Monday, 3 December 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 49

I've not managed to get my daughter into any sort of proper routine at the moment which means that sometimes we miss a solid meal I'd planned as she is asleep and then she just has milk afterwards - I'm also finding she wakes up too late for a solid breakfast if I'm giving her lunch as well at the moment. So from now on I'm going to plan three meals a day, and hope that she eats at least two of them! I'm also going to start giving her a cooked meal like fish pie or risotto at lunch and finger food at dinner as when she goes to nursery she will have her main meal at lunchtime.

Monday
Breakfast for baby porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby  roast beef from Sunday
Lunch for us beans/ macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner for baby homemade risotto from the freezer. For dessert - baked apple
Dinner for us cottage cheese stuffed chicken based on this recipe

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby  yogurt with fruit
Lunch for baby baby pasta with some chicken from our dinner yesterday
Lunch for us bacon sandwich
Dinner for baby not sure if we will be back in time (see below) so maybe some finger food
Dinner for us probably back late as baby S has an appointment at the allergy clinic so something easy from the freezer

Wednesday
Breakfast for baby  homemade breakfast muffins
Lunch for baby cheese on toast we didn't have last week
Lunch for us cheese on toast
Dinner for baby  something ready made to make it easy for my husband as I won't be home
Dinner for us I'm going into work this afternoon so something quick and easy for when I get back - pasta ready meal for me, something from the freezer for him

Thursday
Breakfast for baby  porridge or yogurt with fruit
Lunch for baby pitta bread pizza
Lunch for us pitta bread pizza
Dinner for baby cottage pie and green beans with petit filous for dessert
Dinner for us  Orange glazed salmon and mini roast potatoes for me that I didn't do last week, chicken for him

Friday
Breakfast for baby  homemade breakfast muffin
Lunch for baby salmon and potatoes from yesterday
Lunch for us sandwich with fresh bread
Dinner for baby spaghetti Bolognese using mince with baby food from a jar with poached pear for dessert
Dinner for us tuna pasta bake for me, chicken chargrills for him

Saturday
Breakfast for baby toast
Lunch for baby tuna pasta bake
Lunch for us  bacon sandwich again at my husband's request; I will have the rest of my pasta bake
Dinner for baby cod and sweetcorn chowder with apple crumble for dessert
Dinner for us beef and lamb chargrills with mashed potato or roast potato

Sunday
Breakfast for baby  toast or porridge
Lunch for baby  houmous and pitta with cheese and cucumber
Lunch for us breakfast burritos
Dinner for baby  cottage pie with petit filous for dessert
Dinner for us salmon en croute for me, chicken pie for him



Tuesday, 27 November 2018

How to make a Felt Christmas Stocking Advent Calendar


I'm really looking forward to my baby's first Christmas and thinking of all sorts of ways I can make it special. I wanted to have a handmade keepsake of some sort that would hopefully be in our family for years, and I hit upon the idea of an advent calendar - consisting of little stockings, each numbered 1 to 24, that I can fill with all sorts of things year after year.

Given that I haven't done any sewing in years and can't think of any time I've ever sewed for fun, I found this surprisingly easy to make. It was a little time consuming but only because I don't get a lot of free time as I have an eight month old baby, and would sew a couple of bits in the evening here and there, over the course of several weeks. If you have a sewing machine that would speed up the process as well.


The design is my own - I know there are plenty of advent calendars like this out there but I didn't copy any of them and just thought about how I wanted it to look:


To make them is very easy:
Cut out the stocking shapes from felt - you will need 48
Draw and cut out the numbers from 1 to 24
Sew the numbers onto what will be the front facing stockings first
Then sew on the ric rac edging onto the front facing stocking
Sew both parts of the stocking together along the edges
Attach the stockings  to some string with the pegs; you could also sew loops into the stockings instead if you want.

I'm really pleased with the way they turned out even though the stitching and numbers are slightly different on each; my husband says that just adds to the homemade effect and he thinks they will make a lovely Christmas keepsake.

My daughter will be nearly ten months old at Christmas so won't understand advent calendars and I had considered just filling it with chocolates for us this year, but I saw a set of finger puppets on a site called Once Upon a Time that are designed for a baby's advent calendar, at a very reasonable price, so I ordered them back in September. They were supposed to be with me by early November but with only a few days to go until the start of December they still haven't arrived and the site owner hasn't responded to my messages, so I'm hoping they will still come in time - she has a few days yet!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 48

My husband is at home this week so I need to be a bit more creative with lunch ideas as I often just see what I can find in the fridge or cupboard when it's just me! On the plus side I should have a bit more time to make something for dinner or do some cooking for baby S with him to help look after her.

Monday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S tinned tuna mixed with avocado and pitta
Lunch for us full English breakfast as a treat as it's my husband's first day at home of what will be at least a few weeks
Dinner for us salmon en croute and veg for me, chicken pie for him I was going to do last week but didn't.


Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S cheerios
Lunch or dinner for baby S pitta with tuna and avocado followed by fruity rice pudding
Lunch for us jacket potato
Dinner for us fish in lemon sauce and hassleback potatoes for me from this recipe for me, chicken chargrills for him


Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S homemade breakfast muffin
Lunch or dinner for baby S cottage cheese and pea mash
Lunch for us  fishcake and poached egg for me, cheese omelette for him
Dinner for us  homemade schnitzel - pork for me, chicken for him


Thursday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S cheese on toast
Lunch for us cheese on toast
Dinner for us Orange glazed salmon and mini roast potatoes for me, chicken for him


Friday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch or dinner for baby S salmon, potatoes and veg from yesterday
Lunch for us sandwiches (can pick up fresh bread when we are out in the morning)
Dinner for us  burger and chips


Saturday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S sweetcorn and cheese multigrain packet meal followed by fruit or rice pudding
Lunch for us  soup and bread
Dinner for us pulled pork rolls with BBQ sauce and potato wedges


Sunday
Breakfast for baby S cheerios
Lunch or dinner for baby S banana pancake
Lunch for us pancake with ham and cheese
Dinner for us roast beef

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 47

My little girl wasn't well last week - just a cough and cold but she was off her food and sleeping loads, so we went back to just milk rather than solids as she wasn't really up to sitting in a high chair eating a meal (she's only eight months so going back to milk is fine). Hopefully she will be back to her normal self this week!

Monday
Breakfast for baby S homemade carrot, courgette and apple muffin
Lunch for me sandwich
Lunch or dinner for baby S roast chicken, potato and vegetable from yesterday
Dinner for us chicken curry

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with blueberries
Lunch for me pitta bread with tuna
Lunch or dinner for baby S pitta bread with BabyLed Spread
Dinner for us spaghetti and meatballs I didn't do last week

Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for me jacket potato
Lunch or dinner for baby S swede and carrot mash with cod
Dinner for us salmon en croute and veg for me, chicken pie for him

Thursday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with banana
Lunch for me sandwich
Lunch or dinner for baby S chicken and veg risotto
Dinner for us fajitas (prawn for me) with potato wedges

Friday
Breakfast for baby S homemade muffin
Lunch for me tuna pasta
Lunch or dinner for baby S tuna pasta with cucumber and cherry tomatoes
Dinner for us beef grillsteak for him with croquette potatoes, lamb for me

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for us fresh pasta
Lunch or dinner for baby S cod and sweetcorn chowder from this recipe
Dinner for us something easy from the freezer as we need an early dinner before going to a 40th birthday party- maybe sausage and chips

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S Toast
Lunch for us With my family for my niece's birthday
Lunch or dinner for baby S If out, finger food; if home, pouch of pork and apple casserole
Dinner for us Frozen pizza

Monday, 12 November 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 46


Monday
Breakfast for baby S: toast
Lunch or dinner for baby S - carrot, sweetcorn and cheese meal from a packet - baby S wasn't feeling well so I wanted something simple and easy to eat, followed by blueberries
Dinner for us for me, rest of haddock gratin from freezer. For him: chicken chargrills

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S: yogurt with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S - cucumber, tomatoes, pitta bread, cheese
Dinner for us pork medallions in a mustard sauce for me, chicken pie for him


 
Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S: porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S - Swede and carrot mash with chicken 
Dinner for us  I’m at a charity quiz so will have dinner before my husband gets home - I fancy a pasta ready meal, he can then have a frozen pizza when he gets home
 
 Thursday
Breakfast for baby S: carrot and courgette cupcake based on this recipe
Lunch or dinner for baby S - pouch of ready made pork casserole
Dinner for us chicken and veg risotto for me, sausage and mash and a bit of risotto for him


 
Friday
Breakfast for baby S: porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S - chicken and veg risotto
Dinner for us spaghetti and meatballs
 
Saturday
Breakfast for baby S: probably just milk as we need to head out early
Lunch for us - not sure where we will be for lunch as we are at baby S’s Waterbabies photo shoot just before midday
Lunch or dinner for baby S - tomato puree puff pastry twists, cucumber, cooked chicken breast
Dinner for us spicy chicken with potato wedges and Nutella pastry twist for dessert
Sunday
Lunch for all of us crumpets
Dinner for baby S - fish pie
Dinner for us roast chicken thighs with chicken breast for him and Yorkshire puddings

Monday, 5 November 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 45

Monday
Lunch for all three of us cheese on toast
Dinner for baby S: chicken casserole from my freezer stash
Dinner for us: pizza - I was going to make something else but the baby was crying and restless and I couldn't start cooking til 7.30 so frozen pizza it was!

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S:  chicken and sweet potato mash
Lunch for me: frittata (ready made) with two leftover hotdogs from the weekend
Dinner for us: fish pie for me, chicken pie for him


Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S: fish pie
Lunch for me: ham sandwich
Dinner for us: For me, broccoli and salmon bake from this recipe I meant to do last week but didn't; beef grillsteak for him


Thursday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S: cheesy pasta with broccoli I didn't do last week
Lunch for me: mini pizza (bought this before we ended up having pizza for dinner on Monday!)
Dinner for us: homemade turkey burger for me, beef burger for him

Friday
Breakfast for baby S Farley's rusk
Lunch or dinner for baby S: jar of 'my first bolognese' with minced turkey
Lunch for me: sandwich
Dinner for us: chicken/ prawn tacos

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch or dinner for baby S:  rest of jar of baby food mixed with mince and pasta
Lunch for me: soup and bread roll
Dinner for us: steak and chips

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch or dinner for baby S: cod mixed with sweet potato puree
Lunch for me: fresh pasta with garlic bread
Dinner for us: toad in the hole

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Easy Vegan Pumpkin Pie to use your leftover pumpkin


I was determined to use up my pumpkins in cooking this year and not just throw them away so as well as this pumpkin and gnocchi gratin I made a pumpkin pie. I've made a pumpkin cheesecake (vegan) before, and this chocolate pumpkin cheesecake, but I've never made an actual pumpkin pie before.

I was spending the weekend with friends so a pie seemed like a nice thing to take; one friend is vegan so I needed to find a vegan recipe. I had a look online and ended up creating my own recipe based on this one from Yummy Mummy Kitchen, but using shop-bought shortcrust pastry, which is vegan, and using my fresh pumpkin rather than canned, coconut milk and cornflour to thicken, and brown sugar and golden syrup to sweeten it. The end result was a soft baked pie filling, almost the consistency of a baked cheesecake, which tasted delicious! It was very popular with my friends, vegan and non-vegan alike.

See below for the full recipe - I also want to mention here the vacuum seal food storage container from Ozeri that I used to transport and store my pie in. You get two large domed containers in the pack, and you simply close the valve at the top and push down to create a vaccum seal; when you want to open the container just open the valve. This keeps the food fresh and there's also a handy dial you turn to show which day you put the food in the container. They are fairly large to store but are a nice sturdy design and I like the fact that the lid is clear plastic so you can see what's inside, so this is also a nice way to serve food for instance when you are outside in the summer and want to keep the insects away!


 

It's currently available on the UK Amazon site but with fairly high shipping costs as it comes from the US, or you can find it on other Amazon sites which are cheaper to ship to the UK.

So here's how I made my pumpkin pie
Serves 10-12

Flesh from one large pumpkin, skin removed, chopped
500g shortcrust pastry block
The cream from the top of a 400ml tin of coconut milk plus some of the milk making up 200ml in total
150ml golden syrup
75g brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tbsp. cornflour

Stew the chopped pumpkin in a pan of boiling water until softened then drain. Allow to cool then pulse in a food processor until you have a smooth puree.


Preheat oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry and use to line either a deep tart tin or a loose bottomed cake tin. Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and blind bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cook while you make the filling.



In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, coconut cream and milk, golden syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornflour and beat until smooth.

Pour into the pie crust and return to the oven for 45 minutes. If the top of the pie starts to brown too much, cover with foil.

 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool then chill overnight in the fridge - this should make the filling set.

I'm sharing this with Baking Crumbs hosted by Jo's Kitchen Larder and CookBlogShare hosted by EasyPeasyFoodie.
 

Thanks to Ozeri for the food storage containers to review.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Pumpkin and Gnocchi Gratin



Around eight million pumpkins are expected to be thrown away in the UK after Halloween this year - and according to this Guardian article, only a third of consumers will cook and eat any of them.

I didn't get around to carving a pumpkin this year but did buy two, for some photos with my little girl!

I then made use of them in various ways - soup, pie, and this pumpkin and gnocchi gratin. The recipe is from an old issue of Weightwatchers magazine; but I added bacon lardons as well (if you want it without, this makes a nice vegetarian dish). I also used more cheese and allowed more gnocchi per person.
This is really tasty - I'm not a huge fan of gnocchi as it's very doughy and needs more than just a tomato sauce, but it works wonderfully in this recipe - you could also substitute the pumpkin for butternut squash.

Serves 4
400g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 small red onion, cut into wedges
4 tbsp. chopped fresh sage - I used 4 tsp dried sage to keep the cost down
200g bacon lardons
low fat cooking spray (or oil if you are not following Weightwatchers)
500g gnocchi
250g tomato passata
5 tbsp. grated cheddar


Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with foil and spray with non stick spray or pour in a little oil. Roast the pumpkin, garlic, onion and sage, and sprinkle over some salt and pepper then toss in the oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin has softened.

Meanwhile fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling water according to the pack instructions - it only takes a few minutes.

Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and mash with a fork, discarding the skin. In a large ovenproof dish mix the garlic, pumpkin and onion, bacon lardons, gnocchi, then pour over the passata and gently mix in. Finally sprinkle over the cheese.

 
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes; serve with a green veg like broccoli or a salad and garlic bread.

A lovely winter warmer, and a good way to use up pumpkin so it isn't wasted.

 

 And here's my little pumpkin herself!
 


I'm sharing this with Cook Blog Share, hosted by Easy Peasy Foodie.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Now the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, I'm thinking of cosy warming meals and making more use of the slow cooker.

I kept seeing recipes for hot chocolate made in the slow cooker on the internet and decided to have a go. Be warned - this is a very indulgent recipe and a little goes a long way, but it's really something that should just be an occasional treat - perhaps after an evening of trick or treating or coming back from watching the fireworks.

You need:
397g tin condensed milk
400ml semi-skimmed milk
250g Nutella or chocolate spread
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
handful of marshmallows



Whisk the condensed milk, milk, chocolate spread and cocoa powder and pour into the slow cooker dish. Cook on low for 2 hours, adding the marshmallows for the last half an hour.

 
Once the slow cooker is switched off this will stay warm for a while - it's best served with a ladle and you can top your drinks with whipped cream or mini marshmallows but this was rich and sweet enough for me!

I used my new kitchen scales by Ozeri to weigh the ingredients - the Ozeri Touch II digital kitchen scale, which I like because it is so slimline, it takes up so much less space in my cupboard than other scales. It also comes in an attractive teal blue and is easy to wipe clean if you touch it with messy fingers! You can also choose whether you weigh in grams or ounces etc which is handy if you are following a recipe with measurements different to the ones you usually use and don't want to have to keep converting them!

I also enjoyed my hot chocolate in my llama mug, because that's how I roll.

Thanks to Ozeri for the scales to review, all opinions are my own.


 

 

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 44


Monday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S Leftover chicken with veg
Lunch for me pasta salad
Dinner for us Chicken and pesto pasta to use up chicken from yesterday

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S pancake
Lunch for baby S cheesy pasta with broccoli
Lunch for me sandwich or salad
Dinner for us salmon and broccoli bake from this recipe for me, sausage rolls for him

Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S  jar of 'my first bolognese'  mixed with added minced turkey
Lunch for me ploughman's/ sandwich
Dinner for us tuna steak for me or if time rosemary chicken from this recipe https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8159/rosemary-chicken-with-tomato-sauce, chicken chargrills for him


Thursday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for baby S rest of jar of baby food mixed with turkey
Lunch for me pumpkin soup
Dinner for us mince tacos

Friday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S fishfingers and peas
Lunch for me pumpkin soup
Dinner for us spaghetti Bolognese to use rest of mince

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for baby S Lamb hotpot
Lunch for us cheese toasties
Dinner for us fish pie for me, chicken pie for him

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S pancake
Lunch for baby S fish pie
Lunch for us bacon sandwich
Dinner for us Toad in the hole

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Ozeri Stone Earth Pan Review

One of my husband's favourite meals is steak and chips, which luckily is very easy to cook - all you need is an oven and a frying pan!

I have a couple of Ozeri frying pans which I really like, and was recently sent another one to review - the Ozeri Stone Earth Frying Pan. I got the 30cm size which is available from the French Amazon site (which delivers to the UK) here.

It's made of durable die-cast aluminium so I was expecting it to be heavier than it was but it's really comfortable to hold and easy to clean. It's called the 'stone' earth frying pan because the non-stick scratch-resistant coating is derived from stone. It also looks very stylish.

I have an induction hob so it heats pans really fast and you have to be careful not to overcook things sometimes. This frying pan heated really evenly and my steak - or rather my husband's steak as I was having something else - was cooked to perfection!


Thanks to Ozeri for the frying pan to review.            

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Restaurant review: JJ Cafe Pie & Mash Carshalton

Not just pie and mash (thankfully) at this pie and mash cafe in Carshalton, Surrey.

On a sunny autumnal Sunday morning I went for a walk around Grove Park in Carshalton with my husband and our baby. It’s a lovely park, bigger than you might think at first, with a playground, mini golf, a restored watermill and squirrels everywhere, plus the adjacent Carshalton pond which always has plenty of wildlife.
 
We decided to get breakfast while we were out and were planning to pick up a pastry from Costa but walking past JJ, a relatively recent addition to Carshalton high street, I suggested we eat there instead.
 
There was plenty of space for the buggy at one of the pavement tables and we appreciated the table service, though you go inside to pay at the end - and be aware they only take cash not cards which I’ve never come across in a cafe before.

My husband had the number 2 JJ breakfast - there were various combinations of full English on offer plus the usual cafe fare, with pie and mash taking up only a small section of the menu. I had a sausage sandwich and was pleased to see it was offered with fried onions, surprisingly unusual in a cafe but it made for a very tasty sandwich. And for a tenner plus change for two of us to have breakfast and a drink it was definitely good value.
 
A Sunday morning stroll around Grove Park and breakfast out might become a bit of a tradition now we have a little girl, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to JJ’s - I’d just have to remember to visit the cashpoint first.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 43

Monday
Breakfast for baby S just milk as I had an appointment
Lunch for baby S chicken pieces and veg
Lunch for us (my husband is off as he is looking after baby S during my appointment) hot dogs
Dinner pork fillet with cheat's tonnato from Delicious magazine for me I was going to do last night but didn't, steak for him

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with mashed banana
Lunch for baby S homemade lamb hotpot
Lunch for me any bits and pieces I need to use up from the fridge
Dinner pasta with rest of tonnato sauce for me, pasta with meatballs for him


Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S crumpet
Lunch for baby S some of my haddock gratin from yesterday
Lunch for me macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner smoked haddock and cauliflower gratin from a magazine cutting (You Jan 2017) I was going to make last week but didn't , for him something ready made like chicken kievs


Thursday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with apple
Lunch for baby S cheese on toast
Lunch for me cheese on toast
Dinner gnocchi and pumpkin gratin for me from Weightwatchers magazine recipe, chicken chargrills for him

Friday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with mashed banana
Lunch for baby S some of my dinner from yesterday
Lunch for me mini pizzas
Dinner burger and chips

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for baby S homemade beef casserole
Lunch for us Tex Mex sausage rolls from Sainsburys magazine cutting
Dinner Bombay chicken one pot roast from Tesco magazine

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S pancake
Lunch - out at a birthday party
Dinner - not sure when we will be back so might do something from the freezer


Thursday, 18 October 2018

Di Oro Seamless Spatulas Review and Discount Code

How often do you replace your cooking utensils? I'm guessing not often enough - things like wooden spoons and spatulas aren't the sort of thing it ever occurs to me to buy and when I need one I grab one from the drawer or utensil jar without really thinking.

But some of mine are pretty old and at least one of my wooden spoons has a split which means it's destined for the bin. So it was good timing that I was sent a set of three seamless spatulas from Di Oro for review and there is one great USP in particular that means I want to recommend them to you!

As the name implies.. they are seamless. My other spatulas have handles and then the actual spatula end as two pieces melded together, so you can see a join - and it never occurred to me before but it would be easy to get food and therefore bacteria into that very fine line.

Di Oro seamless spatulas don't have this as they are moulded from one piece of silicone but also have a reinforced stainless steel core so they are really sturdy, though the end is flexible enough to scrape out your pan or bowl. Of course the silicone is non-stick and BPA free and what's more the large spatula in this set won a 2017 award from America's Test Kitchen. Heat resistant up to 315C you are not going to melt these easily!

There are three spatulas in this set - a large one for mixing and a large one with a straight edge for scraping out pans, and a small one which you can also use in a pan or use to scrape out a jar.
The set of three comes in either red or black and costs £14.95 from Amazon (you can also buy them individually); but you can currently get 15% off with this special discount code for use on Amazon: DIO15OFF  - this discount is good for all EU readers with access to Amazon so this includes Amazon UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

I'm already making good use of all three spatulas as you can see in this meal below. This is a version of this Santa Fe chicken recipe I made a couple of years ago; as I still can't get hold of Monterey Jack cheese I used a cheddar spiced with chilli from Morrisons which gave it a nice kick, and I made a cheese sauce and topped the chicken with red and green peppers. It was really good and my new Di Oro spatula made stirring the cheese sauce (and not letting it burn) a doddle!

 
 



Thanks to Di Oro for the spatulas for review. All opinions are my own.


 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 42

Monday
Breakfast for baby S pancakes
Lunch for baby S cheese, tomato, cucumber, mini rice cakes
Lunch for us: ploughmans
Dinner for us for me - smoked haddock and cauliflower gratin from a magazine cutting (You Jan 2017) , for him something ready made

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt and fruit
Lunch for baby S :  some of my haddock gratin from yesterday
Lunch for me: sandwich
Dinner for us fishcake for me, chicken chargrills for him

Wednesday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  pancakes
Lunch for baby S homemade chicken dinner
Lunch for us: beans on toast/ macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner for us Mary Berry's sausage dish, from a magazine cutting (You Jan 2017)

Thursday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  porridge and fruit
Lunch for baby S  homemade Lancashire hot pot
Lunch for us: cheese and tomato puff pastry twist with salad
Dinner for us baked salmon and gnocci from Delicious magazine

Friday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  toast
Lunch for baby S  homemade beef casserole
Lunch for us: hot dogs
Dinner for us tacos - either chicken or mince

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S crumpet
Lunch for us: crumpet pizzas
Dinner for us: takeaway with my mother in law

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S salmon with pasta and peas
Lunch for us: breakfast burritos I didn't do last week
Dinner for us: pork fillet with cheat's tonnato from Delicious magazine for me, steak for him



Saturday, 13 October 2018

Easy Loaf Tin Carrot Cake


 
This is a very easy carrot cake using ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard and fridge that takes very little time to throw together. It was really light and moist and absolutely delicious!

I didn’t actually realise it was a loaf cake until I was part way through the recipe but it makes baking and decorating it much easier. I made this while my baby daughter was having a nap, as my mother in law was having friends over the following day and had invited us to drop in and mentioned not having had time to make a cake so I wanted to help (though in the end she made a fantastic coffee cake as well!).

This recipe comes from the Abel and Cole Cookbook, which I bought (I think on a special offer) back in the days when I had a veg box delivered every week. These days it doesn’t seem worthwhile as my husband is very fussy particularly when it comes to veg and we wouldn’t get through even their smallest box, though now we’ve started weaning our daughter maybe it is something to look into again!

Abel and Cole has a similar recipe on their website where they say they spruced up the recipe from their first cookbook, which is the considerably simpler one that I made.

 
This is what I did:

You need:
185g sugar
180ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour
130g grated carrots
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

for the icing:
175g cream cheese
175g butter at room temperature
225g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C. Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together until well combined, then fold in the flour. Stir in the grated carrots, the baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt and cinnamon.

Grease a loaf tin - I use PME Release A Cake Spray 600 ml - and pour in the cake mix. Bake for 30 minutes, testing with a skewer, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.





To make the icing beat together the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla. Slice the cake through the middle (this wasn't in the original recipe but I decided to do it and loved it) and spread over one half of the cake and sandwich together then use the rest to cover the top of the cake.

 
 I'm sharing this with Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain and CookBlogShare hosted this time by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes.
 
 
 

Monday, 8 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 41


Monday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with apple
Lunch for baby S  finger food of chicken and veg
Lunch for me: smoked salmon leftover from Sunday with bread and butter
Dinner for us: spaghetti bolognese

Tuesday
Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for baby S leftover spaghetti Bolognese
Lunch for me: Also leftover spaghetti Bolognese as I always make too much!
Dinner for us: gammon grills/ cauliflower cheese grills

Wednesday
Breakfast for baby S Farley's rusk
Lunch for baby S  salmon with sweet potato and broccoli
Lunch for me: toasted sandwich or mini pizzas
Dinner for us: salmon with hollandaise sauce for me, sausages for him


Thursday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt with peach
Lunch for baby S salmon with tomato and possibly baby pasta- S seems to have a mild egg allergy to am waiting to see if I should try pasta or not
Lunch for me: sandwich
Dinner for us: tacos with potato wedges

Friday
Breakfast for baby S yogurt with apple
Lunch for baby S houmous and breadsticks and carrot sticks (cooked)
Lunch for me: houmous and bread sticks and carrot sticks (raw)
Dinner for us: burger and chips

Saturday
Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S  fingerfood - cucumber, cheese, mini rice cakes
Lunch for us: soup and bread
Dinner for us: for me (and to go in the freezer for baby S) slow cooker Lancashire hotpot, something different TBA for him

Sunday
Breakfast for baby S toast with peanut butter
Lunch for baby S pouch of coconut chicken and butternut squash curry
Lunch for us: breakfast burritos
Dinner for us: Santa Fe chicken


Sunday, 7 October 2018

Cake and Bake Show 2018 and Bake with a Legend


This week I made bread with one of the finalists from the Great British Bake Off. It's not every day that you can say that!

I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to the Cake and Bake Show for the Friday, and lucky that my husband offered to take a day off work and look after our seven month old baby. I wasn't gone for the whole day but I did miss my little girl, though she was quite happy with daddy!

The show is a mixture of stalls selling everything from cakes and fudge to cake decorating equipment to kitchen knives, with three demonstration stages and a handful of other things to do - for instance one of the cake decorating stalls had a table where you could sit and be shown how to make a simple sugar flower, or you could get your nails done for free by students from a beauty college (the first time in seven months I've worn nail varnish I think!).


Jane Asher demonstrating at the Cake and Bake Show



Paul Jagger demonstration
 

Bake with a Legend had a stand with none other than Jane Beedle, GBBO 2016 finalist, where you could sign up for a free baking session, so I did. Bake with a Legend allows you to hold an event like a party, hen night or corporate event, where you bake with one of a selection of GBBO participants - or you can sign up to a public session and buy an individual place. It's not cheap - £99 for the public session or £895 for a group of up to 20 in your own home - less than £45 per person if you can get 20 people but I'm not sure how easy that would be, or a group event at £85 per person at one of their locations around the UK for a minimum of 12 people.

It's a great idea as many GBBO fans would love to have a go at baking with their favourite contestant - it's much more than just a meet and greet and doing any sort of baking class usually doesn't come cheap. The company doesn't have any of the actual GBBO winners on their books but there are contestants from different series and whether you were a fan of Howard Middleton or Paul Jagger (who made the amazing lion shaped bread in 2016) you are sure to find someone you like.

At the Cake and Bake Show, I made focaccia with Jane, topped with olives and tomatoes. It was a nice easy recipe - there was even a child taking part who had no trouble with it - but I picked up some useful tips like if your dough is too wet, don't add flour as that changes the ratio of ingredients, but instead add more oil.



Jane was lovely and happy to answer questions about her time on Bake Off, telling us about some of the things she made for her auditions, and that one of her favourite bakes on the show had been Jaffa cakes and the hardest the dampfnudel from one of the technical challenges.

We made the dough and put it in a tin foil tray to take home and bake in the oven. Focaccia only needs a single prove so it did that while I carried it home (it was quite a warm day!) and then I baked the bread later. It was delicious, particularly dipped in a little oil and balsamic vinegar.


I also got to meet Paul from the same series of GBBO who stopped by for a chat.


That was definitely the highlight of my day at the Cake and Bake Show. I realised from looking around the stalls just how much cake decorating equipment I already have! I really must find time to start using it again...

I did buy a few bits and pieces - a set of Lego style moulds that I think I will use for my husband's next birthday cake, some circular cutters (I couldn't remember if I already had any, and they were cheap), a textured mat to roll out icing to make it look like wood, a tiny bow mould and a '40 and fabulous' cake topper which I expect I will get some use out of as I and my school friends all turn 40 next year!




I also had a look at the competition cakes - this is a big part of the Cake and Bake Show. There was a cakes for children section, a wedding cake section, and the main section which had a theme of 'around the world in 80 cakes'. I took a few photos of some of my favourites which you can see below.

If you are interested in cakes and baking and can get to London I recommend the show - I also went to the Cake and Bake Show in 2014 and Cake International in 2012, which were really good as well. A nice day out and of course I couldn't come home without some cake for me and my husband as well!