the most by you and your family alike is the bathroom, but despite this, we don't normally put much effort into making our bathrooms comfort hotspots. Doing so, however, can completely transform your bathing experience, and take your dingy bathroom from drab to fab. Here are a few upgrades you may want to consider making to make your bathroom a place of comfort.

Image source


We're all used to getting out of the shower on a cold winter's morning, shivering as we wrap ourselves in our towel. This is unfortunately just something many of us have to deal with, especially if we need to get up early for work before the heating has even come on. But if you are still getting out of your shower into a cold bathroom even when winter has passed, you could have a problem! Bathrooms typically have small windows (which may be frosted) meaning that we don't often get a great deal of natural light in there. This can mean that our bathrooms can be dark and cold - not very nice when you've just emerged from a steaming hot shower! To solve this problem, consider installing some high quality bathroom radiators. How big you choose to go depends on the size of your bathroom, but bear in mind that you will probably only have room for one radiator in there, so make it count!

Image source

A fan

Another thing that can make your bathroom annoyingly dingy and damp is the lack of a good ventilation system. Sure, opening the window after a shower can get the air flowing in there again, but for those occasions where you don't want to let natural air in (in winter, for example) a fan system can be your best friend. Many extractor fans are now being stylishly designed, so you don't even need to worry about them ruining the aesthetic of your fancy bathroom. Be prepared to say goodbye to damp and mold forever!

Image source

Bath and shower mats

Even with good ventilation, a slippery floor is something nearly every
bathroom sports at some point. Usually caused by splash back from the shower, it can pose a surprisingly serious health risk. A poll of over 1800 people revealed that 19% of those asked had injured themselves slipping over in their bathroom, with many of them suffering broken bones and even concussion!! To make sure you're not walking on tenterhooks around your bathroom, line the base of your bath with a plastic mat. This will act as an anchor to stop you slipping around, and use either a wooden or fabric mat on the floor just below your shower or bath. It is much nice than stepping onto a wet floor, and the mats can add a splash of colour to your bathroom too.

This is a sponsored post.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Baking with Beasts: Apple Strudel & Niffler Bread Recipes inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

On Wednesday I was invited to London to get my bake on with the lovely Andrew Smyth of Bake Off fame - Andrew was a finalist in the 2016 series of The Great British Bake Off and for this particular project he'd invited us down to London to have a go at re-creating two of his very own rather magical recipes inspired by the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is released on DVD today. 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them DVD release
On arrival I was introduced to the lovely Andrew, and the other bloggers and You Tubers who were taking part. We were very kindly each given our own Newt Scamander wand, and a copy of the DVD to take home with us - the wand was on hand in case we needed a little magical assistance during our time in the kitchen. 

#FantasticBeasts baking with Andrew Smyth

Andrew had created two rather spectacular recipes inspired by the film, which centres around various magical creatures and beasts from the Harry Potter universe: most famous of all the beasts from the movie is The Niffler and clever Andrew taught us how to re-create this little beast in dough form.

Mrs Bishop being photobombed by Andrew Smyth
Wands at the ready!

Mrs Bishop Baking with Beasts
Getting to grips with the recipe cards

Firstly, we made the dough for our cheeky little Niffler breads, as it would need time to rise (about an hour). We teamed up to use the food mixers to knead our dough for us - I got to work with the quite frankly hilarious Joel Watts from UNILAD who it's fair to say had limited baking experience! I like to think I taught him a thing or two! *Wink, wink*

Mrs Bishop and Joel Watts baking together

Next we got stuck into making our apple strudels inspired by a scene from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. 

Here's the full recipe if you'd like to give it a try...

Apple Strudel Recipe by Andrew Smyth


For the filling:
4 granny smith apples
90g sultanas
1 tsp ground sweet cinnamon
Zest of ½ a lemon
20ml calvados brandy
40g light brown soft sugar
40g caster sugar

For the pastry:
20 sheets shop-bought filo pastry 
70g melted butter

Whipped cream to serve (optional)


1.Preheat the oven to fan 190C.

2.For the filling, carefully peel the apples in a single peel. We’ll use these later to form the apple roses which sit on top of the strudel. Set these peelings to one side in a bowl of cold water. Core and slice the apples into wedges and mix in a bowl with the sultanas, cinnamon, lemon zest, calvados and sugars. Stir to combine and set aside.

3.Open up the filo pastry packs and set the filo sheets in between 2 damp tea towels to keep them from drying out before we use them. Melt the butter in a small bowl.

4.On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, lie down 2 sheets of filo beside each other, with their longest sides slightly overlapping. Use a pastry brush to brush over a thin layer of melted butter, then add 2 more sheets on top of these 2. Repeat this process until you have 5-6 stacked layers of filo.

5.Scoop the filling onto one of the shorter sides of the larger filo rectangle, around 5 cm from the edge. Use the greaseproof paper underneath to roll the filling up inside the filo (like a swiss roll) until the seam is on the underneath of the strudel. Neatly tuck in the ends of the roll and transfer to a lined baking tray.

6.For a filo braid decoration, take one sheet of filo and brush with butter. Roll it tightly up from one corner in the diagonal direction so you get a long thin roll of filo. Do this 3 times to make the 3 strands of a braid. Braid them together then drape over the strudel and tuck the edges underneath, trimming any excess. Repeat this for 2 more braids along the length of the strudel.

7.Roll 4 of the apple peels tightly up to form little rosettes and set 2 of these between each gap in the braids. Brush the entire strudel with melted butter then place in the middle of the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown.

Making apple peel roses
Making apple peel roses

I really enjoyed making the strudel - thankfully we didn't have to make our own filo pastry (which is notoriously impossible!) so it was a pretty straight-forward assembly job really. The filling smelled absolutely insane - a heady mix of calvados, sweet apples, cinnamon and lemon zest -YUM! 

heavenly apple strudel filling
Heavenly apple strudel filling 

For those who don't know or haven't used filo before - it is a super-delicate paper thin pastry, that contains no butter - so it's vital when using it that a) you work as swiftly as you can because it dries out very quickly, and B) you paint lots of melted butter between each layer that you use, to ensure it flakes nicely, and sticks together/seals where needed.

Mrs Bishop painting butter onto her filo sheets
This is my concentration face!

Once you've layered up your pastry and let you filling sit for a little while so the juices can begin to seep out of the apple and all the flavours can mix together it is just a case of spooning the mixture onto one end of your filo rectangle, and then carefully rolling it up - tucking in the ends as you go. 

Mrs Bishop and Andrew Smyth Baking with Beasts

Andrew Smyth making Apple Strudel

Mrs Bishop's glorious Apple Strudel filling
All ready to be rolled up tightly...

Mrs Bishop's Apple Strudel ready for baking
My glorious apple strudel all ready for the oven...

I was super-chuffed with how my strudel looked once assembled - and my goodness did it smell incredible as it baked in the oven! 

Mrs Bishop's freshly baked Apple Strudel
Golden and glorious! 

Of course, we just HAD to tuck in as soon as it came out of the oven - Andrew very kindly shared his strudel with us so that we could take ours home in tact to share with our families - thanks Andrew! 

It was absolutely delicious - and I *might* have gobbled up another giant slice at home with Liam that evening too! Well, you don't make a beautiful apple strudel every day, do you?

A warm slice of apple strudel and cream

The apple peel roses and filo braid decorations on our strudels were inspired by a scene in the movie where Newt feasts on a similar-looking was actually really nice to have a play with some new-to-me methods of prettying up filo bakes. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to baking, and if we'd had more time I'd have liked to have mastered the apple peel roses as mine left a lot to be desired! 

Tah dah! My finished strudel in all its glory. 

Once our strudels were out of the oven, it was time to get to work in creating little Nifflers out of our now beautifully proved sweet bread dough. 

Niffler Bread Recipe by Andrew Smyth


150ml semi-skimmed milk
1 ½ tbsp honey
10g melted butter
A little lemon zest
½ tsp dried yeast
260g very strong white bread flour
½ tsp fine salt
1 medium egg (for egg wash)
Vegetable Oil (for greasing)


1. Heat the milk and honey together in a microwave in a small bowl until warm to the touch. Melt the butter in the same way and add these liquid ingredients to a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer along with the finely grated lemon zest and dried yeast.

2. Mix together on a slow speed with the dough hook attachment then gradually add the salt and flour. The dough is meant to be stiff and should easily pull away from the edges of the bowl once the flour has been added. Increase to a medium speed and leave to mix for 5-7 minutes until the dough is springy and passes the “windowpane test”.

3. Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and form into a ball. Lightly oil the mixing bowl and put the dough back, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place or proving drawer for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

4. Once the first prove is done, tip your dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and punch it a few times to knock out excess air. Lightly knead a few times then split the dough into 2 equal portions. These will be our 2 Nifflers.

5. For each Niffler: Cut a piece off the dough just smaller than a golf ball that will form the head. Cut off 4 small marble-sized pieces that will be the claws on the hands and feet. Form the remaining dough into an oval around the size of the palm of your hand. Make a cut using kitchen scissors in the middle of the thin side around 5cm long. Spread the 2 legs apart. Squeeze the 4 claw pieces into a flattened small oval and cut 4 gaps at the end of each to form sharp claws. Press these onto the base body at the end of either leg and in hand positions. Roll the head into a ball then flatter one end into a tube to resemble a Niffler’s head. Poke 2 holes for eyes using a long skewer.

6. For each Niffler: On a lined baking tray, set an oiled 1 litre pyrex bowl round side up. Prop the body of the Niffler by the oiled bowl in a sitting position. Set the head alongside as we’ll attach it later on. Cover with lightly oiled cling film for 25 minutes.

7. Brush lightly with some beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until deep brown and it sounds hollow when knocked. Use a cocktail stick to connect the head to the body.

Mrs Bishop's Nifflers ready for baking
My dough Nifflers ready for baking

It was reminiscent of childhood days playing with Play-Doh and Plasticine as we shaped our dough into Niffler-like creations...a little fiddly but very fun indeed. 

After a short second prove, and a light egg wash they baked for around 25-30 minutes and came out golden and well, quite marvellous!  

Mrs Bishop's Niffler Bread
My little Niffler!

These little fellas tasted pretty magnificent - hints of sweet honey, lemon and uber soft in consistency - they reminded me of the iced buns of my childhood. Sliced and slathered with jam was perhaps my favourite way to eat them - they'd have been absolutely brilliant with lemon curd, or even a lemon icing drizzled over the top. 

You could easily adapt this recipe to make more traditional bun or finger bun shapes too - the dough is super versatile. 

Andrew Smyth with his Niffler Breads
Baking with a touch of magic! 

Mrs Bishop, Andrew Smyth and Niffler breads
Andrew and I holding our sweet little Niffler breads!

Three little Niffler breads

Andrew Smyth with his Niffler breads

I had such a fun morning and it was an absolute pleasure to bake with Andrew, he is just as warm, friendly, down-to-earth and approachable as I imagined him to be. 

Naturally, Liam and the kids were chuffed with my big box of bakes on my return. The kids devoured the Niffler breads, including my porky little 9 month old, Connie who was shoving it in my the fistful! Ha!  

Liam and I practically inhaled the apple strudel (we did share it with Liam's Mum & Stepdad too!) enjoying it warm with fresh pouring cream. DIVINE. 

Three Niffler breads with a magic wand

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them arrives on 4K ULTRA HD, 3D, BLU-RAY™, DVD AND VOD ON MARCH 27TH.

Friday, 24 March 2017

What was in our March / Easter Degustabox?

This month's Degustabox delivery was genuinely the best yet! Every single item in the Easter box was something we would genuinely choose to buy/try as a family - so we were pretty excited to get tasting! 

March Easter Degustabox contents

There was a fabulous treat-filled selection (I'd expect nothing less for an Easter box!) and genuinely something for all the grown up food eating people in the house (sorry Connie!). 

March Degustabox Contents:

Heinz [Seriously] Good Sauces Creamy Pepper £1.99 - The finishing touch that will allow you to personalise your meals in the way you want. A range of great tasting sauces, full of flavour and with a creamy and smooth texture that will take your meal to the next level. 

Pipers Crisps Burrow Hill Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt £2.00 - Pipers Crisps make " Crisps as they should taste". They season them with flavours sourced from passionate named producers. Julian Temperley provides Pipers with cider vinegar made from various old English cider apples varieties such as Kingston Black grown in his beautiful orchards at Burrow Hill near Kingsbury Episcopi in Somerset. 

Naturelly £1.19 - Naturelly is a fun and refreshing juicy jelly snack, drink or dessert with 100% Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin Cand suitable for children aged 12 months+. It comes with no added sugar or sweeteners and only 7g (around 1.5 teaspoons) of naturally occurring fruit sugars. 

Maldon Smoked Sea Salt Flakes £1.50 - Maldon's oak smoked flakes have a pronounced and exciting taste that contain the ideal balance of natural minerals, finishing dishes with a rich and sophisticated flavour. Perfect with fish, bread and vegetables. 

Weetabix On The Go - Vanilla/Blueberry & Blackberry £1.39 x2 - With the same energy, fibre and protein as two Weetabix biscuits and semi-skimmed milk. Our delicious breakfast drinks have been specially created to bring you a great start on days when you just can't stop. Try a proper breakfast. Bottled.

Whitworths CACAO Raw Bar £1.50 - Our new Full Of Super CACAO Raw Bars are crammed with almonds, flakes of coconut, chai seeds, golden flax seeds, quinoa and acai - what's more they're a natural source of THIAMINE (which helps to maintain energy), gluten free, no soy and suitable for vegetarians.

£onepounders Chocolate Eclairs £1.00 - £onepounders are a range of over 65 fabulous confections ranging from chocolates, toffees, boilings, chews, fudge, mints, gums and jellies all priced at £1.

The Jelly Bean Factory 75g Fairtrade Box £1.49 - This box contains 36 Gourmet Flavours of delicious Gourmet Jelly Beans. Each Gourmet Jelly Bean is made using natural flavours, no artificial colours and are gelatine free, gluten free, nut free and Vegetarian Society UK certified. 

Westons Cider Pure Hopped Cider £1.99 - This Hopped Cider is a collaboration between Westons Cider and Purity Brewing and has a Hoppy aroma with a well-balanced smooth taste. 

Westons Cider Caple Rd Dry Cider Blend No.5, 5% £1.99 - Made in small batches. Caple Rd Blend No.5 is a complex, dry cider which is matured for up to 18 months resulting in a crisp and complex cider with a powerful tart finish. 

Rebel Kitchen Chocolate Mylk £1.89 - Our mylks are so easy you could make them yourself. We know time is precious though so instead, we've done it for you. With a few simple ingredients and nothing added, it's what we've left out that counts. Because life's complicated enough and it's time to take a stand. 

Gusto Organic Lemon Energy £1.50 - An energising blend of whole crushed Sicilian lemons, Amazon guarana, Siberian ginseng and wonder herb astragalus delivering a delicious adult soft drink that delivers taste, stimulation and wellbeing. Gusto Lemon Energy is sweetened with agave nectar, apple and grape juice and is available from Ocado and all good food stores. 

You have to agree that is quite the line up! 

March Easter Degustabox contents

It goes without saying that this box has been the most popular one in the Bishop household to date - mainly due to it being crammed full of treats! The Jelly Beans were opened by Bert within minutes of the box arriving, the Chocolate Eclairs are slowly being enjoyed by moi and hubby polished off the WHOLE BAR of Cadbury Dairy Milk Mint Oreo in one sitting - yes, the WHOLE BAR! Luckily for him I HATE mint flavoured chocolate (but that Peanut Butter one is ALL MINE!) Hubby said he ate the whole bar purely to provide a funny anecdote for the blog, he's kind like that! 

I've been meaning to try the smoked Maldon Sea Salt for ages, so I'm thrilled to have a nice big box - I'll be experimenting with it lots in the kitchen from now on. 

I was intrigued to try the Weetabix drinks - they're perfect for me post workout in terms of nutrients and I'm a big fan of Weetabix so I was pretty sure I'd like them. My favourite of the two flavours was the vanilla - the berry one wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm sure some people would love it. 

I'm saving the Rebel Kitchen Chocolate Mylk to go with my Mother's Day breakfast - I'm so excited to try it, who doesn't love chocolate milk after all?

Although I have quite the sweet tooth I'm also rather partial to a bag (or 3) of crisps - especially salt and vinegar I've stashed the Pipers crisps away from the kids for a grown up in front of the telly snack at some point soon. Can't. Wait. 

Hubby and I shared the Whitworths CACAO bar as it very handily comes in two separate pieces - very similar to energy balls, these little bars are totally delicious and very filling. Both hubby and I really liked them and agreed we'd definitely buy these again if we saw them in the supermarket.

Hubby commandeered the two ciders as his own, which is fine with me, as I'm a merlot girl! He loved the Capel Rd No.5 cider but unfortuntely the hoppy cider really wasn't for him - his words "hops and cider do not belong together"  - his waistline wishes he felt the same about Oreos, Mint & Cadbury chocolate! Ha!  

March Easter Degustabox contents

March Easter Degustabox contents

I think I'll give Bert the Naturelly jelly pouch to try as he's a big fan of jellies as a pudding option. I love the fact that it comes in a squeezy pouch, making it very handy and perfect for lunch boxes or Spring/Summer picnics. 

March Easter Degustabox contents

The last thing left for us to try from our March box is the Heinz Creamy Pepper sauce - my favourite dinner of all time is steak, chips and peppercorn sauce, so we're planning indulge in it next week -HOORAY! 

Would you like to give Degustabox a try? If so you can receive a whopping £7.00 off your first box by using code:


at the checkout! 

Enjoy lovely peeps...

Mrs B


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