My First and (maybe) Last Flight on Norwegian Air

After a lovely stay at Bloc, I checked out at 10:30 am to make the short walk to the check in desk at Gatwick’s south terminal. Check in was a breeze and was surprisingly quick considering the lengthy line. After a quick meal at Nando’s which consisted of their quinoa salad and a FREE tea (courtesy of Bloc), I strolled to the gate I would be leaving from.

The boarding experience was a far cry from check in. There was a rush and crowding to get ones passport checked without any orderly queue or organisation of any kind. As I sat waiting for my boarding group to be called, I started to realise how much I loved proper lines and waiting your turn; surely a sign of having lived in Japan and England for quite a while.

I quietly celebrated getting to my seat in one piece and finding room in the overhead space for my carry on. As I booked my seat back in October, I was able to snag a seat in the front of economy, ensuring I had plenty of leg room. Andd then I sat down to a very narrow seat, and possibly the narrowest I’ve experienced. To be fair, I was in row 11 which is a bulkhead row, if sat in the middle or right sided three. So, it meant both the food tray and video screen is tucked into the side. So, OK, it’s just one of those things that comes with the territory.

Then the food came, which was both a pro and con. First the cons. This was their idea of a 3 course meal. The tiny salad, sans dressing was my starter, the hot food selection was the actual meal, and the tiny portion of fruit was the dessert. I had to remind myself that I DID book a budget carrier for a long haul flight, so I’ll just file this one away for future reference. That said, here comes the pro… the salad and fruit were very fresh and my vegetarian main was delicious. I couldn’t fault the flavorful spiciness of the roasted aubergine dish which had smoky accents and a savory sauce. I just wish I had more of it.

We weren’t served anything else until 2 hours before landing. The vegetarian option consisted of a juice smoothie, fruit (2 apple slices & 4 grapes), and a hummus/harissa vegetable wrap. Again, the food was good, just wish I had more fruit. The other option was a chicken roll and brownie.

Now, comes another con… They don’t recycle any of their plastic cups!!! I noticed the flight attendants filling up more plastic cups with drinks, even after some of us already had a plastic cup. I politely asked if they recycled them, to which the flight attendant regretfully shook her head no. So I decided to take my clear plastics with me and will dispose of them in the first recycling bin I come across.

They did allow me to use my ecoffee cup for my tea. I take my cup whenever I travel as it’s super lightweight and totally cute! It’s a small gesture, but every time I utilize one of my reusables, it is one less piece of plastic or trash to worry about.

Entertainment wise, the pull out screen was small and the video selection was not vast. I did get the chance to watch Crazy Rich Asians which was a plus. They also had Friends and Modern Family (3 and 1 episode, respectively) which I love, but I wish they featured more episodes and seasons of the shows on selection.

So, the final verdict…. Would I fly with Norwegian Airlines again?? For a long haul flight to the states, probably not. I know it’s a budget airline so I knew ahead of time there weren’t going to be any frills, as it really was just a seat in the sky. For short European hops, that’s not a problem for me as I often use budget carriers out of Bristol. But for a longer flight, I think I just need a bit more comfort. I’m not sure I would pay more for their premium economy service either. For one, those rows didn’t have video screens in the seat in front of them. To me, that’s not a good sign, especially since the premium economy offerings with other airlines, for the same price, offer ALOT more. But to be honest, I think people will continue to purchase budget long haul flights, because getting a £215 one way ticket to sunshine is usually worth it when you live in Ol’ Blighty. And right now with all the Brexit mess, we can all use a sunny getaway. Keep an eye out for my next plane review taking me back to England – I can promise it will be drastically different!! Thanks for reading and Happy Traveling!

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Spiced Christmas Cake

The festive season is well underway, but I feel like I haven’t had that many sweets. As I’m feeling better after being ill, I’m finally ready for the treats! So I decided to make something festive and full of what Christmas tastes like to me. Make way for this Spiced Christmas Cake which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground giner
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • mincemeat filling (optional)
  • powdered sugar to top (optional; ignore the white sugar in the photo. Imagine its powdered sugar since I noticed the mistake just now.)

First, measure out the flour into a large bowl. Then add the baking powder and soda, salt, brown sugar, and all the spices. Combine evenly.

Next in a separate bowl, beat all four eggs very well. Whenever I make a cake, I make sure that the eggs are as smooth as possible. This ensures a silky batter with an even rise; well, most of the time anyway. The last thing you want is to take a bite of cake and then find a bit of scrambled egg in your mouth!

Once the eggs are beaten, add the vanilla, vegetable oil, milk, and applesauce. In the states, its easy to find smooth applesauce, and sometimes several brands to choose from. In the UK, it’s more of an accompaniment with meat I believe, and there are jars of it especially around the holidays. I found a small jar at Tesco on Broadmead for 55p, made with chunks of bramley apple.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of flour and spices, and mix very well. If you have a mixer, use that, other wise get a whisk and combine everything well to form a smooth batter.

Line a round baking tin with baking paper, or butter and flour. Pour the batter into the tin and let it settle for a few minutes.

Heat your oven to 180 C / 350F and bake on the middle or low rack for ~35 minutes. I like to bake cakes a bit lower on the racks to avoid browning the cake top too soon.

Once it comes out of the oven, let it cool completely. Then you can really get creative to how you want to spruce it up! I cut it in half creating a top and bottom. Here you can add a layer of cream, or to make it truly festive, spread on a layer of mincemeat! Then top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

And there you have it, Spiced Christmas Cake! This cake is fragrant with seasonal spices and goes great with a cup of tea or coffee. I made this for my work Christmas lunch, and completely forgot to take a photo before we cut into it. This is because I waited til the morning of to put the finishing touches to the cake while I was making my breakfast and getting some slow cooker soup together in the crock pot. And I wonder why I get so tired at the end of the day! Anyway, although there are a lot of ingredients that go into this cake, its totally worth it! The cake is super moist and the flavour is just devine. Its what Christmas tastes like! I hope you get the chance to give this cake a try and that it becomes a part of your Christmas dessert recipes. Have a very Merry Christmas, and as always, thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Spiced Shortbread Biscuits

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. In the run up to Thanksgiving, I became very ill resulting in a bad sinus infection causing me to come to a grinding halt. I’m usually doing so many things at once, so it was annoying to have to just stop and do nothing in order to get better. So with just days until Christmas, I thought I should at least post a few recipes as my energy levels are slowly on the rise. Cue a super easy cookie recipe with only a few ingredients but lots of spice. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

First, measure out the flour, sugar, and spices into a bowl and combine well. You should already be able to smell the warming spices coming together.

Next, cube the softened butter and work it into the dough with the vanilla.

You can use a mixer, or just use your hand (like me!). However you do it, you will have a soft, smooth dough eventually.

Once the dough has come together, form it into a cylinder shape, that resembles, um, a wooden log, ha, ha. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill, then using a sharp knife, cut off circular shapes and place on a lined tray.

Bake in an oven heated to 350 F / 180 C and bake for 15 – 17 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your biscuits.

And there you have it, Spiced Shortbread Biscuits! These were super easy to make, and they really don’t require an array of ingredients.  So if you’re looking for something simple to make for your workplace, for Santa on Christmas Eve, or for yourself, give these a try! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Pumpkin Spice Balls

We are well into October, but here in Bristol, we are being spoiled by beautiful weather this weekend. Walking around was so perfect and it certainly doesn’t feel like winter will be here soon. Taking advantage of the nice weather, I went to Zero Green in Bedminster, one of Bristol’s many plastic free shops. You bring your own containers, weigh, fill, then weigh again. The oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, date/raisins, and pulp are from this shop. They also feature almond, cashew, and oat mylk in glass bottles from a lovely company called O!Mylk. They often leave leftover nut pulp for customers to take for free! So I took about a cups worth and decided to make these Pumpkin Spice Balls. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup almond pulp (or desiccated almonds if you don’t have pulp)
  • 1/4 cup porridge oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins and/or chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
  • 5-6 tablespoons puréed pumpkin
  • Pumpkin seeds to coat

Place the pulp, oats, dates & raisins, chia seeds, and pumpkin spice in a bowl. The pulp is moist, so I found it best to mix together with a fork, working all the ingredients together as much as possible.

Once mixed, it should look a bit crumbly, as seen above.

Next, add the honey, nut butter, and pumpkin. Really stir it through so that all dry ingredients are well incorporated. If the mixture is too dry and not holding, you can add a bit more pumpkin. If it’s turned out too wet, just sprinkle on a bit more oats.

After rolling into a ball, I squished pumpkin seeds onto the outside. You really have to press them in as they don’t stick easily. Alternatively, you can drizzle the balls in chocolate or icing, then put the seeds on.

And there you have it, Pumpkin Spice Balls! They were super easy to make and would be a fun activity for little ones. There are also a lot of ways to adapt this recipe to your liking. You can always use maple syrup or golden syrup instead of honey. And if you like them sweeter, add more honey and slightly less pumpkin to bind. I think toasted pecans or chocolate chips would work really well in these treats. However you make them, this is a great way to create a healthy snack without producing much waste.

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Pumpkin Spice Scones

Happy October! Now it’s time for all things pumpkin, which really is one of my favourite things to eat. I’ve also noticed a lot more businesses are offering pumpkin spice flavored treats, which I plan on reviewing at a later date. Anyhow, on to these delicious scones. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup puréed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pumpkin seeds to top scones

First, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix very well, making sure you break up any brown sugar lumps.

Next, add the pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Mix very well until the wet ingredients are fully incorporated, creating a sticky dough.

Place 8 even portions of the dough on your baking sheet. Top with pumpkin seeds. Since my seeds are raw, I like putting them on top so they end up with a nice, toasted flavor. Also, if any one likes my baking mat, I got it for £5 at Sainsbury’s.

Place into the oven at 350 F / 180 C for 15 minutes. Once done, take out the oven and let cool completely.

And there you have it, Pumpkin Scones that are vegan, egg free, dairy free, and delicious!

Even without butter, these are soft, chewy, and bursting with pumpkin spice flavor. They are easy to make as you just put all the ingredients into a bowl, mix it up, and bake. No fuss! And if you’re wondering where to find canned pumpkin, Sainsbury’s tends to have them in the American (junk) food aisle. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Upside Down Plum Cake

The Bristol Half Marathon is tomorrow and I thought I’d bake up some pre-race fuel to use up some ripe plums. Not sure how the weather will turn out, but when all else fails, at least there’s cake. Here is what you’ll need:

For the plum topping:

  • 8-10 ripe plums
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

For the cake batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or any you like)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 beaten eggs

First, wash and cut the plums as you like.

Next, mix the brown sugar and butter, spreading it on the bottom of your cake tin.

Then, neatly arrange the plums on top of the butter and brown sugar.

In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, almond milk, and almond extract. Stir it a bit, then do the eggs.

Last, beat the eggs separately before adding them to the batter. If you have a mixer, use it! If not, just use a whisk to get a good batter. For the record, I don’t have a mixer, but the cakes still turn out alright.

Once mixed, pour the batter evenly into the tin, making sure it covers the fruit.

Heat your oven to 180 C / 350 F, and bake for 35 minutes.

And there you have it, Upside Down Plum Cake! This cake is good, like real good! Gooey, sticky, sweet, and part of your 5 a day? Heck yeah!

This is the perfect way to use up your ripe plums. The recipe also works well with damsons, peaches, and nectarines. And who doesn’t like a serving of fruit? Hopefully a slice of this cake will propel me to the finish line. And at the very least, lots of leftovers, yeah! If you happen to be near the Half Marathon route, come out and cheer us on – with the weather we’re expecting, we’ll need it! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Easy Blackberry Jam

The weather is starting to turn, but we’re still having lots of sunny afternoons with cool breezes. And, there are still blackberries to be harvested. So, I thought I’d make some easy Blackberry jam with my last haul. It makes a small batch, which is approximately one jar. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon

After washing your blackberries very well, place in a small sauce pan with the sugar.

Next, grab a masher and spend several minutes smashing the heck out of those berries. You really want to get the juice flowing so that the berries become a liquid purée like mash up.

There will still be bits of berry, but as you can see above, it should have lots of juice. Place on the stove and set on high. I used mark 5.

Bring the berry mash to a boil, stirring it the entire time. By constantly stirring, you’ll ensure it does not burn. Once it boils for about 5 minutes, put on medium low and simmer until it thickens. You’ll know it’s ready when it coats the spoon.

Juice the lemon, and stir in the liquid while the berry mixture is still hot.

Make sure your jar is already prepared. It needs to be thoroughly cleaned and boiled to sterilise. While the liquid is still hot, spoon jam into the jar. It will firm up as it cools.

And there you have it, one batch of Easy Blackberry Jam! This is the perfect way to preserve the last of the summer fruit to enjoy into the cold winter months. Stir it in porridge, put it in yogurt, or enjoy on some toast! However you slice it, this jam is just too easy to pass up. Give it a try before the berries disappear. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Wild Fruit Crumble

This cooler weather has been so nice and comfortable. It’s the perfect temperature for running and cycling, and for foraging wild fruit on the way.

I loaded up on these berries and apples during a bike ride, and the most obvious thing to make was a warm and filling crumble. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 3 small apples
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup porridge oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup raisins or sultanas
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

First wash the fruit very well, then peel and chop the apples into chunks. Put all the fruit into your baking dish.

Pour the sugar and flour over the fruit, and mix it around trying to coat the chunks as much as possible.

Next you will prepare the topping, which is essentially a bowl of porridge. Put the oats, cinnamon, almonds, raisins, and almond milk together. Let it sit for about 5 minutes so the oats absorb as much of the liquid as possible.

Spread the topping over the fruit. Make sure it’s as even as possible.

Place in the oven at 180 C / 350 F for 35 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s done when the fruit is soft and the topping is golden brown.

And there, you have it, Wild Fruit Crumble! You can pretty much use any fruit you want. Damson, blueberries, and red plums work well too! And the topping is on the healthy side compared to traditional crumble which often has a lot of butter and sugar. As I’m training for the Bristol Half Marathon, this is definitely a dessert I can get behind! And you can even have it for breakfast! It is part of your five a day and a lovely way to fuel your morning workout. Give this recipe a try and you can start by picking some wild fruit. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Coconut Banana Cookies

Hello Bristol! Anyone else loving these cooler temperatures? I get the feeling that autumn is upon us and that means I can finally fire up the oven! So, as I’m training for the Bristol Half Marathon, I wanted to make these cookies which are great snacks packed with energy. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated coconut
  • 1/4 cup nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin)
  • 1/4 raisins (or chocolate chips)

First, mash your bananas very well. The riper they are, the sweeter they’ll be, and the easier they will mash up.

At this point, add some vanilla, stirring it in thoroughly.

Next, add the coconut, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. I will add that although the pink bag of coconut says flour, it’s more like finely shredded coconut. I do have actual coconut flour which is much finer. I suppose you can use that as well, and if so, let me know how it turns out.

Spoon out the mixture onto a cookie sheet, flattening them a bit. Place them in an oven heated to 350 F / 180 C for 15 minutes. If you want a bit more browning on top, add another 3-5 minutes to that.

And there you have it, Coconut Banana Cookies! These were super easy to make, and start to finish, took just over 30 minutes or so. You can also customize these as you like once you have the banana, coconut, and vanilla base. I think chocolate chips and walnuts would be great together, as well as dates and almonds. However you bake them, this recipe is hard to mess up. Give these a try this weekend as the cooler weather rolls in. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Banana Blondies

What a beautiful Saturday morning we had with perfect conditions for the Balloon Fiesta! Unfortunately that was the last glimpse of summer, which pretty much ended around 10 am. But to be honest, the rain and lower temperatures are very welcomed. It also means that it is now comfortable to heat up my oven! And since the heat has been causing my bananas to ripen very fast, it only makes sense to make up some Banana Blondies. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • What I like the most about this recipe, is that you can make it using one bowl. And in that bowl, the first thing you’ll do is mash up the banana.
  • Next, add the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Combine very well.
  • Next add the egg and beat as much as possible. Ideally, you should beat the egg in a separate bowl. However, I didn’t feel like washing more than I have to, so I stuck to the one bowl baking ideology on this one.
  • Next, mix in the flour.
  • Last, melt the butter and slowly add it in to the batter.
  • As soon as you can, pour it into a square pan. Mine isn’t square, but it’s all I had, so use your imagination.
  • Heat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and bake for ~25 minutes.
  • And there you have it! Banana Blondies!
  • If you’ve got ripe bananas that need to be consumed, forget about banana bread and try these treats. They were soft, had a slight caramel flavour, and melted in my mouth. My only suggestion is that they weren’t very thick, so I’d probably double up the recipe next time. You can also use coconut oil instead of butter to make these dairy free if you’d like. I truly hope you get the chance to make a batch of these as the weather cools a bit. Remember your umbrella this week, thanks for reading, and Happy Eating!