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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fettuccine Bolognaise - #RespectThePasta

For the third #RespectThePasta challenge set by ASk Italian I have been asked to recreate a Fettuccine dish from the ASK Italian cookbook. I chose to make Fettuccine Bolognaise, as the family love a rich and meaty bolognaise.

I was provided with a box of dried Fettuccine that takes just 6-7 minutes too cook, however the bolognaise sauce takes a little longer to develop the rich flavours so make sure you start cooking it in plenty of time, or make in advance and store in the fridge.

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Fettuccine Bolognaise - serves 4-6

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
450g lean minced beef
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml red wine
150ml beef stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
500g tomato passata
5 fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
500g Fettuccine
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over a low heat
  • Add the onion and cook slowly until it has softened and become translucent
  • Add the beef mince and brown gently, breaking the meat up and stirring constantly
  • When the meat has lost its raw look, add the garlic
  • Add the wine, turn up the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the wine has evaporated
  • Stir in the stock, tomatoes & passata
  • Season with the herbs, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and salt
  • Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often
  • Check the seasoning, adding pepper to taste
  • Lower the heat and cook the sauce very gently for 1 hour 20 minutes with the lid off
  • Stir often to prevent the sauce from sticking
  • It should be at a low simmer
  • Cook the Fettuccine according to the directions on the pack
  • Once the Fettuccine is cooked, add it to the sauce and mix well
  • Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Organising a Child's Bedroom

When reorganising a child's bedroom it's worth taking a little time to plan what the space will be used for. If you are lucky enough to have a playroom then you might just want to make the bedroom into a chilled out space with just a minimal amount of toys.

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If the room is to be used for both sleeping and playing it's can be nice to have a separate areas, if the size of the room allows, to avoid treading on Lego when making a trip to the toilet in the middle of the night. A play mat or rug can be both comfortable to sit on as well as being functional for play.

Kids Bedroom - Play

Baskets and toy boxes are a great way to get little ones to clear away after themselves. If toys have their own space then it's easier to put them away, as well as finding them again. Plastic boxes can be labelled up with a picture of the toys inside to make it easier for preschoolers to recognise the box.

Kids bedroom - storage

If the bedroom is small it's worth considering a multi-function bed, with room to play and study underneath, or with extra storage. If you have guests staying on a regular basis then a bunk bed or rollaway guest bed can be very handy.

kids bedrooms - sleeping

When it comes to flooring in a child's bedroom I always think that something practical is needed. There is nothing worse than having a new carpet fitted for someone to go and throw up all over it (trust me, I know!) or for nail varnish to be spilt by an 11 year old budding make-up artist. For me, cheap laminate flooring is the way to go. We've had ours down in the children's bedrooms for almost eleven years and they still look as good as new - with a bit of elbow grease, even stubborn marks can be removed.

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Last Minute Easter Treats

There's only a few days until Easter but there's still plenty of time to bake some Easter treats. I have already shared recipes for two lovely and simple recipes :

Caramel Chocolate Easter Cupcakes

Chocolate Pretzel Easter Nests

I have been meaning to make some Mini Egg Cookies for ages and had a bag of Mini Eggs in my pantry ready and waiting. I finally got around to making some - I'm not sure why I didn't make them sooner as they are really quick and easy, but here's the recipe if you want to rustle some up ready for the Easter weekend.

Mini Egg Cookies - Makes approx 16 large cookies

115g Butter, softened
230g Caster sugar
35g Golden syrup
1 Egg
230g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
100g Chocolate Mini eggs
  • Beat the butter and sugar together
  • Mix in the golden syrup & egg
  • Stir the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the butter/sugar mixture
  • Mix well, adding the mini eggs just as the mixture starts to come together
  • Roll mixture into balls (heaped tbsp) and place on a greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  • Bake in a preheated 170 C oven for approx 10 minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack
  • Store in an airtight container
Mini Egg Cookies

If you don't have the time or the inclination for baking this Easter, you could always pop along to your local M&S where they have a great selection of Easter treats for all the family, including an Assorted Chocolate Egg Nest (£10), Belgian Chocolate Mini Egg selection (£4), Percy Pig Egg (£6), Colin the Caterpillar Egg (£6) and many many more.

Easter Eggs
Marbled Egg (£8)

Easter Eggs
Feather Egg (£7)

If like hot cross buns then my kids say that you really should try the Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (£1.49)

Hot Cross Buns


I was sent the Easter eggs & hot cross buns for the purpose of this review

Taking the Stress out of Family Cooking

Let’s face it, being in charge of feeding the family day after day can be a stressful job, especially when you’ve been out at work all day. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to put the fun back into family meal times by being more organised and creating a more relaxed environment in the kitchen.

Kitchen D├ęcor
Michelle Minetti of the Huffington Post says their readers feel the kitchen is the most stressful room in the house, but that can be changed by taking creative control. One way to revamp the kitchen is to update the present ornaments and accessories. Replacing something as simple as a roller blind can add a welcome splash of colour or an unusual print that can become the focus of a room, a range of options are available to purchase on ebay. With some re-organisation and a little redecoration this room can become an oasis of calm despite being the hub of the home.

Meal Planning and Budgeting
We aren’t kidding about reorganisation. It may not be what you want to hear, but getting some structure back into your kitchen and meal planning could be the best thing you have ever done for your health and happiness. For starters it’s a good idea to go through your fridge, freezer and cupboards and get rid of anything you have not used in the last six months to a year. These items are only creating more clutter and we definitely don’t need that! All kitchens seem to become a magnet for unsorted paperwork at one time or another, if yours is one of them then it is time to reclaim the space and create a filing system to hold all your letters and to-do lists.

With so many websites and blogs dedicated to meal planning you may not know where to begin, a good starting point for those on a budget is this four-week meal planner from goodtoknow.co.uk which gives nutritionally balanced meal plans for less than £40 a week. Once you’ve got into the habit of planning your meals and you have a better idea of what your family likes and dislikes, you can find a new meal planner or start making your own from scratch. If meal planning isn’t for you and yours, another option is to set aside some time at the weekend to prepare meals for the week ahead then pop them in the freezer to be removed when you need them. This saves a lot of time in the long run and allows your family dinners to be a more relaxed affair.

The kitchen always seems to become overcrowded when you need space the most, but this problem can be solved by introducing a little routine into the mix. This does not have to mean set mealtimes. By creating a set sequence of events, for example getting the kids to complete their homework while you prepare meals, you create a sense of structure and everyone knows what they should be doing. It reduces the pressure on you to entertain everyone at once.  It does not have to be homework of course, but by creating something for the rest of the family to get on with while you prepare dinner, you will give yourself extra breathing space.

Getting the Family Together

It is all well and good being organised, but if you aren’t getting the family together to spend quality time with each other after all the preparation, then you won’t be making the most of your clutter free space and stress free kitchen. Getting kids on board with meal planning is a great way for them to feel included. If they feel like meal times are their own little project then they are more likely to co-operate and enjoy sitting together at the table as a family.

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