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......
Monday, 30 July 2012
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.
garlic clove, crushed
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.
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
Sunday, 29 July 2012
115g Stork Baking liquid115g Caster sugar
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.
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.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
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.
150g Caster Sugar
150ml Sunflower oil
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
Friday, 27 July 2012
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.
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
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
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!
Sunday, 22 July 2012
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.......
I bought unpainted plywood hearts with pre-drilled holes in and smaller plywood hearts off Ebay.
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.
He had fun making a tower and a train, which was apparently driven by the post lady, taking parcels to Postman Pat.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
Friday, 20 July 2012
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.
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).
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].
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.
We were sent a box of Rice Krispies and the colouring case for this challenge