31 January 2012

Tune on Tuesday!

I was worried that this song was by Justin Bieber but thankfully it isn't and so I can therefore have it as my tune on Tuesday.

I love this song it is great and even my son has been having a little boogie to it!

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30 January 2012

Happy 1st Birthday

One year ago today my family was completed by the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

An open wound left by an awful birth and year after my son was born was finally healed by the amazing birth of my daughter.

So a big Happy 1st Birthday to my gorgeous girl, I love you more than you will ever know and you have made me smile every day, even on the bad ones!

And in case you didn't see them yesterday here are a few of the cakes I baked and iced for the occasion (there were 42 and it took me 2 hours!).

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27 January 2012

Favourite Recipe Friday - Spiced Beef Curry with Plums

This recipe I first found on the Welsh beef website, I have adapted how I do it because the first time I went to make it our weekly shop turned up without the Madras curry powder.

I now make the powder myself with a mixture of spices, I have included these but if you have the Madras then you can just use that.

Because of the sweetness of this curry my children enjoy it too, last night my 1 year old couldn't get enough of it and my 3 year old just loves rice.

The plums completely dissolve and the parsnips go very soft and hardly noticeable so even if you have some fruit or vegaphobes this should still be something the whole family will love ;)





Ingredients:
  • 450g (1lb) braising beef cubes
  • 1tablesoon Oil
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2tablespoons Madras curry powder (my spice mix 2 tsp cumin, 2tsp coriander, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp hot chilli powder, 1tsp fennel seeds, 1 clove)
  • 450ml (¾ pt) Beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Plum jam
  • 3 Ripe plums, cut in half and stones removed
  • 2 Parsnips, peeled and cut into wedges ( I have used carrotts before as I didn't have parsnips and these give it a really nice crunch.
Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180°C, 350°F.  
  2. Heat oil in a large oven proof pan or casserole pot. 
  3. Add the beef cubes and brown on all sides.  
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the curry powder and coat all the ingredients. 
  5. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, cover with lid or foil. Cook in preheated oven for 1½-2 hours until meat is tender and sauce thickened. 
  6. Serve with pilau rice.
This is a winner in our house and if there is any left over it tastes great the next day!
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24 January 2012

Today is a 'bad' day!

Although I don't officially suffer from PND this time round I still have bad days.

Dark days where I could just run away, or worse, drive the car into wall!

I try to stay positive but after weeks of sleep deprivation I am at the end of my tether today.

Everything winds me up, I can lose it over nothing. I tend to turn into a snarling grot bag muttering profanities to myself!

I think I need a good cry and scream but where am I supposed to do this? I think I've said this before I need a special place I do do this!

Would anyone else pay for a place like this? You know a place you can listen to a song 'loud', dance, scream do whatever you need just to release tension!

As long as this bad day doesn't turn into a bad week I'll be OK, but today it feels like the light isn't on at the end of the tunnel.

My room is full and no matter how loud I scream no one can hear me :(
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21 January 2012

How time flies!

This time last year I was heavily pregnant, full of pineapple, raspberry leaf tea and overdue!

Everyday I walked up the huge hills around where we live and cleaned like a mad woman just to try and get labour started, twelve days overdue she arrived.

A week on Monday my daughter is one, I cannot believe how quickly this last year has gone.

I have smiled everyday since having her and she has completed my life, healing some very raw wounds left by the birth of my son.

Here is to my daughter and the miracle that is birth, love you little lady :)
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20 January 2012

Chicken, Chorizo and Mozzarella Recipe

I made this last night and I can safely say it is easy and super tasty, which is why it has quickly become one of my favourite recipes (since we bought nearly a kilo of chorizo that was going cheap in Sainsbury's just before Christmas anyway).

Ingredients: Serves 4
  • 4 chicken breast fillets
  • 12 slices chorizo (you could use ham instead)
  • 125g mozzarella, sliced into 4
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
 Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6.
2. Make a cut down one side of each chicken breast and open out. Cover with clingfilm and beat with a rolling pin to flatten out.
3. Lay 3 slices of chorizo on each breast then top with a slice of mozzarella. Season with pepper and fold over to cover the filling. Secure with a few cocktail sticks or small metal skewer.

4. Season the egg and dip each chicken breast into the egg, or as I tend to do just get your hands in and smother the egg over the chicken (stops it falling apart), then coat with the breadcrumbs.

5. Place the coated breasts on a baking tray, sprinkle with the oil and cook in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden and cooked through, turning once during cooking.

6. I usually serve with some wedges or a green salad.
    This recipe is really simple to make for 1 or 2 people you just need to quarter/half the ingredients, it's not one of the cheaper meals you could make but it looks impressive. If you are making a pizza any time and you have some left over chorizo and mozzarella this is perfect for using them up.
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    18 January 2012

    Birthday Cupcakes

    It is my daughters first birthday in a few weeks and I all I have ready is the church hall we are having it in.

    So at the weekend I gave making some birthday cupcakes a go, they came out looking pretty good! Not as good as a professional by any stretch of the imagination but still for an amateur I think they look OK.

    The recipes I used to make these masterpieces are:

    For the cakes I use the basic Be-Ro Victoria Sponge recipe, super simple and usually works every time. I use the all in one method of just bunging everything in the food mixer.

    For the icing I used a simple buttercream recipe, it needs to be a good piping consistency, too dry and it will crack too wet and it won't pipe and just run!

    I then used a Wilton 1M nozzle and pipe to make a swirl, starting from the outside and working inwards, a demo of this can be found on the Wilton website.

    I have found some sprinkles on a few websites but have been looking for some that don't contain any E numbers, last thing I need is loads of hyperactive children running about!

    Anyway the result is this...

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    17 January 2012

    Yummy Mummy Week for Clic Sargent

    I had a phone call today asking if I could put some posters up in the shop, sadly I can't as we are online only but I decided that I would do my bit to raise awareness of the week anyway.

    It is called Yummy Mummy week and is raising money for Clic Sargent, a brilliant charity for children and young people with cancer.

    If you are part of a nursery group then they have a pack for nurseries or if you are part of a coffee morning then please have a look to see if there is anything you can do. It is a great way to raise money for a charity so many of us hope we will never have to call on but sadly so many have to.

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    16 January 2012

    Foody finds!

    So back in November you may remember I visited the Good Food Show, I said I would write up what other lovely bits I managed to buy and here it is.

    They are small independent brands which you will only find in a handful of stores, they take pride in what they sell and I love that. As you know I am all for supporting small and independent businesses wherever possible.

    Firstly I bought a pack of Trees Can't Dance hot selection chilli sauces for my husband. He loves anything spicy, in fact if it doesn't blow your head off it simply isn't hot enough!


    I am not normally one for too much spice but the Smoky Chipotle sauce in the pack was gorgeous. Not too much heat, just enough to tickle your lips and the smoky taste is wonderful, especially with some wedges.

    I can't give my opinion on the others as I cannot taste them they are so hot to me, but my husband seems to like them as they are nearly all gone ;)

    The next thing I bought, which I had sampled in the press room, was this gorgeous Lemon and Mint cordial from Five Valleys Cordials. It is so minty and um...lemony but seriously it is gorgeous, like a alcohol free Mojito, perfect for summer.

    I also bought some of the Apricot and Ginger, it was served warm and is perfect as a winter warmer when getting back home from a walk or instead of our usual coffee in the flask when out and about.

    These really are superb and if you can find locally a really nice grown up cordial of which a little goes a long way, I believe they do sell in Waitrose so do have a look.


    There were so many more things that I didn't get to try, with a pushchair it was just so difficult to get around. However if you have a look on the Good Food Show's website at the exhibitors list you might see something you fancy the choice was endless!

    For me if I could have got in front of the massive queue I would have been buying some gorgeous Scotch Eggs from the Handmade Scotch Egg Company! Drools!
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    14 January 2012

    More than just education?!?

    If you follow my blog you may have seen that we have recently been looking at schools for our son.

    My husband visited one yesterday that was in his words 'the one' only problem is it is oversubscribed and out of our catchment.

    But this is by the by, the point of this post is what the head teacher of the school said to my husband.

    He said that any of the schools we were putting down would be good, however our son already had a great start because we are obviously caring parents, who have taken the time to check the schools we are considering sending our child to.

    He said that for some children the school day was probably the only time they got any attention and hugs and this made me feel awful.

    The very thought that a child might not get a hug from a mummy or daddy, nana or grandpa or anyone for that matter is beyond comprehension.

    I sometimes shout at my son for not taking care of his toys or hurting his sister but the utter guilt I feel afterwards makes me hurt inside, I find it so difficult and heart breaking to think that this would be any different!

    But chances are there is a child that went to sleep tonight feeling unloved and lonely.

    Until now I have never thought about a school offering more than education, to offer a child hope in an environment where they can thrive and know that someone does care for them can only be good for society.

    I lay with my son tonight as he fell to sleep and I couldn't imagine how I could feel any different about him, he is my life and watching him and my daughter grow and thrive is all I live for.

    I cant help but well up every time I think about what he said...I just think everyone deserves a hug, especially a child!
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    13 January 2012

    Favourite Recipe Friday - Simple Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

    Being a busy mum sometimes I just need something quick and easy to make that the whole family will enjoy whilst incorporating at least one veg ;)

    This recipe is a simple one, the ingredients can be kept in the freezer or store cupboard so it is perfect as an emergency tea, it's also pretty cheap.

    Ingredients:

    350g Pasta (I use penne but if you have shapes for the kids thats great)
    450g Sausages (you can replace with vegetarian sausages)
    175g Broccoli (I always have a pack of frozen broccoli in the freezer)
    6 tablespoons of Cream
    2 tablespoons Wholegrain Mustard
    1 Red Onion peeled and sliced
    1 tablespoon Olive Oil
    15g Butter

    Method:

    1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta accoding to the instructions. Add in the broccoli 5 minutes before the end.
    2. Meanwhile, grill (or fry if you prefer not to get your grill dirty) until cooked through.
    3. Melt the butter and oil and fry the onions until golden and soft.
    4. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pan. Cut the sausages into slices and add to the pan along with the onions and season.
    5. Over a low heat add the cream and mustard and stir through until everything is nice and hot.

    If you don't think your children will like the cream and mustard then what you can do is split the sausage, broccoli and pasta mixture before you add it and then halve the amount of cream and mustard you add.

    You can spice up the dish with some sweet chilli sausages and if like the last time I made this don't have broccoli my other freezer staple peas are also great.

    It really is a homely and warming lunch or tea and is super quick and easy, the best thing about it is you can play around with the ingredients until you know what works best for you.

    Favourite Recipe Friday
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    10 January 2012

    A cake called Herman!

    Ok so this sounds like I have gone completely mental, but for the least few weeks I have been looking after Herman.

    He is a friendship cake my mum gave me that she was given by a friend at work, where it came from before that I don't know.

    I think I remember my mum doing one of these years ago, they are really easy to start off and have travelled the world apparently, with people sneaking them through customs to pass onto friends in other countries.

    He is very easy to start and is the cake equivalent of a chain letter, I started doing some searching on the internet and found a few sites with how to start him off so here goes...


    Ingredients:
    • 460g flour
    • 500ml milk
    • 230g sugar
    • 90ml warm water
    • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
    1. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the warm water
    2. Sprinkle the yeast over this and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes to double in size
    3. Mix the milk, sugar, flour and yeast mixture in a large bowl, stir using a wooden spoon
    4. Cover loosely
    5. Place in a warm place and stir every day as per instructions, starting at day one.

    The following is the instructions that you give each of your four recipients of the cake mixture but first you need to go through the following process before parting with the little Hermans.

    This is how it looked when I received it
    Herman the Friendship Cake

    If you would like to spread a little friendship follow through instructions below and at end of 10 days you will have a cake to eat and four starter kits to pass on.

    If you cannot wait to have your cake and eat it, go straight to day 10, but you will forego the opportunity to pass on some friendship.

    * Leave me on the worktop NOT in the fridge - if i'm not bubbling....i'm dead!
    * Cover pot/container loosely - I need to breath


    Day 1 - Stir well
    Day 2 - Stir well
    Day 3 - Stir well
    Day 4 - feed...add
    • 100g plain flour
    • 200g sugar
    • 8oz milk (room temp)
    Each day it should puff up several times it's original size

    Day 5 - Stir well
    Day 6 - Stir well
    Day 7 - Stir well
    Day 8 - Stir well
    Day 9 - Feed...same as Day 4, then split into 5 equal portions and give 4 away.
    Day 10 - Feed...
    • 200g plain flour
    • 200g sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 7floz cooking oil
    • 2tsp vanilla extract
    • 2tsp baking powder
    • 2tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 diced apples
    • 1/2 cup of nuts (I use flaked almonds)
    • 1 cup of sultanas or rasins
    * Mix into a sloppy dough
    * Bake at 180c for 45 minutes in a greased baking tin (I use a loaf but a round one is fine too)
    * Leave to cool in the tin

    Optional... sprinkle with sugar and melted butter before cooking


    Gorgeous! You just have to leave in the tin to cool down!

    This gorgeous and moist cake smells and tastes lovely!

    Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee!
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    6 January 2012

    Favourite Recipe Friday - Chilli Con Turkey

    I mentioned this in a recent blog post and I just had to share it again in case anyone has any left over turkey still hidden in the freezer or in case you spot any on offer.

    Turkey goes a long way, especially if there is only a few of you! You can make a roast dinner, pie, have it in sandwiches and then this frankly splendiferous and most yummy of dishes.

    From the culinary talents of Jamie Oliver this is one of the brightest and tastiest meals ever and was loved by my three year old and 11 month old too.


     Ingredients:

    • olive oil
    • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
    • 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
    • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
    • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    • a bunch of fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves picked
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
    • optional: 1 heaped teaspoon runny honey
    • optional: 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 600g leftover turkey, shredded
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
    • 1 x 400g tin butter beans or chickpeas, drained ( I use butter beans as personally prefer them)
    • juice of 2 limes
    soured cream, to serve


    Method:

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Heat a few lugs of olive oil in a large casserole-type pan on a medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, leek, peppers and chillies, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the coriander stalks, cumin and paprika, and cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring frequently until soft and delicious. Sometimes I like to add some honey and white wine vinegar at this point and let it cook for a couple of minutes. I find this adds a wonderful sheen and enhances the natural sweetness of the vegetables. 

    While that’s happening, shred the turkey meat off your carcass and roughly chop it. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pan of vegetables, then add the turkey and take the pan off the heat. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas or butter beans and stir everything together. Pop it in the hot oven to blip away for 2 hours. Check on it after an hour, and add a splash of water if it looks a bit dry.

    Take the chilli out of the oven and scrape all the gnarly bits from the edge of the pan back into the chilli for added flavour. Squeeze in some lime juice, and stir through most of the coriander leaves. Have a taste to check the seasoning then serve with steamed basmati rice or tortillas, and a good dollop of sour cream and guacamole on top. Scatter over your remaining coriander leaves and some finely sliced fresh chilli if you fancy then get everyone to tuck in.
     


    I love this recipe because you can use whatever you have in the fridge/cupboard really and flavour it however you want. The colours are amazing with all of the fresh vegetables, we had this for three days running and it never got boring. 

    The fact that my children like it just goes to show how nice it really is and that it doesn't have to be too spicy.

    Favourite Recipe Friday
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    5 January 2012

    The school saga continues!

    So I mentioned a few weeks ago that we are currently going through the process of choosing my sons school for September. Really has nothing stressed me more than this!

    Not just because I am pretty sure he won’t get into any of the schools we want, but because of the way it is handled.

    How awful that you choose six schools and then wait for several weeks before opening an email or letter that makes or breaks yours and your child’s entire world.

    This is worse than waiting for my exam results, this is life changing! Truly I feel more sick about this than I did when I went for my 12 week scan for my daughter after we suffered a miscarriage the time previous.

    How they can do this to parents is beyond comprehension, I know everyone goes through the same. But surely rather than it being this way something should just be done to improve all schools (ok, ok I’m living in a dream world) but I don’t remember my parents going through this.

    My husband’s parents obviously did as they sent him to a private school, I am that worried about the school in our area we have looked into a private school, but without crippling ourselves financially it isn’t possible!

    My little boy is so just so wonderfully lovely I would hate for him to be put somewhere horrible, I am holding onto the fact that a mum I met on a visit round another school was in the same position. So maybe it isn’t all bad and there will be other parents in the same situation and our children will find each other.

    Fingers crossed that there aren’t many 4 year olds in the areas we are looking into, I am going to look round our catchment area school next week and am hoping it isn’t as bad as it seems from the outside!

    Mmm excuse any bad grammar, lack of punctuation etc. This was written in my lunch break as I'm back at work. But that's another story!!!
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    3 January 2012

    Back to work...sad face!

    So this week I have to go back to work, this is not a choice but a necessity.

    After suffering with PND when my son was born I think I needed work, but with two children and knowing this is my second and last one I can't face leaving my daughter!

    I haven't stopped smiling at my her since the day she was born, she is such a sweetie and the thought of not being with her every day is seriously breaking my heart!

    I am so angry at me and my husband for getting ourselves into debt because if we didn't have it I could be a stay at home mum.

    But these are debts we've had hanging over our heads for years and one led to another that lead to another and now I think it has hit home!

    I don't know where I'm going with this but just had to put my feelings down :(

    I just know I feel awful, sick, stupid and so so angry!

    But I have to face facts, there is nothing I can do. I know she's in safe hands at nursery with the people who have looked after and have helped shape my truly wonderful little boy.

    Hopefully now we have a plan this might only be a temporary situation.

    After all if my son can't get into a school with before/after school club working in the day might not be an option! But that's another story!






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