Mumma’s feel good orange hot chocolate

Sometimes everyone has needs a good pick me up. This hot chocolate is the answer. It is zesty, warming and chocolatey, like a big hug in a mug. 

Mumma's orange hot chocolate.JPG

Mum’s are pretty special beings. They are a bit magic. They put up with you at your very worse and at your very foulest. They are the phone call you constantly forget to return, but they are still there to pick up the pieces when you decide you need them. My mum knows when to send me a picture of my cat Mr Pigley (she just about knows how to use the camera…) She is 150 miles away, yet is still always just around the corner if I need her. She knows how hem a dress, don a Thai Chi ball, fix an ailment, but best of all, even after a long day helping even more people at the hospital (told you they are magic), she knows how to cook.

I don’t know what it is that turns you from just making dinner to being able to cook. But Susie has it, whether it’s an old favourite, a new adventure or a feel good pudding, it makes my tummy smile. Cue- my mumma’s feel-good orange hot chocolate. When she came down to Bournemouth last weekend she equipped me with the weapons to make this hot cuppa-chocolate.

It is simple and effective. Chocolate releases endorphins and reduces your blood pressure. Cinnamon is one of natures natural healers, and orange boosts your immune system and evokes that nostalgic feeling of a cosy winter.

To serve 3 cups you will need:

  • 70g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% coco solids, don’t go below 65%)
  • 400ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tbs juice from that orange
  • 2 tbs golden caster sugar- this is optional and adjustable to taste

Mumma's orange hot chocolate.JPG

1) break up the chocolate into tiny pieces and start melting it in a pan over a low heat. Then pour in a little bit of the milk until it all starts to become a runny paste.

2) Add half of the rest of the milk, the cinnamon, the orange juice and the orange zest and continue to heat over a low flame. Keep stirring, it must not boil but needs to start steaming.

3) After 5 mins add the rest of the milk and add the sugar and continue to stir until it is piping hot, but again do not burn it! Take your time, like a witch brewing a potion.

4) Pour into your favourite mug, or if your feeling adventurous scoop out the inside of the orange and pour it into that. I warn you this is tricky, I made a hole in mine and it didn’t make a great mug, but it looks cute. Sort of. It’s rustique ok.

Enjoy and share with the people you love. And never under-appreciate the power of your mum!

Mumma's orange hot chocolate

Bike Bars

So tomorrow we cycle to cornwall EEK. After weeks of waiting, hard work (for some…) and excitement the time has finally come! Chelmsford to Cornwall in 5 days. Some call us crazy, others say we have been brain washed by cycling aliens, I agree with them all. But we are certainly ready for an adventure!

So prepare for a week of lycra filled pictures, dodgy bikers tans and possibly a few grazes. Prepare for stories of singing cyclists, crying cyclists, lost cyclists and sleepy cyclists. Prepare like I have prepared for this ride… (I have not.) But I did prepare in the food department! Yes fatty over here may not care about the size of her muscles, but she does care about the happiness of her tummy; behold bike bars.

They are dead easy to make, lowfat, high energy, and perfect to enjoy after walking the dog in the park, or with a cup of tea when the weather gets more British.  I hope I have room for a few in my rucksack.


You will need:

  • 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300g of your favourite muesli- if you are on a budget Lidl’s own is great
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 150g mixed dried fruit

. Set the oven to 150C and line a tin with baking parchment, the smaller it is the thicker the bars

. Heat the condensed milk and golden syrup in a heavy based saucepan for around 7 minutes. Then add the muesli, seeds, and dried fruit

. Stir the mix together so it forms a thick paste and the condensed milk has coated all the ingredients

. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray and place on the middle shelf of your oven for around 30 mins until slightly chewey but golden on top. The longer you bake them, the crunchier they become.

Wish us luck and check back here tomorrow to see how our first day went!



Nope, I didn’t know what these were either, I just made them for the name. But they did not let me down!

Imagine a biscuit, which is a bit like a cake but tastes like a cinnamon sugar donut. That is a Snickerdoodle.

They are a lot more known in America it seems, but I think Britain should bite the biscuit and get involved too, these things are incredibly moreish. I have eaten 5 already today.


Sorry to Snickers fans, they are not included in the recipe, but I reckon you should buy a Snickers anyway, and melt it over one of these doodles with some ice-cream- Snickersnickerdoodles.

This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe with a tweak!

You will need:

  • 80g wholemeal plain flour
  • 170g plain flour (alternatively use 250g of plain and no wholemeal flour)
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

1) Cream together the sugar and butter until it is fluffy.

2) add the egg and vanilla essence and continue to whisk it until smooth and creamy.

3) In a separate bowl combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, then add it to the butter mix and stir with a metal spoon until it is all mixed into a dough.

4) On a plate, spoon out the sugar and cinnamon. Roll walnut size pieces of dough into balls in your palms, then roll them in the sugar and cinnamon. If you are unsure of the size of a walnut (I was…) then imagine a large Brussels sprout, or a golf ball.



5) place your Doodles onto baking parchment, you can get up to 32 of them out of the dough! Or you could try making giant ones.


6) Bake at 180 degrees for 15 mins, then remove to cool.

Eat them warm with tea, or dipped in jam. They’re just as great cold. Let me know what you think of them!






Lemon Meringue Pie

A zingy lemon filling with a golden crisp top meringue and absolutely no soggy bottoms. Mary Berry would be proud.

Happy April!

I hope you are all owners of slightly rounder stomachs in the wake of Easter, if not please come and help yourself to my chocolate before I resemble Augustus Gloop.

The sun is shining today, so maybe spring has finally arrived (touch wood, white rabbits). Either way, I am going to provide you with a springy zingy recipe to celebrate, and bombard you with cheesy puns and sayings along the way.

This is the first Lemon Meringue Pie I have ever made, so it’s proof that anyone can make it with success. The proof is in the pudding!

Lemon Meringue Pie

I was helped by life long best friend Polly Wicks (can’t get rid of her), who was especially good removing egg shells and taking pictures. There were a few ups and downs along the way; at one point it nearly fell on the floor, which I’m sure Mr Pigley would have been very happy about. But we made it out the other side mostly unscathed.

Confession: I didn’t make the pastry due to time constraints, laziness, and a short attention span. Next time I will I promise!

Also, before we start I would like words with whoever invented the spelling for Meringue. Seriously give me a break, my spell check has never had to work harder.

Lemon Meringue Pie

You will need:

  • Sweet short crust pastry- bought or made. Don’t feel guilty if you cheat, Delia does it!

For the filling:

  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
  • juice 1 small orange
  • 85g butter , cut into chunks
  • 3 egg yolks and plus 1 whole egg

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites at room temperature, avoid all yolks!
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

1) First you need to bake your pastry so that it retains it’s shape and there is no soggy business. Roll it out and lay it into your 23 x 2.5cm pastry tin with push out base. Leave the excess over the edges as the pastry shrinks in the oven, you can cut it off afterwards. I didn’t do this… I call it literal shortcrust pastry.

Bake it at 180 degrees for 15 mins with greaseproof paper and rice on it to weigh it down and stop the pastry rising.

2) Remove the greaseproof and bake for another 4 mins.

Lemon Meringue Pie
“Short crust” pastry

3) Leave this to one side and begin to make your filling. For this you need to stir your sugar, cornflour and lemon juice together on a medium heat in a pan. Do this until it is slightly sticky, then add your zest and orange juice, plus however much water you need to make the orange juice up to 200 ml.

4) Stir until thick, bubbling and smooth. Then remove from the heat and stir in the butter chunks until melted.

5) Beat in the egg yolks and whole egg- save the egg whites for the meringue. The trick with separating egg yolks is to crack the egg in half, keeping the yolk as a whole in one half of the shell and the white dribbles out. I’m always scared when I do this! But try this tutorial.

6) The mix will be thick, yellow, custard looking and jelly like. Remove it from the heat and now make the meringue.

Lemon Meringue Pie

7) Beat the 4 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Make sure there is no yolk or shell in the whites- polly was in charge of this!

She likes pugs
She likes pugs

8) Add the sugar gradually with the corn flour. It will still form thick peaks and have a glistening sheen to the mix. If it is ready you can hold your bowl upside down and the mix won’t fall out!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

I was actually very scared...!

I was actually very scared…!

9) Reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case, then spoon on the meringue starting from around the edges or it will sink in the middle.

Lemon Meringue Pie

10) Bake in the oven for 18-20 mins at 180 degrees until the meringue is slightly golden and crisp on top. Let it cool in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave it to cool for another 1hr.

Lemon Meringue Piem

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ultimate Chocolate Malteser Tiffin

Crumbly chocolate tiffin with chewy maltesers and a smooth chocolate topping.

I would go as far to say that this recipe is possibly the only reason we as a family have friends.

This has been tried and tested by every single birthday, anniversary, dinner party, wedding, christening, tea party or even non occasion the Smolen’s have attended.

It says “thank you” a lot, and “let me be in your good books” even more; bribery is a beautiful thing.

If mum makes it to take in to work, she has to leave a strip behind for us for her own good, she knows tiffin deprivation is an ugly experience.

Basically this stuff is pretty bloody amazing and I have never met anybody who has turned down a piece.

Ultimate Chocolate Malteser Tiffin

Warning 1: the mix before it is set is incredibly addictive and you will eat a lot of it.

Warning 2: If you are on a diet, erase your memory of everything that is in it and pretend it was made with carrots

You will need:

  • 1oog 70% dark choc
  • 300g milk choc (good quality)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs golden syrup
  • 275g crushed digestives
  • 200g maltesers

1) In a pan, gently melt the butter, 100g milk choc, dark choc and golden syrup together in a pan until it is a smooth silky saucy texture.

2) With a rolling pin, lay a tea towel over the biscuits and bash them until they are crumbs. Leave some bigger lumps in but most of it needs to be crumby.

3) Pour the bashed digestives into the chocolate and butter mix and stir it all together to make a sort of paste. Then mix in your maltesers.

4) Line a pan with greaseproof paper and spoon the mix into any shape you like keeping it about 1 1/2 inches thick then pop to one side.

5) In a seperate bowl melt the remaining 200g of chocolate. If you do it in the microwave be careful not to burn it! Then pour it as a topping onto the tiffin you just shaped. Leave to set.

6) After about  2 hours in the fridge the tiffin should be set, cut it into cubes, eat the escape crumbs and share with everyone at every occasion possible! Especially those who you want to be your friend.

Ultimate Chocolate Malteser Tiffin

Ultimate Chocolate Malteser Tiffin

Ultimate Chocolate Malteser Tiffin

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks

Serve your sweet tooth, it is nearly Christmas! These are a bit like millionaire shortbreads, but better. Plus they have oats in, oats are in porridge, and porridge is healthy, therefore these are healthy… There must be some logic in that.

Ok so they might not be that healthy, but they are perfect for breakfast, tea breaks, snacks and pudding. They are fairly easy to make and require minimal washing up (otherwise I would have been adverse to making them.)

The chocolate goes a bit white when it sets by the way, totally normal and is not mould! Also these take a good 5 hrs to set, so it is best to make them and leave them over night, sorry impatient people of which I am one of.

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks- The Vegaquarium

You will need:

  • 350g of big oats
  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 tbs of golden syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g chopped nuts or fruit (optional)


  • 397g can of caramel (can use a tin of carnation caramel)
  • 300g chocolate

1) Set the Oven to 200 degrees. Then melt the butter, syrup, salt and sugar in a pan over the hob. Stir it all until it is a smooth liquid.

2) Take off the heat and stir in the oats and nuts/fruit if you are adding any. Make sure the oats are all mixed in! Then pour into a greaseproof paper lined pan.

3) Bake in the oven for 30 mins on the middle shelf. Ensure you check every 15 mins that they haven’t burned! You want an even golden brown on top, and remember that they won’t set completely until they are out the oven, so it’s ok if it is still bubbling.

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks- The Vegaquarium

4) Leave to cool. Then pour on and spread the caramel before popping it in the fridge for 10 mins.

5) Melt the chocolate and pour it on top of the caramel, spread it evenly and then leave it all to set. If you want you could try orange chocolate, or even mint if it takes your fancy, just make sure it melts well.

Enjoy with tea and friends!

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks- The Vegaquarium

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks- The Vegaquarium

Chocolate Caramel Flapjacks- The Vegaquarium

Creamy avocado pasta

One hungover day, when the time for porridge and cereal was long behind me, I decided to make this meal my breakfast (technically). But I would do it again! I know, another pasta dish, but this one is special and I’ve been meaning to try something like it for ages!

The thing I like about this pasta is that it is so creamy you feel like it should be a huge calorific bomb, but it is actually pretty green and healthy! If you don’t like avocado, don’t ditch me just yet, as this is avocado in a whole new light.

My recipe serves 2, but you can double or tripple your ingredients, make up a huge batch of this stuff and feed it to your friends, family, pets, I reckon it would go down a treat.

I would have liked to have made this with spagetti, but penne was all my cupboard had to bare.

You will need:

  • 125g of your favourite pasta
  • 2 soft ripe avocados
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tbs mayonaise
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • pinch of black pepper and pinch of salt
  • Peas or spinach (optional)

To be honest, the recipe from here requires little explanation!

  1. Cook your pasta for 10 minutes in boiling water, and remember to add your peas about 3 mins before the end!
  2. Meanwhile mash or blend up the avocado, mayo, lemon, pepper, salt, and garlic into a big paste. Then stir in your pasta and parmesan.
  3. Finish with more seasoning to taste and serve with a garnish if you are feeling posh/pretentious like me. Told you it was pretty simple, so no excuses not to try.

While I am here, I feel I would also like to show the cake I made my friend Jessica yesterday. She is an avid fan on Strictly Come Dancing, has been to see it twice, and will end up on the show one day… we hope. Therefore the obviously the only appropriate cake was Strictly themed. I was going to do a whole post on it, but after the trauma of it nearly looking like shiny football, spraying shimmer in my eye , getting red food dye everywhere and spilling silver balls all over the floor, it became too much to re-live. It is a very nearly disco ball, but the sponge should taste good.

Happy birthday Jess!