The Crazy Kitchen: July 2012

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Monday, 30 July 2012

30th July 2012 - 212/366


It's been an Olympic day here today, watching swimming, diving and gymnastics on TV, receiving our Olympic Trunki that we won and drawing Olympic pictures......

Roasted Butternut Squash and Four Cheese Pasta Bake

Most things I make are pretty easy and this is no exception. I didn't plan my meals very well for this week when I went shopping so it was a case of looking in the fridge to see what we have and rustling something up.

I popped the butternut squash in the oven to roast whilst I dropped Hanna off at swimming and by the time I got back it was done. Timings and quantities are not great as I forgot to take note.


Butternut squash
garlic clove, crushed
olive oil
tin of chopped tomatoes
200g cream cheese
200g feta cheese, cubed
100g grated mixed cheddar cheese & mozzarella 
  • Cut the squash in half and rub olive oil, crushed garlic and herbs (I used rosemary) all over (including the skin) and place on a baking tray
  • Roast in a 200 degree (C) oven for approx 45 mins (until tender)
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta
  • Cut the squash into bitesize pieces. If the skin isn't tough then there's no need to remove it.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan, add the chopped tomatoes, more herbs (I used oregano) and cream cheese and mix well
  • Stir in the butternut squash and pour into a baking dish
  • Sprinkle over the cubed feta and grated cheeses
  • Bake in a 180 degree (C) oven until the cheese has melted and browned
and don't waste the seeds because you can roast them - just wash them off, dry them and toss them in oil (I used chilli infused extra virgin olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and herbs and spices.


Flair Paper FX - Review

The Paper FX kit from Flair is a kit enabling you to make a variety of useful everyday items from pen pots and coasters to purses and bags. It's aimed at girls (why are they always aimed at girls?) aged 8+ and includes almost everything you need to tear and weave paper into the creations that you choose. I say 'almost everything' as it doesn't include any paper - the idea is to use old magazines, comics or lefover bits of wrapping paper but I think it would have been nice to have a few sheets of coloured paper within the kit to get started on straight away.
I left nine year old Hanna and her ten year old friend alone to see how they got on making something simple like a coaster. Unfortunately their coaster didn't turn out too great and after looking at the instructions and making one with them I could see why - there are a lot of instructions, in eight languages in total and, whereas I see that they need to make it suitable for the European/Worldwide market, it can get a bit complicated looking at times, and I had to read them over and over at the same time as locating the correct diagram to understand what we needed to do. I'm sure after a few attempts it would become second nature, but at first it's can be a little daunting an off putting for a child.

Our coasters (the girls on the left, mine on the right)


I think the idea is great and my next attempt was a bit more useful, although I couldn't convince Hanna to try again as all the ripping, folding and gluing of strips can become a bit tedious. 

With a little practice, and a patient child, some great creations could be made. The set retails around £19.99 


We were sent the Paper FX kit for the purpose of this review

29th July 2012 - 211/366

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

The day started how my children wish every Sunday would start - with pancakes. These were banana and raisin, which were topped with a fried egg and maple syrup.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Slow Cooker Summer Fruits Pudding

When I was made aware of The Boy and Me's Slow Cooker Sunday Linky, which she is hosting on behalf of Mediocre Mum, I didn't think I had the ingredients to make anything in the slow cooker this week but as I saw it as a challenge, and I'm not one to dismiss a challenge, I decided to try a pudding, something that I haven't yet tried in my slow cooker.


115g Stork Baking liquid
115g Caster sugar
2 Eggs
140g SR flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
150g Frozen summer fruits
2 tbsp Homemade gooseberry jam (or any other jam)

(basic recipe for the cake taken from the back of the Stork Baking liquid)
  • Beat the Stork, sugar and eggs together
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest until well combined
  • Mix the jam and the frozen fruit together in a microwaveable bowl
  • Microwave for approx 1-2 minutes until just thawed
  • Place the fruit mixture into a well buttered suitable bowl that will fit into your slow cooker
  • Top with the cake batter
  • Cover with foil and place into the pre-heated slow cooker
  • Pour boiling water around the bowl until it reaches around halfway up the bowl
  • Cook on high for 2-3 hours, until the cake is cooked

Tip: if you don't have much room around the bowl when it's in the slow cooker it's a good idea to make 'handles' to lift it out - either tie some string around it making it into handles or fold a length of foil over until it's about 2 inches wide. Place the foil into the slow cooker first and the bowl on top - you can use the excess parts of the foil to lift the bowl out.

Serve with custard, cream, ice cream ....or all three. 


Slow-Cooker Sunday

Gooseberry Jam

One of my friend's has an allotment and they had an excess of gooseberries and asked if I would like some. I had big ideas of making jams, cakes and fools but in the end only found the time to make jam. When I was younger I remember being given the tedious task of topping and tailing my Great Gran's gooseberries with a pair of nail scissors but unfortunately I had no children around to pass this onto this time so I had to endure it myself. Apart from that, the jam making process was very easy. It's just a case of weighing your gooseberries and using the same weight of granulated sugar. I had just under 1kg and this produced 3 jars of jam.

You just need to bring the gooseberries to the boil with a couple of tablespoons of water and when they've softened add the sugar and simmer until thick. At this point I thought I'd added too much water as it looked very liquid but as it bubbled away it got thicker and thicker. The best way to check to see if it's ready, if you don't have a jam thermometer, is to place a plate into the freezer for a minute or so and then spoon some of the jam onto it. It cools very quickly on the plate and you can tell if it's the right consistency, if not keep simmering.

I was quite surprised that the end result was this colour, I half expected it to be green even though I know gooseberry yoghurts aren't.


It's a confidence thing

I posted a photo of Jack yesterday as he was walking across the paddling pool, practising walking on his leg since his cast came off. He was only in it for three weeks and I naively thought that he would be back running  around pretty much straight away, but here we are 5 days on and he's very reluctant to walk. He still shuffles around on his bottom with his right leg outstretched as though it was still fixed in the cast. We know that it doesn't hurt to put weight on his leg, although he tells us it does, because he will quite happily run around on all fours in his new 'cat' style move.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

28th July 2012 - 210/366

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Every day since jack had his cast taken off we've been trying to get him to walk, unfortunately he still favours the bum shuffle but is improving each day. Today we got him to walk across the paddling pool knowing that he had nothing to hold onto & couldn't sit down. It was a slow journey but he got there...and back.

Caramel Banana Muffins

When there are a couple of manky looking bananas left in the fruit bowl they are crying out to be made into cake. As I also had a can of caramel condensed milk brought especially for Jenny's I love cake linky this month I thought I would combine the two in a muffin. I've recently been sent some lovely Great British Bakeware so it was also a good opportunity to try out the 12 cup deep muffin tray.


Caramel Banana Muffins (makes 12)

150g Caster Sugar
150ml Sunflower oil
3 Eggs
75ml Milk
2 over-ripe bananas300g SR Flour
1 tsp cinnamon 
Caramel Sauce - I used around half a can of Carnation condensed milk caramel

  • Whisk the sugar, oil, eggs and milk together
  • Lightly mash the bananas and add to the mixture, leaving a few small lumps
  • Stir in the flour and cinnamon, until just mixed
  • Line a muffin pan with cases
  • Add a spoonful of mix to each case
  • Top with a teaspoon of of caramel and then cover with more muffin batter
  • Bake in a preheated 180 degree (C) oven for 20 minutes



I was sent some Great British Bakeware for the purpose of reviewing

Friday, 27 July 2012

27th July 2012 - 209/366


We're building up a bit of a team now...

26th July 2012 - 208/366

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Yesterday we were in Manchester to watch a football match played by a certain National side in a big event, beginning with O, that starts today (I hope I haven't broken any laws by mentioning it, or not as the case may be). We decided to make a day of it and visit the LEGOland experience at the Trafford Centre too as we thought it would be one of the very few places that all three children would enjoy, and they were not disappointed.

Elizabeth Shaw Chocolates - Competition

Elizabeth Shaw chocolates remind me of Christmas, who doesn't have a box of Mint Crisps ready for after dinner coffee. Would you believe that they've been around for over 70 years and the popular recipe hasn't changed since. There are now some new flavours in the range, Butterscotch, Cocoa Crunch, Honeycomb and Caramel and to celebrate these flavours Elizabeth Shaw have been giving away free samples. Unfortunately due to an overwhelming response the sample packs are no longer available but they do have a competition to win a hamper containing a selection of their products, similar to the one I received below.


We haven't tried the chocolates out yet but we'll be sharing our thoughts on them here soon. In the meantime don't forget to enter their competition here, and keep an eye on their website for more offers and freebies.

I received the hamper of chocolate in exchange for sharing my thoughts of the chocolate

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

25th July 2012 - 207/366


In London on the hottest day of the year....

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

24th July 2012 - 206/366


Glad to have his cast off now that Summer is finally here .....

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

NEXT Kids Range - Review

I was recently invited by NEXT to an event to preview their new Autumn/Winter range and as the Spring/Summer event last year was such a great day out I felt privileged to be one of the lucky ones to be invited, and accepted promptly. We were then told that Jack needed to attend a follow up appointment at the fracture clinic on the same day. Although I was very tempted to let the husband take him on his own I decided to begrudgingly decline the invite.

However, to soften the blow a little, NEXT have sent us a few items of clothing for Jack and Hanna to review.

I find that NEXT clothing fits Hanna better than other shops that I've bought from. I like the fact that the jeans have adjustable waists and they have room in the legs for her sporty thighs. She's also very broad with all the swimming she does and often when we buy tops in larger sizes from other stores to fit across her back they don't then fit right in other places, with NEXT tops they are again usually a good fit.

We were sent a pair of butterfly embellished jeans as well as a twin pack of heart t-shirts. The jeans are boyfriend style but have a lovely girly look to them with the floral fabric trim and embroidered butterflies - practical but pretty. The t-shirts are in lovely soft colours which go perfectly with the jeans, with the sequin hearts adding a little bit of sparkle. Some of the other items that I have my eye on for Hanna this season are the striped cardigan and denim star boots which I think will go with the jeans really well. 


For Jack we were sent the new 'Jack the Lad' hoody. We had one last year when we attended the last NEXT preview event but I think I like this one even better as it's in a lovely bright red. There are always loads of cute little boy clothes that I love and this Autumn we will definitely be buying a little pair of Chino's just like big brother's. I thought the red gingham shirt is a bit of a bargain at only £8-£9 so might have to get him one of those too, and not forgetting a cute pair of boots in a perfect colour for hiding mud splashes. 


Unfortunately my children, however gorgeous they are, will never make models...just look at those grumpy faces on them!


I was sent 3 items from the NEXT Autumn/Winter range for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 23 July 2012

23rd July 2012 - 205/366


Sunday, 22 July 2012

22nd July 2012 -204/366


Roasted Homegrown Potatoes with Minted Butter

Despite the late frosts and constant rain so far this year we've still managed to get a fair crop of potatoes, even if some of them were smaller than a 1p piece.


Potatoes like this need to be given a bit of luxurious treatment so I decided to roast these in butter and top with some minted butter to serve....... 


DIY Shabby Chic Wooden Name Bunting

In the long process of decorating Hanna's bedroom (Jack fractured his leg mid-way through painting which set me back a bit) I've been trying to add some finishing touches made by my own fair hand. I have some fabric bunting and a Union Jack pinboard yet to make but today I managed to get the wooden name bunting done.

I bought unpainted plywood hearts with pre-drilled holes in and smaller plywood hearts off Ebay.


They were painted up with coloured acrylic paints and white emulsion. 
A letter was drawn on each of the smaller hearts which were then glued onto the larger ones with a small blob of PVA glue. 
Finally the letters were strung together with some jute string for hanging.


Building in the sun

As the weather has been nice this weekend we've been finding ways to keep Jack occupied in the garden that didn't involve getting his cast wet or dirty. We've had the train track out and Mega Bloks and today it was the turn of the Duplo.

He had fun making a tower and a train, which was apparently driven by the post lady, taking parcels to Postman Pat.







I am linking this up in Emma's new Little Builders linky, where she's keeping a record of the creations built by her children.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

21st July 2012 - 203/366


Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


Enjoying a game of catch in the sunshine.....


Friday, 20 July 2012

Paper Doilie Cupcake Wrappers

Last week during a Twitter conversation about cakes (no surprise there) Liz pointed me in the direction of a template for paper doilie cupcake wrappers so when I was out shopping earlier in the week I called into the pound shop and bought a pack of 60 doilies, for just £1 (no surprise there either).

I was making some cupcake bouquet displays but needed to put some extra cakes on a cake stand so I thought these would make them look prettier. With them being so cheap and easy I think all of my cupcakes will have a doilie wrapper in future.


Cupcake Bouquets

Last week I was asked by school to make some cakes for a surprise leaving party being held for one of teaching assistant's who was leaving after 22 years. As she takes care of the school garden they wanted them to be based around a garden theme. There wasn't a lot of time for me to spend making fancy decorations or sugar paste roses with Jack being at home so I opted to make some bouquets that I'd seen on the Internet.

I was asked to make 30 cakes so I did 3 bouquets (7 cakes in each) and some extras to go on a cake stand.

They were really quite easy to make and as the bouquets can be made in advance it doesn't take lots of last minute preparation.


1. Cut a sheet of A4 card in half lengthways and tape the ends together to make a cylinder
2. Staple 7 plastic party cups together, 6 cups around a central cup
3. Sit the cups inside the cardboard cylinder
4. Cut a large square of cellophane and lay 2 pieces of tissue paper over it, sit the cake stand in the centre
5. Fold each side of the cellophane/tissue in and then the ends - use pegs to hold in place whilst you tie ribbon around if you don't have an extra pair of hands.
6. Tie ribbon around to secure in place - it can be a bit fiddly & tape is useful to stop the ribbon slipping, then remove pegs and open out the cellophane/tissue - it's now ready to pop your cakes in.

For the cakes I used my favourite Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the Primrose Bakery, which I've shared before here and made vanilla buttercream with some pink food colouring added.


110g Butter, softened
60ml milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
food colouring (optional)

  • Beat the butter, milk, vanilla & half the icing sugar until pale & creamy
  • Beat in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until smooth
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if using

I iced some of the cakes using a Wilton 1M tip, aiming to create a rose effect by starting off in the middle and piping clockwise around towards the edge. The others were iced using a moon shaped tip and piping 'petals' around - an effect that I'd seen on You Tube.

This is my amateur 'how to' video - I'm no expert and this is the first time I tried this method so it shows how easy it is... (more practice on positioning the camera needed!)

Some wafer daisies, rice paper butterflies and edible balls were added as the finishing touch.




It was in fact so easy to make these that Sam and 2 of his friends made this for their teacher (some help with the bouquet but the cupcake icing was all done by the 3 of them).


20th July 2012 - 202/366

Not strictly one photo but I did take half of it today, the other half was taken 7 1/2 years ago (standing on the same spot) on Sam's first day at Primary School, and today was his last. It was a very emotional afternoon for both of us as he finished on a high gaining level 5 in his English & Science SAT's and a level 6 in Maths. He's now enjoying a well deserved night out at Pizza Hut with his friends.......[drums fingers and looks at the clock].

Colour Me In Rice Krispies

Kellogg's are encouraging you to get creative with their new Rice Krispies boxes which can be personalised to brighten up your breakfast. We're taking part in the BritMums #ColourMeInRK challenge and have been sent a box of Rice Krispies as well as a bumper colouring case to help us.
Hanna is the arty one of the house so she agreed to colour in the box with her design.  


We then made chocolate Rice Krispie cakes...

And Jack decided that he'd like to have a very large bowl of Rice Krispies with a very large spoon like Snap, Crackle & Pop have on the box.


You can enter your own designs in a competition hosted by BritMums here to be in with a chance of winning £500, a years supply of Rice Krispies or a t-shirt featuring your own creation.

We were sent a box of Rice Krispies and the colouring case for this challenge


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