Friday, 29 November 2013

Recipe: Steak and Stilton Pie

I love a good pie, I really do. Who doesn't love the comfort of buttery pastry on these cold winter nights?

Luckily for me, my boyfriend is also a big advocate of pies. We've started up a weekly pie night on a Monday, to help chase the Monday Blues away - and it's been a raging success. We usually swing between three favourites: steak and stilton, creamy chicken and, finally, cheese and bovril.

Cheese and bovril?! I know what you might be thinking. Yes, cheese and bovril makes a cracking pie. However, today's post is dedicated to my favourite steak and stilton pie and I'm going to share my recipe with you.

This is my first recipe post so...things may go a bit haywire. I'm a bit vague with the measurements but, really, the best meals come out of eyeballing measurements and going with what suits you tastes, right? Maybe you find stilton a little overpowering - add a bit less than I do. Or maybe you're veggie - go for Quorn steak strips instead of meat.

This recipe is based on the steak and stilton pie which is sold at a pub near us, which boasts the country's best pies. I know that's a big claim but, literally, they were voted the country's best pies. Their steak and stilton was always my favourite so I decided to try and come up with something similar at home. And this is what happened:


Ingredients:



Pastry (CONFESSION: I buy pre-made pastry because I'm lazy but if you want to make your own there are a tonne of recipes out there)
Diced steak 750g (750g makes two BIG pies which do me and my boyfrend for dinner and lunch the next day)
Rosemary (I use dried...fresh is probably better)
Stilton (as little or as much as you like!)
Beef stock (cubes, fresh - any will work)
Cornflour (to thicken the sauce, if required)

1 egg (to glaze the pies)
Butter (to grease the tins)

Of course you could add mushrooms, carrots, red wine - anything. I would add a dash of red wine but we, er, appear to have drunk it all...

Method:

- Pre-heat your oven to 180

- Remove fat from steak to your taste. I personally lop most of it off but I know some prefer the flavour it adds.




- Heat some butter in a pan and add a sprinkling of rosemary. In a minute or so your kitchen will begin to smell absolutely amazing.

- Wait for the butter to melt and add the steak. Cook slowly on a lower heat for more tender steak.



- While the steak's cooking I use this time to grease my pie dishes. I'm sure there are lots of tips online about this but, basically, my advice is this: grease the hell out of your dishes. I whack some butter on greaseproof paper and rub it over every inch of the dishes, especially the rim (man there is no way to write that sentence that doesn't sound exceptionally inappropriate), you'll be glad you did later on!

- When the steak is nicely browned I add a couple more shakes of rosemary and two beef stock cubes. There will be some liquid in the pan from the butter and beef but add more if you need to. Once the stock cubes have reduced stir well.

- At this stage I'll roll out my pastry and line my two pie dishes so I don't have to faff around once the filling's ready to be added.

- I leave the beef simmering in the stock for about five more minutes, then check the thickness of the sauce. For me it's often too thin so I add corn flour to thicken it - usually two tea spoons but do add this gradually if you're not sure. There's no hard and fast rule about the sauce, just add gradually and stir until the sauce is at your desired thickness.


- When the steak is alllllmost ready I chuck in about half of the chopped stilton so it can melt in with the meat.


 - As soon as your stilton is melted add the filling to the pie dishes. After everything's added I
sprinkle the rest of the stilton on top.


- Add the pastry lid to the pie, be careful to seal the edges properly. Cut a small hole in the centre of the lid to let any steam escape.

- Use a pastry brush to glaze the lid of your pie with egg.

- And that's it! Simply pop your pies into the oven for fifteen - twenty five minutes (depending on the size of your pies - ours usually take about twenty two minutes at 185) and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy when they're ready!


ENJOY!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas/Birthday Wishlist: Cosmetics

Can you believe it's under a month until Christmas? I know everybody's saying it but...it's come around so quickly! It's also my birthday in less than three week so so I thought I'd share my cosmetics wishlist for my birthday and Christmas.

1. Benefit Hervana // 2. Essie Mint Candy Apple // 3. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge // 4. Origins No Puffery // 5. REN Hydra Calm Global Day Cream // 6. Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers // 7. Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer

8. Nars Single Eyeshadow in Mekong // 9. Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette // 10. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink // 11. Tweezerman Pink Perfection Slant Tweezer




Monday, 25 November 2013

South West Blogger Meet

Sometimes it seems as though all the blogger action is going on in London, doesn't it? It's always nice to get an opportunity to go to an event that's locally based, so I jumped at the chance to head down to the #swbloggersmeet, which was held last weekend in Exeter and organised by Liza from Glam Beautys and Kerry from Lived with Love.

I headed down to the event with the very lovely Amy from Amy Loves and we spent the whole journey nattering about cosmetics and blogging and all things girly. At Exeter station we met up with Tasha from Elsie Delilah and Emily from Pretty Please and we headed off to find the venue together. All three girls are such, such lovely ladies and it was an absolute pleasure spending the day with them. All of their blogs are 100% worth a read so do stop by and check them out! Emily was recording her first vlog throughout the day, so that was pretty exciting, look out for my mug popping up in it every now and then!

The event itself was held in a gorgeous little cocktail bar in Exeter and we had the whole upstairs to ourselves, which was a really nice touch. Lush were there with their Christmas collection and we spent a while sniffing everything in sight and running up pretty big wishlists! I took a catalogue with me and have promptly circled almost everything in there...oops.

It was such a refreshing change to be in a room of fifty or so girls and have every single one supporting the other with no trace of jealousy or bitchiness. Go girls!

As if the event itself wasn't enough we were even given amazing goodie bags to go away with, which were stuffed with a mixture of luxe samples and full sized products that I cannot wait to get stuck into - so do look out for reviews of some of these coming soon.

I want to say a huge thank you to Kerry and Liza for organising such a brilliant day - it was lovely to meet so many bloggers I've been chatting to and following for so long. Roll on the next one!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

MAC Lipstick in Candy Yum Yum

So a couple of weeks ago I blogged about my newly discovered love for MAC lipsticks. Can you believe I hadn't tried them before? Since I got back from holiday I've been wearing Lustering and Plumful a lot but today I decided to brighten things up by trying out Candy Yum Yum for the first time.



I was a little on the fence when it came to buying this one, as even the girl helping me in MAC said it's not a shade that suits all skin tones. I wasn't sure how it would work with my pale skin but as soon as I put it on I fell in love - and my boyfriend whole-heartedly agreed. Sold!



Candy Yum Yum has a matte finish so I do find it's a little drying but that's nothing a slick of lip balm doesn't fix. Despite it's bright shade, this wears evenly and is so much more long-lasting that I thought it'd be. It's love. Hot pink, in your face love.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Butter London Nail Varnish in Royal Navy

I've been eyeing Butter nail varnishes for a long time now. All the swatches I see online are gorgeous and I kept hearing great things about the formula and staying power but I couldn't quite bring myself to drop £12.50 on a nail varnish when my £2.99 Barry M jobs do me fine.

However, I'm on a quest to start choosing quality over quantity so I took advantage of the exchange rate while I'm Florida and decided to pick up a Butter polish, bearing in mind the $15 price tag equals a big saving over the UK price.



I've read a few great posts about navy nails over the last few weeks so I thought I'd combine my two nail varnish wants and go for a Butter London varnish in navy.

After a quick look in Ulta I decided to go for Royal Navy, which is one of those delicious blues that is so dark is can appear almost black and it's exactly what I was looking for.



Everything I'd read about the formula was right - the polish goes on even and one coat provides excellent full coverage. I've had this on for three days so far and there's no sight of even the tiniest chip - and I am not delicate with my nails so I usually find varnish doesn't last more than 48 hours on me without chipping.

Now the only problem is that I'm a definite convert... My Butter London wishlist is pretty darn healthy, which means my bank balance definitely isn't going to be!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Top Five A/W 2013 Lipsticks

As I mentioned earlier this week I've become a bit of a lipstick fiend of late. I'm really enjoying trying out new shades and adding a lot of new products to my make up drawers - oops!

To tie in with my newfound love of lipstick here are my top five lipstick picks for Autumn/Winter 2013.

MUA Lipstick in Shade 1 // MAC Plumful // Rimmel Moisture Renew in Latino // Too Faced La Creme in Bumbleberry // Revlon Just Bitten in Crush
I'm very much following the norm and have gone for some berry shades in my picks, ranging from plums to deep wines and a few shades in between.

MUA Lipstick in Shade 1 // MAC Plumful // Rimmel Moisture Renew in Latino // Too Faced La Creme in Bumbleberry // Revlon Just Bitten in Crush

MUA Lipstick in Shade 1: This is a deep red, almost scarlet colour that I like to pair with lots of mascara and simple black liner. For £1 it's a complete steal but the formula is a little drying on me so keep a lip balm nearby!

MAC Plumful: My review of this went up on Monday and I'm in love. For me, this is a perfect Autumnal shade that goes with any look and, what's more, the formula is a dream.

Rimmel Moisture Renew in Latino: I don't have many Rimmel lipsticks in my make up drawers but this one I'm quite a fan of. It livens up a dull face (which mine often is throughout this time of year!) but the shimmer isn't for everybody.

Too Faced La Creme in Bumbleberry: My favourite of the bunch; I've been wearing this a lot since picking it up a few weeks ago. One slick of this on my lips and they're nourished and glossy for hours - as this is part lipstick/part balm it's not at all drying - win.

Revlon Just Bitten in Crush: I'm a big fan of the Revlon Just Bitten range and Crush is one of my most worn shades. A gorgeous deep berry colour, it's one I've chucked in my make up bag so often the branding has worn away from the packaging!

MUA Lipstick in Shade 1 // MAC Plumful // Rimmel Moisture Renew in Latino // Too Faced La Creme in Bumbleberry // Revlon Just Bitten in Crush

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So those are my top five lipstick picks for Autumn/Winter. What lipsticks are you wearing a lot throughout this season? Let me know which ones you think I'm missing!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On Losing My MAC Virginity

So, up until three weeks ago I didn't own any MAC products. I KNOW, RIGHT? I'd been to a couple of MAC counters before but, being totally honest, I'd always found the staff a little unfriendly and unhelpful and had always walked away without purchasing anything. I think with a brand like MAC it can be difficult to know where to start as they have such a huge product range.

However, I decided it was time to lose my MAC virginity in Florida. I'd checked the prices online and the savings were insane, so I knew it was the right place to pick up my first products. While an eyeshadow or lipstick retails for £15 in the UK you can pick them up for $15 in the US ($15.98 including sales tax), which worked out as £9 based on the exchange rate while I was away. A pretty awesome saving, I'm sure you'll agree.



I spent a bit of time online picking out a few eyeshadows and lipsticks I liked the look of, so I wouldn't get too overwhelmed by everything on offer instore. My wishlist grew and grew and I suddenly realised I already had a MAC problem before owning my first item. Oops.

The long and short of it is that I went MAC mad in Florida. Eyeshadows, lipsticks, a foundation, pressed powder, blush... You name it, it was in my basket. At one point I visited a MAC store and two counters in the space of two hours... Oh dear. In my defence I was searching for a specific lipstick (Speak Louder) which, for some reason, was sold out everywhere! Never fear, though, I managed to pick it up at the airport on the way home.



Ladies, I understand your love for MAC now, I really do. The shadows are super pigmented, gorgeously soft and have crazy staying powder. I've worn Naked Lunch pretty much every day since I bought it and I came home with a MAC wishlist twice as long as it was when I started.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. MAC, I salute you.



Monday, 4 November 2013

MAC Lipstick in Plumful

On Wednesday I'm blogging about losing my MAC virginity in a bit more detail but today I'm focusing on my very first MAC product - a lipstick in the shade Plumful. Funnily enough I didn't actually buy this one, on the day I headed out to buy my first MAC products my mum presented me with this one, which she'd bought herself and ended up not liking. Free MAC lipstick? Score.

I tend to stick to the same colours on my lips (something a little pinker than my own lip colour) so I've resolved to experiment a bit more and try out some other colours. For anybody else in this position, Plumful is the perfect choice.



A berry shade that isn't too dark, this is an absolutely idea Autumn/Winter colour. It looks great with my pale skin and I've been pairing it with oxblood eyeshadow and black liner for the past week or so. It's not often I'll go for the same look for so many days in a row so it's a real testament so how much I like this colour.

I'm also head over heels in love with the formula, which is so deliciously creamy it makes wearing this colour an absolute pleasure. The main reason I've avoided bolder colours on my lips is because of how dry they can get - flaky, chapped lips are not a good look so I've tended to stick to tinted balms to get my colour. Not any more! I'm not sure if it's because I'm paying more attention to exfolating my lips, or whether it's that I'm now going for a better quality product (or maybe it's a combination of both) but my lips have never been in better condition and are now a great canvas to try a whole host of different colours.



Give me another week and I'll be rocking Candy Yum Yum in the office. Maybe.

So, what do you think? Have you got Plumful in your make up drawers? What are your favourite lip colours for this season?