Thursday, 17 August 2017

Coffee Spots in Northern Ireland




Hello again! How are we all? I thought today I would talk a little about something I LOVE and you all know that I am addicted to coffee. So, today I thought I would share a couple of my favourite coffee spots in my favourite little home country of Northern Ireland. The coffee scene is definitely expanding and improving here and it is very exciting for someone who loves coffee and a big slice of cake. This is by no means a definitive list, just a few of my favourites. I haven't visited every coffee shop in Northern Ireland (though I plan to) so doubtless a few more places will make the list soon enough.  So, let's get started...

Lost and Found, Coleraine

Flat white and Swedish almond cake with cream!

My ultimate favourite coffee spot in NI as it's also in my home town so I have many positive memories being back there. It's like my second home when i'm visiting my parents in Portstewart.  I love the décor in this spot, the friendly staff but most of all the Swedish almond cake, mmmm it's delicious. The coffee in here is AMAZING, I always order a flat white (my drink of choice) or a hot chocolate, which is so rich and chocolatey. In my opinion they have the best selection of buns and cakes, the kind you just can't find anywhere else. If you're ever in Coleraine this place is well worth a visit. I honestly don't know where I went before this place arrived in the town. Also, the breakfasts are great too, grilled halloumi, tomatoes and poached eggs on toast, um yes please!

Babushka, Portrush

Poached eggs and avocado on toast!

A good coffee shop with a view of the beach, what could be better on a stormy winter's day (and boy do we get a lot of those, year round!). This coffee shop is perched between Portrush harbour and the west strand beach and comes complete with deck chairs and benches to sit outside with the pups (weather permitting)! Whilst the coffee is great here it's their breakfasts and lunches that I love, like the ultimate cheese toastie in sourdough bread, aaah delicious. It's such a tiny little shop but packs a lot of flavour.

Established, Belfast

His and hers pre-shopping breakfast!

Before a day of shopping in Belfast, you need to be fuelled appropriately, right?! Well this is our go-to for breakfast before a spot of retail therapy. Amazing coffee, amazing food and salted caramel brownies to die for! The décor is fabulous also, very industrial with nice details. I also like that there are quite a few communal tables, perfect for getting some work done!


Paper Fig, Portstewart

Pecan friand and hot chocolate.

Last and by no means least is this little place that sits a whopping 2 min walk from my parents house so is a must when we are visiting them. Another place that has great outdoor seating to enjoy nice weather with your doggy on a walk (water bowls provided for the canines). The coffee is so good here, nice and strong, just the way I like it. They also do great lunches and ice-cream which is a must when you visit the seaside in the summer! It also has stunning views out to sea with binoculars for dolphin watching!

And there you a go, a few of my favourite coffee shops in Northern Ireland. If you are ever visiting our wee country be sure to give these places a try! I will be back soon with a very fun and alcoholic recipe for you to try! Thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.



Saturday, 5 August 2017

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oat Energy Balls


HELLO! So, it's been a while since I last visited my little corner of the internet. Nothing much has happened I just was having a little break from blogging. In my break from the Tea Cozy Kitchen I have been on holiday to Croatia, which was so beautiful and the food and drink was amazing. I celebrated my 27th birthday (shock! horror!) with a very tasty triple layer biscoff and caramel cake (pics to follow!), we also celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary and our wee tiny pup turned 6 months old! Time just keeps marching on!

Anyway, today i'm sharing a very simple, tasty and a little healthy recipe for you. Chocolate, peanut butter and oat energy balls are a new discovery for me but a great one at that! I love one or two mid-afternoon with a big cuppa coffee to beat those 3pm energy slumps. So here goes...

 
Ingredients
makes 16 (two-bite) energy balls

150g oats,
50g raisins,
3tbsp smooth or crunchy peanut butter,
1.5tbsp honey,
0.5 tsp vanilla extract,
100g white chocolate,
90g dark chocolate,
cocoa nibs and ground almonds to decorate.


Method

  • Use a food processor to blend the oats, raisins, peanut butter, honey and vanilla together until you get a paste that can be easily rolled into balls.
  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and roll the mixture into 16 evenly sized balls setting each one on the tray.
  • Put the tray of balls in the fridge to set for 15mins.
  • Melt the chocolates and roll each ball in the chocolate until it is evenly covered and setting each ball back on the tray with a sprinkle of your desired topping, I used cocoa nibs and ground almonds.
  • Pop the tray back in the fridge for the chocolate to set for another 15mins then chow down!
These can be kept in the fridge for a few days. This is a great base recipe as you could easily change the nut butter, swap the raisins for dates, add chopped nuts or change the toppings. I really enjoyed this recipe so I would really love it if you let me know how it goes for you, thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Rainbow Piñata Cake

Hi everyone and welcome back to the Tea Cozy Kitchen. So, I mentioned in my last post that I was doing a bit of baking at the weekend for a first birthday party. I thought I would share with you the cake that I baked and also the process which was involved in making this cake.

For this first birthday party I made a Rainbow Piñata Cake. I mean what could be better for a kids party than a brightly coloured cake that explodes smarties when you cut into it!  For the cake sponge I just used a very simple all in one Victoria sponge method with a little added vanilla and made four layers with it. I used Mary Berry's Victoria sponge recipe as you really just cant go wrong with a recipe by her. I mean Mary Berry knows her cakes. To get the colour on the inside I used some gel food colouring. I wanted the colour to be vibrant so I used quite a lot (maybe could have done with a wee bit less, the colour was almost fluorescent).





As you can see the outside of the cake was decorated very simply with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream and topped with some fresh berries. I wanted the outside to not give any hints on what was hiding on the inside. I did two layers of the buttercream to try and get an opaque finish! It was pretty hard to achieve this as I have made so many semi-naked cakes recently.


Between the cake layers was a thick layer of buttercream but also a good bit of strawberry jam. I always think that vanilla and strawberry jam screams kids birthday cake. To get the smarties in the centre I used a cookie cutter to cut a circle in the centre of the first three layers. When they were stacked and assembled with buttercream there was a column down the middle that I was able to fill with smarties. The top layer had no hole and was set on top to stop the smarties falling out.


 And that's how I made this Rainbow Piñata Cake, I think it's possibly one of the most fun cakes I have ever made and it went down a treat with the kids and adults alike. What's your favourite thing that you have baked? I would love to know! Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Meal Plan Monday


Hello, it's Monday and that can only mean one thing, it's meal plan day! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I had a rather busy weekend doing some baking for a first birthday party and I will be sharing with you what I baked on the blog this week, if you're interested. So this week, the diet/health kick continues with a lot of healthy meal inspiration courtesy of BBC Good Food and a couple of my own recipes too. If you want the recipes for any of these dishes, check out the BBC Good Food website as a lot of these can be found there. Anyway, on with the plan...


MON: Sweet Potato Tex Mex Salad, Good Food.

TUES: Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken, Good Food.
WED: Kidney Bean Curry, Good Food.

THURS: Penne Arrabiatta, Good Food.

FRI: Sardine and Broccoli Traybake, Good Food.

SAT: Veggie Stir-fry, my own recipe.

SUN: Goan Pulled Pork, Good Food.

And there you have it, everything that I will be cooking and eating this week. Do you have a meal plan for the week? I would love to know what you will be cooking and eating. Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.








Friday, 12 May 2017

Sweet Potato, Feta and Tomato Mini Frittatas

Hi everyone and welcome back to the Tea Cozy Kitchen. I hope you all had a wonderful week, we finally made it to Friday guys, YAY! Today i've got another easy recipe to share with you. These frittatas are so easy to make and taste delicious, perfect for summery buffet style lunches, packed lunches, picnics or even as a post-workout snack. Another great thing about them is they are so easy to change up depending on what ingredients you have to hand.  You should definitely give these a try!



INGREDIENTS
(makes about 4 mini frittatas)

2 medium eggs,
50ml of milk,
1/2 tsp of dried oregano,
2 small sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks,
1/2 tsp paprika,
a small handful of plum tomatoes, halved,
50g feta, crumbled,
a drizzle of oil.


METHOD

1.Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Put the chopped sweet potato in a baking tray and toss with the paprika and oil. Roast in oven for about 35mins or until soft and coloured slightly. I didn't peel my potatoes as I like the skin but it can work either way.
2. When the potatoes are done, leave to cool slightly and mix up the eggs with all the other ingredients.
3. Grease (grease REALLY WELL as they can be difficult to get out) 4 holes in a muffin tray and pop a few sweet potatoes chunks in the bottom, pour over the egg mix and top with the remaining sweet potato.
4. Cook in the oven for about 15mins until they look nearly set, then turn your grill to high and grill for 5mins to brown and crisp up the tops slightly.
5. Leave to cool for packed lunches or scoff straight away for a tasty snack/lunch.

Anyway, that's it for today! Happy weekend all! Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? I will be spending mine gardening (as per usual) and baking a very special cake for a very special person's first birthday. I'm so excited to share this cake with you, it's quite unusual. Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.







Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Greek Pasta Salad

HELLO! The sun is STILL shining here in Northern Ireland, which is pretty much unheard of. So, today I've got a lovely summery and healthy recipe to share with you guys. This recipe is so easy to make and is perfect for summer picnics, work lunches or just as a healthy snack. I just threw this together for my lunch today and thought it was really tasty so just had to share because lunches can get pretty boring (am I right?!). Can you really go wrong with these ingredients?


GREEK PASTA SALAD

INGREDIENTS (makes enough for one hungry person)

a handful of dried pasta, I used penne
a handful of black olives, halved
a couple of plum tomatoes, halved
1/4 of a cucumber, cut into small chunks
about 50g of feta, crumbled
1/4 of a red onion, finely diced
3tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 juice of a lemon.

METHOD

1. Boil the pasta according to packet instructions.
2. Chop all your veg and mix the lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt and pepper together.
3. When the pasta is done, mix everything together. Save a little feta to top the dish.
4. You can eat it now or leave it to cool and have it cold, either way it's delicious.

And there you have it a quick and easy lunch recipe. If you try this I would love to know what you think! Anyway, i'm off to watch more Riverdale now (i'm completely obsessed!). Hope you have a lovely day! Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Meal Plan Monday


Hi all and welcome back to another meal plan Monday. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. We have gorgeous weather in Northern Ireland at the moment so I'm attempting to get a little colour on my pasty ginger skin! This meal plan is a little healthier than normal as I'm on a little bit of a health kick at the minute. My husband and I are heading away in a couple of weeks to Croatia and we are both so excited, we haven't had a proper summer holiday in two years. But alas, I went to try on a couple of my favourite summer pieces and let's just say they were a little more snug than I would like. So, I'm hoping to just drop a couple of pounds before the holiday but nothing drastic, there will be no detox teas or juice cleanses here. I'm just going to be choosing better snacks, less coffee, more green tea, more walks and less desserts but I will still be having my little bit of chocolate every evening with my cup of tea! Anyway here's what I will be cooking and eating this week!



MON: Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese.

TUES: Moroccan Squash, Chickpea and Kale Stew.

WED: Tex Mex Eggs.

THURS: Pea and Broad Bean Shakshuka.

FRI: Pea and Broad Bean Risotto.

SAT: Spanakopita.

SUN: Halloumi Flatbreads.

All the recipes for these dishes come from the current issue of BBC Good Food magazine, the May issue. This issue has some really tasty dishes with loads of veg which is just what I need before this holiday! So I would definitely recommend picking it up if you are in need of some inspiration! I am particularly looking forward to the Spanakopita and the healthy-ish mac 'n' cheese. Are you making anything exciting this week, I would love to know. Until next time, thank you so much for reading,

Rachael xx.