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Kitchen hacks you can’t live without

If your kitchen is on the small side, or you just own a lot of stuff, these kitchen hacks can be a life saver. From reusing household items unconventionally, to simple storage techniques, here are some of our favourites:

TicTac Herb Storage
These durable plastic containers are a really useful and neat way of storing your herbs and spices and the small cap opening means you can control the amount of herbs/spices you distribute. The clear containers will enable you to see what’s inside, and if all your herbs and spices are in these it creates a neat, uniform drawer or container that will tessellate perfectly.

chopping board Over the Sink Chopping Board
An over the sink chopping board can temporarily expand your counter space, perfect for smaller kitchens making it easier to multi-task. You can find  these in retailers such as Ikea. Now you have no excuse not to have all the family over for lunch!

 Magazine Holders as Storage
Magazine holders are surprisingly versatile and can be used as great space-saving hacks. Store kitchen essentials such as tin foil, cling film and baking  parchment – the boxes fit perfectly in the holders which can be stored easily in your cupboards. You could also store your tins neatly, eliminating  another storage problem as the rack creates a new “wall” to store items against.

 Say Goodbye to Fridge Odours
Use kitchen staple baking soda to make pouches that you can put in your fridge to get rid of any lingering odours. You can make the pouches out of some cotton cloth, a coffee filter, or even use an old (clean!) sock. Just remember to tie it securely so you don’t have baking powder in your dinner!

Shoe Organisers in the Pantry
If you have a pantry, hanging shoe organisers on the back of the door becomes a great way to store your snacks. It effectively uses the limited space you may have and also is herbs frozeneasily accessible and quick to find what you’re looking for.

Freeze your wine
Do you often use wine in your cooking but find it hard to create space in your fridge? Pour some cooking wine into ice cube trays and pop them in the fridge. Use when you need them and save the good stuff for the fridge!

Quick and easy herbs
Another one for the freezer, pop some fresh herbs and olive oil in an ice tray and freeze them. You can take them out and put them in sauces and pastas when you need them, reducing the amount of waste from continuously buying fresh.

 

 

Image Credits: WikimediaFlickr

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Small gadgets to improve your kitchen
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Small gadgets to improve your kitchen

As a place where we spend more waking hours than anywhere else in the house, kitchens need a little bit more TLC. Unlike those of yesteryear, todays modern sculleries have evolved into more than just a food preparation area. According to a study by research experts, Magnet, the kitchen is now a place where we dine, study and socialise.

As a result of this evolution, the area has ballooned from an average of 5.9m² to a whopping 11.2m². It now includes gadgets such as flat screen TVs, radios, toasters and dish washers to make it as homely as possible. Investing in exceptional furniture and gadgets can make your kitchen more exciting to spend time in.

To help you renovate the area, here are some top rated gadgets and furniture you need in there.

The four minute doughnut

They’re the ultimate comfort food snack, and it can often be a pain if you just fancy indulging, but don’t have anything in the cupboards. Even if you had the energy to go off to a local shop and stock up, you’d probably have a selection of stale and unappetising donuts waiting for you. What could be better than having the ability to cook up a batch of treats from the comfort of your kitchen?

The Babycakes Doughnut Maker allows anyone, even kids, to bake six pastries in four minutes. It doesn’t need cooking oil and doesn’t fry the doughnuts, making it a healthier and affordable alternative for people who have a sweet tooth.

Dispensing all-round goodness

Sometimes, through the summer especially, there’s nothing better than an ice cold glass of water. In the winter, if your morning routine strictly consists of commencing the day with a hot cup of coffee, the BIBO table top water dispenser may be just what you need. It’s an all-in-one unit that relieves the need for appliances such as your kettle, coffee machine and water cooler; saving you space, while also providing clean filtered water. What’s more, the BIBO uses very little energy and can be programmed to automatically switch off whenever you’re not using it, saving money on your utility bill.

Scaling down

No one likes to work in a cluttered kitchen where the worktop looks like a storm came along with friends and had a party. We’re often looking for ways to save space, but getting rid of essentials such as weighing scales and chopping boards can be a real hindrance when it comes to cooking.

However, saving space is easy to manage with the Salter Scale. Designed to serve as a clock, thermometer and scale, the device allows you to save space by getting rid of all three appliances in your home. When you’re not using it, you can just hang the stylish, high-tech disk on the wall.

Eggcellent appliance

As humans, our senses are limited and can’t detect when something’s off until we come to prepare it for a meal. This often leads to disasters of stomach-turning proportions. Even more so when it comes to inspecting an egg’s freshness. It’s difficult to tell if an egg has gone bad just by looking at the shell. But as soon as we crack it open, our kitchens transform from a heavenly space into a rancid, sewer system in no time.

The Egg Minder spares your senses from the horror. It’s basically an advanced egg tray that tells you how many eggs you have and their current state of freshness. The appliance communicates with your smartphone and provides push messages when everything is about to get sour, or your supply is running low.

Author Bio: This article was provided by Tendai on behalf of BIBO. He spends the better half of his day trying to make the best coffee. The other half is spent writing lifestyle articles that help families cut costs and live happily ever after. Some of his stories can be found on his Google+ page.

 

Image used uncer CC license courtesty of home space

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How to hold the perfect garden party
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How to hold the perfect garden party

Thanks to Nicola Peterson for the creation of her article exclusively for First Home News. 

Precision and planning are two key elements when it comes to holding the ultimate summer get-together. Entertaining friends and family at home can be a great way to celebrate the warmer months. The smell of hot coals and the feeling of the sun beaming down – no one can refuse an invite to a summer garden party. Make it a summer to remember this year by gathering your nearest and dearest for a perfect BBQ shin-dig.

Preparations

Preparations should begin the night before your garden party. You should ensure that the coal for the BBQ is kept in a secure, dry environment. Failure to do so will only dampen the mood when you realise your fuel isn’t fit for use. A gas-burning BBQ would eliminate this extra preparation, but you would need to purchase a gas canister and safely connect it to your grill.

You could even decorate your garden for the summer celebrations. For a quirky British summer vibe, adorn your fence with bunting and streamers to really evoke a feeling of nostalgic street parties of yesteryear.

Food & friends

Forget the charcoal-tainted bangers of last summer, the food you serve at your next BBQ will set the benchmark for future friends’ and relatives’ endeavours. Don’t just blindly grab your apron and get going with whatever meat you could find on offer, plan your menu and offer your guests some options. A BBQ may be a carnivore’s dream, but by adding light salads of couscous and mixed leaves, your guests can take a break from the heavy onslaught of meat.

You could really get the party flowing by creating your own cocktails. Pimms may be the epitome of the Great British summer, but you can add a much more personal touch with a big bowl of homemade punch. Nothing says summer like a refreshing fruity beverage to quench your thirst under the sun.

Practicalities of your party

Although the sunshine is glorious, you’ll need to provide some respite for your guests. Parasols and marquees can offer some much needed shade when the sun is beating down. If any party-goers have forgotten their sun lotion, they’ll need some other form of protection from the relentless rays. You could also leave your kitchen or conservatory doors open to allow people to hide away from the sun if necessary.

When accommodating extra guests, the ‘spare chairs’ just won’t do. Make sure you have outdoor furniture that can stand up against the elements and is in keeping with the style of your garden. Go for lightweight outdoor furniture that gives you the freedom to rearrange sections during your party.

Let’s get out there and make the most of the summer we’ve got left. Great company and great food is all you need to make your party a success, so let’s reclaim our gardens and get cooking. If you think of yourself as a bit of a summer party expert, make sure you comment below, and inform us and your fellow readers of your top tips!

 

Creative commons image sourced on Google Images from Wikimedia Commons

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Making the most of a holiday at home
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Making the most of a holiday at home

Being a new homeowner is expensive, and unfortunately that may mean cutting out the holiday that you desperately want. It might seem like a poor compromise, but in order to combat the home buying cost, you may need to have a holiday right in your own house… a staycation. Here are a few tips to help you get started for a week off work at home, or even a simple weekend of relaxation.

Frame of Mind

Be sure to act the same as you would on holiday; so stop watching the news and TV in general, stop going on the Internet to check up on Facebook, even stop using your phone. Being in the right frame of mind will help you relax and enjoy your time off more. Remember that this is a break from your hectic life and you don’t need to think about every day problems. Instead, read a book or invite people round for a social gathering. Do the things that you’re always too busy to do. Remove all clutter from the rooms, especially the bathroom. You don’t even have to sort it all out, just shove it in a drawer and forget about it for the weekend. Out of sight, out of mind definitely rings true here.

Staycation Setting

Make your home into your holiday paradise. If you love the beach then put out seashells, deck chairs and parasols. If you love the countryside then put out water fountains, decorative pine cones and scented plants such as lavender. Use new colour schemes to feel like you’re abroad or in a hotel. Candles are also a nice touch, especially outside. If you have a big enough garden, move some furniture around and bring the inside to the outside; put down a rug, bring out cushions and blankets, even bring tables outside if you’re struggling with garden furniture. A fire pit is perfect to sit around and feel like you’re on holiday so if you have one then light it up and relax in the heat.

Things To Do

Cutting out TV and Internet might leave you thinking that you’ll have nothing to do over your well deserved break, but that’s not true. Invite your friends round and spend the day having a barbecue outside with your newly moved garden furniture. If your fire pit is alight then roast some marshmallows and enjoy s’mores for dessert. Try eating food you wouldn’t normally try and if you have no interest in cooking, have it delivered so you don’t have to leave your holiday cocoon. Eat different food every day to maintain the foreign food experience. Another option is to have a spa day. Soak in a relaxing, scented bubble bath with candles and music.

 

It might not sound ideal, but having a mini-break at home is a great way to recharge your batteries and take a break from your everyday hectic life. If you’re interested in getting onto the property market, simple tricks like enjoying some time off at home instead of abroad can be a great intuitive money saver. For those looking to make that first move and become a first time home owner, check out the services of Keepmoat, over at their website.  
Photo Credit: StevenM_61 via Compfight cc

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Pros and cons of built in kitchen appliances
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Pros and cons of built in kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances are a standard in all homes, whether they were already built in when you moved into your place, you had them built in as part of a new, modern kitchen fitting, or you’ve added stand alone appliances to your room and upgraded as and when has been necessary. Whilst you have a choice as to how they look, many kitchen appliances aren’t optional luxuries, you simply can’t have a functioning kitchen without a sink or oven. Whilst many now enjoy incorporating built in appliances into a kitchen, it isn’t for everyone, and sometimes a certain style of kitchen dictates what style of

Pros:

  • The built in kitchen appliances are visually integrated which makes the room very comfortable aesthetically.
  • They become practically invisible as they’re built into the room, leaving space for other furniture that you want to add.
  • They tend to be appropriate for a variety of design styles, so you can freely include them in your innovative plans.
  • They also vary in different sizes and colours according to your taste
  • Devices such as coffee machines have the capability to be installed in the wall of a kitchen and tend to be extremely convenient, detracting from the clunkier option of using a free standing device.
  • The dishwasher drawers are small units that are capable of  fitting under a counter and are quiet, efficient and take up less space than expected.
  • Items such as blenders or food processors are now available to be installed directly into a counter top; you simply need to attach the pitcher or the container to the drive in order to have an instant mixer at any time.

Cons:

  • The product and installation costs are invariably higher compared to to the free standing appliances.
  • If future repairs are required, this can be a more complicated and time consuming procedure.
  • You may find it difficult to operate with them in the proper way if the built in kitchen appliances have overly complicated systems.
  • The integrated nature of products makes it less likely you’ll want to upgrade and keep your kitchen in line with modern technologies.

 

If you are a fan of more conventional type of appliances, you need probably need free standing kitchen appliances for your home. On the other hand, if you consider yourself a type of person that want to possess every modern gadget on the market do not hesitate and simply choose a new and modern built in style kitchen.

In many cases, it makes sense to incorporate big items into your design, such as the oven, hob, washer, dishwasher and fridge. With smaller devices, you can opt for stand alone options. It’s often down to personal taste, and working the devices in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Whilst design is important in a new kitchen, work-ability and feeling comfortable in the space whilst you work is of utmost importance in a kitchen.

When it comes to maintenance for kitchen appliances or other areas, opt for professional cleaning services. Built in kitchen appliances require extensive cleaning and servicing to keep them pristine and working like new.

Photo Credit: Aurimas Adomavicius via Compfight cc

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10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget
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10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget

When it comes to decorating your garden in time for summer, how much you spend can spark quite a bit of a debate. While you’re obviously eager to make the most of every last bit of sunshine by basking in your beautiful garden, it’s also inevitable that the great British summer will be over before you know it and therefore it’s probably not worth breaking the bank for.

That being said, when the sun does decide to show, there’s nothing better than organising a BBQ or cocktails with friends and family, knowing that you have a lovely garden to sit out in. Bearing that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 summer budget buys that can help to spruce up your garden and get it summer ready, without having to break the bank.

1. Statement pieces are a great way to add a feature to your garden without having to spend a lot of money, so a large ornament or statue can often work perfectly. This bronze decorative garden sphere is the perfect way to add contemporary style to your garden and is a bargain at only £14.99.

2. If you’re looking for something to help give your table a bit of wow factor then this solar powered mosaic table lamp is just the thing; both stylish and practical.

3. When having friends over for a summer BBQ, it’s great to have something fun to dress up your garden. These fun lights can help to keep the party running from day, well into the night.

4. When it comes to seating, these heritage bistro chairs are the perfect addition to your garden.  Light and easy to fold, they’re ideal for storing away when the sun does decide to disappear.

5. Lanterns have become one of the latest décor trends, with a wide range now available for the garden.  They are great way of adding a decorative piece to your garden, whilst also adding to the ambience. Don’t forget to purchase some candles too.

6. Who can resist these dragonfly solar lights? They scream summer and instantly add a burst of colour to your garden.

7. This garden wall sign can help to add an air of shabby chic to your garden, and at only £3.00 is a serious must-have style upgrade.

8. Sticking to the theme of shabby chic, this watering can makes for the perfect garden feature. Our tip would be to use it as a garden planter and once filled with beautiful flowers it will make for the perfect table centre piece.

9. Cushions are a great way to add a splash of colour and are an instant style upgrade for your garden. What’s great about these is that you can use them inside too.

10. Finally, we all dream of summer nights where we can stay outside chatting and catching up with friends but the reality of it is that it often gets too chilly. However, now thanks to this bargain fire pit at only £39, you can make the most of your evenings sitting outside around the fire.

Thanks to these top 10 budget buys you’ll have all of the neighbours talking about how fabulous your summer garden is; while you can relax knowing that if it rains…it’s OK to go inside!

 

Photo Credit: Naughty Architect via Compfight cc

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Customise your kitchen tiles

Customise your kitchen tiles

There are many ways to decorate your kitchen, from giving it a lick of paint to replacing the old kitchen clock. One of the less explored areas is decorating your tiles in order to give this room a bit more character. Here are our favourite five ideas sure to inspire you.

Tile Stickers

Tile stickers can be used over a plain coloured kitchen tile in order to make a pattern such as a mosaic. You might think it sounds a bit cheap and tacky, however there are plenty of elegant and original options available if you go for this option. What’s more stickers are easy to fit, all you need to do is stick them over the tile and distribute them in order to make the desired pattern. It is, however, a good idea to map out the design before applying the stickers to the tiles, to help prevent disaster.

Painting your Tiles

If you are artistically minded, you can paint your tiles. Tile paint is widely available and is easy to use.  Tile paint is a particularly good option to consider when your kitchen tiles are white. Decide on a design and isolate the tiles that will not be painted with masking tape and carry out the required amount of coats.

Use different coloured tiles 

Tiles on your kitchen wall do not all have to be the same colour; use different coloured tiles to add depth to your room by creating a pattern.  Likewise, you can select different coloured tiles in order to create a mosaic. You can use as many different colours as you want and give your kitchen a quirky edge, but thoroughly plan in advance to make sure that end result will be to your liking.

Multiple texture tile design

You can use a variety of different materials to decorate your tiles from stickers and paint to a variety of decals. Opting for a selection of different materials and textures in tile decoration will provide increased originality and will offer a completely unique visual effect. However, it is important to plan out what materials you are going to use as poor planning can result in a design that is too busy.

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles are very much the trend these days; the different coloured tiles used to draw a pattern provide a Mediterranean like atmosphere. What’s more mosaic tiles are available in a huge variety of colours and materials. Mosaic tiles can be fitted to the kitchen wall or to the kitchen floor. You can however create your own mosaic by using different sizes and colours of tiles or by using a stencil to paint them. Otherwise if you are a dab hand at DIY you can also create a mosaic pieces of chipped tile.

 
Diamond Tech via Compfight cc

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Sweet treats for Mother’s Day
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Sweet treats for Mother’s Day

They say the best way into someone’s heart is their through food. On Mother’s Day, try and prove that by cooking up a storm in the kitchen for your mum. If you want to really go all out this Sunday and spoil her, these tasty treats are sure to put you in the good books. From a sweet breakfast in bed to mid morning treats, here are some of our top Mother’s Day recipes.

Rainbow Jam Tarts

Ingredients:

For the sweet pastry:

  • 250 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 orange or lemon
  • a splash of milk

For the fillings:

  • 30 heaped teaspoons of your favourite jams, curds, marmalades and jellies

 

Method:

  • Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor with a pinch of salt and blend until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  • Add the egg, grate in the zest from your orange or lemon and blend the mixture together again, adding a little splash of milk to bring everything together, if needed
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place it into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
  • Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry so it’s 0.5cm thick.  Cut out rounds of pastry and place each of them into the tray
  • Put 1 heaped teaspoon of filling into each jam tart. Feel free to switch each filling up with an assortment of flavours
  • Place the trays onto the middle shelf of the oven and cook for around 12 – 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling
  • Remove from the oven, leave in the tray to firm slightly and then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving. 

Mother’s Day Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 325g brown sugar
  • ½ lemon
  • 250ml milk
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 100g butter, plus 1 tablespoon extra, melted
  • 300g rhubarb, finely chopped

 

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and line a muffin tray with muffin cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl place the flour, baking powder, salt and 225g of the brown sugar. Mix, then make a well in the centre
  • Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the milk and set aside for a couple of minutes.
  • Place the orange zest, half the stem ginger, the egg, 100g of melted butter and the milk mixture into the bowl and beat thoroughly. Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling each one to the top
  • In a small bowl place the remaining 100g of brown sugar, the extra tablespoon of melted butter and the rest of the stem ginger. Mix until it looks like a crumble topping, then sprinkle over the muffins
  • Bake for 25 minutes so the sugar turns golden and crispy and the muffins are cooked through. Serve warm with custard or cream

 

Scones

Ingredients

  • 150 g dried fruit
  • orange juice (for soaking)
  • 150 g cold unsalted butter
  • 500 g self-raising flour, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 heaped teaspoons golden caster sugar
  • sea salt
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk, plus a little extra for brushing

Method

  • Put the dried fruit into a bowl and pour over just enough orange juice to cover. Ideally, leave it for a couple of hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
  • Put your butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and a good pinch of sea salt into a mixing bowl and use your thumbs and forefingers to break up the butter and rub it into the flour so you get little cornflake – sized pieces.
  • Make a well in the middle of the dough, add the eggs and milk, and stir it up with a spatula.
  • Drain your soaked fruit and add that to the mixture. Add a tiny splash of milk if needed, until you have a soft, dry dough. Move it around as little as possible to get it looking like a scruffy mass – at this point, you’re done.
  • Sprinkle over some flour, cover the bowl with cling film and pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 2 to 3cm thick. With a 6cm round cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out circles from the dough and place them upside down on a baking sheet – they will rise better that way (so they say).
  • Re-roll any off cuts to use up the dough.

Brush the top of each scone with the extra milk or some melted butter and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden. At that point, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool down a little. Serve with clotted cream and a little jam or lemon curd.

Photo Credit: Elina Innanen via Compfight cc

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Best barbecue recipes
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Best barbecue recipes

Summer is just around the corner, and in many of our heads, this means glorious sun drenched weekends out in the garden, barbecuing up delicious foods and enjoying our favourite refreshing beverages. Following on from our barbecue buying guide posted last week, we’re here to provide you with some great barbecue recipes if you want to stray slightly from the traditional burger and hot dog.

Flame cooked Cajun fish

Main ingredients

4 x 200 g white fish fillets, such as seabass, snapper, bream or pollock (approx. 2cm thick), skin on, scaled and pinboned, one lemon

For the rub you’ll need:

Ten sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked, four sprigs of fresh oregano, two cloves of garlic, two level teaspoons of smoked paprika, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, one teaspoon of sea salt, one level teaspoon of finely ground black pepper, two tablespoons olive oil, one lemon.

Cooking instructions

  • To make the rub, you need to combine a few of your ingredients. If you have a pestle and mortar, mash up your fresh herbs and garlic in it until you’ve got a nice coarse paste (if not, use a blender or any other means to mix them).
  • Add the spices, salt, pepper and olive oil to your mixture, and then proceed to squeeze in the juice of half your lemon. Squeeze the lemon through your fingers, to prevent any pips getting into the mix.
  • Next, grab your fish and, using a sharp knife, lightly score the skin of your fish.
  • Now, it might get a bit messy – rub your mix into both sides of your fish using your fingers.
  • Massage the mixture thoroughly all over the fish, and push firmly into the scores to allow the rub to infiltrate the fish.
  • Place the fish into a non-stick pan and cook on a medium-high heat, skin side down, for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Once you’ve initially sealed the fish all over, make sure that you turn the heat down to low, then, very carefully, flip your fish over. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side, and check that the fish is cooked through before removing from the heat.

 

 

Spiced chicken kebabs

Main ingredients

500 g chicken breasts. Assorted vegetables, such as courgettes, mixed peppers. mushrooms and onions. 6-8 skewers

For the marinade you’ll need:

A handful of fresh coriander, a handful of fresh mint, 3 cloves of garlic, 6 spring onions, one red chilli, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a splash of olive oil.

  • Firstly, take your chicken breast, cut them into one inch cubes and place in a bowl.
  • Next, blanch the courgette strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds before  then draining and allowing to cool.
  • Blitz all the remaining marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) together and then add olive oil whilst stirring, until you’re left with a loose paste.
  • Add the marinade to the prepared chicken pieces and together until all chicken is covered evenly.
  • Cover the bowl with foil or cling film, and store in the fridge for around an hour, allowing the chicken to marinade and the taste to develop.
  • Next, take your skewers and add the chicken and chopped assorted vegetables.
  • When ready, grill for around 5 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked.

Photo Credit: Mimolalen via Compfight cc

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Barbecue buying guide
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Barbecue buying guide

With the warm summer finally within touching distance, we’re all guilty of starting to dream of lazy weekends in the garden, over indulging in food and drink as we enjoy a well deserved break from work. Cooking up burgers, sausages and other meats over the open flame of a barbecue has become almost synonymous with the warm weather of summer, however if you’ve only recently moved into your new home, the chances are you’ll need to invest in a new barbecue before you can begin to plan your summer get-togethers. From solid structures to portable gas options, we’ve got you covered with our guide to buying a new barbecue.

Charcoal

Charcoal barbecue grills are the traditional option when it comes to cooking your meats outdoors. They have a number of advantages over the competition, and when utilised correctly, they are a great option for your garden. In terms of cooking the food, generally the burning charcoal means that meats can be cooked at a hotter temperature, and the flame grilled cooking style means the meats taste authentically barbecued to the palate.  Of course, when comparing to competitors, there are always going to be drawbacks, and the messy nature of cooking over burning coals is one downfall. If you’re cooking for a vast amount, you may need to restock on charcoal, as the initial heat soon dies away when cooking, and as the device is dangerously hot, the barbecue and surrounding area will need your full attention to avoid accidents.

Gas

Gas barbecues are a more convenient option when it comes to cooking, and the simple push-button starting mechanism provides an instant flame, on which you can begin cooking in around 10 minutes. Above the burners are flavouriser bars, which heat up and play the role that charcoal would on a traditional barbie. With the gas grill you get burner controls similar to a cooker, meaning you can quickly and easily manipulate temperatures to give you immediate desired results.  Contrary to what many people believe, there’s actually very little to no difference in taste when compared to a charcoal barbecue. The adjustability of gas means that it’s easier to cook food more evenly, with less risk of burning. After use, there’s no charcoal ash to dispose of, meaning that the process is far less messy, and easier to clean.

Charcoal options

You have many options available when opting for a charcoal barbecue. If you want to make a garden feature of your grill area, one great option is to build the supporting brickwork yourself. This means that the structure will constantly be on show in your garden. Once the building work is done, all you’ll ever need for your barbecue is the grill section, which can be picked up from Argos for as little as £30

For something more portable, our top option when it comes to a stand alone barbecues is this Weber model, which has a great design and is truly built to last. The round design means heat gets focused and the multiple vents allow you to control the temperatures with ease. With smoking capabilities, the large grilling area gives you plenty of space for direct and indirect grilling and even  comes with an optional rotisserie kit.

Gas options

Typically quite pricey options, there are plenty of designs out there to suit every need when it comes to gas barbecuing. Make sure you do thorough research into models before jumping in with a purchase, but here are a couple of our favourites for you to consider.

Make sure you set your budget before beginning to look at grills, as prices can easily head into the thousands. In our eyes, the king of the reasonably priced gas barbecue is this Broil King, which has three stainless steel Dual-tube main burners and allows you to cook and heat a variety of foods at the same time.

If you’re looking for something more modest in price, stores like B&Q have a range of options that are reliable, hard wearing and well priced, like this Bondi model. The grill and warming rack combination means you can cook items and then keep them heated until you’re ready to serve.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks via Compfight cc

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