Sugar Cookies and a Farewell

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Hey guys! So… its been a while. It’s been a crazy busy few months since we last spoke; I do wish I’d managed to keep up my regular blogging over my third year of uni but unfortunately it just had to fall to the bottom of the priorities list. People tell you Physics degrees are difficult but dear Lord, no one tells you quite how difficult. It’s been an exhausting few months, both with uni work and other things going on.

I’ve decided to give the blogging a break for a while until I have a few more free hours to spare, so I’m afraid this will be the end of A Little Mad Smith, at least for now. Hopefully, eventually I’ll find my way back to blogging, but unfortunately now just isn’t the time.

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So, it’s with great sadness that I write this last farewell post for you all, but with hope that it won’t be my last blog post ever. I thought today I’d finally upload my sugar cookie recipe seeing as I’ve been meaning to for almost five months now (!!!). My mum’s friend grew up in America and gave me this recipe over Summer; she makes THE BEST sugar cookies, and when recreating her recipe on my own it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to find time to make a few of these yummy treats before Christmas and they seemed to go down very well with my family and friends. Despite half of me wanting to completely cover these cookies in icing and sprinkles, I actually really love the taste of plain sugar cookies and showed great self-restraint when decorating.

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These are ridiculously easy to make and you aren’t required to chill your dough, that’s a win-win in my book. Find the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack (225g) salted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Sprinkle flour evenly on two baking trays.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add in the egg and the extracts.
  3. Sieve in the flour. Combine well to form a soft dough.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters of your choice and place carefully on the floured baking trays. Bake cookies in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until they begin to go a golden brown colour.
  5. Immediately remove cookies from the baking tray and place on a cooling rack to cool. Decorate as desired.

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Ta da! See, told you they were super easy. I was actually amazed this recipe turned out so well on my first attempt back in summer, since my cookie recipes usually require some practice. These, however, turned out brilliantly first time, and I’ve been making them pretty frequently ever since!

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So, that’s it from me I’m afraid guys. I’m busy as ever and plan on spending the rest of my afternoon getting sorted for a mini break with Jason- we fly tonight. After that it’s back to work as I return to uni for my second term of third year, something that I can’t say I’m looking forward to very much. If you fancy keeping up with my life and seeing what I get up to, feel free to follow my instagram @alittlemadsmith.

And lastly, a massive thank you to all my readers, followers and friends who’ve been following this blog since the beginning, it’s been my pleasure.

Best of luck to you all in 2019 and into the future,

All my love,

Maddie x

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Homemade Chocolate Bark- a super easy gift idea!

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Hello you lovely people! How are we doing? I’m feeling full of festive cheer and excitement today, as my parents are coming to pick me up from university tomorrow and bring me home for Christmas! I am soooo excited to go back home and spend time with my family and friends; this whole festive period is my favourite time of year, and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather celebrate it other than back in my home town.

When this post goes up, I’ll be out enjoying an early Christmas dinner here in Lancaster with some friends from my course at university. Seeing as few of us get the chance to see each other over the holidays, it’s really nice to be able to celebrate Christmas early together.

As a little ‘thank you’ to my friends for all the good times we’ve had in 2017, I decided to make some small individual treat bags for each of them, filled with some homemade chocolate bark.

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This chocolate bark was so easy to make, and I think it turned out looking really cute! I especially love the freeze dried raspberry pieces on the white chocolate bark- I love the flash of red it adds! I decided to keep it pretty simple with flavourings with this chocolate bark, seeing as there was going to be nine guests for Christmas dinner and I wanted something that everyone would enjoy.

In the end, I opted for a milk chocolate bark with fudge pieces, mini marshmallows and golden sugar stars to keep it seasonal, and a white chocolate bark with freeze-dried raspberry and fudge. I drizzled both with some melted dark chocolate to make it look super classy 😉

I think this would make a great gift idea for work colleagues, or to take to a dinner party! I popped some pieces of bark in clear plastic bags, and finished them off with some ribbon. All in all, making the bark took well under ten minutes (excluding cooling time of course!) and I think it turned out looking great. Fancy making your own? Find my method below!

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Ingredients:

  • Chocolate! The amount depends on the amount of chocolate bark you wish to make. I used a 200g bar of milk chocolate and a 200g bar of white chocolate. This made sufficient bark for eight people.
  • Toppings! I used freeze dried raspberries, fudge pieces, golden stars and mini marshmallows, but use whatever you fancy! I definitely want to try making me more with peanut butter next time!
  • Chocolate in contrasting colour for drizzling (optional).

Method:

  1. Line two baking trays with kitchen foil. (One for milk chocolate, one for white).
  2. Break your chocolate into two microwavable bowls. Pop each bowl in the microwave for one and a half minutes, take out and stir your chocolate, before putting it back in for another minute. Repeat this as necessary until the chocolate is melted.
  3. Pour your chocolate onto your baking trays, slowly. This stops the chocolate from spreading out too much and keeps your bark thick. If your chocolate doesn’t spread out as much as you’d like on its own, smooth it out with the back of a spoon.
  4. Add your toppings! Sprinkle on whatever you fancy. You could optionally drizzle some melted chocolate in another colour over the top of your toppings like I did for extra style points.
  5. Pop your baking trays in the fridge for a couple of hours or until the chocolate is set.
  6. Remove your bark from the baking tray and break into pieces ready for serving. Ta da!

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I love how quick and easy this recipe is (if you can even call it a recipe!), and it’s so easily adaptable too! Mix it up by adding nuts or dried fruit, or maybe your favourite toffees on the top!

I hope you enjoyed this post guys, and I hope you’re all having wonderful weeks! What have you been making recently? Let me know in the comments! 

As always, best wishes to each and every one of you,

Maddie x

Slow cooker roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup

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Hello everybody! Today’s post is my first proper recipe. As in, this recipe doesn’t involve the word ‘cake’ anywhere. (Except right there, because I do love cake, and couldn’t go a whole recipe post without mentioning it).

Today I am bringing you my homemade roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup. This soup is vegetarian, vegan and super healthy, as well as being so easy to make for a soup novice such as myself. Being a student, I find that it’s hard to find cheap and healthy meals, whilst also keeping enough time for all that important studying (or drinking alcohol, whatever’s your jam really). Plus, there are few things as satisfying as coming home to a hot bowl of tomato soup at this time of year- especially with all that Fresher’s Flu flying around!

My timetable this year involves an absolute shedload of five o’clock lectures, which only finish at six. I’m the type of person who likes to eat pretty early, so I can keep my evening free for yoga and blogging, so I wanted some quick and easy meal ideas that I could be eating within five minutes of walking in the door; after a bit of thought, I decided to get a slow cooker. Luckily enough for me, my gran owned a small, two person one which she never used. Being the best gran in the world, she decided to give it to me.

Today’s recipe was my first time using a slow cooker, and I was so impressed by how easy it was! I don’t know what I expected really, like, it literally does what it says on the tin, it cooks food slowly. But I’m the sort of person who gets excited over mundane things like managing to use a slow cooker without my uni accommodation burning down, so I was pretty impressed.

I prepared this soup in the morning before leaving for my lectures, and left it in the slow cooker for about seven hours. I’d say 6-8hrs would do the job perfectly, great for students like me who are only getting home late. To save even more time, you could always roast your red pepper in advance, or used the preprepared sort.

So what do you do? Find my recipe below:

Ingredients (makes enough soup for two people, so for my slow cooker size. You can easily double the ingredients for a larger slow cooker!):

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 220g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika (approx 1/2tsp)
  • Ground cumin (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • 60g red lentils
  • 375ml boiling vegetable stock
  • Black pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. If you have not already done so, begin by roasting your red pepper. Cut it in half, remove the seeds and place on a tinfoil lined baking tray, with the inside of the pepper facing down. Drizzle with some olive oil and place in the oven on 180C/ 356F/ Gas mark 4, for approximately 20 minutes,
  2. When your pepper is almost roasted, so that the skin has turned brown and began to look loose, fry your onions in some olive oil. Fry for about five minutes, until they have begun to look translucent.
  3. Add your paprika and cumin. (I use approximate quantities here because I usually just throw everything in and see how it turns out!) Add your chopped tomatoes and your lentils.
  4. Bring your mixture to the boil.
  5. When your peppers are roasted, remove them from the oven. Leave until cool enough to handle, then pull the skins off. They should come off pretty easily. Chop up your peppers and add them to your mixture.
  6. Make your vegetable stock. Pour your soup mixture into your slow cooker before pouring your boiling vegetable stock on top and mixing it all together.
  7. Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8hrs.
  8. Before serving, blend your soup if you wish (I always have my soup blended!). If you own a hand blender, a good idea is to blend the soup while it is still in the slow cooker. This helps save on washing up!
  9. Season as you wish and garnish with coriander if desired. I like to serve my soup with lots of black pepper and some granary bread!

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Well there you have it guys, my first every proper recipe post! What did you think? Would you be interested in seeing more of what I eat as a student? Let me know in the comments! 

As always, thanks for reading!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x