The Crazy Kitchen: April 2017

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Friday, 28 April 2017

Creating a Desk area out of an Unusable Space

A few years ago we knocked the utility room out of our relatively small kitchen and extended the kitchen out into a conservatory. Whilst we now have a pretty large kitchen/family room space there isn't a great deal of workspace. There's enough for cooking and prepping food as we also have an island, but I longed for somewhere to organise our lives. I needed a little desk area to keep the family diary, letters from school, the wheelie bin calendar, and other general bits and bobs, without taking up a much needed area of worktop.

A couple of years ago I made a memo board wall, but as it was mostly behind the kitchen door it didn't really work for me, and there still wasn't anywhere to keep the diary apart from in the hallway, and I kept forgetting to look in it!

I then came up with the genius idea to change the opening of the kitchen door. Instead of opening into the kitchen, it would open out into the hallway, freeing up that unusable kitchen wall which would no longer be hidden behind the door. We did similar in our ensuite bathroom last year, and it made a huge difference to the space, making it feel so much larger.

I found a local chippie on Checkatrade, who changed the opening and refitted a new door for £40, enabling us to fit a shelf to the kitchen wall. A few accessories were purchased, and I now have a handy shelf for all our paperwork and reminders, plus somewhere to hang school artwork.

Creating a Desk area out of an Unusable Space

Creating a Desk area out of an Unusable Space

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Creating a Desk area out of an Unusable Space

Copper Clock : John Lewis
Wire Memo frame : Maisons du Monde
Stacking mugs : Waitrose
Memo pad & Notebook : Sainsburys
Copper beaker : Sainsburys
Copper bulldog clips in jar : Sainsburys
Copper tealight holder - New Look
Copper vase : Tesco
Shelf & Brackets : Ikea
Half glazed door : B&Q

Creating a Desk area out of an Unusable Space

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

6 Tasty Family Meals Using Your Leftover Roasts

According to the government agency WRAP, UK households waste around £700 worth of food per family every year. I know that my family doesn't waste anywhere near this figure, so that means that there are other families out there that waste our share too - over £100 of all the food they buy each month goes in the bin. 

For me, it makes sense to meal plan.  It also makes sense to keep excess food such as bread and crumpets in the freezer. We then only take out what we need to use as and when we need it, avoiding any waste. Buying ready sliced frozen vegetables such as peppers, onions and mushrooms, also helps avoid waste, as well as being extremely convenient to use in cooking.

6 Tasty Family Meals Using Your Leftover Roasts

Before I shop (either online or in store) I make a list of 6 main meals that we'll be eating over the coming week, and then buy everything I need that I don't already have in the cupboards. I don't necessarily plan for us to eat a specific meal on a specific day as that often depends on the use by dates, as well as who will actually be at home. With two teenagers in the house, plans for family meals can quickly go out of the window when an offer of 'bowling and Nando's' comes in. This also means that we sometimes have leftovers (hence only 6 meals on the planner). Whilst some families don't like reheating foods later or the following day, this is something that I often do. Meals are plated up, covered over and reheated in the microwave later, or used as a base for another meal the following day - it's easy enough to slice a couple of cooked chicken breasts up, add them to pasta or rice, throw in some veg, and end up with a family meal for five.

I'm currently working with Iceland on a campaign to try and reduce the amount of waste that households produce. You may have seen the ad for their new 'Buy me frozen, Keep me chilled' World Famous range :

The idea is that you buy these delicious pre-cooked dishes frozen, then take them home and either pop them back into your freezer to use at a later date, or keep them in your fridge for up to 7 days, and have them ready to cook whenever you want, without the need to wait for defrosting.

With 7 dishes in the World Famous range, there is something for all tastes. For my family I chose to incorporate the Texan Down n Dirty Beef Brisket, Lamb Shanks in Mint & Rosemary Gravy, and the Mississippi Smoked Pulled Pork into our weekly meal plan in the following ways, to show that with a little imagination leftovers can form the basis of another delicious meal. Each dish served 4 people and was made using half a pack of the World Famous meats, making them an ideal way to use up any leftovers, however small they may be.

6 Tasty Family Meals Using Your Leftover Roasts

You can find photos of the finished dishes over on my Instagram feed, and the full recipe for the Lamb & Feta Pita Pizzas below.

What's your favourite way to use leftovers?

What are you doing to avoid food waste?

Do you have any tips to share?

6 Tasty Family Meals Using Your Leftover Roasts

Hijacked By Twins

a commissioned post for Iceland Foods #PowerofFrozen

Monday, 10 April 2017

Last Minute Easter Treats

There's only a few days until Easter but there's still plenty of time to bake some Easter treats. I've gathered together a few ideas for last minute Easter treats that you can keep the kids busy with this week.

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Chocolate Pretzel Easter Nests

Mini Egg Cookies - Makes approx 16 large cookies

115g Butter, softened
230g Caster sugar
35g Golden syrup
1 Egg
230g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
100g Chocolate Mini eggs
  • Beat the butter and sugar together
  • Mix in the golden syrup & egg
  • Stir the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the butter/sugar mixture
  • Mix well, adding the mini eggs just as the mixture starts to come together
  • Roll mixture into balls (heaped tbsp) and place on a greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  • Bake in a preheated 170 C oven for approx 10 minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack
  • Store in an airtight container
Mini Egg Cookies

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For more Easter baking inspiration follow my Seasonal recipes Pinterest board:

Last Minute Easter Treats - Baking with kids

10 Spanish Style Kitchens Design Ideas

If you’re thinking of redesigning or refurbishing the kitchen in a Spanish home, it makes sense to keep that Mediterranean feel and retain some of those gorgeous original Spanish features that are already there. Talk to your kitchen designers about keeping (or adding) all those rustic touches, bold colours, Saltillo-tiled (terra cotta) floors and wooden beams that are the essence of a Spanish kitchen.

Spanish design is made up of a mix of natural materials in vivid, bold colours and decorative antique items. Walls can be painted deep blue, rich red, dark green – even a deep yellow. Genuine Spanish-style kitchens have wall and/or floor surfaces of brightly-coloured patterned tiles, ceramic backsplash tiles in rosette patterns, or hand-painted in vivid oranges and blues.

Earthy tones and the use of dark woods (ceiling beams and counter tops) are a hallmark of the early Spanish hacienda style, as are terracotta tiles and ornate wrought iron light fittings and sconces. Backsplashes of bold patterned mosaic tiles in golden yellow or bright blue resemble the colourful, rustic Spanish haciendas of days gone by. Wrought iron handles, knobs, racks and hooks add an authentic touch, as do open shelves with antique pottery, paella pans, dishware, espresso pots, bottles of Spanish olive oil, and bunches of sweet-smelling herbs. 

For a slightly modern touch that’s still in keeping, why not have your kitchen designers fit a central island with a dark wood top and an under-mount sink? Although appliances like stainless steel American double-door fridges, hobs and dishwashers, hammered copper sinks, and brightly-coloured ranges with hoods, are ultra-modern, they provide a wonderful contrast. 
10 Spanish Style Kitchens Design Ideas

If you’re looking for specific, practical advice, here are 10 design ideas inspired by Promas kitchen designers, that will help you remodel your kitchen in an authentic Spanish hacienda or colonial style.

Give your cabinets some age
Try to find some old, traditional kitchen cabinets at a second hand Spanish market or antiques fair, or make your own cabinets look old by using distressed wood. Knots in the wood and imperfect lines are perfect for a Spanish style kitchen. Choose knotty pine, or alder, and bring the natural grain to the fore with stains that are the colour of dark honey or hazelnut.

Saltillo-tiled floors
Saltillo tiles, or terracotta tiles, with their warmth, rough textures and patinas, are as traditional as Spain itself. A must-have in your Spanish-styled kitchen.

Wood and stone – a great combination
Your kitchen may already have a ceiling of natural stone or intricate brickwork and dark wooden beams. In which case, don’t change a thing.
10 Spanish Style Kitchens Design Ideas

Get rustic
Rustic stone walls add warmth and a lovely tactile texture to your kitchen. They’ll also contrast beautifully with your distressed cabinets and your sleek, modern kitchen appliances. To finish off the look, use traditional, brightly-coloured tiles for the backsplash and as the backing for any open shelving or small alcove arches.

Construct an arch
If there isn’t one already, you might like to create an archway. This is another Spanish and Mediterranean architectural design feature, and it’s a great way to divide the cooking and dining areas. Smaller arches for niche storage areas are also a nice touch.

Kitchen shelving
Open kitchen shelves are in keeping with the Spanish way, especially wooden shelves that are intricately carved. They provide easy access for all the kitchen items you regularly use.

Get creative with your cooker hood
The hood of your kitchen stove or range is definitely a major focal point. So why not take it up a notch and add an intricately carved wood panel, or fit a wood trim using old, reclaimed timber, or even add some intricate Spanish or Mexican tile designs.

A stylish sink with a rich patina
The distinctive appeal and rich patina of a gorgeous hand-beaten copper sink will lift your otherwise simple rustic kitchen to a new level.

Warm up the kitchen with a fireplace
A blazing fire is just the thing to add cosiness and warmth to the kitchen in the cold Spanish winters. A Spanish-style fireplace together with banco seating turns the room into a relaxing and welcoming gathering, and eating, place for family and old friends.

10 Spanish Style Kitchens Design Ideas

Antique iron pieces
Iron sconces are a great idea for lighting accents in Spanish-style kitchens. Have them connected to dimmer switches and turn these down to create the perfect atmosphere when serving tasty dishes to friends and family. You could also complement your sconces with other antique Spanish wrought iron pieces like candelabras and drop lights.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Creamy Broccoli Soup - Slimming World Friendly Recipe

We are a family of soup lovers here. My youngest will often ask for a bowl of tomato soup for dinner, especially if it's accompanied by a few slices of home made bread. As well as being a hearty meal, it's a great way to get some extra veggies into our diets, which can be especially difficult with teens.

Having soup for lunch is also a great way to feel satisfied at lunchtime when I'm watching what I eat. I'm currently following the Slimming World plan, albeit intermittently at times (in between wine weekends and Wispa Wednesday), and this soup is not only easy to make, it's also very satisfying and doesn't make me feel like I'm eating diet food, as it's so rich and creamy.

Creamy Broccoli Soup - Slimming World Friendly Recipe

Know your salad greens

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to think green. From picnics to packed lunches, BBQs to intimate al fresco dining, salads are an indisputable summer staple. The good news is that there’s now such a wide variety of lettuce leaves available that no two salads need ever be the same!
Whether you shop at a supermarket or your local farmer’s market, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a wonderful selection of lettuces and salad greens, some of which are so exotic you may have never heard of them before. Even better, many salad greens are easy to grow yourself. For the best selection of lettuce seeds, consult a reputable garden centre or buy online from a specialist seed supplier such as Seed Parade.
For lettuce ‘learners’ or anyone wishing to broaden their salad green knowledge base, we’ve put together a handy overview of 10 types of leaves you’re likely to encounter. Whether you’re looking for sweet or bitter tastes, and soft or crunchy textures, there are many delicious varieties out there to satisfy every taste.
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Chocolate Crispy Easter Egg with a Hidden Creme Egg

With many children already finished school for the Easter holidays, and others (like ours) finishing at the end of this week, there's still plenty of time to for Easter baking and crafts. You will find plenty of inspiration for baking and yummy Easter treats in my seasonal Pinterest board. These Chocolate Crispy Easter Eggs are one of many simple recipe ideas that you can make with the kids, whatever your cooking ability. 

Chocolate Crispy Easter Egg with a Hidden Creme Egg

5 historic kitchens you simply must see

Kitchens today have come a long way. If you’re the custodian of a historic property or country estate, your kitchen would have looked very different when it was first built. Period properties reflect societal norms and the way of life back then – and the kitchen is a prime illustration of social history.

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