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caramel & cocoa

Caramel & Cocoa - cooking, parenting, fashion, diy, eating, living, a blog

Monday, October 31, 2011

Roast Loin of Pork (brown rice & squash sides)

Now. Tonight's meal was Roast Loin of Pork (with crackling) served with brown rice, squash and gravy. It sounds complicated but was easy. It just took a bit of planning and took about 3 hours to cook, but most of that was just oven time. I spent most of the time playing with the baby. 

I can't believe how good it was. I didn't give the crackling to the kids because it is a bit tough. It really was a delicious meal. 


  • oil (preferably olive oil) 
  • rolled pork loin (with crackling) (that's just the fat and skin)
  • squash or any other vegetables (carrots, potatoes ... I used squash because its all I had in the fridge)
  • 1 medium onion (I prefer the red ones because they are sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • stock 10 oz or 300 ml (I used a vegetable cube in water) 
  • Salt and any other preferred herbs

1. Heat oven to 240 C (220 C if using fan) or if you use Fahrenheit heat to 460 degrees. Oil a roasting pan and place pan in hot oven for 10 minutes. 
2. Season all sides of pork with salt (I used coarse salt) and other herbs of preference. Cut onion into circles and place on bottom of pre-heated pan. Place seasoned pork loin on top of onions so that the loin does not actually touch the pan. Place in oven for 20 minutes. 
3. Reduce heat to 190 C (170 C with fan) or 370 Fahrenheit and cook for 30 minutes per 500 grams (or 30 minutes per pound).  
4. When the pork has about 40 minutes left, cook brown rice and toss cut vegetables straight into cooking tray with pork loin. 
5. After cooking time is complete blast heat back up to 240 C (220 C if using fan) or if you use Fahrenheit heat to 460 degrees for 10 minutes to get a crispy crackling. 
6. Remove pork and place in a warm place before carving into slices. 
7. In a pot (on hob) add about 4 tablespoons of the excess fat & oil from cooking pan to stock. Bring to a bubble and slowly add the flour (sifting is best). Keep stirring. Let bubble for 5 minutes. It should turn into a thick gravy. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Easy Halloween Buffet

Breadsticks, Chips, Guacamole and Pumpkin seeds 

Bloody Sangria - I made the ice cubes with a cupcake tin. The ice cubes kept longer without watering down the drink. 

Vanilla cupcakes with my Easy Frosting recipe, sprinkled with  crushed  cookies and plastic spiders

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies and Grapes 

Kiddos made their own paper umpkins 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Really Rich Really Thick Really Easy Icing (Frosting)

I am hosting a Halloween party in a couple of days and since my life is chaotic enough I made my frosting for my Halloween cupcakes a couple of days early. I wanted something really rich, really thick, really easy. I'll post pictures of my Halloween cupcakes once they are made. But for now, here is a really easy icing (frosting recipe) that can be used for anything. Disclaimer: This recipe is very rich and not mild like a butter cream. But I think it is absolutely delicious!


unsalted butter - 4 tablespoons/ or half a stick of butter in USA terms
confectioners sugar (icing sugar) - 2 cups (16 ounces)
milk - 3 tablespoons
vanilla extract - 1 tablespoon
pinch of salt

1. Toss all of the above ingredients in a bowl and beat together until light, fluffy, creamy and delicious. I used a hand whisk. It came out fabulous but took ages and alot of patience. Happy Whisking.

frosting going into storage container for later use

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

Yum. I just invented this cookie about an hour ago.

I am a chocolate loving fiend and so I wanted to make a double chocolate chip cookie. I used dark chocolate chips because I was craving a rich pleasure. This recipe turns out lovely, moist, dark and yields about 30 medium extremely rich cookies. Initially I was making this batch for the Halloween party scheduled for two days from now but I have "tasted" so many I fear I'll have to make another batch.  Total cooking time. 27 minutes (15 measuring/preparing & 12 baking) .

unsalted butter (room temperature) - 3.7 ounces or 105 grams (that's just under an american stick of butter)
light brown sugar (I like muscavado) - 5.3 ounces or 150 grams
vanilla extract - 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
flour -  5.3 ounces or 150 grams
cocoa powder - 1.4 ounces or 40 grams
baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
dark chocolate chips (I used 200 grams or 7 ounces)

1. Heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 c).
2. Combine butter and brown sugar and whisk until creamy but not runny. I used a hand whisk which took about 15 minutes and tons of energy.
3. Add vanilla extract to butter/sugar cream and mix.
4. Add egg to above and mix well.
5. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa and baking powder and combine well.
6. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter cream mixture and combine well. But don't let it get runny.
7. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
8. Spoon out dough on lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Each spoonful should be about a full teaspoon. They are very rich so need to be small.
9. Bake for 12 minutes.
10. Remove baking sheets with cookies on them from baking tray immediately. You don't want the heat from the tray to keep cooking the cookies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lazy but Creative Afternoon Indoors

The lovely Autumn weather and chill have set in around here. It makes for some lovely scenery but I don't like being cold, and this afternoon I was feeling exceptionally lazy. However, I have two little girls who need fresh air and excitement. They woke up from their afternoon nap at 3pm and I made all of the preparations to take them to the playground, against my better judgement, since I know very well that at 3pm school kids raid the park and it is insanely loud, chaotic and echoing with tears. 

I nearly shed a tear of joy when my two-year-old told me she preferred to play indoors. Unprepared, I panicked. Bedtime was 4.5 hours away! What would we do? I heard the mail drop through the door and it was nothing but junk newspapers. AN INSTANT ACTIVITY.

I played some of Van Morrison's greatest hits on my ipod player. The girls & I did nothing more than shred the paper with our hands and toss it over each other's heads. The girls were in stitches they had so much fun. This really was a simple pleasure. Tearing, playing and picking up took 1.5 hours and before I knew it, it was time to prepare dinner. Fantastic time!

Sexy and Confident Jeans

I don't own a pair of jeans! Not one! 

My body has gone through so many changes in the last 5 years that I just have not been able to find "the perfect jean." I can't get away with shopping in the "juniors" section any longer and it seems that whenever I buy a pair of jeans, there is something always very wrong with them and that is - I don't actually feel comfortable in them. I do occasionally come across a pair of jeans that make me feel "sexy" when I am in them, but as soon as I bend over my belly hangs out and you get a clear shot of my backside. And gosh am I tired of having to pull them up and adjust constantly. Not Nice! 

Aside from the appalling name, Not Your Daughter's Jeans (NYDJ) seems to tick all of the boxes. I think they are magical because they slim and lift. They have 2% more spandex in them than most jeans, fit high on the waist and are made as a quality product. They are the perfect jean if you want to look well put-together, feel sexy, feel comfortable and look hot! 

I'd recommend these jeans to women of all ages and sizes. I'd also say that you must try them on before purchasing because of the unique fit. Do not buy online before trying on in-store. The only downside to the product is the price but these jeans fit well and are made to last. I bought a pair of Diesel's for 120 last year, that I ended selling on eBay recently because I just could move comfortably in them. 

Not Your Daughter's Jeans (NYDJ) can be found at Nordstrom's in the US and John Lewis in the UK and also at some smaller boutiques. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Feng Shui on a Budget

Last week I attended an all inspiring Feng Shui lesson. About 5 minutes into the 45 minute talk I realized that my personal likes are already Feng Shui-esque. Afterwards, I came home and ran through all of the rooms in the house making lists and drawings of how things needed to change. Full of beans, I enthusiastically shared my visions and thoughts with my husband as I heated his dinner. He was quiet. Disturbed by his lack of excitement I looked over at him and when we made eye contact he softly said "what is this going to cost?" Point taken! I'm not going to spend thousands on this task but I am going to slowly (and broadly) Feng Shui my house. I am starting with the entrance and office.

My first purchase is above. I went to a series of local charity shops and picked up all three items above for less than a fiver. The combination of white and red is supposed to represent prosperity and clarity. If you want to have a go at your own house here is a summary of the talk I attended. I will be posting pictures of my progress as it comes. ;)

Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry

On Thursdays my organic fruit and veg box arrives at my doorstep so Wednesdays I am left trying to make something wonderful out of whatever is left in the fridge. Today's lunch was delish. Myself & the girls devoured our portions. I served it with a seeded flour tortilla (known as a wrap in the UK), a cherry tomato and freshly squeezed lemonade.

Ingredients: (served 4) - takes about 35 minutes

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (I used leftovers from Monday's roast chicken)
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes peeled & cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 small onion (diced) 
  • 1 can coconut milk (about 400ml/or 13.5 ounces)
  • 8 ounces chicken stock (I used a knorr cube in lukewarm water)
  • 2 tbs curry paste (I used a tangine paste mixed with englisg mustard) 
  • salt & pepper
  • any other herbs of your liking
  • 2 tbs sunflower oil (or any other cooking oil)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large skillet or wok. Add onions and cook on low heat until translucent (about 5 minutes)
2. Add curry paste and mix well. 
3. Add sweet potatoes and cook about 5 minutes.
4. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes.
5. Add salt, pepper and any other herbs of your preference. 
6. Turn heat up to medium and add stock. Cook for 5 minutes. 
7. Add coconut milk and stir well. Allow to bubble. Let simmer until sweet potato is tender (about 15-20 minutes). While simmering stir occasionally. 
8. Serve over brown rice. My girls were pulling at my knees in hunger so I served with seeded wraps.