The Crazy Kitchen: April 2012

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Monday, 30 April 2012

30th April 2012 - 121/366

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This is Poppy, the 6th member of our family. For once I managed to get a close-up of her without her moving too much, which pleased Hanna a lot.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

29th April 2012 - 120/366

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Who needs to spend £5.25 on a Frankie & Benny's Ice Cream Sundae when you can make one of these at home

WIN a £25 Voucher with Zulily

I recently wrote about Zulily and some of the gorgeous products that they have on their website. Each day the brands change and there are savings of up to 90% off the retail price to be made.


I recently bought a BigJigs wooden balance bike for Jack for just £30, when the retail price is around £45 and up (£47.99 on Amazon). They also have some lovely kids clothing as well as toys and changing bags.


Take a look at the website for yourself, you just need to sign up using your email address to gain access to their full site.


I am now giving away a £25 voucher to one of my readers to enable them to buy some of the lovely things that Zulily has on offer.


For example, how about some of these cute wall stickers for £11*


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and some pom-pom socks for £5*


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and a hoody for £9*


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or use it towards a lovely £52 changing bag*


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*please note that the deals change frequently and these items may not be available when the winner receives their voucher.

To be in with a chance of winning please complete the rafflecopter form below. You must complete the first (mandatory) entry, all the others are optional.

Frankie & Benny's Review

Frankie & Benny's in Stafford is situated on a small retail park just on the outskirts of the town. The restaurant  is a lovely old renovated building that was discovered when work was being carried out to demolish parts of the old GEC factories to make way for the new retail park. It must be one of the better looking restaurants in their chain as it's pictured on the Restaurants home page.

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(unfortunately the quality of my photos isn't great due to them being taken in low light on my phone as my camera battery wasn't charged)

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We arrived at 5.15pm on a Saturday so were expecting it to be busy. Within moments of our arrival however we were seated in a vacant booth, which is perfect for a family of 5 with a toddler in tow. We were immediately handed menus and a kids activity pack for Jack. After requesting another for Hanna our waitress then came back with two junior packs. We were asked for our drink orders which then arrived within 5 minutes, when we were asked if we would like any garlic breads, which we declined. We requested a few more minutes to make our choices from the menus, which had far too many tempting options.

At 5.30 we placed our orders and 15 minutes later were asked if we wanted drink refills and our waitress said she would check on our food order. Five minutes later she came back and told us that ours wouldn't be long. By this time the children were getting hungry but thankfully the activity packs and bottomless drinks took their minds off their grumbling bellies.

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The atmosphere in the busy restaurant was lively. There was a party of teen girls letting off party poppers, lots of families eating and waiting staff busy taking plates and trays back and forth. All the noise from the diners along with the 50's music being played makes it a great place to take children as you don't need to worry if they make too much noise, even Jack's loud voice blended into the background sounds. Part the way through the evening the music stopped whilst 'Happy Birthday' was played and the party of teen girls all sang Happy Birthday to their friend whilst her Mum brought over a stand of lovely looking cupcakes. Many of the diners cheered before returning to their meals and the 50's music was played again.

After another ten minutes of waiting for our food our waitress informed us that it wouldn't be too much longer and the delay was down to my meal taking longer - which made me wonder why a chicken salad would take any longer to cook than anything else that we'd ordered. By this time the restaurant was really filling up, with a queue of families waiting to be seated.

Finally, 37 minutes after placing our order, we received our meals. Hanna's order of Make your own chicken wraps from the Junior menu had obviously been standing under the heat lamps for a while as the pot of ketchup was warm and the pot of cheese had melted. Hanna was happy to have the melted cheese though so we never asked for it to be changed and she enjoyed making up her own wraps with the crispy breaded chicken and salad and said they were quite filling.

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Sam said his Fish and Chips, also off the junior menu, was really nice and, after giving me a taster, I can vouch for it being very moist fish with crunchy batter. He did say that it didn't fill him up much though so I don't think it will be long before we will be needing to order off the adult menu for him unfortunately.

Jack chose his favourite sausage and mash from the kids menu which was just the right sized portion for him.

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I ordered the Chicken Citrus Salad from the Lighter Options menu, a new selection of main courses with 650 calories or less. It arrived with a large chicken breast cut in two on a bed of mixed salad and chargrilled cherry tomatoes. The chicken was nice and not at all over cooked and the lemon and oil dressing was a really nice light and tasty dressing on the salad.

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The husband ordered Chicken and Ribs and although the chicken was quite plain it was nice and the ribs were cooked to perfection, with the meat falling easily from the bones.

The children all decided on the chocolate brownie for dessert which arrived in just over ten minutes and typical of fickle Jack he didn't like the Brownie or wafer and chose instead to just eat the ice-cream.

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At £3.95 for the kids menu and £7.55 for the Junior they are both great value as they include both refillable drinks and a choice of dessert. They also offer Organic Baby food for £1.75 if you have a little one that needs feeding too. The menu also states that free apples are available for children, although we didn't get offered any we did notice a bowl of rosy red apples near the entrance.

Overall we had a really good experience food wise but unfortunately Frankie and Benny's let itself down with the slow service and because of this the family have rated it a 6/7 out of 10. The waiting staff were extremely friendly though and couldn't do enough for us.

We were provided with a voucher towards the cost of our meal in exchange for this review.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

28th April 2012 - 119/366

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Delicious......both of them!

Friday, 27 April 2012

27th April 2012 - 118/366

After seeing Dad's Cooking Tonight's Chocolate Bread I was inspired to make Pain Au Chocolat today, which was actually easier than I expected....and I even managed to use up a few of the chocolate bunny lollipop's that the kids said they didn't like.

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Thursday, 26 April 2012

26th April 2012 - 117/366

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Here's one for the embarrassing photo's album for when he's older...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Zulily Daily Deals

Last week we were invited to an event in London hosted by Zulily. I had never heard of them before I received the email but headed straight to seek them out and was impressed with what I found. Their site has daily deals for Mums, Babies and Kids and each day there are around a dozen different brands offering great deals. Each deal lasts for a few days but stocks are limited so it's best to get in quick.


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Today they have clothing from Green Kids and Greenbaby....


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super cute wall art from Wallies....


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as well as lots of other great items such as toys and puzzles from Galt and HTI toys and homewares from Pkolino and Takkoda. I love these cushions


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Zulily are already established in the United States but are new to the UK and Ireland and can offer up to 90% off well known and boutique brands, with new events starting each day. At their launch event we were able to see some of the products for ourselves whilst we were fed and watered with a constant flow of tea, coffee and cakes, as well as a Nanny on hand to entertain the children.

Jack took a particular shine to the BigJigs wooden balance bike on display and at just £30 on the website how could I not get one!
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To take advantage of the deals you just need to sign up with your email address to see the great prices.

I was provided with a voucher to spend on the Zulily site.

25th April 2012 - 116/366

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Another photo of Jack and Poppy - this time he is showing her his 'children' - the label from his new school shorts with pictures of children on..

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

24th April 2012 - 115/366

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Today I've been sorting out some of the clothes for my girls weekend to Majorca in 2 weeks......and realised that I don't actually need many 'normal' clothes!

Indian Spiced Meatballs with Raita and Flatbread

I often use turkey in cooking because of it being low fat as well as a cheaper version of chicken. It's often only eaten at Christmas but it can be used in many dishes as a replacement for other other meats, such as beef mince, pork or lamb. I've been challenged by Lean on Turkey to come up with a family meal idea using Turkey for under £10 so I've decided to make Indian Spiced Meatballs. These would more traditionally be made with minced lamb but the turkey is a much healthier option - and cheap too at only around £2 for the mince, in fact the whole meal comes in at under £5 if you already have the spices in your cupboard.


Indian Spiced Meatballs with Cucumber and Mint Raita and Flatbread - Serves 4


Meatballs (makes 16)


450g Fresh Turkey Mince
1 tsp ground Cumin 
1 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
Olive oil (for frying)
  • Mix all the ingredients together (apart from the oilive oil)
  • Form into 16 balls
  • Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan (if you don't have an ovenproof pan you can transfer the meatballs to a baking tray)
  • Fry the meatballs to seal on all sides
  • Transfer the pan to a preheated 200 degree (C) oven for 12 minutes, until cooked all the way through
  • Whilst they're cooking make the flatbreads and prepare the raita


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Flatbreads (makes 4)


200g Plain Wholemeal flour
60g Natural Greek Yoghurt
1 tbsp Olive oil
5 tbsp water, room temperature
  • Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough
  • You may need to add a touch more flour or water depending on whether your mix is too dry or too wet
  • Divide into 4 balls
  • Roll out on a floured surface to the size of a side plate
  • Cook on a hot griddle pan for approx 3 minutes each side
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Raita


250g Natural Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp Mint Sauce or chopped fresh mint
small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Mix all the ingredients together



Serve the meatballs in a flatbread with Raita and shredded lettuce


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For larger appetites you could serve with spicy potato wedges

For more turkey recipes have a look at Lean on Turkey.



This is a sponsored post but the recipe is my own






This is my entry into the BritMums Lean On Turkey competition sponsored by www.leanonturkey.co.uk

Monday, 23 April 2012

Trutex School Shorts

After we were really pleased with the quality of the school uniform that we received for Hanna, Trutex offered to send a pair of shorts for Jack to wear to Preschool with his school polo-shirt and sweatshirt. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great on the two days that he was there last week so he never got to wear them. Today it was lovely and sunny and, although not a Preschool day, we decided to give the shorts a trial.

Jack loved them from the moment he saw them as they are a dark grey just like big brother Sam's school trousers (he was pretty taken with the colourful label too!) They have an elasticated waist at the back and there are no fiddly buttons or zips to deal with, making them easy for little ones going to the toilet. The shorts are made from 65% Polyester and 35% Viscose the same as Hanna's skirt so I know they're going to wash really well just as the skirt has done and hopefully they won't need any ironing either.
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Currently Trutex are offering free Spring activity packs to schools and Trutex retailers. The packs have colouring and puzzle activities as well as a yummy cake recipe and more. To get free packs for your school please go to the Trutex website for more information.

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we were sent the shorts for the purpose of this review

23rd April 2012 - 114/366

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Jack doesn't often get to eat pudding as he rarely eats all of his dinner but tonight he (very almost) finished it and was allowed a piece of Chocolate Cake

Staffordshire Enchiladas

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I know that Enchiladas come from Mexico but these are a little different as I make them with Staffordshire Oatcakes. Not to be confused with Scottish Oatcakes the Staffordshire variety are like a pancake and made with oatmeal, flour and yeast. They are particularly nice served warm with melted cheese on. I've used them in this recipe in the place of flour tortillas so if you can't get hold of oatcakes you can use tortillas or savoury pancakes instead. I've also used cooked chicken leftover from yesterday but this can be replaced with beef, pork or turkey.

Staffordshire Enchiladas

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 Green pepper, sliced
tsp ground coriander
tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne papper
tsp smoked paprika
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of red kidney beans, drained
cooked chicken (leftovers)
Pack of 6 Staffordshire Oatcakes
150g cheddar cheese, grated

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the oil and garlic for 2 minutes
  • Add the pepper and spices (you can add fresh or ground chilli at this point too if you want it spicier) and fry for 4-5 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and beans, replace the lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly
  • Set half of the mix aside and stir the cooked chicken into the rest
  • Divide the chicken & sauce between the oatcakes and sprinkle with a little of the grated cheese
  • Roll the oatcakes up and place in a greased baking dish (join side down)
  • Cover with the rest of the sauce and cheese
  • Bake in a preheated 180 degree (C) oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown


Serve with salad

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Strawberry Chocolate Cake

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I had some strawberries that needed using up so I decided to incorporate them into a chocolate cake. The addition of the jam and strawberries makes it a moister cake without the hassle of having to decorate it afterwards.


You will need :


150g Caster Sugar
2 eggs
150g Natural Greek Yoghurt
75g butter, melted
175g SR Flour
75g Cocoa Powder
150g Strawberries, chopped
60g Seedless Strawberry Jam



  • Beat the sugar and eggs together until smooth & creamy
  • Stir in the yoghurt & melted butter & beat again
  • Stir in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined
  • Mix the strawberries with the jam
  • Spoon half of the mix into a lined & greased 8" cake pan
  • Spread the strawberries onto the cake mix and then cover with the rest of the mix
  • Bake in a 170 degree (C) oven for approx 45 minutes





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Sunday, 22 April 2012

22nd April 2012 - 113/366

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Here is my little man off to another party - 3 year old's have better social lives than their Mother's..fact.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

21st April 2012 - 112/366

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This is far from the best quality photo but it shows Jack intently watching Hanna's first swimming Gala with the programme in his hand, and Hanna walking past on her way to do her warm up.

Tots 100 Book Club Review

A few weeks ago I was recommended by The Boy and Me to receive a copy of one of her favourite books, 'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier as part of the Tots 100 Book club, in association with Tesco.


It's now my turn to recommend a fellow blogger to receive one of my favourite books and the book I've chosen is The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days.


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I bought this cookery book when it first came out last year and I used their Tiramisu recipe when I made my Baileys Coffee Cupcakes and I was also inspired to make my Double Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake when I saw their baked version.


There are lots of great recipes and photos and almost every recipe has an associated photo which I like in a cookery book. I do tend to read cookery books rather than novels and although I don't always follow recipes exactly they are definitely used as a source of inspiration, as well as something to drool over when I'm on a diet.

This book has sections of special occasion recipes such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, Easter and Christmas and is full of mouth-watering cupcakes, cheesecakes, tarts, layer cakes and bars as well as the odd savoury treat such as Pea, Ham and Feta Cheese Muffins.

I've just made some chocolate whoopie pies (more practice needed on the size) using another of the Hummingbird recipes and hope to be working my way through a lot more of them. As well as recipes there is a section at the back including baking essentials, tips and ideas as well as a list of useful suppliers. It's a lovely hardback book and one that I was attracted to initially because of its hot pink fabric cover and Summer Fruit Cheesecake image on the back - definitely a book to be displayed where it can be admired.


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The blogger that I've chosen to receive this book is Julia from Jujubeans blog. Julia is an excellent cake maker and all round good friend who started off as one of my virtual friends but is now someone that I can class as a real life friend - after all she has witnessed me singing a very drunken version of 'American Pie' into a remote control and she still follows me on Twitter and befriends me on Facebook.


Friday, 20 April 2012

20th April 2012 - 111/366

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Someone's been licking the spoon.....

I Heart My Snap

Katie and Lucy, over at their new blog 'I Heart Snapping', have a new Friday Linky 'I Heart My Snap' where they are asking you to link up the photo or photos that you are particularly proud of.


I mentioned in a post yesterday that I've only recently started editing my photos and whilst away at Easter I had a little play around with my iphone apps Instagram and Camera +, as well as Picnik and Picmonkey.


There was one particular photo that I took of the Paignton to Dartmouth steam train with my phone that I was a bit disappointed with as it came out like this


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but after some cropping, adjusting the exposure and adding filters and frames came up with this

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and then this


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and finally this

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I can't tell you which filters I used as I can't remember and I actually think that I applied more than one.

It just goes to show that you don't need to be an expert in photography to improve your photos. It's quick, easy and lots of fun too.


Funny Things He Says


I've been compiling this post for a couple of weeks now as just recently Jack has been coming out with some really funny things and has a real sense of humour. He talks non stop and asks so many questions that I'm exhausted by the end of the day. I was told that yesterday at pre-school he was playing with a little girl that's a bit younger than him and said to her 'do you want to be my girlfriend?' Apparently she said yes and they carried on playing!


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In the toilet after doing a wee (Mummy's turn now)


J (in an inquisative LOUD voice) : Are you doing a poo Mummy?
Mummy : *puts finger to lips* shhhh
J : why do I have to be quiet Mummy?



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Getting ready for bed


Mummy : Do you need a wee Jack
J : No
Mummy : Why are you dancing then?
J : I'm not dancing, I'm just singing ....*sings* "I think I wanna marry you"



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Jack showed me a sore bit on his finger


Mummy:  Have you been picking again?
Jack : No I didn't pick it my teef did pick it



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I was drying my hair & Jack came into the bedroom with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles


Mummy: what's happened? Have you done it in your trousers?
Jack : yes, I did a wee. It wasn't supposed to come out already



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I've experienced that Jack is a bit of a mind reader


I was putting him to bed & thought to myself 'I don't think he really needs his fleecy suit on tonight'....and then Jack said 'Do I need my suit on Mummy'


Another time we were playing Smarty Pants on the Wii & one of the questions was 'which City is known as the Big Apple'...just as I read it (to myself) Jack said 'I have an apple please Mummy'.....



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In Asda today I was scanning my shopping list


Jack : have we got everything Mummy?
Me : hmmm I think so....oh no we've forgotten something
Jack : Dam
Me : I beg your pardon!
Jack : Dam.......we need dam for our samwiches
Me : oh yes....well remembered Jack, Strawberry or Raspberry?




I'm linking this up to Thinly Spread's 'The funny things kids say & do'

Thursday, 19 April 2012

19th April 2012 - 110/366

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Hanna and Jack's Pet Pal's arrived today and they couldn't be happier!

Pasta with Peanut Butter and Bread Sauce

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Some time ago I saw a recipe for Spaghetti with peanut butter on The Blue Bear Wood. Today I noticed a tweet about the recipe and I knew that my struggle to decide what to make for dinner tonight was over. It's near the end of the week and our fridge is almost bare but I had all the ingredients apart from the spaghetti, but I did have plenty of Penne instead.


A while ago I made a similar pasta dish using breadcrumbs instead of the peanut butter so this time I thought I would use both to fill it out a bit.


I used :
Olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves
tsp mixed herbs
1 heaped tbsp Crunchy peanut butter
2 slices of bread, blended into crumbs
Can of chopped tomatoes
2 tomatoes, chopped
Penne pasta, cooked



  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion & garlic and herbs, fry lightly for 2 minutes
  • Stir in the peanut butter,breadcrumbs and tinned tomatoes, along with enough boiling water to give your desired consistency, simmer until onions have softened
  • Stir in the fresh tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes
  • Stir in the freshly cooked Penne and serve with grated Parmesan over





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It went down well with most of the family, although Hanna complained that she didn't like the seeds in it (from the bread), but a certain little fussy eater ate the lot!


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