tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!


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National Trust Cliveden

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We had the most amazing day at Cliveden, a National Trust property near Maidenhead (Berkshire) the other day. The weather was gorgeous and the view simply breathtaking! There is a brilliant playpark for the kids which is always a bonus as not all NT places are that well equipped for children yet. The water garden was simply stunning, especially with all the trees in their full spring bloom dresses. The maze was a hit with big H and Daddy whilst I watched a sleeping little H in her buggy. We had a blissful picnic on the lawn, enjoying the stunning views across the river Thames. We made daisy chains. The tulips were at their best. The daffodils already on their way out. It felt like we had the place to ourselves even though it was a rather busy, sunny  Sunday. The grounds are just so huge that you can easily find a quiet corner. I could literally feel my shoulders relax and come down by about two inches. We took a stroll through the woods and spotted bluebells.  Down the steps we went, towards the Thames and back up again, the long way around. Without doubt, Cliveden has the best grounds of any of the National Trust properties we have visited. And with our annual pass, we have got around a fair few over the years. What a beautiful, special place. We shall be returning here again.

 


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Tomato and pepper puff pastry tart

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I made this beautiful tart on a sunny but still chilly spring evening when I was just in the mood for summery cooking. It was so easy to make and you simply must try this, the flavours are amazing. I know I’m not reinventing the wheel, these kinds of family puff pastry “pizzas” or tarts have been made in different variations by loads of different people. I just always think it’s good to be reminded of simple dinner ideas and flavour combos.

Simply mix 1 garlic and herb boursin soft cheese with half a packet of Philadelphia with peppers (one of their flavoured varieties). Thin with a dash of milk to smooth the mixture and make it spreadable. Pour and spread the cheese mix onto your puff pastry rectangle. Score along each side of the pastry rectangle to allow the crust to rise along the edges. Tear up a handful of basil leaves and sprinkle onto the cheese mixture. Top with sliced tomatoes and a cup full of frozen sliced peppers from a bag. I like to blitz the peppers in to microwave before adding to the tart. A quick twist of black pepper will season your veg nicely. Now drizzle the tart with some balsamic vinegar glaze and pop in the oven at about 200ºC for about 20-25 minutes. Do check the instructions on the pack and use this as a guide as each brand of ready made pastry might vary. Serve with a green salad and enjoy!


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Easter almond and chocolate cups

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I have made these chocolate cups in the peanut butter version before. I am glad to say they also work with almond butter! Just substitute the peanut butter with equal amounts of almond butter and top with mini eggs. I wrapped them in cellophane bags with pretty ribbon and cannot wait to give them out on Easter Sunday!

 


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Enter catchy Spring related pun here

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Spring has sprung. I have a “Spring” in my step, etc, etc. I am seriously excited that this time of year has finally arrived- but enough with the seasonal plays on words already. Equally irritating are Easter wares and activities that are proclaimed to be “eggcellent” or “eggciting”.

Waking up light like this is quite something, isn’t it? I am not a cheerful morning person- in fact you could say I am downright grumpy. It takes at least one giant mug of coffee to get me going for the day.  This is the window next to my rocking chair in the landing and I just had to take a photo of the lovely light reflections from a mosaic vase. Being greeted by sunshine so early in the morning cheered me right up. Some other highlights of my week were

♥ buying some bedding plants for the fairy garden we are planning to make during the holidays

♥ home grown rhubarb made into a crumble (I forgot to take a photo of the crumble before it was devoured)

♥ hubby built me a quick and nifty support frame for my vege bed which I have yet to drape in netting to keep the pesky cats from using it as a litter box.

♥ home made iced coffee: simply blitz up ice cubes, 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder, vanilla syrup and milk using a hand blender.

♥ a packed salad for lunch every day.

♥ putting up an Easter tree with my little lady

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One person’s junk…

… is another person’s treasure! Isn’t that just the truth!? Those who know me, are aware that I am partial to a touch of second hand shopping. The great British Charity Shop is maybe not the most stylish high street haunt these days but I couldn’t love them more. I try to take little H at least once a week to see which new bits and bobs we can find. Oh the excitement… you never know what will be waiting for you each time. The whole concept of the charity shop appeals to me as obviously things that would otherwise be chucked out and end up in landfill are sold on to be given a whole new life. And all the while money is raised for a local or national cause.

I am very excited to share some of my recent finds here. There was this perfect children’s chair.

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I am in love with the pattern and colour of the little cushion. Chair and cushion were a steal. Little H made me chuckle as she sat in the chair by the till whilst I paid.

We found this lovely hand crochet cushion cover.

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It has since been filled with a pale blue cushion and it looks very stylish on my comfy rocking chair.

We have recently picked up a few of these lacy shawls and tablecloths. They usually cost around £1 and we use them to set the dolly kitchen for tea parties or on the floor as a picnic blanket. Can’t wait to build pretty dens using these with the girls in the garden when the weather brightens up.

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I am currently loving vintage inspired illustrations and so I was thrilled to find some gorgeous old books (one was actually given to us by a friend who was sorting through her grown up sons old books).

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How sweet is this little lady?

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I have spent ages poring over the gorgeous pictures.

Besides these we have picked up a slightly garish plastic fairy castle because we are planning on planting up a fairy garden in a big barrel outside. I am thinking violets, pebbles and glass nuggets as paths, a little playmobil bench perhaps. We are just waiting for a sunny day to start our project and of course I will share here how it all went.


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Peanut butter chocolate cups

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I found a recipe for these in a magazine just before last Christmas and made a batch as little gifts for those unannounced visitors or to bring along when we were invited around people’s houses around that time of year. They looked really lovely in cellophane bags adorned with Christmassy ribbons and needless to say I was in everyones good books wherever I turned up with these yummy treats in my bag.

The reason why I have dug these out is because I want to make an Easter/Springtime version, topped with mini eggs this year. I am thinking I might go all white chocolate for that and maybe try almond butter instead of peanut. The beauty with this kind of recipe, where you just melt some chocolate and stir everything together, is that you really can go wild and add any extra bits and bobs you like. I will keep you posted on how the Easter version turns out but in the meantime here are the quantities I used for the choc cups in the photos.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups

Ingredients

50g chopped white chocolate

100g crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

25g salted cashew nuts (or could use honey salted peanuts)

1. Melt the white chocolate and stir together with the peanut butter and vanilla until it forms a paste.

2. Melt the milk and dark chocolates in separate bowls.

3. Pour 1tsp of melted milk chocolate into your paper cases. Add 1 tsp of peanut paste and top off with enough dark chocolate to cover and “seal” the chocolate cup.  Sprinkle with the cashews or peanuts (or your choice of topping). Leave to set outside of the fridge (you can cover them with a piece of greaseproof baking paper, although this is not essential).

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