White Monk Tea Room – Blanchland

White Monk Tea Room – Blanchland

Last weekend, we visited our favourite little country village, Blanchland for an afternoon tea at the renowned White Monk tea room.

Situated in the rolling countryside not far from Derwent Reservoir, Blanchland is a picture perfect village which is popular with walkers, bikers and people just passing through on a day out. Previously situated in what could be called a scout hut, the White Monk tea room now reside in an impressive central village location ensuring you pass it whichever way you hail from.

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Food Friday : Butternut Squash, Banana, Pecan and Maple Spiced Muffins

Food Friday : Butternut Squash, Banana, Pecan and Maple Spiced Muffins

Hello Lovelies,

I’ve had a very rare day off today and as it is a grotty day outside, we are having a homely day. Lounging and catching up. 

I raided my cupboards and came up with the following recipe.

Butternut Squash, Banana, Pecan and Maple Spiced Muffins


300g plain flour
150g soft brown sugar
240g grated butternut squash
1 banana
150g softened unsalted butter
2tsp baking powderouernd ginger
1/2tsp (half) bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp (half) salt
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
75ml vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
4-6tbsp maple syrup
50-75g pecans


medium mixing bowl
large mixing bowl
measuring spoons
wire rack
muffin tins
food mixer or electric whisk

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (fan)

1. Place your pecans on a baking tray or oven dish and place them in the oven for 5 minutes to toast. Chop,  if necessary, once cooled

2. Peel and grate your squash. If it is quite wet, blot some of the moisture off with a towel

3.  Peel and mash your banana and add to the squash

4. Sift the flour, spices, salt, bicarb and baking powder together in to a medium bowl

5. In the large mixing bowl, cream the soft butter and sugar together until they are light and creamy.

6. Add the oil, squash and banana and continue to mix. Ensure it is well combined

7. Add the beaten eggs little by little and then add the flour bit by bit until completely mixed and dough like. This isn’t a runny batter.

8. Spoon in to your muffin tins or a loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Set the timer for 20 and use a sharp knife to skewer the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is done, if not, give it a little extra.

9. Turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool. 

10. Combine the maple syrup and chopped nuts to make them sticky and gently spoon on to the top of each muffin or the loaf. 

You can add more or less maple and nuts as you prefer. You can also add more or less spice as you wish too.

Sorry there are no action shots but this is the finished (and delicious) article. I hadn’t planned on blogging this so excuse the photos!

Let me know if you give this a go and be sure to tag me on Instagram or Twitter if you do!
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The Red Lion – Plawsworth, Durham

The Red Lion – Plawsworth, Durham

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I no longer wish to promote or recommend this venue.

The Red Lion Plawsworth

The Red Lion Plawsworth Review


Food Friday : The Chester Moor, Durham

Food Friday : The Chester Moor, Durham

Hello Lovelies,

For all Durham may lack the volume of restaurants of our neighbour to the north, Newcastle, there is one thing we do abundance…. Independent country pubs offering locally sourced home cooked food.
This brings me to today’s review.
The Chester Moor is located on, funnily enough, Chester Moor (A167) – the main road from Chester le Street to Durham, the main bus route and previously the ‘old A1’. The pub resides on the side of the road between an Indian restaurant and a Vintage Inn chain pub (Boo!) which is always inexplicably busy.
We visited on a Friday lunch time with one thing in mind, a roast dinner. Nothing else would suffice. With a wide menu focusing on the more traditional of choices, the prices are pretty good and given the quantity and quality, they swing to the side of excellent. From Thai curry to a trio of chops to sizzling chicken skillets, the choice is great.
For a starter we shared the Combo for Two (£8.25) and it was piled high with your run of the mill pub grub type nibbles. Freshly cooked scampi, garlic mushrooms, hand cut fresh wedges, chicken goujons, a mountainous pile of amazing onion rings and freshly toasted garlic bread. All served with a fresh crisp salad and 2 dipping sauces.

Sorry, the picture quality doesn’t get any better, I was stealth shooting!


What stood out for us with this starter, it wasn’t dried out, the batter was fresh, the salad was crisp and the garlic bread had been made fresh with a brushing of garlic butter then toasting. Unlike most restaurants who serve those frozen slices you can buy Iceland. You know the type!
Not the healthiest of starter but plentiful and a good test of quality. If a restaurant can produce a fresh plate like this without cutting corners to remind you of a  frozen party platter then the rest of the food should be grand.
And we were not disappointed. Both of us had a large filled Yorkshire pudding (£7.99). Mr T had beef and ale and I had the sliced roast beef. Served with tasty mash and a generous helping of seasonal veg. The beef and ale casserole was packed with tender juicy chunks of beef and a very tasty but not overpowering ale taste. My sliced beef was never ending, lean, tender and covered in proper meat gravy. We liked that when the food was delivered, extra gravy was offered instantly. Sometimes you have to practically beg for extra, it’s a nice touch that we accepted and when it arrived, it was, again, proper meaty gravy.


Service was exemplary and pleasant from start to finish with friendly chat, the manager even commended Paul on not getting any dinner medals on his pristine white dress shirt!. Despite the restaurant being pretty full and it was Valentines Day afternoon, we were not rushed.
On a Sunday after 4pm, The Chester Moor has a great offer on roasts, offering buy one get one free. I know we will be back to take them up on this offer!

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Food Friday : Pizza – Dough Free, Gluten Free and VERY tasty

Food Friday : Pizza – Dough Free, Gluten Free and VERY tasty

Hello Lovelies

I’m a firm believer of don’t knock it until you’ve tried it so here we go….

Bit of a taste sensation to get your head used to but if it’s another gluten free / syn free take away alternative then it’s worth a try isn’t it?

We have all seen the pita bread / toast pizza but can you picture a potato smiley face with topping on top? Nom.

What I will say is you’re best off making this base quite thick so that it is nice and firm. I used a 8″ frying pan and I probably wouldn’t go any larger than that. You can easily make 2 bases one after the other and bake them together.

Makes 1 pizza which serves 2 as a lunch snack or with accompaniments for tea or 1 very hungry slimmer! 



120-125g mashed potato flakes (Smash or stores own brand both work the same)
Boiling water
Fry Light
Mixed herbs
Garlic ( any form you like but not puree in a tube)
1-2tbsp Passata / tinned tomatoes (not puree)
Chilli flakes / tabasco (optional)
Topping – Ham and Mushroom for me, both are syn free so you can pile it high.
Grated Cheese – Can be whatever type you like, including vegan.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees 

In a large bowl, mix your mashed potato flakes with a little mixed herbs and garlic salt and with enough boiling water to make a firm dough, as if you were baking bread. Allow this to cool.

Once cool, warm a small frying pan and spray liberally with Fry Light to avoid sticking.

With your hands and a spoon, mould the potato dough in to the frying pan in a giant patty that fills the pan completely. Make sure the base is even and there are no holes.

Fry on a medium heat for around 5 minutes on each side until a lovely deep golden brown colour. You will need to flip the base over using the plate and pan method so that it doesn’t break whilst flipping. Leave to cool on a wire rack to help the base crisp up.

In a bowl, mix your passata with your additional flavourings such as garlic herbs and spicyness and spread across the base.

Pile on your toppings and then lash on the cheese. Word of warning… I tried to use my 2 babybell lights grated on top and the melt wasn’t fantastic so definitely worth using a ‘proper’ cheese.

Put the pizza on a pizza tray / wire rack / grill pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the pizza base has deepend in colour and the cheese is bubbling away nicely.

You might need a knife and fork to eat this as the base is never going to be as rigid as a proper pizza but you can still pick it up. The only thing I can liken the base too is potatoe smiley faces. Crispy on the outside but fluffy and potatoey in the middle.

We thoroughly enjoyed this and I hope you do too!


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