I Got A Mouse Pregnant

Ok so I haven’t really got a mouse pregnant….yet. But maybe in a few more weeks I will do…ok, let me start at the beginning…

So I’m back at university and I’m already bogged down with work which is why my number of posts (or lack of) has been appalling recently! But I’m hoping things will die down a little bit soon so I can get back to writing again. So what have I been up to? Well I went on holiday which was great but I got stung in the leg by a giant Turkish Bee and then I got severe food poisoning from eating raw/bad turkey meat…whilst in Turkey – oh the irony. Then I came home only to unpack my clothes, wash them and then repack them before heading back down to uni.

My uni house is damp already and it’s only October, our kitchen tap is just violent, our back gate doesn’t lock, the ignition on the hob doesn’t work and this morning I managed to lock myself in my bedroom meaning my housemate had to catch my room keys that I threw out my window so she could unlock the door for me from the outside….awkward. So as you can tell, things are going brilliantly already. On the plus side my old iPhone broke so I upgraded to the new iPhone 6 – exciting times – but now I’m addicted to playing The Sims Freeplay because it just looks so good on my new bigger screen! Plus I really want to get to the new Pirate quest…

So yes things are just spiffing, but how am I defying biological laws and knocking a mouse up I hear you ask? Well it’s my final year of university (cue petrified screaming) and that means it’s dissertation time. Last week I found out that I’m going to be doing my lab research on IVF techniques, mainly using liquid nitrogen (now cue horrified screaming at the thought of freezing my arm off) to freeze embryos. But of course I can’t do all of this on human eggs so I’m going to be using mice – controversial to some yes but I’m not actually harming any mice I’m studying the differences between freezing older mothers’ eggs and young mothers’ eggs and seeing if the technique is more successful for one age group over another. My lab are hoping to use this research to create better IVF techniques that will produce more successful pregnancies in mature women – definitely a worthwhile cause if you ask me! So I’m pretty excited, yet terrified, to get started – who knows in a few weeks I could be responsible for knocking up a lot of mice! Not something a lot of people can claim, huh?!

But that’s about it for the moment, no drastic life updates to report. Although, I have read some pretty awesome books recently – stay tuned for my updates on those! As always let me know what you think in the comments, have you done or are you doing anything interesting for your dissertation? Tell me your stories below!

What’s A Cupcake Worth To You?

I like to think of myself as a passionate baker – I’m quite a passionate cake eater too…I love both creating unique and colourful cakes and finding amazing cupcakes to try when I’m out and about. Usually my love for cake will result in me ‘splashing out’ on the £3 – £4 cupcakes and muffins in popular coffee shops such as Starbucks and Costa, but a gentlemen in Toronto decided to extend his love for cake even further by commissioning a $900/£540 cupcake for his wife’s 40th birthday, hence making it the most expensive cupcake in the world after beating the previous record of $750 for the Decadence D’Or cupcake from The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

Le Dolci Bakery in Toronto created a cupcake that contained both his and his wife’s favourite things. These included –


The Most Expensive Cupcake In The World

Inside the Cupcake is:

  • Artisan Beer
  • Valhrona Cocoa powder
  • The cream filling is flavoured with a bottle of Krug Collection Brut Champagne worth £500 in the UK and,
  • Rosewood Estate Honey

The Chocolate Icing is made from:

  • Butter made by a historic Normandy dairy cooperative
  • 70% Amedei Italian Chocolate from Tuscany
  • Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  • French sea salt from the Carmargue Region
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Tahitian Vanilla beans

It’s decorated with:

  • A chocolate cup with gold flakes, gold strips and diamonds made out of sugar
  • Gold leaf
  • As well as edible gold fondant flora and fauna
  • Caviar Bubbles made using molecular gastronomy
  • Diamond sprinkles
  • And a pipette of 21-year-old Courvoisier Cognac to drizzle over the cupcake before eating it!

All of these create a cupcake with “undertones of honey, caramel, lavender, vanilla, banana and orange blossom.” The creator and owner of the bakery Lisa Sanguedolce described the cupcake’s decorations like this:

The cupcake sits in a hand-made, edible chocolate cup garnished with crunchy edible pearls and dusted with 24-karat gold flakes. It is adorned with edible gold-painted branch with leaves, fondant flowers edged in gold, edible sugar diamonds and delicate hand made champagne caviar bubbles. It also features a pipette filled with limited edition Courvoisier that is drizzled atop the cupcake before consumption.

Sounds pretty impressive right? Apparently the husband and wife duo were “super happy” with the results, which is just as well after the amount they paid for it! But is this cupcake really too good to eat? And is it really worth spending this much money for? After all you can’t have your cake and eat it too…All I know is I definitely wouldn’t mind a taste.

What do you think – fancy a taste? How much would you spend on a cupcake?…

What’s A Cupcake Worth To You?

Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake Squares

I found the recipe for these scrummy creations today in my local supermarket so I just had to share it with you!

Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake Squares

237 kcals, 19g fat (11g saturated fat), 5g protein, 0g fibre, 19g carbs, 15g total sugars, 0.3g salt

Timings: 55minutes plus cooling and chilling


Raspberry Cheesecake

  • 100g shelled pistachio nuts
  • 75g butter
  • 200g ginger nut biscuits

For the topping

  • 600g cream cheese
  • 450g Greek yogurt
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour

For the ripple

  • 150g raspberries
  • 1 tbsp. icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3.
  2. Scatter the nuts over a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, then leave to cool.
  3. Melt the butter gently in a pan. Put the toasted nuts into a processer with the biscuits and whiz them together to create crumbs. Add the now melted butter to these and whiz again to combine. Tip this mix into a 24cm x 34cm, 4cm deep tin and spread the mixture around the bottom evenly.
  4. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a mixing bowl and the spoon it over the crumb mix in the tin, smoothing over the top.
  5. To create the ripple, whiz the raspberries and icing sugar together in a mixer, then strain the mixture through a sieve. Pour this purée over the top of the cheesecake, using a skewer to make a swirly pattern over the top.
  6. Bake this in the oven for 45 minutes, then leave it to cool before placing it in the fridge to chill. Once chilled you’ll be able to cut it into squares (Though if you want to leave it whole as an impressive table centrepiece you can!)

You can make this cheesecake in advance and keep it in the fridge over night ready for the next day. It will keep in the fridge for a few days though I recommend you eat it soon – it’ll taste better! You can even save a few raspberries to serve on top of the cheesecake for a little decoration 🙂 But it’s just as good on its on – I mean who doesn’t love cheesecake!?!

Have a go and let me know how you get on! Enjoy ♥


Afternoon Tea: How To Make Strawberry Jam

As a true English girl I absolutely love afternoon tea (though I’m more of a coffee girl over tea). Nothing beats having some amazing cakes, or the little triangle sandwiches you get in tea rooms on a fancy china cake stand! But best of all? Scones, jam and cream!!! Now don’t get me wrong I love a good scone but I only ever have them as a treat once every so often – we had an American exchange student once who generally thought English people have afternoon tea everyday which I can assure people everywhere we definitely do not (well the normal ones don’t…), I’m pretty sure I’d be morbidly obese or hospitalised if I indulged everyday! But saying that I really do love afternoon tea and there’s nothing better than doing it yourself, so let’s start with the basics – JAM! Here’s my Mum’s famous recipe…

Strawberry Jam

This recipe makes about 1 1/2kg or 3 1/4lb and makes between 4 to 6 jars (depending on their size)

Jam 10


  • Heavy based 4.5lt (8pt) saucepan
  • 4-6 sterilised jars (see Step 9)


  • 800g (1 3/4lb) fresh strawberries (NB: you can use frozen  fruit but defrost it first)
  • 1kg Jam sugar
  • a knob of unsalted butter


  1. Take your strawberries and cut them into quite small pieces, removing the stalks, then put them all in the saucepan.
  2. Put on a low heat so the fruit starts to become more of a mushy purée, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add all of the jam sugar and continue to simmer on a low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved (use the back of the spoon to see if there are any sugar granules left and scrap it around the bottom of the pan to see if you can feel any).
  4. Once completely dissolved add a knob of butter.
  5. Bring the heat up slowly until it starts a rolling boil – it’ll start to bubble vigorously, rising up the pan and can’t be stirred down again.
  6. Boil the mixture like this for 4 minutes.
  7. After 4mins a layer of white-coloured scum will form on top, remove using a spoon and throw away.
  8. Once done remove it from the heat and leave it to cool.
  9. Meanwhile sterilise the jars. Place them on a baking sheet on a tray in the oven  preheated to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3 and leave for 10 minutes.
  10. Once the jars and the jam have cooled pour the jam into the jars (if you have a jar funnel use it!) and place waxed jam discs on the top before sealing with the lids. IMPORTANT: make sure the jam and the jars are the same temperature when you put the jam in, if one is too hot and the other cold the glass jars will crack!
  11. Leave the jam to solidify before using – if it’s still runny after a few hours repeat Steps 4 – 7 again.

This recipe can be used for strawberry, raspberry, tayberry or loganberry jam and will keep in a cool place for several months if left unopened with a wax seal. All you need now is the scones and cream! Or better yet spread it in a cake or just on some toast 😉

Give it try and let me know how you get on!

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

So you’re off to uni, but there’s just one problem…You have no idea how to cook or what too cook on a budget! I thought for my first recipe I’d start with a classic student combination – sausages, beans and stuffing!

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

How long does it take?: 30mins     Serves: 4 people     How much does it cost?: ~ £1.34 per person

452kcals, 14.3g fat, 4.4g saturates, 13.7g sugars, 3.21g salt

Quick Sausage Cassoulet 7Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 454g reduced fat pork sausages
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 390g carton chopped tomatoes (preferably with basil, chilli and oregano)
  • 150ml chicken stock (made with 1/2 a chicken stock cube and 150ml boiling water)
  • 410g tin butter beans in water, drained and rinsed
  • 410g tin cannellini beans in water, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 x 130g pack roasted garlic and herb stuffing mix
  • 1/3 x 28g pack fresh flat-leaf parsley, washed and roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas mark 6. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the sausages for 5 minutes until they turn a golden brown then add all the diced vegetables and the smoked paprika – fry for another 2 minutes.
  2. Pour the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and all the beans in and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the stuffing mix, half the parsley and 150ml of water , then set aside.
  3. Stir the remaining parsley into the sausage mix and season with ground black pepper. Pour this into a large, shallow baking dish (such as a pyrex dish) and spread the stuffing over the top.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the stuffing is crispy on top then serve. You can serve this with salad, vegetables or even with some crusty bread.

This is actually really easy to make and who doesn’t like sausages and stuffing!!! Have a go and let me know how you get on!

Apricot & Pistachio Cake

This week I discovered this little gem – an apricot and pistachio cake. It looks and tastes incredible; so far I’ve had it for both dessert and afternoon tea so it’s the perfect cake for all occasions. It’s perfectly moist and adds a hint of Morocco to your table – it’s even better the next day too.

 Apricot & Pistachio Cake

Serves 8 (supposedly….!)

Per Serving: 455kcal, 27.1g fat, 13.7g saturates, 21.8g sugars, 0.32g salt

Apricot and Pistachio cake• Ingredients •

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar (plus an extra 1 tbsp for syrup)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g pistachio kernels, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 411g tin apricot halves in fruit juice, drained (reserve juice!)

• Recipe •

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, fan 160ºC, gas mark 4. Line a 20cm loose-bottomed square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and orange zest together in a bowl and then set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl or an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it becomes a pale, creamy mixture. Gradually add the eggs, mixing it well until they are incorporated (Tip- you may find the eggs look curdled as you add them to the mix, add a tbsp of the flour mixture with each addition to aid mixing). Finally, using a spatula, stir in half of the pistachio, the flour mixture and milk. Pour this into the cake tin and level the top.
  4. Arrange the apricot halves over the top of the cake – you will find they sink in slightly. Bake this in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted to the middle of the cake.
  5. Whilst this bakes, heat the reserved fruit juice in a small pan with the extra 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Simmer this for 5 minutes until it’s reduced to about 3 tbsp.
  6. Once the cake has cooked and is still warm, spoon the syrup over the top and let it soak into the cake. Scatter the remaining pistachios over the top and leave it to cool.
  7. Serve with some Greek yoghurt for a lush dessert or enjoy the next day with a cup of coffee. (Once left over night the syrup will have soaked into the cake properly leaving it lovely and moist – it tastes even better in my opinion!).

I’d recommend keeping this cake in an air-tight container in the fridge to keep it fresh as its quite a sticky, moist cake. I love the versatility of this cake, there aren’t many cakes you can enjoy at any time of the day – some are too dry to have for dessert and others are too indulgent to have with lunch, but this sticky yumminess is just right!!

Have a go making this Moroccan delight and let me know how you get on!


Chocolate and Chilli Shortbread

When the sun is shining you’re bound to have guests coming over, whether it’s for afternoon tea or just for a quick catch up. If you’re like me and love a good coffee afternoon then finding the perfect treat to enjoy with friends is exactly what you need, and what could be better than some homemade shortbread?…Well how about one with a twist –

Chocolate & Chilli Shortbread ~ 

 Makes 15        Prep: 15 mins + chilling time        Total Time: 45 mins + chilling & cooling

Chocolate and Chilli Shortbread


  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar, (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 2 pinches of chilli flakes
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 50g white chocolate, melted


  1. Put the flour, cocoa, butter, sugar and chilli flakes into a food mixer and pulse until the mixture comes together into a soft, clay-like dough.
  2. Tip the dough into a bowl and mix the chocolate chips in. Put this onto a piece of clingfilm and shape into a log about 5cm wide in diameter, wrap around the clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour so it firms up.
  3. Whilst this chills, preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3 and line two baking sheets. Once the dough has finished chilling cut the log into about 15 pieces, 1cm thick. Place your biscuits onto the lined sheets and bake for 22-25 minutes. Once cooked leave to cool completely before drizzling the melted white chocolate over the top.

These cookies will keep for up to 3 days in an air-tight container – if left un-iced they can be frozen.

156 kcals, 8g fat (5g sat. fat), 2g protein, 1g fibre, 19g carbs, 11g total sugars, 0g salt

All you need now is a pretty plate (or even a tiered stand if you want to be really fancy!), a hot drink and someone to enjoy them with! As always let me know how you get on and enjoy!

Pimm’s Cup Traybake

So the Great British Summer is just around the corner (I hope so anyways!) and that usually means trips to the beach, ice cream, parties and cocktails! And of course a lot of food – maybe the odd dinner/garden party too. I recently had to plan my own summer dinner party and had absolutely no clue what to make, so I thought I’d share some of the amazing recipes I found. And what doesn’t say Summer like Pimm’s?!

Pimm’s Cup Traybake

– Because who wouldn’t want to eat a cake made with Pimm’s?

Prep: 20mins       Total Time: 1 hr 40mins ( + cooling)     Makes 24 Squares

IngredientsPimms Cup Traybake

  • 325g soft unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 325g self-raising flour
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 medium egg yolks (keep the whites for the buttercream topping)
  • zest of 2 large oranges (use oranges for topping)
  • 150g dried apricots, chopped

For the Pimm’s Syrup

  • 300ml Pimm’s
  • 1000g caster sugar

For the Buttercream

  • 2 medium egg whites (leftover from the main cake recipe)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened & cut into small pieces
  • 2-3 tbsp. Pimm’s

For the Toppings

  • Mint leaves
  • 2 large oranges, peeled with pith and seeds removed and diced (use oranges from main cake recipe)
  • 300g strawberries, chopped
  • about a 2-inch piece of cucumber, peeled and diced (optional)
  • (Note: you can use any fruit here that you think will go with Pimm’s – e.g. apples work quite well)


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 18cm x 28cm rectangular tin with baking paper.
  2. Put all the main cake ingredients into a mixer and beat for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Pour this into the pre-prepared tin and level with a palette knife.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven on the middle shelf for 40-45 minutes until golden and well risen. Double check by sticking a skewer into the centre of the cake – if it comes out clean its done.
  4. Whilst the cake is baking, make the Pimm’s syrup. Put both the Pimm’s and the caster sugar in a small pan and place over a low heat – stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved bring it the boil for 7 minutes until its syrupy and reduced by half. Pour this into a small measuring jug.
  5. With a skewer, poke holes all over the warm cake and pour 100ml of the syrup over it. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack and set the remaining syrup to one side.
  6. Whilst this cools, make the buttercream. Put the egg whites and caster sugar into a large heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water – but make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl! Use an electric whisk (trust me its easier than a normal one!) and whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites. To test if its done rub some of it between your finger and thumb – if you can’t feel sugar granules and isn’t warm it’s done. Take the bowl off the pan and whisk for another 3-4minutes on high speed – the bowl should be cool to touch by the end.
  7. Before adding the butter make sure the bowl is cool enough to not melt it. Reduce the speed of the whisk to about medium and start to add the butter, one piece at a time (make sure each piece is mixed in properly before adding the next). After half the butter has been added the mixture will look curdled – but don’t worry it’s not ruined! Keep adding the rest of the butter until the buttercream comes together (after about 4-5mins). Continue to whisk until it becomes light and fluffy, then add the Pimm’s and some mint if you want to.
  8. Cover the cold cake with the buttercream. Toss the oranges, strawberries and cucumber (if used) with the remaining Pimm’s syrup and sprinkle onto the top of the cake along with the mint leaves before serving and ENJOY!

What’s great about this recipe is that you can make up to Step 5 the day before it’s needed and keep it in an airtight container.

325 kcals, 20g fat (12g sat. fat), 4g protein, 2g fibre, 30g carbs, 21g total sugars, 0.2g salt

This is seriously an amazing cake, you can add or remove the types of fruit you use and it looks really impressive! Give it a try and let me know how you get on!

I Dream In Chocolate

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me” – Audrey Hepburn

Over the past few years I have definitely sought comfort in chocolate on many occasions. Whether it be drinking a mocha whilst working, or having dark chocolate truffles during yet another Nicholas Sparks movie (along with the mandatory bunch of tissues of course). But hey chocolate doesn’t judge you for having bad bed hair or knowing all the words to High School Musical (watching it on repeat for 8 hours with your nieces will do this to you).

Chocolate is A-MAZ-ING. Period.

But my point for this post other than declaring my love of chocolate, is to share with you my all time favourite chocolate pudding recipe. The kind of pudding people demand you make for them. The kind of pudding you relish making and have to stop yourself from eating all of. And most importantly, the kind of pudding that makes you smile like a Cheshire cat no matter how horrid you’re feeling.

MY OH SO Saucy Chocolate Pudding


Evernote Camera Roll 20130703 152924For the cakey bit –

  • 1/2 pint of milk
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the saucy bit –

  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 300ml boiling water

Serves 4 (Well it’s meant to but I doubt you’ll be able to resist it so probably 2 servings, maybe 3 if you’re really good!)

  1. Lightly grease an 850ml oven dish (a big Pyrex dish would be perfect for this)
  2. Break the chocolate into the milk in a saucepan and gently heat. Keep stirring until the chocolate has melted and then leave to cool.
  3. Beat the caster sugar and butter together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then sieve the flour and cocoa powder in, and gradually add the chocolate milk. You may need to whisk it to get it completely smooth and once it is pour it into the prepared dish and put to one side.
  4. Next you need to make the sauce. Mix the sugar and cocoa powder together, adding a small amount of boing water to make a paste and then gradually pouring the rest in to make the sauce. Pour the sauce over the cake type mixture made in step 3 but DO NOT MIX IT IN!
  5. Place the dish in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for around 40 minutes depending on your oven. It should be dry and springy on the top. Let it stand for a few minutes and then DIG IN!

TOP TIP: Place the dish with the cakey mixture from step 3 on the tray in the oven before pouring the sauce made in step 4 into it – this prevents any mixing or spillages when moving the dish into the oven 🙂

This makes the most delicious chocolate pudding you will ever have, trust me. Serve it with yoghurt, cream or my personal favourite, ice cream. Or just eat it right out of the dish, it’s that good! It’s better if you eat it straight out of the oven, but leftovers eaten the next day are just as good – just add some boiling water and reheat it to make more sauce. For something a bit more sophisticated you can make it into a mocha saucy pudding by adding a tbsp of instant coffee to the cocoa powder and sugar in step 4 before making the paste and therefore sauce.

I guarantee this will make you feel so much better, it is literally a miracle pudding and believe me, you will be dreaming in chocolate for days!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt” – Charles M. Schulz