Sunday, 4 October 2015


Pecan Chocjack
Ingredients: 500g porridge oats, 250g Stork (plus extra for greasing), 250g brown sugar, 5 tablespoons golden syrup, 300g chocolate, and 150g pecan nuts.
Time taken: 40 minutes-ish. Then an hour break. Then a half hour more in the kitchen.

Hello ladies and gentlemen,
I write to you, ensconced in a duvet, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon in autumn. It’s been my first week at work this week, starting my first adult job, in a proper office wearing real business clothes. I’ve been getting to know my colleagues and learning basic tasks to help them out. It’s been a big week for me! A big week indeed. I have a desk, I have clients asking for me on the phone, I have a target number of phone calls to make each day. I can name about half of my colleagues in the office, and I think most of them remember my name, too.
So that’s it. I have to hang on another 4 weeks til I’m paid, but my name’s been added to the clock-in sheet and I’ve been given an extension number on the phone line. I’m deffo there to stay. And it feels like a big step towards adulthood! Getting on the morning bus with other commuters every day, and then pouring a well-earned glass of wine on a Friday evening.  This is the real deal.
And I have my weekends back! After 3 years of uni deadlines, which don’t clock out on a Friday and leave you in peace. No no. Instead, they haunt you anytime you dare dream of a Saturday morning lie in, or (heaven forbid!) pouring an evening bath on a Sunday. These have been such guilty pleasures for years for me now. But, as of this weekend… they aren’t.
This weekend, I had my Sheff BFFs over for cake and a catch up, and we talked so long we even had a second round of hot drinks! I bought a weekend newspaper and read it cover to cover. Caught up with my little brother and heard all about his teen adventures. Watched the dancers on Strictly. Today, I accompanied my dad around the supermarket, buying anything on offer. Now, here I sit. Working my way through the Vicar of Dibley box set on TV. Totally content!
I tell you readers, for now at least, this is the life for me. I can go on Facebook. There, one of the geography girls from uni has got engaged this weekend. And one of the girls from my secondary school, she’s given birth to the sweetest little baby boy I may ever have seen. And then I can log off. Pour a bath. Do whatever I feel like doing.
My life may not be the most thrilling in the world right now, I may not be travelling the world or becoming a mother, I’m not running for the London Tube or admiring a big ring on my finger. And how exciting for those girls who are! But I’m happy right now to be joining the world of work in Sheffield and chilling on the weekends. Happy indeed.
Are YOU readers? Are you happy this week? What is it that’s made you happy this week? Maybe the weather? … the Bake Off on TV? … or a gift? … a holiday? … maybe  friends and family? … the start of something new? … something great?? I hope that you have been happy this week. Very happy.
And that, maaaybe, you’ve spread that happiness, too?? You could have bought someone a drink or a present! Told them they look beautiful. You could have done all the chores or done nothing at all! Just spent time with someone instead. Brightened their day. Have you been spreading happiness, readers?? I hope you have and that there are a lot of happy people out there right now. Sort of thanks to you.
On Thursday, readers, I made the call that I needed to spread some happiness. And sooo… I got my bake on!! Piled in from work in the evening and turned on the oven, with my mind set on baking some flapjack. It was on. I thought a big batch of flapjack was just what the folk at work needed to see them through Friday in the office. My mission was clear.
Why flapjack? Well, readers, it’s quite a short and straightforward recipe. And there’s nothing too offensive about flapjack, is there?? I think most people quite like it. Everyone knows what it is. Flapjack goes quite well alongside a mugful of tea or coffee. It’s not too messy to eat in an office. Plus, it’s not too prone to going terribly wrong in the oven. Perfecto!
So, readers, I had quite a cosy evening in on Thursday. I baked flapjack and had my tea while it cooled. Then decorated the flapjack and watched ‘Love and Other Drugs’ with a hot water bottle. Woke up in the morning to glorious sunshine, and spent my day at work getting big thank yous for my flapjack from everyone! It was a total hit! Not to brag, but I snaffled a square and it did taste quite delicious. And lots of people in the office thought so. They became a very cheerful bunch with Tupperware of flapjack in their midst. Very cheerful indeed.
So, this week readers, my message to you is to brighten someone’s day! Whether it’s by following this recipe and surprising everyone in your office, with a tasty sweet treat for them! Or whether it’s in an entirely different way. Use your imagination and spread some happiness. You’ll feel great about it.
So. Want to follow my lead, readers, and bake up a storrrrrm of happiness? Here’s how to bake a big batch of Pecan Chocjack in just ten easy steps…
1. Heat your over to 180˚C. Prep your chocolate by breaking it up into squares in a bowl. Prep your nuts by, first, setting your 18 best looking ones aside. Use your own good judgement here. Then, take the remaining lot and use your fingers to break them up into little nut pieces.
2. Measure your porridge oats, Stork, brown sugar and golden syrup all into a mixing bowl. Take a wooden spoon and get mixing! Stir like your life depends on it. There’s a lot of ingredients in that bowl and you want them all mixed together.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: 100% break that marg up before you put it in the bowl. Add half a knob all in one go and you’ll spend the best part of an hour trying to mix it in! Not the finest use of your time. And by then you’ll have overmixed everything else to a pulp. So chop up your marg pre-mixing bowl.
3. Grease a big baking dish quite generously with marg. Be sure, if your dish is rectangular like mine, that you get the marg right into the corners. This can be a real sticking zone for your flapjack.
4. Spoon all your mix into the baking dish and then use your wooden spoon to spread it around into the corners. Then, when your mix is evenly spread, sprinkle your broken-up pecan nuts over the top. Use your wooden spoon to tap everything down til it’s tightly packed.
5. Next, take some kind of implement like a knife or a spatula. Use this, with care, to divide your flapjack up into 18 squares. Then bung it in the oven!
ChefBeHere Top Tip: For reasons that will soon become apparent, time this so that your flapjack goes in the oven about 20 minutes before a show is about to start on TV. 20 minutes before.
6. Bake your flapjack in the oven for around 20 minutes, until it’s beginning to turn golden on top. Meanwhile, you can get your washing up done and wipe some oats off the ceiling. Then, carefully, pop your flapjack out of the oven onto the side and turn your oven off. Leave it to cool in its tin and get settled in front of the TV!
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Do not fear if your flapjack doesn’t seem to have set. It shouldn’t feel firm when it comes out of the oven. In fact, it will probably still be quite squishy to feel. This is because flapjack sets as it cools and the syrup goes hard. So, if your flapjack’s got a bit of movement in it when you take it out of the oven, that’s not a worry. It will firm up with time.
7. Return to the kitchen at least an hour after you took your flapjack out of the oven, by which time your flapjack should have cooled and set. There’s no upper limit to how long you can leave the flapjack cooling. Take your time.
8. When  you’re back in the kitchen, use your knife or spatula to go around the edge of the flapjack and try to prise it away from its tin. Also, go over the cuts dividing up the flapjack to separate it back into 18 squares. Get the squares out of the tin onto a cooling rack or, if you don’t have one, just pop them on some kitchen roll.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I realise that this step of the recipe is easier said than done. Your aim, obviously, is to lose as little flapjack as is possible along the way. I advise using a spatula to scrape the flapjack out of the tin one square at a time. Go slowly and with a steady hand. If your flapjack breaks up, try to squish it back together again.
9. Next, melt your chocolate, either in the microwave (heat for 30 secs at a time and stir in between heating until it’s smooth – be careful not to burn!) or melt it on the hob instead. If you’re using the hob, just boil some water in the kettle and pour it into a pan over a high heat. Sit your bowlful of chocolate over the pan and your chocolate should soon start to melt in the bowl. Keep giving it a stir until it’s smooth.
10. And the final step of the recipe is your flapjack decoration! Simply pour a teaspoonful of melted chocolate over each flapjack square, and spread it about so that most of the square is covered. Then pop one of your pretty pecans on top, to finish it off nicely. When all your flapjack squares have been decorated (and you yourself are entirely coated in chocolate) you can call it a day. Leave the squares to cool for a few hours until the chocolate is set, before you move them into Tupperware.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I left mine overnight and think this is probably for the best. The chocolate had set for sure by morning.
There you have it… batch of Pecan Chocjack!
And that’s all there is to it. This is quite a straightforward recipe, readers, and quite a fun one, too! You can change this recipe up any way you like. Dark or white chocolate, instead of milk? Hazelnuts or Brazils, instead of pecans? Or just throw those nuts out the window if you aren’t keen, and usher in some dried fruit or chocolates instead?? Do what you like!
Go crazy, readers. Go forth and bake flapjack. And spread happiness! Love comes back.


Be happy readers,


Sunday, 27 September 2015


Spiced, Honey Roast Chickpeas and Seeds
Ingredients: 1 400g tin of chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of paprika, 1 lemon, 50g of mixed seeds (I used 25g of pumpkin seeds & 25g of sunflower seeds), & 1 tablespoon of clear honey.
Time taken: Half an hour to make, then an hour to cool.

Hi readers,
So… it’s been four months. Four months since my last ChefBeHere post! When I last wrote to you, I was cracking under the pressure of final exams at university. Re-reading that last blog post just now, it’s exhausting to remember just how tired I was! Those final days of university were long hours every day, under constant pressure. Stressed to the bloodshot eyeballs. And then some! What were you doing on May 17th?? Can you possibly remember? Was it exams, too, or a whole different party?
So. Since then, over the last four months, I finished university exams. Drank and celebrated accordingly. Then packed up my things and waved goodbye to Newcastle, hungover, the morning after the Grad Ball. Spent a fortnight at home; shopping, planning, packing. Caught Floss’s 21st birthday celebrations and a big family wedding. Then I was off! Interrailing around Europe for 12 weeks.
That’s been my summer, ladies and gentlemen. Turned 21 myself along the way! Celebrated with Hawaiian cocktails in Stockholm. I left on June 21st and returned on September 12th, the exception being 48 hours in July when I nipped back to Newcastle to graduate (with a First!). I’ve now visited Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia… and Italy. It’s been an amazing summer.
Me and my friends were very fortunate to stay ahead of the mass migrant movements, which are hampering transport now throughout Europe. Putting aside memories of one bad bout of food poisoning, and one run in we had with the intimidation techniques that local men can use to scare money out of female tourists (both in Slovakia!), there were no major disasters while travelling. I severely injured another iPhone, but saw more of Italy as a result! So no worry there.
Readers, I hope that your summer has been amazing, too! Are you printing out photos of any holidays? Beaches? Picnics? Celebrations? Barbecues? Adventures? Festivals? Photos of tanned family? Friends? Lovers?? Here’s hoping it was amazing. And that the sun was shining, for you this summer. At least on the odd day if you were in England! What did you get up to this summer? What are the highlights? I hope you can look back on snapshots of a great four months.
And now… duh duhh DUHHH! It’s autumn. Officially, definitely, sadly. Autumn. The weather’s turning. The shops are flogging sun cream and swimwear. Tans are fading. Let’s face it, our 9 o’clock winies in the garden watching the sun set. They’re no more. Pistachio ice cream, halloumi salad, lemon slush. No more. Unless, you’re feeling nostalgic.
BUT it’s a new start. A fresh New Start for everyone. It’s AUTUMNNNNNNNN! Red trees, crunchy leaves and Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks! *swoons*  I have a grown up job. New business clothes to wear. And uni friends all over the UK to travel about and drink with on the weekends! Compared with back in May, when I was testing the limits of a human being, this has the potential to be FUN. And your autumn had better be FUN, too. I’m serious. New Start, everybody, whether you want one or not. Let’s get it on.
So. This week, readers, to launch the New Start of ChefBeHere, I’d like to share with you a recipe that I tried out for the first time today. This recipe is one that I found in Tesco's Real Food magazine earlier this week, while waiting to be called into a job interview. Ripping out recipes and stuffing them in my pocket. As is life.
This recipe, readers, is for a healthy vegetarian snack… Spiced, Honey Roast Chickpeas and Seeds. Isn’t this recipe so autumnal? Plus, I guarantee you, it's very tasty. Very good for you. Chock full of protein.  And it’s not too costly to buy the ingredients, I swear. You can check out the original recipe online HERE.
Without further ado. Want to learn to make Spiced, Honey Roast Chickpeas and Seeds in just 10 easy steps?? Here’s how…
1. Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Drain your tin of chickpeas and rinse them in a sieve under the tap.
2. Layer a plate with some kitchen towel/roll/paper (whichever you call it!). Tip your chickpeas onto the plate and pat them dry, removing as much moisture as possible.
3. In a separate bowl, grate your lemon until all the lemon zest is grated in the bowl.
4. Tip the chickpeas into a fresh, clean bowl (bowl no.3 – keep track) and toss with the olive oil and paprika, until they’re seasoned well.
5. Spread the chickpeas out on a large baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. They should just be starting to colour.
6. Remove the tray from the oven and scatter your seeds and lemon zest over the top.
7. Drizzle with the honey and gently stir, until everything is coated.
8. Return your tray to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes, until golden and crisp.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Don’t delay! Why not wash all your dishes now? Passes the time nicely.
9. Once your stuff is out of the oven (and your oven is turned off, remember) leave everything to cool on the baking tray. Doesn’t matter how long for, but at least an hour I would recommend.
10. Transfer your tasty snacks to a serving bowl if you’re sharing them or hosting a party! Otherwise, crack out your Tupperware collection.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you divide your chickpeas n seeds roughly into maybe four portions, each will contain less than 200 calories. Take them along with you anywhere you like. This recipe makes a perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. A top notch healthy nibble.
Here are my Spiced, Honey Roast Chickpeas and Seeds…
...fresh out of the oven
And I’m so enjoying them! Not a word of lie here, having just tried my first little tub of this snack… I think you can taste every individual ingredient. The seeds and the chickpeas. And the spicy paprika. And ALSO the lemon and honey. It’s a taste sensation! Works really well. And makes for a fun snack. Errrbody, get your aprons back out! And get your CHEF ON. Let me know what you think of Spiced, Honey Roast Chickpeas and Seeds!
On a final note, I just want to say thank you millions to anyone reading. It’s been a long time since I blogged, and I feel very rusty, but thank you for not going anywhere.
Stay tuned for more autumnal recipes coming soon.
And roast safely,

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Healing Blueberry Muffins

Time taken: An hour max.
Ingredients: 200g all-purpose wholewheat flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 25g rolled oats, 3 eggs, 75g brown sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, 175g plain yoghurt, 75g coconut oil, & 200g frozen blueberries.

Hi readers,
So, that’s another week gone by. Another week of 2015. Of Spring. Of May. Of our existence. How are you?? How has your week been? Think back to Monday morning, think to now, is life any better? Any worse? Much different? Reflect! Think back on your week and I wonder what you’ve got up to.
For me, this week has been one hell of a week. Definitely! The end of Third Year isn’t an easy nut to crack! This is the week that I’ve launched revision about the Earth’s polar environments. The week that I made it through a Spanish speaking exam without crying. The week that me and some of the geography girls presented to a roomful of people about ice streams in the Antarctic Peninsula. The week that I wrote 3 essays about representations of Africa. In about as many days. It’s been… productive to say the least.
Also, this has been the week that I met up with my friend from Montreal!! Who I haven’t seen in SO LONG. This is one of my fun-loving first year uni flatmates, who moved back to Canada in 2013… and isn’t 2013 so long ago?? It’s forever ago! So this lovely girly made the trip back to Europe this week to catch up with all the friends that she made in her year abroad. Such a big trip for her and we were all so glad to see her! Catching up on 2 years missed is so weird… and also it was like she never left!
My new life goal? Is to get to Canada to pay her a visit. Never forget to appreciate each and every friend you have, wherever they may be in the world. Been meaning to send someone a message or write them a letter? I sayyyy DO IT. Seize the day! Feel the love.
Readers, also (brace yourself for EVEN MORE wisdom)… plan all the trips in the world but try not to trip over yourself. This has been the week that I tripped over. Jogging for the bus to work in Friday morning, I hit the ground. Quite hard. Ripped my tights, bloodied both knees, grazed one hand and one elbow, damaged my baby my iPod, and also spectacularly my new iPhone on my tenth day of owning it. Shit hit the fan, readers. Shit hit the fan.
I think when you’re at your pinnacle of tiredness and stress, and suddenly you find yourself lying on a pavement feeling your pulse in your ruined knees, a small part of you gives in. It does. Well, it did for me. I made it to work for medical treatment (I’m fine). Made it through the day. Through a big meeting. And then, with little left to give in life, retired to a sunny patch of grass with Woody. Met Floss and MissMuddle for cocktails, food, beers, comedy club.
I’m recovered (more or less) and am taking life a little easier. Yesterday, I finally got to have a drink at The Botanist. It did not disappoint. Pressed an owl print at an art open night. Lost this. Learned some stuff about octopuses. Today, I got to go over to my family friends’ house for a lovely lunch. Sat in their conservatory and listened to birdsong. Helped to build a Rice Krispie volcano for a school project. I couldn’t go empty handed so I baked some blueberry muffins to take along. Really healthy ones. Shared these with the flatmates and spread some happiness. Had one myself.
As is QUITE EVIDENT I’ve lost the will with revision. Tuesday’s exam could be a sorry affair. But there’s still tomorrow to turn it around with revision!! And you never know. :) Miracles do happen! How do you feel about the week ahead, readers? Good? Bad? Ugly? Cheer up! One thing I DEFINITELY prescribe to improve even the trickiest of Mondays? A batch of Healing Blueberry Muffins. I promise, these babies will make you feel good outside and in. They’re feelgood-factor-assured. Goodness is guaranteed. Happiness lies just one bake away. Need these in your life?
Here’s how you bake up some smashingly Healing Blueberry Muffins, in just ten easy steps:
1. Heat your oven to 180˚C.
2. Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
3. In a mixing bowl, measure out your flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Then, add your oats, eggs and sugar.
5. Scoop your coconut oil into a small bowl and melt in the microwave for a minute.
6. Add your honey, yoghurt and melted coconut oil to the mixing bowl.
7. Take a wooden spoon and mix all the ingredients in your bowl together into a lumpy batter.
8. Pop your frozen blueberries in a small bowl and add a teaspoon of flour. Stir your frozen blueberries around until they’re all coated in flour.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: This is optional, I suppose, the flour just stops them turning everything blue.
9. Fold your floury frozen blueberries gently into the muffin batter. Be careful not to overmix!
10. Spoon your mix evenly between each muffin case (they should all be full to about the top) and pop your muffins in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes! Take them out when they’re risen and golden brown, and when a knife jabbed into the centre of one comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before tucking in!
And hey presto…
One batch of Healing Blueberry Muffins!
This recipe is based upon an American one that I found HERE on a wonderfully titled blog, Not Enough Cinnamon. Go check it out.
So, with brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar, yoghurt and coconut oil instead butter, wholewheat flour instead of white, 1 of your 5-a-day inside… there is NOTHING BAD about these muffins! Literally, there isn’t. And they taste so good! Really moist and wholesome and cakey. I’m more than happy with these muffins. Readers, these muffins are making me happy! They’re healing, I swear, and definitely a recipe I’ll be rolling out in the future.
Plus, this recipe has been an intro for me to the world of frozen blueberries. They’re well cheap! Frozen blueberries, readers, cost really lots less than refrigerated ones and you can store them for any amount of time. They taste just as good as fresh fruit would in your baking. Looks like a blueberry, taste like a blueberry, costs about the same as a raisin! Cue, a running blueberry theme to up and coming ChefBeHere blog posts. Sorry, not sorry!
Readers, whether you may be students, workers, astronauts, superheroes, movie stars, Antarctic explorers… if there’s any part of you that feels right now that you might benefit from a Healing Blueberry Muffin. Or your friends/family/flatmates are in need, maybe? Then GO BAKE. Do not hesitate or delay. Muffins today.

Jog safely,