The Crazy Kitchen: August 2017

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Join Swagbucks today and Earn up to 300 SB with SWAGO

I've been actively earning points called SB in a number of ways through the Swagbucks site since November. I usually spend half an hour or so at the beginning of each day answering surveys and watching videos to earn SB, and additional SB when I do online shopping or downloading new apps. Once I have enough SB I then exchange them for Mastercard gift cards, which I've been using to pay off a £300 Sainsbury's gift card with Park. I'm now well on the way to paying for our Christmas food and drink this Christmas, meaning there will be no hefty bills in January.

In addition to the Mastercard gift cards I occasionally exchange the SB for Amazon gift cards, and earlier in the year I used them to buy presents for my youngest's birthday, as well as tableware and party bag gifts for his party.

Swagbucks Swago
Swagbucks is holding their monthly Swago promotion starting which started on Monday. It's just like bingo, but in this case you're filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. 

If you're thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it.                   

The best part is that the points you get can be used to get free gift cards to places like Amazon, or PayPal cash!                    

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points - if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 300 SB bonus!                    

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you'll get a bonus 300 SB!

Striking a healthy balance with desserts

This blog is about everyday food for the everyday family, and whilst I usually blog about wholesome family meals that won't break the bank we do occasionally eat some not so wholesome meals. Also, I often share recipes on here for sweet treats,  and whilst I usually manage to balance out the sweet treats with something healthy, it's not always that easy, especially with teenagers  - they inhale sweet stuff when the get the chance, like it's their last meal.

Here's a guest post from foodie Sam W about striking a healthy balance with desserts

On the one hand the media are always going on about the danger of having too much sugar in your diet and I’ve even read about some families who have cut out sugar altogether! On the other hand you can’t move for desserts or sweet treats of one kind or another these days. Pop into the supermarket and you’re faced with impulse-buy “snack size” brownies. Stop off for petrol and you’re greeted by the smell of freshly baked pain au chocolate when you go in to pay!


Don’t get me wrong- there are some amazing desserts around in the UK now – those days of humble iced buns and dry old fruit cake are over. But the vast selection is a double-edged sword. It’s great to have such a wide choice, but it’s impossible to resist!

I wouldn’t ever cut out sugar altogether though. I mean, if we’re ever at a restaurant I’m definitely not the kind to stop the kids ordering a pud (a bit of indulgence is good for us), and we particularly love the desserts at Pizza Express. The salted caramel profiteroles and honeycomb cream slice they do there are absolutely incredible!

But for an everyday dinner at home, what I try and do is to keep the sugar levels down a bit. A nice little fruit selection sometimes goes down well, although not always… even if it’s cut up into cute little bite-size pieces! I’ll sometimes drizzle some honey over the apple to add a bit of sweetness and this helps.

Alternatively, a sure-fire hit is something like banana bread. It’s a nice compromise as it feels likes cake (frankly, it definitely still contains sugar) but it does have lots of fruity goodness in it as well. If you’re wondering… my go-to recipe for banana loaf is this one from good old Mary Berry. You can’t beat a classic!

Banana Bread

Now, before I leave you, there’s actually another confession I have to make….

There’s something I do which is a real guilty pleasure… ordering a dessert to be delivered to our door! It feels so lazy but so so good! Anyway, I saw the lovely baker and YouTuber Tanya Burr doing the very same at the end of her vlog the other day so at least I’m in good company! I’ll usually go with Deliveroo as they always have a good selection. One of my faves is frozen yoghurt as this feels ever so slightly less naughty than ice-cream. The worst of it is I sometimes wait till the kids are tucked up in bed! Now that’s what I call striking a balance!

frozen yogurt dessert

Thank you for the guest post Sam. The thought of salted caramel profiteroles, and doughnuts and ice cream delivered to the door is now making my mouth water, and I hope that Deliveroo will start delivering to this sleepy Staffordshire village sometime soon.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Sticky Chocolate Orange Flapjacks

Today I'm sharing another nice simple recipe that can be made with the kids to occupy them for a short while in the holidays. 

One made, the kids will then keep pestering you for a slice of flapjack whilst waiting for them to cool - take this opportunity to get them to help with a few chores around the house!

Sticky Chocolate Orange Flapjacks

Sticky Chocolate Orange Flapjacks

Sticky Chocolate Orange Flapjacks

A staggering 73% of Britons have admitted they were unhappy with the way they sit

According to a new study by Urban Massage, Britons are spending more than thirteen hours a day using electronic devices, which has led to 73% of those surveyed admitting that they are unhappy with the way that they sit. They are spending more than thirteen hours a day using electronic devices.

Latest figures, from an independent report by Urban Massage suggest that the average Brit now spends more than four hours a day glued to their smartphone and more than six hours a day using their laptop. These figures demonstrate the way in which technology and content consumption have changed in recent years.

Per the survey, we’re causing our bodies endless damage through bad posture that comes from using these devices. 60% of respondents admitted to sitting in a slouched position working at a desk, arching their back over their computer screen. 

As we sit at our desks, we’re prone to tilting our necks up and down which can stiffen the musculature and affect the movement of your head. Additionally, sitting on a chair that is not set at the correct height can cause lower back pain which can be prolonged if not rectified in time. Try daily stretches or installing a second computer screen that will promote good posture throughout the work day. 

Of those surveyed, only 27% were happy with their posture, and an incredible 64% of respondents collectively expressed that they believe that their technology use is damaging their posture and their health. However, most Britons don’t think about their posture when they’re sat in the office or slouching over their smartphones waiting for the train.

To conclude, the data demonstrates just how ingrained technology is in all our lives – and how damaging that can be for our bodies.

About Urban Massage
Urban Massage is a leading mobile massage platform that connects users to hundreds of professional massage therapists across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Paris and Vienna.

Find out more about Urban Massage and how booking a treatment via their platform can improve your posture and overall wellness by visiting

A staggering 73% of Britons have admitted they were unhappy with the way they sit

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

This summer has definitely not been a summer of hot days and warm evenings where you can enjoy plenty of family time sitting around in the garden. I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've spent enjoying a warm evening in the garden, and those were probably all in May, which is technically still spring. Thankfully we've still been able to enjoy lots of bbq food thanks to our gas bbq, which is great for cooking a family feast or just a few sausages for lunch, without any lengthy wait for coals to heat up.

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

We've enjoyed juicy steaks, chicken, kebabs and veggies on the bbq, and this week we enjoyed these extremely tasty racks of ribs. The recipe was created by TV chef Dean Edwards, in association with Bacofoil Original Kitchen Foil, and makes a nice change to the classic barbecue flavour of many ribs. The dry rub adds loads of flavour, and cooking them slowly in Bacofoil ensures they don't dry, and the meat falls right off the bone.

If my photos aren't enough to tempt you to make these ribs, then this video will.

If, like me, your bbq isn't really suitable for indirect slow cooking, then you can initially cook them in the oven for 90 minutes at 150°C before transferring to the bbq to finish off with the sticky glaze.

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

Serves the ribs on a large platter with a mound of Coronation Coleslaw, and let everyone dig in.

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

BBQ Indian Spiced Ribs with Sticky Ginger Glaze

a commissioned post for Bacofoil

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheel Pastries

School holidays are a time when the kids eat us out of house and home. They seem to be always hungry and as they all get up a different times here, the kitchen is being used constantly to prepare food. Despite having plenty of food in the fridge and cupboards they're always complaining that there's no food, yet what they really mean is that there's no 'instant food', apart from toast, cereal & fruit, which they live off mostly when they have to fend for themselves.

These pinwheels can almost be classed as 'instant food' as they take very little time to prepare. They're also pretty simple to make so the kids can make them by themselves, and as the recipe makes so many of them there may even be enough to last a couple of days!

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheels

Enjoy a couple of these for breakfast with your morning cuppa, have a couple more with your picnic lunch, and then finish off the day with a couple of warm ones with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheels

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheels

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheels

Chocolate & Banana Pinwheel Pastries

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Jalapeno and Tomato Hummus

I absolutely love hummus - or is it houmous? Does anyone actually know how to spell it? I've searched online and there seems to be a divided opinion. Supermarkets and the Jamie Oliver website use 'houmous', but recipes on the BBC website seem to favour 'hummus'. If you search Wikipedia for 'houmous' you're presented with the result for 'hummus', so it's all a bit confusing. Whichever it is, I love it anyway, and I'm sticking with hummus, as it's nice and straightforward.

Jalapeno and Tomato Hummus

Hummus is not only tasty, but is also very cheap and easy to make yourself. A can of chickpeas costs around 40p but if you use dried chickpeas (with an overnight soaking and a 30 minute boil) it's even cheaper, and makes a LOT of hummus. The beauty of making it yourself is that you can add whatever you like to it, depending on your taste preferences. I like tangy flavours, and this Jalapeno & Tomato hummus is given an extra tang with the addition of lime juice and pickled jalapenos. You can also add as much oil as you like, or replace it completely with lemon juice or water - I've even used a little coconut milk too! I drizzled this hummus with a little lemon flavoured olive oil, to give it even more tang.

If you don't like garlic or don't want to have a stinking garlic breath, then just leave it out, like I did here.

Jalapeno and Tomato Hummus

Served with a flatbread and veggie sticks this makes a great protein and veggie packed lunch.

Jalapeno and Tomato Hummus

Jalapeno and Tomato Hummus

Monday, 7 August 2017

5 Ways to Introduce Colour into Your Home with Glass

They say that a change is as good as a rest, and if this British 'summer' is making you feel a little restless then it may be time to spruce your home up a little and go for a bit of a change.

The problem can often be knowing where to start. If you have absolutely no idea what colour scheme or style to go for then magazines and websites are a good place to start. Pinterest is often my first point of call for inspiration but it's good to have an idea of what you're looking for otherwise you may become overwhelmed by the shear volume of ideas on there, and before you know it you've lost two days to 'DIY furniture hacks' or '49 clever storage solutions'.

An obvious solution to add colour to your home would be to paint the walls. A less obvious, more hardwearing, solution would be to use glass. Yes, glass.

Glass can be used in a number of ways; 5 of which I've looked at here.

Glass splashbacks are a simple way to add colour to your walls, as well as protecting them from water, cooking splashes and heat. They can be made to measure in a range of standard colours and designs, as well as your own custom designs. They're suitable to use in both kitchens and bathrooms, around sinks hobs, baths and showers.

kitchen glass splashbacks

Toughened glass is so durable, that it makes a great solution for kitchen worktops. It's heat resistant, which means you can put your pots straight onto it, without fear of damaging it. Best of all it can be created to your own specifications to fit a particular area, as well as co-ordinating with the rest of your kitchen. You could even add a bit of sparkle.

Stained Glass
Stained glass can add the wow factor to any home, whether it be a period home or state of the art. It can be used to create privacy in a bathroom window or front door, as well as making a feature of a room, and adding colour.

Wall Art
When you think of wall art you would probably think of a large canvas or print, but what if you could have your image printed directly onto toughened glass, in a size to suit your needs. Glass wall art can retain vibrant colours, as well as being easier to clean that a conventional piece of wall art.

Glass Chopping Boards
Hygienic and heat resistant glass boards come in a variety of colours, and are a perfect way to brighten up the dullest of kitchens, or complement the existing decor, at the same time as protecting your work surfaces.

For further splashback ideas or inspiration for the rest of your home & garden, follow my Pinterest boards :

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Serrano Ham & Chorizo Croquettes plus 10 more ways to enjoy Spanish Ham

If you've ever travelled to Spain for a holiday then you've more than likely encountered Jamon Iberico; a type of cured ham produced in Spain from Iberian pigs. Alternatively you may see it labelled as Pata Negra, or Jamon Serrano, with prices varying, depending on the classification of the ham. When buying ham from suppliers such as you'll find information relating to the pigs breed and origin, as well as the diet they've been fed on and the length of curing.  Bellota ham is some of the finest, and comes from pigs fed exclusively on a diet of acorns and cured for a minimum of 3 years.

You may see whole hams hanging up to cure and age, or on a ham stand in restaurants and bars, or conveniently sliced and diced ready for using in your favourite dishes and recipes. 

Whilst travelling to Spain, you've almost certainly sampled Tapas of some kind or another. Tapas can be a simple snack such as olives, cheese and Spanish ham, served with your wine or beer, or you can make it into a full meal by having an assortment of small dishes. One popular such Tapas dish is the Croquetas de Jamon, or Ham Croquettes, made with thinly sliced Spanish Ham and potato and then fried.

My recipe for croquettes also contains another popular export of Spain, Chorizo, which is a seasoned and cured sausage, used in many popular Spanish dishes, such as Paella. These are delicious on their own, with a squeeze of lemon and a side of chilli mayo or alioli (garlic mayonnaise), or as part of a main meal with a salad and some barbecued meat.

We just ate these as they were as nobody wanted to wait around!

Serrano Ham & Chorizo Croquettes

Serrano Ham & Chorizo Croquettes

Serrano Ham & Chorizo Croquettes

Spanish Ham

There are numerous ways to enjoy your Spanish Ham, whichever grade you choose, including the 10 ideas listed below, all of which you'll find links to from my Pinterest board : 

Goats cheese quiche with Serrano & figs
Roasted garlic guacamole and Serrano ham on toast
Iberico, Monchego & rocket bites
Iberico ham and garlic toasts
Smoked haddock, mustard butter sauce & Iberico ham
Seared scallops with Serrano ham
Ham & peach nibbles
Serrano wrapped pear with goats cheese
Pan fried figs, Serrano ham, cream cheese & walnuts on toast
Red leaf, fig and Serrano ham salad

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Gluten Free Family Meals with Schwartz

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I've mentioned briefly on this blog previously that I underwent a bit of a detox for around 10 days. During this detox I didn't consume any dairy products, added sugar, gluten or caffeine. I was really surprised that I wasn't craving bread, pasta or a good cup of coffee during this time.  

I know that cutting out certain food groups isn't always a good idea, but every so often I like to go Gluten free for a while. I find bread very addictive, but if I stay off it I don't miss it, become less bloated, and make the effort to eat a more varied diet with more fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses, as well as drinking a lot more water.

Following my detox, Schwartz contacted me to see if I would be interested in taking a 7 day gluten free challenge, and whereas I might have had reservations about being able to do it a few months ago, I knew now that it was easily feasible.

Schwartz, who are one of the largest producers of dried herbs, spices and seasonings, now have a range of gluten free spice packet mixes and sauces. Even if you're following a gluten free diet, whether by choice or out of necessity, you can still conveniently include spices and flavourings into your diet.

The range includes the following :
  • Fajitas
  • Chilli Con Carne
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Chicken Casserole
  • Cottage Pie
  • Cheese Sauce
  • Peppercorn Sauce
  • Gravy
As you can see, there is a good range to suit all tastes. I chose to use 6 of the 8 mixes over the 7 day challenge, in the following ways :

Day 1
Chicken Casserole with onions, carrots, peppers and tomatoes, served with a broccoli mash.

Day 2
I cooked up a double batch of chilli con carne and used half to fill baked potato skins, which I topped with the scooped out potato mashed with cheese & herbs. served with salad & sweetcorn.

Day 3
We had the remaining chilli con carne, and added some extra beans and tomatoes. I served this with rice for the rest of the family, and I had cauliflower rice with garlic & herbs. 

Day 4 
I used a spaghetti bolognese mix on this day to make a tomato and pepper sauce, in which I cooked some gluten free beef meatballs, served with chips and sweetcorn.

Day 5
This was perhaps my favourite meal of the challenge. I used the Schwartz Fajita mix, and instead of using it to make fajitas, I added it to pork mince, which I then piled into pepper halves, and baked them topped with sour cream and grated cheese. The fajita mix had a kind of Moroccan flavour, with the warming taste of cinnamon coming through.

Day 6
This was a very quick and easy dinner of boiled gammon, which I sliced up and served with mashed potato, peas and a cheese and onion sauce, made using the cheese sauce mix and pre cooked red onions and fresh parsley.

Day 7
Our final day was delayed by a day as we were busy enjoying ourselves at the village music festival, but it was worth waiting for. Myself and the husband enjoyed delicious pork steaks topped with gluten free peppercorn sauce, potatoes and roasted vegetables.

The week was a great success, with myself, the husband and children all enjoying the meals. The mixes are a great addition to the Schwartz range, and whether you are cutting out gluten due to coeliac disease or as a lifestyle choice, it's now possible to make these dishes safe in the knowledge that they're completely gluten free, but still enjoy the convenience that packet mixes give.

Gluten Free Family Meals with Schwartz

This post has been written in association with Schwartz


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