The Crazy Kitchen: December 2011

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

My Mum's Chocolate Orange Trifle

If you're not already bloated with all the food and drink that you've over indulged in over Christmas then this one is set to finish you off once and for all. It does make a nice change from chocolate bars and Christmas cake though, and the addition of oranges helps towards your 5 a day!


I don't like traditional trifle, the sort made with jelly and tinned mixed fruit but this is a tasty, quick, cheap and cheerful alternative. It's the trifle that my Mum usually makes and has been doing so for as long as I can remember, and it always goes down well with all the chocolate loving family members. I intended to make it a few days ago but never got around to it & needed to make it now as the swiss roll was just about out of date.


You will need :


Chocolate swiss roll (works best with chocolate filling)
Can of mandarin segments
Chocolate blancmange (or pack of instant custard & 2 tbsp cocoa powder)
Double / whipping cream
Cadbury Flake (or whatever else you can find in the kids selection boxes)



  • Slice the swiss roll up and lay in the bottom of a trifle dish - fill the gaps with off cuts
  • Spoon the oranges over the swiss roll and 3-4 tbsp of the juice
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  • Make up the blancmange as per the directions on the pack. If (like me) you are using custard then mix the powder with the cocoa powder & mix with the boiling water (as per directions on pack) - or to make it creamier use boiling milk. You can also melt dark chocolate into the custard instead of cocoa powder.
  • Pour the chocolate mix over the cake/oranges & allow to cool
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  • Once cool cover with whipped cream & top with crushed flake.
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Friday, 23 December 2011

My Ultimate Christmas Song

It's the Eve of Christmas Eve and I'm actually now starting to feel Christmassy - I've cracked open the Christmas Gin, we've had a good go at the Christmas cheeseboard, I'm watching Nativity and drinking Mulled wine so I thought now might be a good time to join in with 'My Ultimate Christmas Song' Meme.


I have been lucky enough to be tagged in this meme twice - once by Fi of Childcare is Fun and also 'Me' from The Boy and Me.


I've been thinking about my Ultimate Christmas song since yesterday, whilst listening to the Christmas tunes being played at the swimming pool last night as well as today on the TV.


There are a few contenders :


Wizard - I wish it could be Christmas Every day. I've previously mentioned that this song IS Christmas, always guaranteed to get you singing in the pub or works do.


Shayne Ward - That's My Goal. Does this count as a Christmas song? It's not about Christmas but it was Christmas no.1 in 2005 and I LOVED it....yep, I even bought it....in fact I think I had more than one copy. Funnily enough the year that he was born the following song was released.


Wham - Last Christmas. This brings back many memories of Christmas 1984 at the age of 14....the year I started drinking Sherry so I will say no more!


Even though these are great Christmas songs I think the one that I have to choose as it sends a shiver through me whenever I hear it is another one from 1984, and has the opening lines sung amazingly by my teenage crush at the time...Paul Young. Where else can you hear great artists such as Boy George, George Michael, Simon le Bon and Sting singing together in the first few lines of a song. This has to be the best version of this song and more recent ones don't come close.




I now tag the following :


Mummy and the Beastie because she likes a good Meme, and
Mummy Daddy & Me as she clearly hasn't got enough on her plate right now hosting a first birthday party in her house tomorrow for her gorgeous daughter.

One Ingredient Challenge - Cockerel Curry

I joined in with Working London Mummy's new 'One Ingredient Challenge' last month and was delighted to win an Amazon voucher, which came in very handy for Christmas presents.


This month the ingredient is Poulty and the challenge is being hosted by Laura over at How to Cook Good Food.


Earlier in the month we received a gorgeous Cockerel from Packington Free Range and whilst the white meat kept us going for a while I decided to freeze the dark meat to use at a later date in a pie or curry. Tonight I was in need of making a quick and easy tea and as all the fishfingers were eaten last night I turned to the frozen cockerel and decided to make a curry. It was a bit of a throw together curry and I didn't measure ingredients so all measurements are estimated.


750g cooked dark meat Cockerel
3 onions chopped
2 garlic cloves
Oilve oil
1 yellow pepper
250g Mushrooms, sliced
Mild Curry powder (I used the yellow stuff that smells like a chinese curry) - about half a jar
tin of chopped tomatoes
tablespoon Peanut butter
Frozen peas



  • Fry the onions, pepper & garlic in the olive oil until softened
  • Add the curry powder and cook for a minute or two
  • Add the tomatoes and approx 100ml boiling water, bring to the boil
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add the cooked cockerel and heat through
  • Stir in the frozen peas
  • If there is too much liquid remove the lid until sauce thickens, adding peanut butter to help thicken
  • If there isn't enough liquid add some more water
  • Serve with boiled rice



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The curry was very mild and perfect for the children...my daughter still likes to add some Greek yoghurt to it though. The cockerel was lovely and juicy, just as it was when it was first cooked.

Cranberry Vodka Muffins

I love a challenge so when my fellow Chutney Chum & cake twin Jenny from Mummy Mishaps posted her December 'I love Cake' I felt that I had to rise to the challenge and post a new Christmas related cake recipe as well as the Gingerbread cupcake and Snowball recipes that I included in her linky.


So here is my recipe for Cranberry Vodka Muffins, using the cranberries from the last of my Cranberry Vodka that I made for Christmas presents, along with some of the vodka...leaving me with just half a glass for myself which I topped up with tonic and enjoyed whilst cooking Christmas Eve Eve dinner.


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Cranberry Vodka Muffins


350g Plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
115g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
200ml milk
115g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g vodka infused cranberries
100ml Cranberry vodka (or extra 100ml milk)
Couple of tablespoons of demerara sugar
sprinkling of cinnamon 

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl & stir in the sugar
  • Beat the eggs with the melted butter, milk & vanilla
  • Stir the cranberries into the dry ingredients
  • Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients/cranberries
  • Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle with demerara sugar and cinnamon


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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool

I Love Cake

Toyologist Toy Review - LIGHT STRIKES


The time has come *sniff* for our very last review as a Toys R Us Toyologist. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown since our review for a cricket set which we used in our application back in April. We have received lots of great toys along the way, many of which we have passed onto Jack's Pre-school to raffle off to help raise money.


I think our favourite of all the toys received has to be the Leapfrog Leappad Explorer which has kept Jack entertained for hours playing with some of the included apps and some that we have bought since. It's definitely something that will be used for many years to come and something that I have recommended to friends on numerous occasions. 

Our final review is for something that is every boys dream - Light Strike - 'Action at the Speed of Light', from WowWee.


We were sent two of the Striker weapons as well as some accessories:


Assault Striker GAR-023 £39.99 

Light Strike Gar 0.23 Assault Striker
Striker SP-144 £29.99
Striker S.P. 144 Light Strike Pistol with Mini Target
Scope £9.99
Light Strike Scope

Rapid Fire System £9.99
Light Strike Bipod Machine Gun
Refractor Launch System £9.99
Light Strike Grenade Launcher
The Light Strikes are pretty impressive to look at with glossy printed sides with lots of detail making them look very realistic. The game can be played with others or alone as target practice, although to get the most out of the system it really needs to be used alongside other Light Strikes. An unlimited number of players can play in battles with up to four teams. A team is chosen by selecting a team colour by pressing the 'team' button and cycling through the colours. A weapon can then be chosen from the choices - there are weapons that fire rapidly that aren't so powerful and also more powerful ones with longer delays between blasts. The weapon can be changed during play to suit your needs .


The accessories can be used with the Assault Striker, and the rapid fire system can't be used at the same time as the refractor launch system as it uses the same slot on the weapon. With the Assault Striker it's also necessary to press your finger onto the 'fingerprint' button before you start. You will also need to reload your ammo with one of the buttons when it has been used up. This weapon is definitely for more serious Light Strikers and is definitely worth paying the additional £10 for so that you can add accessories to it if wanted.

There is a volume control with 3 settings, or you can use with headphones plugged into the built in headphone jack.

Light Strikes are a whole lot of fun but you would really need to buy at least two Strikers or make sure that a friend has one too. They take a lot of batteries - 4 x AA in the Striker and 3 x AAA in the target and can work out quite expensive with all the accessories but it would make a great present for boys that enjoy laser quest.



To be honest we didn't really have a clue what we were doing as the instructions were like a forgeign language to me, but I'm sure once Sam get's his more Techno Savvy friends involved they will work it out better than we did!

Age suitability: 8 yrs +


Why not check out some of the other Toyologists Reviews  on the Toys R Us Toy Box Facebook application and find out more about all the Toyologists.
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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Gingerbread House

A few years ago we made a gingerbread house from a kit but I've always fancied making one from scratch. I had been scouring the Internet looking for a good template to download when I saw that Working London Mummy had posted a link to a gingerbread house recipe on Tesco Real Food, where there was a recipe as well as a link to download a template.


Although there were comments on the Tesco site stating that the dough was too dry to roll out I found it to be perfect and didn't need to use all the liquid to make it to the right consistency. I'm not sure if it makes a difference  if you roll it out when the dough is still warm, which I did and found it very easy to roll.


The recipe for the gingerbread is as follows :
  • 250g (8oz) unsalted butter
  • 200g (7oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 625g (1¼lb) plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 500g Royal Icing Sugar

For the stained glass windows I used crushed pear drops and spooned them into the holes cut for the windows.


  • Melt the butter, sugar, syrup & treacle in a pan over a low heat
  • Sieve the dry ingredients together
  • Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well until a dough forms - I used my Kitchen Aid and poured it in slowly as it was mixing, and found that I didn't need to use all the liquid (I think my spoons of syrup were very large!)
  • Roll the dough out to approx 5mm thick and cut the walls & roof out using the template. 
  • Cut out the windows and fill with the crushed sweets.
  • Bake in a 200 degree (C) oven for approx 8 minutes
  • Leave on the baking sheet until the windows have set & then transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely.
  • Assemble the walls & roof using the royal icing sugar made up as per directions on the pack.
  • Decorate with sweets however you want.

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For a special effect I cut a hole approx 2" square in the board (strong cardboard covered with foil), when the house is assembled on the board you can light a tealight candle and position the hole in the board over it.

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Tips

  • roll the dough directly onto the baking sheet as the pieces go a little out of shape when trying to transfer them to the baking sheet
  • Use silicone sheets on your baking trays as the sweets don't stick when they're baked
  • Pipe some icing onto the board to hold the house in place
  • Make sure you use Royal Icing as it dries really quick.


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Family stockings waiting for Santa to fill




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Snow Boogie Inflatable Sledge

If you've ever been snow tubing you'll know what great fun it is. I first went 11 years ago, shortly after Sam was born.....here is a short video of myself & my sister in law ...watch out at the end when we fall off!




Sam & Hanna have both been more recently at the Snowdome in Tamworth for birthday parties and loved it. When I was offered the chance to review an inflatable Polar Bear Tube I thought it would be a great chance for us to re-create the snow tubing on the slopes near our home.


The polar bear is 44 inches in length and is made from durable cold resistant  PVC vinyl with a sturdy handle on each side. It took 3 or 4 minutes to inflate the sledge by mouth but as it doesn't have a no return valve you have to be quick to put the stopper in. The only other thing that I think it's lacking is a pull rope which is really useful when you have little ones that like to be pulled along on the way to the slopes.


The sledge is also available as a penguin and both are available from Firebox for £14.99 each.




The sledge looks great and we can't wait to use it on the slopes when we get some snow but until then it makes a great TV chair.


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Get F.I.T. with Davina for NEXT

Christmas is upon us which, for most of us, means over-indulgence in food and drink. I'm hoping that this Christmas with the help of my Slimpod I won't be over-indulging too much and end up straight back to square one with my weight loss, which currently stands at 13lbs since October.


Hanna has just been accepted at the local swimming club which means an early start of 7am on a Saturday at the Leisure Centre so it has crossed my mind that, rather than sitting reading a book for an hour or so, I could use this opportunity to get fit in the Gym. Before having kids I used to have a membership at the gym and at one time I was going EVERY day, including weekends. I suppose I was a little bit addicted but I really enjoyed it.


I need to look into the opening times and costs but would really like to give it a try, especially as 2012 is Olympic year and no doubt there will be lots of sport related activities going on.


Of course if I'm going to be going to the gym I will need some new gear to go in...I used to wear cycling shorts and a baggy t-shirt but I just don't think that would cut it now.




Next has a new line of clothing to be launched in their Spring 2012 collection entitled  'Davina for Next' , incorporating workout and post workout clothing along with some stylish everyday shoes that the hugely successful and super fit Davina McCall has developed. The cute ballerina shoes are designed to reduce stress on load bearing joints and increase calf and hamstring activation. 



Black, pink & zebra patent ballerinas £28


The trainers in the range are designed to exert 25% less pressure on the ball of the foot, so not only do these clothes and footwear look good they are also designed to be good for you too. I would particularly like the grey longline hoody (to hide the lumpy bumpy parts) and the pink side stripe capri pants (finishing at the slimmest part of the leg) and a smart new pair of trainers (I prefer the black ones), as the lovely pair of trainers that I own are now a bit too small as my feet seem to have increased in size during each pregnancy and have gone from a 4.5 up to a 5.5.


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Grey long line zip hoody £35
Pink side stripe capri pants £28
Whte sports trainers £45


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Black sports trainers £45


There is also a lovely range of vest tops, great for wearing underneath your hoody

 
Blue racer back vest £28

Pink stripe slub vest £18

Pink longline burnout vest £18



If Santa is reading then my Christmas wish for this year is to wake up on Christmas morning with a body like Davina's......failing that some gym gear and a gym membership would be a start.

Part of the next blogger network

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Toyologist Toy Review - NERF VORTEX VIGILON


The Nerf Vortex Vigilon was another gun from Toys R Us that 11 year old Sam was keen to get his hands on.


Nerf Vortex Vigilon
Unlike the Nerf Barricade that we reviewed previously this doesn't require batteries. It also doesn't have foam darts and I was a little concerned that the discs would cause damage but when we inspected them I was relieved to see that they were foam around the edges with a soft plastic middle and very lightweight, just like the foam darts of the Barricade.


The loading mechanism is very easy and the disc chamber is released by flicking the switch on the side of the gun and the discs can just be dropped in. To shoot the discs the top of the gun needs to be pulled back before firing each time. The video shows that this can be done quite quickly.


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The packaging states that the discs fire long range, we didn't see how far they would go at their furthest as we only tried it indoors but as you can see in the video the Christmas tree was blasted with quite a force.



Refill discs can be bought separately currently for £3.99

Available online from Toys R Us currently reduced to £12.99


Age suitability: 8 yrs +


Why not check out some of the other Toyologists Reviews  on the Toys R Us Toy Box Facebook application and find out more about all the Toyologists.
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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Soft Cheese with Sweet Chilli / Stilton & Walnut

I love soft cheese such as Boursin but I also try and keep packs of plain soft cheese in the fridge for occasions where I feel like whipping up a cheesecake, or have with crushed raspberries & meringue. I also like to mix it with various flavours to make a soft flavoured cheese that is better than the bought ones (except the very expensive ones).


The flavours I made this time were:


Sweet Chilli


Tablespoon of sliced sweet pickled chillies, finely chopped
Pack of full fat soft cheese (Philadelphia or similar)


Mix the chillies into the cheese.
Line a ramekin dish with a large piece of clingfilm so that it hangs over the edges.
Fill the ramekin with the cheese mixture & wrap with the clingfilm from around the edge.
Refrigerate until firm.
When firm remove the clingfilm and roll in chopped herbs mixed with a few crushed chilli flakes


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Stilton & Walnut


Big chunk of stilton, crumbled
Handful of walnuts, chopped

Pack of full fat soft cheese (Philadelphia or similar)

Mix the stilton and walnuts into the cheese
Line a ramekin dish with a large piece of clingfilm so that it hangs over the edges.
Fill the ramekin with the cheese mixture & wrap with the clingfilm from around the edge.
Refrigerate until firm.
When firm remove the clingfilm and roll in finely chopped walnuts


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Great served with crackers - my new love is Ryvita Multigrain Thins


Toyologist Toy Review - WILD SCIENCE FACE MASK LAB


The Wild Science Face Mask Laboratory is for 'aspiring Wild Science girls' and is a way to discover the secrets of cosmetic science.


Wild Science Face Mask Laboratory
The booklet included with the set explains about oil in the skin and also about the dirt and oil absorbing properties of the Kaolin clay that the set uses. There are also tips and safety warnings and a little note from the manufacturers about how this set is not a fashion product but more of a learning product that girls can have fun with.


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I left 9 year old Hanna and her 10 year old friend to it, telling them to read the instructions step by step.
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They were having fun making a mess & mixing up their face mask but called upon me for a spot of help when their mix wasn't 'smooth and creamy' as it should have been

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- it's not until we went through all the steps again that they realised they hadn't put any water in! A few drops of water were added turning it to the correct consistency.



The set then advises that a patch test is carried out to make sure no allergic reaction will happen, even though the ingredients in the set have a low allergy risk, best to be safe than sorry.


The patch test was ok so the girls then applied the mask to each others faces which they then washed off after 5 minutes leaving their skin nice & soft (their words).
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The kit also shows you how to make clay buttons that can be made & given away as a gift or saved for another time & then used as a mask by adding them to water to make them creamy.


Verdict from the girls : great fun, the mask made their faces really soft but it was a bit messy....clay ended up in their hair, on their clothes and on the floor!


Wild Science Face Mask Laboratory is available from Toys R Us for £14.99


Age suitability: 8 yrs +


Why not check out some of the other Toyologists Reviews and competitions on the new Toys R Us Toy Box Facebook application and find out more about all the Toyologists.
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Friday, 16 December 2011

Merry Christmas from Warner Brothers

An amazing surprise arrived earlier today that had me squealing with excitement! Well it wasn't actually a surprise as I knew that we were going to be sent something but what got me squealing was the fab bag that the gift came in....


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As it was addressed to Sam, Hanna & Jack it meant that I would have to wait until around 5pm until I could find out what was inside........except I could wait only around 5 minutes, then I quickly put everything back in before Jack spotted me.


When we all arrived home later Sam & Jack excitedly opened up the sack - Hanna was being awkward and decided to stay in her bedroom!


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We all love Polar Express and try to watch it on Christmas Eve to get us into the Christmas Spirit and this year we think that Jack will be old enough to enjoy it too...or at least some of it. I definitely think he'll like Happy Feet though, and inside the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine is a set of 8 DVD's  that will keep the kids entertained over Christmas if they happen to get bored.


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Thank you Warner Brothers

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