If you've ever had to buy school uniform (or worn it yourself) you've probably heard of the name Trutex. They were established way back in 1865 and have been providing school uniforms for children spanning five generations. They ensure that their uniforms are made to last by using only the best fabrics, cutting fabrics Trutex work towards the Ethical Trading Initiative, ensuring that employees around the world enjoy excellent working conditions and fair wages, meaning that each time you buy Trutex school uniform you are helping to protect the people around the world that make their uniform. I was sent some uniform for Hanna in her school colours. She usually wears a cardigan with the school emblem on but the school aren't strict about that. I was sent a polo shirt, Sweatshirt cardigan and a pleat skirt. I wasn't sure how generous they would be and as Hanna is usually in 10-11 I opted to go for the 11-12 instead of the smaller 9-10. I was really pleased to see that the cardigan, although it has plenty of growing room in it, looks great and fits well, without being too tight around the middle and long in the arms like some cardigans of this style often are. Hanna also commented on how soft it was on the inside too which will be lovely when the colder weather is back again.
Since receiving the uniform it has all been worn and washed a few times and has lived up to my expectations. Buttons are well stitched on and have stayed in place, and the cardigan and skirt have not needed ironing and I think I could have got away with the polo shirt not needing any either but it has had a quick once over.
I wrote in an earlier post that I'd won a large veggie box in a competition, and it included two vegetables that I don't usually buy - in fact one of them I'd never even tried before. As I had no idea what to do with it I turned to twitter for advice.
I had lots of suggestions of how to cook the Purple Sprouting Broccoli including stir-frying, blanching and tossing in flavoured oil, in a quiche, with a cheesy pasta...the list was endless. One suggestion stuck with me, possibly because there was a visual to tempt me too, from Laura at How To Cook Good Food. The recipe was for a salad with lemon and garlic dressing - it looked so simple yet sounded so tasty.
For the dressing I mixed together the zest & juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Black Pepper and some slices of garlic that had been marinated in oil and chilli from my local Farm Shop.
I tossed asparagus and slices of red pepper in a small amount of olive oil and fried them on a griddle pan for a few minutes, whilst I quickly blanched the purple sprouting broccoli in boiling water. Once the broccoli was blanched I quickly fried in the hot griddle pan to remove some of the excess water.
The peppers, asparagus and broccoli was added to a large bowl with some large stuffed olives (also from the Farm Shop) and tossed in the marinade and served immediately with a few shavings of Parmesan on top.
Myself, the husband and Sam all really enjoyed this salad and I'm definitely going to be making it again - thank you Laura for the recipe.
I recently won a large veggie box from Riverford Organics in a competition hosted by Utterly Scrummy. Yesterday the box arrived full of lovely fresh organic veggies including potatoes, carrots, onions, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli.
Making a cauliflower cheese was one of the obvious things to make with the cauliflower as the kids love it so I decided to combine it with some of the potatoes and make a gratin.
I boiled the potatoes until soft and steamed the cauliflower over them until softened but still with a bite. Meanwhile I made a white sauce using butter, flour and milk, adding some ground black pepper and grated cheese. I had a chunk of Carrot & Onion bread left which I whizzed up to make breadcrumbs. The cauliflower and potato was arranged in a large baking dish and the cheese sauce poured over. I topped with more grated cheese and the breadcrumbs and baked in a 160 degree (C) oven until browned and warmed through.
Later I will be attempting to make something yummy with my purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus.
Today I made another slow cooked Turkey Goulash, which was the same as the one I previously made except I replaced the Butternut Squash with potatoes. Instead of rice I thought it would be nice to make some bread to go with it too. In the fridge I had 4 small carrots and a lonely looking red onion which I thought I could incorporate into the bread to see how it turned out.
I used the basic bread recipe that I always use in my breadmaker with the addition of the carrot and onion, along with some dried rosemary.
1 1/3 cups of water 1 tbsp oil 3 1/3 cups of bread flour (I used a mix of white & wholemeal) 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt 2 tsp dried yeast
I added to this :
4 small carrots, peeled & grated 1 red onion, finely sliced 1 tbsp dried rosemary
I added it all to the breadmaker and set it to the 'dough' setting. The mixture was quite moist due to the carrot & onion so I added some more flour whilst it was mixing. Once it was done I turned the dough out onto a floured surface and shaped into 2 rounds. I placed the dough onto floured baking sheets & left to rise for 30 minutes I grated cheese on top of each loaf and baked in a 180 degree (C) oven for around 25-30 minutes
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Jessies Crazy Kitchen, number 11 in the TASTY category
I'm not great at close-up photography, mainly because I only have a point & click compact camera which doesn't seem to like it when the subject is too near.
I did, however, remember that I'd taken a reasonably close up shot of the blossom on my apple tree last year for a Silent Sunday photo, and I was extremely pleased at how well it came out.
This was taken on the 10th April last year so the blossom is a little more in bloom than right now but I thought I would try and take one with my phone this time around to see if I could get a reasonable close-up with that too.
Same tree, same clear blue sky...just not quite as pretty
Last night I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa where she made a Portobello mushroom lasagne so I thought I would have a go as it looked delicious. Only problem was that I had neitherPortobello mushrooms nor lasagne but I didn't let that stop me.
I looked through the fridge, cupboards and freezer and decided instead to saute thinly sliced courgettes with olive oil, garlic, black pepper and chilli flakes and did the same with some butternut squash.
Whilst they were cooking I made a white sauce with butter, flour and milk, although I decided to use a wholemeal flour because I couldn't be bothered to get the stool out to reach the plain flour from the top shelf to give it a nuttier taste, and then added a few broken walnuts for good measure. I then found a few bricks of spinach at the bottom of the freezer and decided to add them to the sauce too (I remembered that The Boy and Me had added some into her lasagne recently)
I then layered everything up, overcoming the lack of lasagne sheets with some spaghetti, finishing off with a layer of grated cheese.
It was baked in a 170 degree (C) oven for around 40 minutes.
If you think my blog is worthy of a vote in the BritMums 'Brilliance in Blogging' awards please click on the badge below and vote for Jessies Crazy Kitchen, number 11 in the TASTY category
Last week didn't start of great as Hanna suffered a fall during a race at Brownies on Monday night, resulting in some nasty grazes to her face and a broken tooth. She then had a couple of days off school whilst we visited the dentist and tended to her wounds. Eating, drinking and talking was difficult for her and she spent a couple of days looking very sorry for herself, until this arrived :
It was a fabulous box filled with lots of Happy Feet goodies, including 2 Disc Box Set of Happy Feet and March of The Penguins as well as the newly released Happy Feet 2.
We saw Happy Feet in the cinema a few years ago and Sam and Hanna loved it so we're now looking forward to watching it with Jack, along with the sequel where the dancing Penguin Mumble returns with his not-so-keen-on-dancing son Erik . We haven't yet seen March of The Penguins but a true-life tale combined with narration from Morgan Freeman has to be good.
Happy Feet 2 from Warner Bros is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Download
Hanna was happy to pose for the camera modelling the Happy Feet hat covering up her wounds....and she was smiling inside although it hurt for her to show it on the outside!
We've had a lovely weekend celebrating Jack's 3rd birthday and he's been so excited all week to be having a party with his friends. He told me who he wanted to invite and the invites had been sent out a couple of weeks before, with only one of his friends unable to attend.
Daddy was off work on Friday giving me chance to bake cakes, decorate the room, make sandwiches, chop veggies and fill the party bags. Once the school pick up had been done all the friends started to arrive. It was such a lovely day that the children weren't really interested in playing party games as they just wanted to play outside on the trampoline.
We did manage to coax them inside for a round of Pass the Parcel and Pin the Nose on the Clown before it was time for some food. Then there was more trampolining, another game of Pass the Parcel, some dancing and then home. There may also have been a small amount of wine drinking by the Mums.
A couple of our friends stayed later for another glass bottle of wine whilst Jack opened all of his lovely presents and had a great time playing with them, before it all got too much, the tears started flowing and it was time for bed.
Saturday morning we all got up early - it would've been a lot earlier if Hanna had been going to her usual swim at 7am but due to a nasty fall, swollen face and a broken tooth she was giving it a miss. There was lots of present opening, then breakfast before Sam & Daddy went off to football and we headed off for Jacks swimming lesson. We arrived home to Nanny and Pop Pop unloading on the doorstep , followed shortly afterwards by more present opening and lots of excited squealing.
More family soon arrived, more present opening and then some playing in the garden before food was served and we sang Happy Birthday once again...this time with a Peppa Pig house cake that I had been making late into the evening on Thursday. Cake was eaten, tea was drank and the family departed. Jack went off to bed and Mummy slipped out to the local with a couple of friends.
I returned home later to find Jacks sick stained pillow next to the washing machine. Early the next morning he came into our bed, roasting hot, but after a dose of Calpol slept until a very respectable 10.30 (new time) the next morning, so we didn't miss out on that much needed hour in bed after all.
Recently I was picked by Dirt Devil as one of their chosen ten bloggers to trial a new vacuum cleaner, and over the past couple of weeks I've been putting the Tempest (DCC070) through its paces.
The Tempest is a cylinder vacuum and not the type that I would normally go for. Since working in a Travel Agency in my late teens and dragging around an inefficient cylinder vacuum every Saturday afternoon on the cleaner's day off, I have always purchased upright vacuum cleaners. With this in mind I was interested to see how the Tempest would perform compared to my current Dyson DC24.
The Tempest comes with an array of attachments, including floor brush, turbo brush, crevice tool, upholstery brush and dusting brush as well as an accessory holder to keep them together.
My first job was cleaning the carpeted stairs and for this I used the upholstery brush. The vacuum is lightweight and easy enough to carry up & down the stairs. The hose is long but not long enough to go all the way up the stairs, however the vacuum is small enough to stand on one of the steps half way up enabling me to vacuum the top half. The tool was great to get right up to the edges & I managed to give the stairs a good going over in just a few minutes.
Next up was the venetian blind in the playroom that has been collecting dust for some time but the dust was no trouble for the dusting brush.
The floor brush is great for general cleaning around the house and it's easy to use on both carpeted and laminate floors just by flipping a lever up or down (which can be done with your foot to save bending) when you switch floors. There is great suction and the swivel head and telescopic tube enable the brush to go easily under the sofa and kitchen cupboards. I usually have to move the sofa to clean under it and get down on my hands and knees in the kitchen to clean under the cupboards so this is a great time saver.
I gave the bedroom carpets, laminate floors and bathroom floors a thorough clean using the Intense Turbo Brush which is compact and powerful, with a rotating brush inside that's powered by the strong air flow from the vacuum cleaner. It's great for going in small spaces, especially down the side and behind the toilet - somewhere else that usually finds me going down on my hands and knees. It is quite a noisy piece of kit though and if anything such as a piece of thread or long hair gets wrapped around the brush it starts to sound like a garden strimmer! The inside of the tool is easily accessible though making it straightforward to clean out.
The power cord is only a disappointing 5 metres, although the telescopic pole compensates for some of this lack of length and I can manage to plug in the vacuum in the hall and get around the lounge and most of the kitchen without having to find an alternative socket. The mains cable rewind button is a bonus as well as it saves winding the cord up by hand.
Even though the vacuum is a reasonably lightweight 6.5kg it does feel like you're dragging around a bit of a dead weight at times - sometimes it acts like a shy child hiding behind the door that I have to coax to follow me with a gentle 'come on' and other times it's annoyingly hanging around my ankles like a whinging toddler. On the whole if you don't have to contend with lots of doorways it follows nicely behind you.
I soon filled up the dust canister and the releasing of it and emptying was really straightforward - in fact I never checked the instruction booklet first just to see how easy it was. There's an arrow on the top of the canister showing where to press, and once pressed the canister comes away from the body of the vacuum. There is then another button which, when pressed, releases the bottom of the canister and allows the dust to fall out and be disposed of. I did find that I needed to remove the top of the canister too and take out the HEPA filter to get all the dust and dirt out completely, but it was very straightforward to get back together again.
I really do like the Tempest, even though for a quick clean up I would prefer to use an upright as it's a lot less effort than a cylinder vacuum, but as the attachments on the Tempest save me the job of going down on my hands and knees when I'm doing a more thorough clean it would definitely be my choice of vacuum for this.
The powerful 2200W Tempest is also an excellent buy at only RRP £79.99 which is less than one third of the cost of my Dyson and if I'd had the chance to try them both out before I bought I would definitely had chosen this Dirt Devil over the Dyson on more than just the price.
The Dirt Devil Tempest receives a definite thumbs up from The Crazy Kitchen.
After a weekend of partying and wine drinking I needed to make an easy dinner tonight, that also 'hit the spot'. I popped some baking spuds in the oven before looking in the fridge/freezer to see what we had to go with them. I spotted some Quorn mince and instead of making the usual bolognaise or chilli I quite fancied a curry so after throwing a few ingredients together we enjoyed a lovely curry over the oven baked potatoes.
Quorn and Butternut Squash Curry
tbsp oil 1 onion, chopped 1 small or 1/2 large Butternut Squash, peeled & diced mushrooms curry powder (quantity will depend on how spicy you want it and the intensity of your powder) 300g Quorn Mince 500ml vegetable stock 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter (don't tell the husband as he hates it!) handful of frozen peas 2 tbsp natural Greek yoghurt
Fry the onion in the oil for 2 minutes
Add the squash and fry for a further 2 minutes
Add the mushrooms, curry powder, Quorn and stock, stir and replace lid and cook for 15-20 minutes minutes, until the squash is softened
Keep an eye on it and add more stock (or water) if it starts to dry out
When the squash is cooked all the way through stir in the peanut butter and the peas and cook for a further minute
Stir in the yoghurt just before removing from the heat and serving
It's been a bit like Christmas this last week in The Crazy Kitchen household but not because we've been singing non-stop 'Last Christmas', pulling crackers or cracking open the Quality Street. Last week we ate a large amount of turkey, a meat quite often only eaten at Christmas, in a bid to show you that Turkey is most definitely not just for Christmas.
Turkey is a healthy, all-year-round alternative to meat and can be used in a variety of recipes. By replacing your usual beef mince with turkey mince in a bolognaise can reduce the saturated fat by up to 50%.*
Most good Supermarkets stock various turkey cuts throughout the year, although I was disappointed at the very small range in our local Tesco Extra store.
This week we've enjoyed a Turkey breast joint cooked for just over 2 hours in it's own juices in the slow cooker, Sweet and Sour turkey with rice using breast steaks, spagetti bolognaise using turkey mince and Goulash using diced turkey thigh.
British Turkey are hosting a competition to find the nations best food blogger, and all you have to do is create a dish that can be served at any time of the year using British Turkey and Peppadew peppers. I have decided to share a recipe for my own version of Goulash, a traditional Hungarian dish typically containing Beef, Pork or Lamb.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash & Turkey Goulash with Sweet Red Peppers
600g Diced Turkey Thigh 50g Plain Flour 1 Onion, chopped 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped 680g Butternut squash, peeled & diced (approx 500g of flesh) 2 tbsp Smoked Paprika 1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes 2 tbsp Tomato Puree 325 ml Chicken Stock 200g (1 jar, drained) Whole Sweet Piquante Peppadew Peppers
Toss the turkey in the flour to coat & tip into a pre-heated slow cooker
Add the onion, garlic, squash, paprika, tomatoes, tomato puree and stock - give a good stir
Cook on high for 4-5 hours adding the peppers with an hour of cooking time remaining
Serve with boiled rice
*information taken from British Turkey website.
I received a jar of Peppadew peppers and was reimbursed for the cost of the turkey products used for the purpose of this post. This is my entry into the BritMums Lean On Turkey competition sponsored by www.leanonturkey.co.uk
Yesterday I found out that this blog was on the nominations list for a BiB award. At first I thought this was a list of all the blogs that had been nominated, which is great to think that someone thinks my blog is good enough to nominate me at all. Then I realised that this was a shortlist, meaning that quite possibly more than one person had nominated me.....and maybe even a few! I was absolutely gobsmacked, to say the least, to be among the 20 blogs in the 'Tasty' category, alongside some amazing foodie blogs that I read regularly.
I know I won't win, the blogs that I'm up against are just so good, but I am more than happy to get this far. Just one year ago I would never have thought I would get this close to winning an award..... I even get a badge to put on my blog....and only 19 other blogs can display that same one...that's amazing in itself!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank that kind person everyone that nominated me. I hate to beg for votes but now that I've got this far I would hate not to get any votes at all.....so I'm begging everyone that is reading this to please VOTE JESSIES CRAZY KITCHEN.
I have no shame, I need your votes and I'm even prepared to throw in some cake to everyone that votes for me *. Please, please, please, please...........
To vote for me you just need to click here or on the BiBs badge above and register your votes....and just to remind you I'm number 11 in the TASTY category - Jessies Crazy Kitchen.
Morphy Richards are on the lookout for Kitchen Innovators via the Tots 100 and Foodies 100. The chance to try out the latest home and kitchen appliances has to be every girl's dream (well maybe not every girl's but it would be mine) so I have decided to share my idea for my perfect Kitchen Invention in the hope that I'll be chosen.......
Once again I have been lucky enough to get the chance to review a Hotel Chocolat product, this time being an egg from their Easter Range. Last year I hadn't been blogging long when I saw lots of reviews for the Easter Eggs...oh how jealous I was, and now I am one of those lucky bloggers.
I had my eye on the impressive looking 'You Crack Me Up' egg back then as it's one of their extra thick Easter eggs and is filled with smiley faces, chicks & bunnies - perfect for sharing with the family. This year the smiley faces are filled with chocolate brownie or praline, the chicks (my favourite) are solid chocolate with caramel pieces and a hint of sea salt, then there are cocoa pod bunnies, praline fried eggs and white chocolate soldiers
The egg itself is cast from 40% Milk Chocolate which is smooth and creamy as would be expected from Hotel Chocolat. I was disappointed though that, although the egg appeared to be a whopping 1cm thick on first inspection (and as pictured on the website and packaging), it was only on the outermost edges. The majority of the egg was a disappointing 3-4mm thick.
Aside from the thickness of the egg I really like this egg, especially the presentation box that it comes in. This strong cardboard box with a black ribbon around could be used, long after the egg has been eaten, to keep trinkets in whilst you drool over the pictures on the side.
Each side of the egg is wrapped in gold foil and the 12 piece chocolates inside are carefully wrapped in tissue paper inside the egg halves.
The 'You Crack Me Up' extra thick egg weighs in at 380g in total and is alcohol free and suitable for vegetarians. Whilst it is quite pricey as an everyday egg at £26 it would make a lovely fun gift this Easter.
Not only has he proved himself to be a poetic genius with his Mother's Day poem, he is also turning into a little budding chef in the kitchen. Thursday night he fancied 'something nice' but after rummaging through the fridge and cupboards and finding nothing that took his fancy he suggested mixing cocoa powder into an Alpro Rich & Creamy cherry dessert, resulting in a lovely chocolate & cherry pudding which he poured over crushed digestive biscuit and banana. On Friday night he made his first chocolate cake, with little help, which was accompanied by a chocolate custard - instant custard mixed with cocoa powder at his suggestion.
He decided that he wanted to make another cake for Mother's Day so I bought him a few extra ingredients when I went shopping and today (along with helping to get is football team into a Cup Final) he made his lucky Mum this :
Yesterday, in the middle of a busy schedule of swimming lessons, Mother's Day visiting and a Baby Shower we enjoyed a family lunch at the Ember Pub & Dining in Lichfield.
It's a large pub on a busy roundabout on the outskirts of Lichfield, with plenty of parking - parking is 50p for up to 3 hours which is refunded if you're dining in the pub. It's a very clean and tidy pub and although we arrived just before 1pm on a Saturday lunchtime there were lots of vacant tables.
We sat in the restaurant at a table which a member of the bar staff had told us was near to an area with kids games. Jack soon found a box of puzzles to keep him amused and Hanna found a game of Guess Who whist the Husband was ordering the meals and drinks at the bar. We barely had time to start on our game and take a sip from our drinks before our food arrived, in under 10 minutes!
Jack chose Sausage and Mash & Hanna chose Scampi, both from the Younger Guest's menu, whilst the adults had Grilled Chicken, Roast Mushroom & Pepper Salad and a Rump Steak & Caramelised Onion Sandwich from the Light Lunches Menu.
The food came out well presented and was really nice, although the steak in the sandwich was a bit gristly in places and the salad was let down by the use of iceberg lettuce which seems to be commonplace in salads in this country...although it was a lot better than many I've tasted.
Ember Pub and Dining have recently introduced Shloer onto their drinks menu and are offering a free bottle with their Shloer Sunday Menu - from £9.95 for 2 courses. We tried a bottle of their red grape, which I have to say is a lovely non-alcoholic alternative to many soft drinks available in pubs and restaurants - perfect if you're driving or pregnant. You can find out more about Shloer and their offers on the Shloer Facebook page.
I was provided with a voucher to use towards the cost of a family meal for the purpose of this review.