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Thursday, 31 May 2012

31st May 2012 - 152/366

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The Jubilee party was all too much

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

30th May 151/366

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My eldest two after the Olympic Torch parade today. They were both lucky enough to be in the parade, Hanna with school and Sam with the Sports Ambassadors. It was a great, but tiring, afternoon

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

29th May 2012 - 150/366

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This afternoon Sam Captained his school football team to victory in a local schools tournament, I managed to get there in time for their final match when they beat their local rivals 5-1. Another proud Mummy moment.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Cooking With Your Toddler - Iced Lemon Cookies

This is a recipe from the Ocado website, a very simple one, in fact so simple that we didn't even use the Kitchen Aid. The butter was very soft though as it had been left out whilst we went shopping so it didn't need much beating.

150g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon & juice of half 
350g Plain flour

To decorate
juice of half a lemon
icing sugar
sprinkles - we used Dr Oetker Stars, Polka Dots & Soft Shimmer Pearls *

  • Beat the butter and sugar until creamy
  • Add the egg, lemon juice & zest & beat well
  • Stir in the flour until it starts to come together and then use your hands to bring together. (Add more flour if it's too sticky.)
  • Wrap in clingfilm & refrigerate for half an hour - or in our case 10 minutes in the freezer
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  • Roll the dough to about 1/2 - 1cm thick & cut out shapes
  • Bake in a preheated 180 degree (C) oven for 8-10 minutes
  • Transfer to a wire rack & cool 
  • Mix enough icing sugar into the lemon juice to form a thin paste
  • Spread icing over the biscuits & decorate

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The June Cooking With Your Toddler linky will open on 1st June and close on 30th June. Please feel free to link up your posts with the theme of Cookies & Biscuits. 
Cooking With Your Toddler has now moved to it's own dedicated blog here.
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Please vote for me

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

* We were sent the Dr Oetker decorations for the purpose of a review

28th May 2012 - 149/366

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Who needs the ice cream man.....

Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauces - review

Myself and my husband like spicy food but the children less so. If I make a curry or a chilli it's usually mild and then we add chilli flakes or Jalapenos to our own which suits all of us. Levi Roots now has a new Reggae Reggae sauce which is milder than their usual sauces so when they offered to send me some I accepted as I knew it would suit everyone.


Levi Roots was first seen on Dragon's Den in 2007 when he was looking for a £50,000 investment from the Dragons to develop his sauces. He secured that investment & has gone on to produce a whole range of table and cooking sauces, along with other products such as ready meals, pasties and wraps.


I decided to use the Reggae sauces, both mild and X-hot as a marinade on some pork loin steaks to go on the barbecue. I did the mild for the children and the X-hot for the adults. I just placed the steaks into a resealable plastic bag and poured the marinade in, mixed it around a bit, sealed the bag and popped them in the fridge for a few hours before barbecuing.


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The steaks were lovely and tasty and although Hanna said they were spicy (she sometimes says bolognaise is spicy!) they didn't have her reaching for the yoghurt or a drink. The X-hot had a bit of a kick straight out of the bottle which was toned down after cooking.


I also made a dressing/dip from both sauces mixing it with equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yoghurt. It was great as a salad dressing as well as a veggie dip.


We were also sent the Reggae Reggae tomato ketchup which I used in BLT's for brunch. Unfortunately I broke the first rule of blogging here and handed the BLT's out before I had taken a photo!

You can find Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce on Facebook here.

We were sent the Reggae Reggae sauces for the purpose of this review

Tilda Rice for Kids - review

We often eat Tilda steamed Basmati rice as it's handy to keep in the cupboard and quick to prepare (2 minutes in the microwave) when you need to make dinner in a hurry, which is often the case with three hungry children, two of them who come in a different time due to various sporting activities after school.

Tilda now have a range of rice specially for children which are full of goodness, contain only natural ingredients and count as one of their 5 a day.

Tilda Kids come in four different flavours - Cheese & Tomato, Mild & Sweet Curry, Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain Rice and Sunshine Vegetable Rice and only take 2 minutes to prepare in the microwave.

For Jack I heated the Mild & Sweet Curry flavour and mixed it with a pieces of barbecued pork loin steak and steamed broccoli and courgette. After a false start when he said he didn't like it (this isn't unusual for him and he hadn't even tried it), he came back later when Daddy was eating and ate the lot. Sam tried the Cheese & Tomato as an accompaniment with his dinner but didn't like it - too cheesy tasting apparently, but Daddy loved it!
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The rice comes as a 125g serving in a microwaveable pouch and is great for little ones who are fussy about their vegetables as each serving has pureed vegetables in so, apart from the odd small piece of visible vegetable, you would never know it was there.  The pouches are sold in Tesco, Ocado, Waitrose, Asda and some Morrison's with an RRP of £1.15 per pouch.


We were sent 4 packs of Tilda Kids for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

27th May 2012 - 148/366

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it needs no words....

Cooking With Your Toddler - June - Cookies / Biscuits

I haven't done much baking with Jack recently so I thought it was time to revive Cooking With Your Toddler. It would be a bit ambitious of me to think that we'll be able to do it every week so I've decided to post a Cooking With Your Toddler post once a month and open a new linky up each month for you lovely lot to include your posts. I'll post a theme for the month and you can link up with your cooking posts along that theme until the end of the month. 

For the month of June the theme is Cookies / Biscuits

You can either post your own recipe or feel free to use one of the recipes in the old Cooking With Your Toddler linkys here. Either way you will need to be cooking with a toddler to join in with the linky. (although if you don't have a toddler a child of any age will do - they don't even have to be yours!) 

Cooking with your Children is a great way to spend quality time together and it doesn't have to be as stressful as you may imagine. For a first timer no bake recipes are a great idea, as well as weighing out your ingredients before you get your child involved. If you want to make cookies without much hassle then you could make the dough in advance and keep it in the fridge until you want to use it.

Cooking With Your Toddler has now moved to it's own dedicated blog here.

Slow Cooker Five Bean Chilli

I posted a recipe for a bean chilli last year but this one has more beans in and less vegetables. I just bought a few different cans of beans and threw them in the slow cooker, I used :


1 Can Black Eye Beans, drained
1 Can Pinto Beans, drained
1 Can Butter Beans, drained
1 Can Borlotti Beans, drained
1 Can Baked Beans (which are Haricot beans)
1 Can chopped Tomatoes
1 Can tomato Puree
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 whole red chilli (de-seeded, leave the seeds in if you want it hotter)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 empty baked bean can of boiling water


It seems like a lot of ingredients but there's not much chopping, and if you buy frozen chopped onion and peppers as well as lazy garlic & chilli then there is no chopping at all.


I cooked on high heat all day and then served with grated cheese on the top along with home-made potato wedges and salad.


Bean chilli is a very popular meal in this house & was eaten 2 days running with another portion put in the freezer.



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Please vote for me :

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

Journey 2 - Out on DVD

Earlier in the year we went to the cinema to watch Journey 2 in 3D. It was a great family film with (in my amateur opinion) great 3D effects and we all loved it. Hanna enjoyed it so much that she asked me to buy Journey to the Centre of the Earth on DVD when we got home.


Yesterday she was overjoyed when we received a Journey 2 package in the post from Warner Bros.

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The package contained a copy of the DVD, some creepy crawlies, tattoos, pen, 3D effect puzzle, drink bottle and growing lizard, all presented on a large plastic leaf.

Journey 2 is released tomorrow (28th May 2012) on DVD, Blu Ray 3D  and Blu Ray Triple Play. I will be interested to see if the movie keeps the attention of my children without the 3D effects but if you get the chance of watching this in 3D I would thoroughly recommend it.



We received the DVD & goodies for the purpose of this review

Saturday, 26 May 2012

26th May 2012 - 147/366

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Proud Mummy Moment!
Hanna competed in her first Club swimming Gala tonight and came 1st in her heat in Butterfly, and 3rd in her age group.

Friday, 25 May 2012

25th May 2012 - 146/366

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"Oh no, where's Peppa's head gone?"

Thursday, 24 May 2012

24th May 2012 - 145/366

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Chilling out on Daddy after a hot and tiring day at Preschool

Union Jack Bedroom Makeover with Dunelm

We've been meaning to decorate Sam's bedroom for ages, I even half painted it blue once and that's how it stayed. Because of its size it has always been used as a bit of a dumping ground, if I couldn't find anywhere else to keep something it ended up in the corner of Sam's room. He got lumbered with old bits of furniture that had served their purpose elsewhere. A couple of months ago though we got him some new shelving units as I decided to put his in the playroom. I had also been looking at new beds for him to replace the hand me down one that he's been in since we got our new bed a couple of years ago.

When Dunelm contacted me to ask if I would like to review some products from their children's range it couldn't have come at a better time as I needed a bit of shove to get my backside in gear to finish Sam's room. I'd already bought a Union Jack duvet cover so choosing some of their products from the Union Jack range was the obvious choice.

This was Sam's bedroom last week :
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We received the following items from Dunelm :

Union Jack Rug 
Union Jack Cushion
Union Jack Canvas
Union Jack Doorstop
Union Jack Storage Bag
Blue Storage Boxes

and we also bought these items from Dunelm :

Red Roller Blinds
Red Storage Boxes

After much sweat we came up with a room that I now want as my own.

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I was really impressed with the quality of the items considering their cost. The cushion, although only £2.99 has a washable cover that can be unzipped, the storage boxes are really sturdy and have lids attached, whilst the rug is so much better than I expected it to be & the colours are really bold.

Sam is really impressed with his new room and now, surprisingly, Hanna has kept her bedroom immaculate for the past 2 days in the hope that she gets a bedroom makeover next. I think she's got her eye on the Union Jack range for girls.....

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We were sent the items mentioned above for the purpose of this review

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

23rd May - 144/366

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Daddy finished work early tonight so he took Jack for a haircut. He came running in afterwards singing Happy Birthday, clutching a bunch of flowers. 

Sadly, before everyone rushes out & buys me wine & flowers, it's not my birthday!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Easy Peasy Chocolate Brownies

We were off to see friends at the weekend and not wanting to arrive empty handed I whipped up some brownies. I didn't want to have loads of pots & pans to wash leave loads of pots & pans for the husband to wash up afterwards so I tried the recipe out using just one saucepan, one wooden spoon & the baking tin. You can also save washing the bowl on your weighing scales by weighing everything directly into the saucepan - place the pan onto the scales & set to zero for each ingredient.


Make sure that the chocolate & butter isn't too hot before adding the eggs or they will start to cook. I heated it slowly over a very low heat & it was cool enough to add the eggs straight away.


This recipe includes peanuts but you can substitute these for other nuts, chocolate chips/chunks or dried fruits. Don't be tempted to overcook the Brownies, unfortunately I got distracted and as a result the brownies ended up a little on the dry side - nothing that can't be remedied by a quick blast in the microwave, scoop of ice cream and squirt of caramel sauce though.


You will need :


225g Butter or Margarine
150g Good Quality Dark Chocolate
4 Eggs
250g Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
200g Salted Peanuts

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  • Melt the butter & chocolate in a large saucepan over a low heat
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Stir in the sugar and then the flour until combined
  • Mix in the peanuts
  • Pour into a 9 inch square baking pan - ready greased & lined
  • Bake for 25 minutes
  • Allow to cool in the tin before removing & slicing into squares


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Please vote for me

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

22nd May 2012 - 143/366

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I bought some new cupboards for the playroom today and moved a few things around. Jack found all the wooden puzzles and for the first time ever sat for ages doing them. He looks as though he's been swimming but just got a bit of a sweat on when he fell asleep in the car!

Monday, 21 May 2012

21st May 2012 - 142/366

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The sun has been shining today so once again the toys are scattered around the garden, at least it's better than having them scattered around the house..

Schleich Dinosaurs - Review

With the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park approaching, along with a 3D version due to be released next year Schleich have released their very own new Jurassic collection. The range includes favourites like Tyrannosaurus Rex as well as the very dangerous Allosaurus and the herbivore Brachiosaurus. The hand painted dinosaurs are aimed at boys from 4-10 years but I'm sure many girls will love them equally as much.
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We were sent Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus and Parasaurolophus. As with other Schleich figures they are solid and weighty as well as having excellent detail, even on the soles of their feet. Since having the dinosaurs they've been bashed together & dropped quite a few times but haven't chipped or marked in any way. These figures are definitely built to last and once your child has outgrown the 'playing with' stage they would still look great on a shelf until they're ready to be passed down to the next generation.


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Here's a video of Jack fighting with the dinosaurs and attempting to say their names.



You can see more of the dinosaurs in the new range here. They also do a huge range of farm and wild animals, historical and fantasy figures along with Smurfs.


We were sent these 4 dinosaurs as part of this review.

Zesty Summer Salad

Summer is almost upon us, which means enjoying the sunshine having bbq's with friends and family. I love salads and hopefully we'll be getting a Summer soon where we can get out in the garden with friends and enjoy some lovely salads with our bbq's.

If you've not yet tried Apetina cheese you should really give it a go. It's a very versatile cheese that can be used in salads, soups, bakes and pies. Apetina is a creamy cow's milk cheese that's available in a classic or light block as well as ready cubed packs in their classic style or with herbs. 
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Apetina are currently holding a weekly competition on their Facebook page where visitors who like the page and vote on their favourite salad will be entered into a prize draw to win a picnic hamper (basket, salad bowl, servers & dressing bottle). The prize in the final week will be a BBQ.


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Hamper prize
I've created the Apetina recipe below using fresh salad ingredients and a tub of the Apetina Classic cubes, you could instead use a block crumbled or diced, or one of the alternative tubs with herbs and garlic. It used chilli infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil to give the salad a bit of a kick.


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Zesty Summer Salad


Handful of Fresh Basil and Mint (approx 6-10g)
2 tbsp Chilli Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
250g Baby Plum Tomatoes, sliced lengthways
1 whole cucumber, de-seeded and sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced
200g Olives
200g Apetina
Salt & Pepper to season
Few mint leaves to garnish

  • Grind the basil and mint in a pestle & mortar with 1 tbsp of oil to a paste, add a pinch of salt and twist of black pepper to season.
  • Add the rest of the oil, zest and juice of the lemon and set aside
  • Toss the prepared tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper, olives and dressing in a large bowl until all the vegetables are coated in the dressing.
  • Add the Apetina and toss briefly
  • Decorate with a few mint leaves





This is a Sponsored Post but the recipe is my own.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

20th May 2012 - 141/366

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Today much of my day was spent with a paintbrush in my hand, thankfully the painting is almost finished...until the next room. Pure Brilliant White is my new best friend...

Citrus Turkey Salad

I've been challenged again by Lean On Turkey to come up with a low fat/healthy turkey recipe for a family costing under £10. We love pasta and salads in this family so I thought it would be a good excuse to try out a citrus pasta salad using fresh turkey.


For once J actually ate all of his dinner and even asked for more, and then helped himself to even more, so I'll definitely be making this again.


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Citrus Turkey Salad - serves 4


800g (approx) Turkey Thigh joint
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Dark soy sauce
a good pinch of fresh Thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 spring onions, sliced
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced
2 oranges, segmented*
500g dried pasta
150g Sugar Snap peas


  • Roast the turkey joint for approximately 1hr 30mins (depending on the size of your joint)
  • When the turkey is cooked slice it thickly and cut into large pieces and place in a bowl
  • Mix the lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce and Thyme together in a small bowl
  • Add half of the dressing to the turkey and combine
  • Add the spring onions, pepper and oranges to the turkey
  • Boil the pasta as per directions on the pack, adding the sugarsnap peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking
  • Drain the pasta/peas and tip into a large bowl
  • Pour over the rest of the ingredients, along with the remaining dressing and combine
  • Serve warm or cold

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You can see my previous turkey recipe, as well as those from other bloggers, here.






*if you don't know how to segment an orange this video will show you


This is a sponsored post but the recipe is my own





Please vote for me in the MAD awards


Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012


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

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19th May 2012 - 140/366

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We've been to a friends house and J made a new friend, it was so funny to watch them together, running around the garden, playing football and cuddling under a blanket.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Millionaires Cheesecake

This afternoon I received the amazing news that a recipe I entered via Baking Mad to appear in the 2012 Macmillan Little Book of Treats is going to be featured in the book which will be sold in M&S Cafe's in August and September.

I am overjoyed to say the least. May is turning out to be a bit of a surreal month, first I reached the finals for the BiB awards, and then the MAD awards and now this.

Apparently they loved my recipe & it's been tested by a home economist and professionally photographed ready to appear in the book. You don't need to wait until August to see it though as I can give you a special preview of my recipe here.


Millionaires Cheesecake

Base
125g Plain Flour
40g Golden Caster Sugar
90g Butter

Filling
50g Butter
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 x 397g can of Condensed Milk
300g Full Fat Cream Cheese
200ml Double Cream

Topping
100g Good Quality (72%) Dark Chocolate
125ml Double Cream
15g Milk Chocolate

To Make Base
  • Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Knead together to form a dough
  • Place a round metal cookie cutter (approx 7.5cm diameter) onto a greased baking tray
  • Take a 20g piece of the dough and press into the base of the cookie cutter
  • Press the remaining dough into the base of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin
  • Bake in a preheated 180o C oven for 15 minutes, until firm to touch and lightly browned (10 minutes for the small one)
  • Allow to cool in the tin.


Filling
  • In a small pan melt the butter, muscovado sugar and condensed milk.
  • Bring slowly to the boil, stirring continuously
  • Simmer until thickened, around 5 minutes, stirring all the time
  • Spoon 1tbs of the caramel onto the small base and smooth over
  • Reserve 175g of the caramel in a bowl, spooning the rest onto the large base and smooth over.
  • Allow to cool
  • Beat the cream cheese and reserved cooled caramel together in a large bowl
  • Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks and fold into the cream cheese and caramel mixture
  • Spoon onto the cooled caramel layer on the large base, place in the fridge to set
  • Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in short bursts.
  • Slowly stir in the double cream until smooth
  • Pour over the cheesecake and allow to set
  • Melt the milk chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in short bursts
  • Pour into the metal cookie cutter and spread over the caramel layer. Allow to set


To decorate
  • Press the mini millionaire's shortbread out of the cookie cutter ring and cut into small squares and scatter over the cheesecake


Serves 8


Millionaires Cheesecake


18th May 2012 - 139/366

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Today J spent some time in his Peppa Pig house looking at old photos of the rest of us, saying 'who's that?'

Dettol Jubilee No Touch Hand Wash

In honour of the Queen's Jubilee Dettol have gone all patriotic with their Limited Edition Union Jack themed No Touch Hand Wash System.


We have reviewed this clever soap dispenser before but this time around it comes with a removable Union Jack skin that you can easily slide off when all the celebrations are over. It not only looks good but the cucumber antibacterial handwash smells good too.


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The Union Jack version is available in select Morrisons & Ocado from May for a special price of £8.


I was sent the no touch handwash for the purpose of this review

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cheats Roast

My family love nothing more than a good roast dinner. Sadly it's not one of my favourite meals, possibly one of my least favourite and because of this, and the mountain of dirty pots and pans that remain afterwards, I don't often cook a full roast dinner.


When I received an email last week with a recipe included for a 'Cheats Roast' I chose not to hit delete straight away and read through the email and recipe. The recipe was devised by Junior's Pantry founder Kate Finch whose family, like mine, would eat a roast every day of the week. This is a quick, easy and economical way of giving them 'almost' a roast dinner without the mountain of pots and pans afterwards.


I changed the ingredients very slightly and this is my version of Cheats Roast :


1kg of Pork Loin Steaks
800g New Potatoes
600g Parsnips
300g Butternut squash
3 eating apples
2 large lemons
Handful of woody herbs, I used Rosemary & Thyme
4 tbsp Olive oil



  • Cut the chops/steaks lengthways
  • Chop the veggies into large chunks & core & quarter the apples
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemons & mix with the herbs and olive oil & season with black pepper
  • Toss everything together in a large roasting pan, throw in the lemon halves too (remove before eating!)
  • Roast in a 200 degree (C) oven for approx 1 hour (mixing a couple of times during the cooking), until all the meat & vegetables are brown
I made a gravy with the juices from the pan.


Total cost for this was under £10 and it served 3 large portions today with enough left over that I should be able to stretch between 2 or 3 tomorrow, along with a few extra veggies.


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Please vote for me ...

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012


this is NOT a sponsored post

17th May 2012 - 138/366

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We went for a walk / bike ride to see the cows after school today. J was very tired so he didn't want to ride home, but he insisted on carrying his bike himself!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

16th May 2012 - 137/366

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Sometimes it's liberating to do the cleaning in your underpants...

Chocolate Cake In a Mug

I've seen this recipe done before but never got around to making one. Last week the lovely Susan posted a recipe on her blog which prompted me to give it a go, actually I just let 9 year old H make it herself.


This is so easy and I can't believe we've never tried it before. You can find the recipe over on Susan's blog, which we followed exactly apart from the vanilla as we used vanilla caster sugar.


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It was baked in our 700w microwave for 3 minutes and was perfect. Whilst it was cooking it rose up an inch or more over the top of the mug but unfortunately I never got a photo and by the time I took it out it has deflated - the reason why I have never attempted a souffle.


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Please vote for me.....

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

Holland's Proper Pies and Puds

Last week when I was away we received a delivery of pies from Holland's. The husband thought Christmas had come early when he text me about them......until I informed him that he would need to wait until I came home or take the photos himself. He opted to wait to be on the safe side.


Holland's sell a range of proper pies, of the variety that you would be likely to find in your local chippy, and indeed possibly do. They also sell them in Supermarkets as well as online in their own shop.


I'm not a big pie eater myself, mainly because I've spent my whole life on a diet and pies tend to have a high calorie content considering some can be only quite small. However, for the purpose of research, I allowed myself to try a Peppered Steak Pie. I microwaved it as per the directions and although the pastry wasn't as crisp as it would be if I'd oven-baked it, it wasn't soggy. There was a few chunks of steak and thankfully no gristly bits and the sauce was nice & peppery.


The rest of the pies were eaten over the next few days by all the members of the family, although J only ate the sausage out of the sausage roll. They were all baked in the oven apart from the Steak & Kidney pudding which was steamed in a pan as directed. The favourite pie of both S & H was the Potato and Meat which tasted similar to that of a Cornish Pasty. Although all of the pies were really nice it was disappointing that they weren't as full and meaty as shown in the pictures, particularly the Potato & Meat which you can see from the picture on the website (below) is packed full of potato chunks but in reality was a bit empty in comparison.


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I have listed all the calories next to the names of the pies as I was quite surprised that the sausage roll was so high in calories compared to the rest, possibly to do with it having flaky pastry and the others had shortcrust. The Steak & Kidney pudding had the lowest calories in total as well as per 100g (195 cal / 9.3g fat) versus the sausage roll at 321 calories per 100g and 18.5g fat.

Taking the calories into consideration they're not something that we would eat an a regular basis but I wouldn't mind another of the Peppered Steak Pies to accompany some chippy chips once in a while.


I was sent a selection of pies for the purpose of this review.

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