Monday, 27 March 2017


Recipe of the week...
... peanut butter swirled brownies!

PEANUT BUTTER BATTER … 200g crunchy peanut butter, 120g granulated sugar, 1 large egg, half a teaspoon vanilla extract, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
BROWNIE BATTER … 100g chocolate, 120g butter/margarine, 250g granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, 100g plain flour.
TO FINISH … A generous handful of dark chocolate chips

Time taken: An hour (Half an hour to make and half an hour to bake).

Serves: 12 decent blocks of brownie.

Hi readers,

How are youu? I hope you’re all well and happy today, you lovely people. And I hope that the sun is shining where you! We’ve certainly got the sunshine in Sheffield today. As I write, the sun is streaming through the window warming my cheeks, and we’ve been treated to three days of good weather in a row now. It’s incredible. And it really is – after months of cold winter and short days – the clocks have finally turned so the evenings are lighter, and the weather’s showed up for the occasion. And it really feels like Spring! Incredible.

Spring has sprung this week

Also incredible – MUMS. Big shout out to all the mums out there. We celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday and it’s so lovely to see everyone, in real life and on social media, acknowledging the small miracles mums carry out every day. Working and houseworking, with childcare and husband-care and grandparent-care… and all that they do that we never even realise. Mums are amazing and they deserve their cards, their flowers and chocolates, a million times over. And breakfast in bed, and a bloody long bath. With champagne and slaves.     

ALSO incredible – what an incredible time it is to be alive – Comic Relief 2017. The show hit our screens on Friday and has raised over £73 million for those in need. A staggering total. With lots of laughs along the way, we watched clips of the lives of people enduring the famine in East Africa. As we all do, I cried and donated money. And was just blown away with the footage – and with the idea that half the people in Liberia are hungry right now… that’s crazy! And horrifying.

Comic Relief - saving lives and raising smiles

As well as the footage from the African continent, I was also touched by the sequel to the film Love Actually. Much as we all chuckled, I’m sure, watching Rowan Atkinson’s gift wrap scene – was anyone else struck by the speech from Hugh Grant as Prime Minister?? In light of the Westminster terrorist attack, on people in London last week.. his words struck a chord. Even though that clip must have been filmed weeks or months in advance of the attack, and even though Hugh Grant isn’t our actual Prime Minister (though we may wish he were), it felt like such a solid address to the nation! A chill ran through me, just watching.

Anyway, readers, if you haven’t seen this film clip I recommend you go look it up. This last week certainly has been humbling, with the terrorist attack and then Comic Relief. Makes you appreciate the things that MATTER. Like, family and friends. Having food in your belly and feeling the sun warm your face. 

I stumbled upon a blog post this week called ‘How Would You Describe Yourself in Five Words?’, by Joanna Goddard (which you can read here). It’s a really simple idea for how to evaluate how you feel about yourself, and to track how the things that define you come to change through your life.

I had a go at describing myself in five words this week. Put ‘dieter’ on the list, because I have been trying quite determined lately to shift some last Christmas weight. Then I looked back over my list and thought: honestly, that’s pathetic. There are much better things to concern myself with than the nutritional content of a cereal bar. Like the famine, Hayley. The crisis in east Africa. So I've ditched the diet, in favour of a humbled, healthy outlook. Regaining perspective. 

I then happened upon a blog post for the best-looking cake recipe I’d seen in a looong while, and decided to make my colleagues happy. And take down everyone’s diets in one fell swoop. As I’d rather we were happy, and we could simply use ‘happy’ as one of our five words to describe ourselves like Joanna Goddard does. The recipe in question is for peanut butter swirled brownies, and you can find the original on the Smitten Kitchen blog here.

It’s chocolate brownie batter and peanut butter brownie batter, swirled together with choc chips on top. It’s Andy at work’s birthday and I’ve brought a batch of these brownies in the office for the occasion. Everyone is overjoyed. Want to bring similar JOY and HAPPINESS to your own life? You do?? Well, here’s how to bake up a batch of peanut butter swirled brownies in just twelve simple steps…

1.     Set some cheerful, sing-a-long music playing and heat your oven to 175°C.
2.     Grease an 8-inch square baking tin with butter or marg, and line the bottom with baking paper.
3.     To make the peanut butter batter, add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together using a fork until they’re well mixed.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: The original Smitten Kitchen recipe used smooth peanut butter, but that’s sacriledge in the ChefBeHere household. So, I switched it out. And strongly advise you do the same.  How did the creator of such an amazing recipe have such shoddy taste in peanut butter?? I wonder.

No fight at all, in my eyes

4.     To make the brownie batter, break your chocolate up into squares, and melt the chocolate and butter together in a small pan over a very low heat until only a couple unmelted bits remain. 
ChefBeHere Top Tip: You need to stir constantly to stop your chocolate from burning! Mustn’t burn the chocolate. Alternatively, you can stick them in the microwave in a bowl and heat in small bursts until the chocolate and butter melt, stirring every 30 seconds.
5.     Then when they’re mostly melted, off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted.
6.     Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and salt to the pan/bowl, and stir in using a big wooden spoon. Fold in the flour and then you’re ready to assemble your brownies! 
7.     Spread half of your brownie batter evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking tin, and then dollop peanut butter batter all over in big spoonfuls.
8.     Dollop remaining brownie batter in pan, aiming, if you can, between the peanut butter dollops.
9.     Use fork to swirl the two batters together in loose figure-8s, and sprinkle choc chips all over to decorate.
Brownie batter ready to go in the oven

10.  Bake your brownie in the oven for half an hour, until it looks nicely baked and your house smells like heaven on earth.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Don’t delay – get your dishes done and clear up your messy kitchen while the brownie bakes! Good to get these chores out of the way and it means you get to be near your brownie at all times, checking on it through the oven door. Sending loving thoughts.
11.  Safely remove from the oven and switch the oven off, then leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour (resist eating!!) before slicing up into blocks.
12.  Serve to adoring fans or Tupperware for another day. Brownies keep well at room temperature, so they’ll be fit to eat for a few days at least… if they last that long!

Baked and smelling dreamy!

And that, readers, is all there is to it. Quite straightforward, don’t you think? I got along really well with this recipe! I did wonder, with having different sections of ingredients and with having two bowls on the go, whether it was going to be quite tricky – but no! There aren’t any complicated or skilled steps, and you don’t need octopus arms it’s an easy recipe to tackle step by step.

I found the recipe easy to follow and my brownie came out the oven looking good. Smelling godly. I sat myself down, late on Sunday evening, closing the curtain on the weekend with a warm chunk of gooey brownie to sample and it. Was. Diviiiiine. Like, ahhhmagaaad. Ahh. Mmm. Ohh. Yeeeeeah!

Readers, if you don’t like peanut butter then go leave me in peace. If you do like peanut butter, please bake this brownie as a matter of urgency. And let me know whether you think it's a waste of your precious resource,  just not to your taste, or whether you ate this with your eyes closed and a smile in your heart. As I did.

Swirl safely,


Enjoy your life...
... eat brownies before bed somedays.

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Recipe of the week...
... Clucking and Avocado Salad

Ingredients: One handful of frozen Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces, one avocado, half a pepper, a dozen cherry tomatoes, a stalk of celery, a drizzle of your favourite dressing, and a plateful of salad leaves.

Time taken: Not long at all! Maybe quarter of an hour.

Serves: One mammoth plateful.

Hi readers,

How’s it going?? How are things today? Are you well? And having a great Sunday? Up to much or jusss chillin'? However you’re spending your Sunday, I hope you’re having a fab time! I’m taking it easy this Sunday. Not heading anywhere in particular. I made it out on a blustery run and am considering baking something to take to work tomorrow. Potentially a banana bread, we shall see.

As I write, I’m sat in Sheffield’s Mr Bubbles coffee bar. Watching people battling the wind outside. Listening to the coffee machines steaming, and people chatting while they do their laundry. It smells like coffee and detergent. Outside, it’s beginning to look like rain.

I had intended to share with you this week, readers, a selection of very interesting posts from other bloggers for you to read. But, not to be down on other bloggers, there seem to be many posts this week asking somewhat silly questions (e.g. What’s Your Best Advice for Small Appliance Repairs?, or Why Does My Wine Taste Funny When I Sip It with Asparagus & Artichokes?, or I Avoided All These Foods While Pregnant. Was It Worth It?, or Is It Bad To Stay Inside For An Entire Day?). Yeah… see what I mean?

And then there are a whole other load of posts which are, for lack of a better word, commanding people about what they should be doing with their time (e.g. Did You Just Get a New Range? 5 Things to Do Right Away, or How To Conquer Your Fears, or The One-Touch Method: The Ultimate Productivity Rule, or 12 Things You Should Do Every Morning Before Work – this includes things as basic as ‘let the light in’ and ‘make the bed’, and things as far-fetched as ‘tidy your toiletries’ and ‘add a fragrance to the room’).

I am not putting other bloggers down. These people behind these articles often post interesting content and they write about it really well – I enjoy reading their articles and it’s great that they’re blogging! And there is, of course, no right way to blog. But sometimes I wonder… how can people be so sure of themselves? So sure that other people should follow their advice (/commands)? And then their lives will be better as a result.

I’m not so certain about anything! But one blog post I did read this week, which I found to be thought provoking, is 10 Little Things to Remember When Life No Longer Excites You by Marc Chernoff, which you can read here. Without commanding you to give it a go… may I quietly suggest reading this? Relevant for anyone who finds themselves bored at times by their everyday routine. I related as I have a killer commute to work at the moment, which bores me on a daily basis. My highlight is the line: “There is good reason why you should wake each morning and mindfully consider what and who you will give your day to.” Think about this.

SO… on to food food food. My recipe of the week, this week, for Clucking and Avocado Salad, comes entirely from inside my own brain. It comes about following an alarming number of lunchtime panini runs that I’ve been making for colleagues at work. These are somewhat stressful times at my work, readers, and the team’s coming to heavily rely upon panini-power to get through an afternoon.

The farm shop near to my work serves up an ever changing array of eccentric lunchtime flavour combos (green bean and orange?! Does. Not. Work.). The food there is never the same, never ever boring, and not always wisely thought through. But they do have some staples on their printed menu, which you can more or less count on to be there every day.

One of which is their chicken and avocado panini, which is fast becoming a favourite among the team. I’ve been quietly bemused, having:
a)    Never eaten a panini without cheese in it before (isn’t that the best part?!).
b)    Never tried chicken and avocado together (as I gave up meat 9 ½ years ago, when avocados were still yet to wash up on the English shore).

But these paninis are just getting more and more popular in the office. They’re like the Prom Queen of paninis. And, ever curious, I’ve been pondering the flavour combo. So, whilst scheming up a new salad recipe this week, to jazz up my regular old plateful of leaves, I decided to go for it! Of course, on the ChefBeHere blog we like our chickens to be clucking and roaming free, so no chickens were harmed in the making of this recipe.

I just made a salad, chopped up an avocado, grilled some Quorn ‘chicken’, and slung these on top. And it tasted good. I can’t complain! Not raving yet – I think maybe I need to give this combo a try together in some other recipes first – but it was a fine plateful of food. Want me to talk you through it?? Here’s how to whip up your own Clucking and Avocado Salad, in just eight simple steps…

1.     Pour a cool drink and, if it isn’t blowing a gale outside, open a window for some fresh air. Clear your mind, take a few deep breaths, and set some summery music playing.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: This week I’ve been listening to the track ‘Barcelona’, from Ed Sheeran’s new album, on my morning walk. Never mind what you think of Ed Sheeran – this is a really feel good, upbeat tune. It puts me in a good mood.

2.     Turn on the George Foreman or, if you don’t have one of these, your regular grill.
3.     While the grill heats up, take out a plate and cover this with your favourite salad leaves.
4.     Drizzle your leaves with a salad dressing of your choice – I went for a balsamic vinaigrette.
5.     Set a handful of Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces grilling.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you’re using a regular grill, you might want to pop your Quorn in a little boat fashioned out of tin foil.
6.     Time for veg prep! Use a sharp knife to halve a dozen cherry tomatoes, cut up half a pepper into bite-sized pieces, chop your stalk of celery up into chunks, and cut your avocado up into chunks, too.
7.     Arrange your veg artistically over the leaves on your plate.
8.     Top with ‘chicken’ pieces fresh from the grill… et voila!

Clucking and Avocado Salad

And that, readers, is all there is to it. What do you think?? Have you tried avocado and chicken together before? Or avocado and a meat-free ‘chicken’? Do you like this taste combo?? Would you top a salad with these two? Do you have any other recipe suggestions where I can try them together? (Besides paninis… which I see far too many of these days!)

I’m intrigued to hear whether there’s anything to dislike about this pairing of ingredients. Is it controversial or a totally safe bet? Could I serve this to friends and count on people liking their food? Would anyone not be up for avocado and chicken?? In the office, it’s everyone’s favourite flavour, but step out the door and… who knows! What do you think, readers?

I shall leave you to ponder this, obviously, LIFE-CHANGING conundrum. And enjoy the rest of your wonderful Sunday.

Salad safely,


And cheers to the Irish! Happy St. Patricks!
There was Baileys in my cocktail this week :)