Saturday, 5 February 2011

CSN Stores

You guys know how much I love CSN Stores and the products they offer - everything from cookware to lighting to wardrobes - so you'll know how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to review another product from them on their site. There are some kitchen items that we won't be taking with us to New Zealand, such as our sandwich toaster (it's kind of gross and hard to clean) so I'm hoping to replace it with a shiny new one. Definitely check them out, I've been very happy with all of the products I've had from them, and the service as well.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Did I mention I've been invited to review a product for CSN Stores again? I'm so excited. I love their stuff. If we weren't moving I'd look at something like bedroom furniture but as we need to be able to fit all of our earthly goods into one 20 foot container I think I'll treat us to a new wide-slot toaster. We've always bought cheap toasters and I'd love one that I can toast sandwiches in (in a toaster bag). I could also do with a new hand mixer as mine has recently broken. Did I mention how much I love CSN Stores?

This is a sponsored post

Thursday, 2 September 2010

CSN Stores giveaway WINNER

Thank you to everyone who entered the CSN Stores giveaway! I've popped on over to and it has chosen the following number:


Congratulations Di! I hope you enjoy your cookie cutters if that is what you do decide to go for. I will pass your email address on to CSN Stores, I hope you hear from them soon with your voucher code.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

CSN Stores giveaway!

I have twice had the opportunity to purchase products from CSN Stores, who do everything from ceiling lights o cookware to furniture. I experienced the same excellent service and quality products the second time around as I did the first - and now you get to do the same!

Check out their stores and leave a comment here saying what you would love to order if you win, and next Thursday, to celebrate my kids' return to school, I will pick a winner randomly and you will win a £40 gift voucher to use as you wish in any of their UK store websites!

Sorry, this is for my UK readers only!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Peppermint Caramel Dessert

This is a sinfully rich dessert that is always a hit. Made popular by St Elmo's pizza restaurant chain in South Africa, it is sweetly simple and easy to make.

You'll need a can of caramel for it - if you can't find tinned caramel, make your own by submerging a can of condensed milk in a pan of water and boiling for a couple of hours. Keep an eye on it and top up with boiling water as needed. Please wait for the caramel to cool before opening! I usually boil 2 or 3 cans at the same time and stash them in my pantry for use when needed. Because sometimes you just need caramel!

Okay, you'll need the following:

1 can caramel
half a pint of whipping cream
mint chocolate - a slab or two, up to you (traditionally this is made with Peppermint Crisp but I can't get it here so I use Peppermint Aero)
Plain vanilla cookies (traditionally this is made with Tennis Biscuits but I can't get them here so I use malted milks -I've also used shortbread)

First, whip your cream. Whenever I make whipped cream I always add a little castor sugar and vanilla essence (this makes it Chantilly cream).

Next, whip your caramel so it's smooth and soft.

Then finely chop up your mint chocolate.

Crush the cookies.

You're ready to begin! Take a glass bowl, tumbler or wineglass. Put a couple of tablespoons of crushed cookies in the bottom.

Then add a couple of tablespoons of the whipped caramel, and smooth it to the edges to create an even layer.

Sprinkle some of the mint chocolate over. Add a couple of tablespoons of whipped cream.

Now reserve about 8 tablespoons of the whipped cream unless you have squirty cream available, in which case you can use that later. Also reserve a few teaspoons of the chocolate.

Whip the remaining cream, caramel and chocolate together and pour into the glasses. Top with the reserved whipped cream (or squirty cream) and sprinkle the reserved chocolate over the top.

Voila, a pretty dessert! Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 4-6, depending on how big your wine glasses are.

Alternatively, if you'd like to make this dessert for a potluck or something, simply pour all of the crushed cookies into a glass dish, whip all of the cream, caramel and chocolate together and pour that over the cookies. Refrigerate.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

English Trifle

There are a million different ways to make English trifle, and I'm sure everyone I ask will say, "No, no, this is the proper way of making it!" and tell me my way is wrong. It's just one of those personal tradition things. But this is how I make trifle.

(For my American readers: the "jelly" I refer to would be your Jello.)

First of all, line your dish with trifle sponges. You can also use sponge cake or whatever plain white cake takes your fancy (I have, in an emergency, used Madeira cake in the past.) But I usually use trifle sponges or white sponge cake.

Make up your raspberry jelly, but don't add as much water as indicated. You want the raspberry taste a bit stronger and the jelly less watery. Pour the jelly over the sponge and leave it to soak in and set in the fridge.

Once the jelly has set, chuck in some canned peaches - I also added some canned cruit cocktail here.

Follow with a layer of vanilla custard. Feel free to make the custard from scratch - I use it out of the carton.

Top with whipped cream and sprinkle on some grated chocolate. When I make whipped cream I always add a little icing sugar and vanilla essence - I think it's called Chantilly cream? Anyway, it is delicious.

See the lovely, colourful, messy layers.

Mmm, cream and chocolate ...

Monday, 10 December 2007

Hyacinth's Everything Cookies

Found on The Pioneer Woman Cooks - click on over here for the recipe. The are delicious - warm and textural, chewy and sweet with tangy cranberries and apricots.

Be warned: I halved the recipe and it made 51 regular sized cookies!

On the baking sheet, ready to go into the oven

Cooling on the rack

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes

This cupcake recipe is super quick and easy to make - you just dump everything in a bowl and give it a whirl. It's actually a cake recipe that I have slightly improvised due to lack of ingredients, but it ended up being better (as cupcakes) than the original. They are delicious as-is (like muffins), or iced, or dusted with powdered sugar, or with melted chocolate on top (see below). This recipe makes about 22 cupcakes.

1 3/4 C self-raising flour
1 3/4 C sugar
2 T cocoa
1/2 C margarine or butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1 C milk

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Mix the ingredients together and spoon into cupcake cases until 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes.

I had leftover peppermint Aero so I popped a block onto each hot cupcake ...

... and gave them a swirl with the back of a teaspoon as they melted.

Mmmmmmm, I ate one warm and it was gorgeous!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Chocolate Mint Cookies

These cookies are so quick and easy to make. Rich and chocolatey, with a smart kick of mint - mmmmm, good! They are soft and chewy, almost like brownies. What's not to love?

1 package Devil's Food Cake Mix
150g mint chocolate (I used peppermint Aero, but I imagine Mingles would work too)
2 eggs
1/2 C (100ml) oil
1 C chocolate chips (I used 200g chopped up chocolate; it was cheaper than the choc chips)

Mix the cake mix, eggs and oil together. The batter will be really thick - I had to add a tablespoon of water to get it to mix together properly. Stir in the choclate chips. Use two spoons to scoop lumps of the batter onto cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 F (180 c) for about 7-8 minutes. The cookies will be soft and puffy when you remove them from the oven. Make sure you have your sliced mint chocolate ready.

Once cookies come out of the oven place one piece of mint chocolate on each cookie, pressing it on slightly. After a few minutes the chocolate will begin to melt. Swirl the melted chocolate lightly with something (I used the pointy handle of a teaspoon) and let cool.

Once the chocolate has set and the cookies are cool, store in an air tight container.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

WW Italian Meatballs

Please forgive the less than stellar photograph; winter means I'm relying on artificial light, plus I'm having computer issues so editing isn't going according to plan.

5 points per serving (not including pasta)
Serves 4
Can be frozen

1 tsp olive oile
1 red onion, chopped very finely
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
450g (1lb) lean steak mince
50g (1 3/4 oz) white breadcrumbs
1 egg
400g can of chopped tomatoes
300ml (10 fl oz) beef stock
2 T tomato puree
3 T ketchup
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a small pan and add the onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened.

Place the oregano, mince, breadcrumbs, egg and seasoning in a mixing bowl with the garlic and onion. Mix thoroughly and then roll the mixture into 24 small balls between the palms of your hands - wet your hands with cold water to prevent the mixture sticking to you.

Place the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs and seasoning, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time. Alternatively, place the ingredients in your Crockpot, add the meatballs and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Serve with spaghetti, add a little grated cheese if you wish (add the points).

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Jen's Bistro is on the web

I flip-flop between loving to cook and hating it. When I feel the latter it's not the process I don't enjoy, it's the boredom and pressure of creating yet another meal that will appeal to my sometimes picky children, can be created with a minimum of fuss and mess and time and that I have the ingredients for.

Meal planning definitely helps alleviate the stress.

When left to my own devices in the kitchen, with time and fresh ingredients at my disposal I am quite happy to potter through a recipe and cook or bake to my heart's content. Unfortunately, these kind of sessions are hard to come by.

But let's get something straight - whether I love to cook or not, I love to eat! Unfortunately that love eventually saw me at Weight Watchers, but I lost 34lb quite easily and have managed to keep it off despite my return to cooking and baking yummy non-Weight Watchers food. Fortunately, Weight Watchers recipes produce quite delicious meals, so you'll see a lot of them featured here.

I seem to collect recipes and then have them languish in my recipe files (physical file in my kitchen and virtual file on my computer) forever. My goal for 2008 is to try to cook or bake as many of them as I can and post the results here. (Actually, not all of the results; only the ones I or my family enjoyed. The ones that aren't keepers will be binned.)

This blog is also a way for me to enjoy more food photography and to organise my recipes. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

(Oh, and the title? My friend Laura used to spend a lot of time at my home during the week and whenever I whipped up something delicious for lunch she'd say something about eating at Jen's Bistro. So Jen's Bistro is the name of my kitchen, and now this blog).