The Crazy Kitchen: November 2011

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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas Gift Guide Part 6 - HIT Entertainment

The lovely people at HIT Entertainment sent me their Christmas Gift guide so I thought I would be kind and share it with my readers.

It has some great products included with all the favourites, Angelina Ballerina, Bob The Builder, Thomas & Friends and Fireman Sam. There something for all budgets including Toys, Books, DVD's, Stocking Fillers and Sweet Treats.


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Stocking Fillers


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Books

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DVD's

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Toys - Thomas & Friends


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Toys - Bob The Builder


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Toys - Fireman Sam


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Jewellery

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Days Out

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For more information and to buy online visit the HIT Entertainment online shop

Monday, 28 November 2011

Chicken, Leek & Mushroom Pie with Sage & Onion Mash

I recently posted a review for Owen Potts sauces and dressings and I mentioned how I was keeping the chicken gravy for my Christmas dinner. Well Sunday evening came around far too quickly and I had nothing prepared for dinner so after a rummage around the cupboards and freezer I came up with this which was nice and quick to prepare & everyone loved :


Chicken, leek & Mushroom Pie with Sage & Onion Mash 
(served 4.5 with a half portion for the next day)


Olive oil
Frozen cooked chicken breast strips
Frozen sliced leeks
sliced mushrooms
potatoes - peeled
Sage & onion stuffing mix (small box)

(sorry no quantities, I never weighed anything)





  • First I added the chicken and leeks to a pan with a little olive oil and cooked over a low heat until completely thawed out.
  • I then added the mushrooms and chicken gravy and heated until the mushrooms were soft
  • Meanwhile I boiled the potatoes and then mashed them down with butter and milk and then added the stuffing mix (reserving a small amount for the topping) and added some more milk so that it wasn't too dry
  • I poured the chicken mixture into a large pie dish and covered with the mash
  • I sprinkled the reserved stuffing mix on top of the potato and placed into a preheated oven until the top was brown and crispy
  • Served with carrots and broccoli


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This is The Crazy Kitchen

Over three years ago (whilst I was pregnant with Jack) I starting researching Conservatories. I knew it was our best option of increasing space in the house to cater for our new addition, along with my expanding business. I had (in my mind and on paper) knocked almost every wall down in the house to work out possible options. Although these were good ideas that would give us more usable space it didn't help with giving us more overall space so we decided that a conservatory was our only option. both cost and time wise.


More than a year later we still hadn't decided what to do, I was still busily drawing plans and researching Conservatory prices. There were so many decisions to make, design, size, colour, how many opening windows, glass or polycarbonate roof, it was mind boggling and a decision that I didn't want to get wrong.


In the end we opted for a Gable ended square (almost) Conservatory in white UPVC with almost all of the top windows opening and a glass roof, and it was completed just in time for Jack's first birthday.


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Our conservatory is now the heart of our home where we have enjoyed many parties (for both the kids and adults) as it forms part of our kitchen, hence the name of my blog The Crazy Kitchen.


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If you're thinking of having a conservatory I would definitely recommend shopping around and comparing prices as they do vary a lot. I would also recommend that you go for the best that you can afford, after all it's a longterm investment and something that can often give your home the wow factor.

You can also compare double glazing prices and orangeries prices.




This is a sponsored post.

Spruce up your Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast and all the shops have their Christmas goodies in. Last year I wanted some red charger plates but apparently two weeks before Christmas is far too late to be looking for anything Christmas related so with that in mind I will be starting to think about our Christmas Dinner table this week.

If you're looking for linens and fabrics to spruce up your dining table and kitchen this Christmas Terry's Fabrics have an amazing range of fabrics in all colours. You can search for fabrics by type or by colour so if you're looking for Red Fabrics, Green or Gold  to fit your Christmas colour scheme I'm sure they will have something for you. They have a vast array of Organza fabric which is great to use as a table runner, and you could make it a bit fancier by adding a gold tassel on each end.
Gold Metallic Key Tassel

If you're looking for something reasonably priced to make your Christmas table more welcoming the Poinsettia table linens are very effective over a plain white tablecloth.

Red Scroll Poinsettia Table Linen

After that big dinner you will want to relax and what better way than to curl up on the sofa watching Mary Poppins with your tin of chocolates surrounded by some luxurious cushions and a nice warm throw.
Claret Carnival Cushion Wine Twiggy Cushion
Red Chenille Checked Throw


Terry's Fabrics also have a great range of curtain fabrics, Ready Made curtains, Blinds and Bedding.

You can order everything online, requesting free fabric samples beforehand if necesssary, or you can call into their stores in Stockport and Stoke.

This is a sponsored post.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

How to Wrap a Gift Basket in Cellophane

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Over the years that I've been wrapping gift baskets I've found this way to be the best for wrapping large baskets in cellophane. It doesn't use too much cellophane and there is no waste.


You can buy large rolls of cellophane off the internet or craft stores or florists but if you just want a single length your local florist may be able to sell that to you too.


To calculate how much you will need measure all around the widest part of the basket or container and then add approx 5cm to this measurement.


Cut your cellophane to this length.


Lay your cellophane flat on a large flat surface - preferably not a carpeted or dusty surface as the cellophane attracts dust & bits.


Fold each side into the middle and overlap by 2cm and secure with small pieces of tape at intervals along the join.


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Make a gusset at each side by folding inwards and press down - make sure the gusset on each side is similar in size.


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Fold the bottom of the cellophane over twice and secure with tape.


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You should now have a large bag that you can insert your basket or container into. If you have a particularly large or heavy basket it will be easier to have an extra pair of hands - one to keep the bag open and one to lower the basket inside.


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If you want to wrap the gift in cellophane but you don't want the recipient to see the contents you can insert a sheet or 2 of tissue paper before inserting the gift.

Simple Christmas Tree Decoration

On Friday lunchtime I put a plea out on Twitter asking for help as I'd left it quite late to be making a Christmas Tree decoration with Jack to take to the school Christmas Tree decorating assembly at 2.30 that afternoon. The children throughout the school go up in their classes to the tree, whilst Carols are being sung, to hang their decorations that they have been working hard to make. 

The Headteacher then invites pre-school children up to hang their decoration too. I knew how much it meant to Hanna to be able to lead Jack past her school friends to the tree to let him hang one so I knew that I just had to do it.

The lovely people of Twitter came up with some great ideas but thankfully, after a good rummage around in my box of Christmas bits (that I tell myself every Christmas I will sort out and don't), I found a couple of plywood stars. I knew I had some green glittery paint from when we made Alien hats, and some Christmas ribbon - I just hoped that it would dry in time.

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Thankfully Nanny was on hand to supervise whilst I went about doing other things.

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Jack painted the stars






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then stuck a 'Merry Christmas' confetti piece onto the wet paint. 

Worried that it wouldn't air dry in time I resorted to the oven. I turned it on to preheat it, then turned it off and placed the painted stars on a baking sheet and placed them in the oven with the oven door open. After around 20 minutes they were dry enough to be able to glue together with the piece of ribbon between them. I used Superglue as it was quick-drying, and I couldn't find the PVA.


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Proud of his star




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hanging his decoration with big brother and sister


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If only we'd known about the red & gold theme!


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Sam had made a very impressive 'Small Stellated Dodecahedron' (so I'm told).


Although we watched the children decorate the tree and joined in with the singing of Carols I still don't feel anywhere near prepared for the big day!



Owen Potts Sauces and Dressings

Owen Potts has been developing products for top Supermarkets and brands for years, and now he has launched his own selection of top quality sauces, gravies and dressings.


I was lucky enough to be sent some of these products to try out.


Spanish Dressing with Roasted Red Peppers and Pimenton




There is no 'serving suggestion' on the bottle so I wasn't really sure of the best way to use this dressing but as the name suggests I decided to 'dress' some pasta. I mixed a couple of tablespoons of the dressing with some already cooked penne pasta for my lunch. It was a really tasty dish and the flavours really intense. I didn't feel that it was necessary to use too much of this as it was so full of flavour. RRP £2.39


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I've since used more as a dressing for my salad.


Honey Cranberry Sauce
This isn't really a conventional use of this sauce and probably not how Mr Potts himself intended it to be used, but rather than waiting until Christmas to try it out with my turkey I wanted to give it a try.


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With a nice hot mug of tea it was delicious and I can't wait until Christmas Day to have it with my turkey and nut roast. It would also be good with cheese and biscuits and I will be serving it with the Christmas Cheese board this year too. RRP £1.89


Chicken Gravy with White Wine and Thyme 
I haven't tried this one out yet because it sounds and looks so nice I wanted to save it for Christmas dinner too. A gravy as good as this, although it would be nice, is too good to be used over chips or a chop! You could also use it as a base for soup. RRP £1.99


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The Owen Potts range, aimed at those who crave the homemade taste without the hassle, is available in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Booths, with RRPs ranging from £1.65 to £2.39. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Cooking With Your Toddler - Christmas Tree Biscuits

Last week we made Pudsey Bear Biscuits for Children In Need. As the recipe made quite a large amount I cheated slightly for this week and saved half of the dough and kept it in the fridge to make Christmas Tree Biscuits this week.


Here is the recipe that we used :

Christmas Tree Cookies

225g Butter, softened
225g Caster Sugar
500g Plain Flour
4 Large Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 - 2 tsp mixed spice (optional)

To decorate

Coloured mini chocolate beans (or coloured icing)
Christmas sprinkles
Gold & silver balls
Icing sugar mixed up to a paste with a small amount of water(or melted white chocolate)


  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale & fluffy
  • Add the eggs & vanilla
  • Sift the flour & baking powder together and add to the wet ingredients
  • Mix until well combined
  • Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approx 5mm thick and cut out Star shapes - of varying sizes. We used a set a star cutters that we reviewed previously from Procook.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden. 
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  • Use the icing or melted chocolate to stack the stars starting with the largest at the bottom.
  • Decorate with icing and sprinkles/silver & gold balls.
These biscuits rise quite a bit and are quite thick, I think next time we will use a shortbread recipe, like the one we previously used with the star cutters. They looked great anyway and went down well with the whole family. 

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Jack decided he wanted to make some biscuits of his own with some spare dough - what do you think? I can see a pig, a duck & macka packa in there!


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