Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Childless Lunch Date!

Yesterday the hubby and I enjoyed a rare childless lunch date.

My mum and dad had the three children so that we could have a few hours, just the two of us!
This is something that we do not get very often so when we do we really do treasure the time that we get!

As much as we love and adore our children it is lovely to have a break and be able to devote our time to each other instead of rushing around the kids.

We took the children down to my mum and dads just in time for their mid morning nap and off we set.

We had planned to go to a local pub for a meal as they do the good old bargain meals 2 for £10. However when we got there it was packed so we had to change our plans and we went to Frankie and Benny's.

In fact our local Frankie and Benny's is where my hubby proposed to me so it is quite a special place for us.

Whenever we go there or even just drive past, remembering the night he proposed makes me smile.
We had only been together for 4 months but we both knew that it was meant to be! I found out afterwards that hubby had planed to ask me to marry him while we were enjoying our meal but decided against it when he saw how the lights died down and congratulations music came blaring out for someones birthday. So instead he gave me the most beautiful ring and asked me to marry him in the car park. I couldn't speak I was so overjoyed so I just screamed at him and cried! So since that wonderful night whenever we get some time to ourselves we love to go there to eat.

We enjoyed a lovely, relaxed meal together. We even managed a stroll around the shops afterwards, this really was a treat!

To finish off the day, once all of the children were tucked up in bed, we settled down with some delicious Italian meats, cheeses and a bottle of wine!

I know that it will be a while until we get time together like this again so I treasure the time we do get.

But we do have two more planned for the new year!

In March we are going to the Cake and Bake show! Yes I managed to pursued my hubby to come along with me!

Then in May we will be having our first night away, alone, since the twins were born when we go and see Paul Hollywood's Get Your Bake On show! This really will be a big deal for us! I am really excited to see the show and cannot wait but I am also really looking forward to a full nights sleep and a lie in!

The new year is bringing some times that we will treasure!

My Blipfoto for yesterday is a picture of the hubby and I whilst out and about!
http://www.blipfoto.com/HijackedByTwins

Monday, 30 December 2013

Tipsy Mincemeat Streusel

Another recipe that really stood out for me on the Christmas Great British Bake Off Masterclass was Mary Berry's Streusel.
This is a bake that I had never heard of but immediately knew that I had to make it, well, make my version of it!
As I already had my homemade tipsy mincemeat I wanted to find different ways to use it and not just make the typical mincepies.
I made my own sweet pastry base using my regular recipe, however to add a little more of Christmas flavours I have added 4 teaspoons of muling syrup.
Mary Berry's recipe can be found at
This is what I got...
 
Tipsy Mincemeat Streusel
 
Ingredients
 
Sweet Pastry
 
165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg
4 tspn mulling syrup
 
Filling
 
Tipsy Mincemeat (see post http://hijackedbytwins.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/tipsy-mincemeat.html for the recipe)
 
Topping
 
75g self raising flour
40g semolina
40g caster sugar
75g melted butter
 
Method
 
1 - To make the pastry place the flour, butter, ground almonds and caster sugar into a food processor and blitz until you have a bread crumb consistency
 
2 - Add the egg and the mulling syrup and blitz until the ingredients are coming together, if needed add a little water
 
3 - Remove from the food processor and bring together, wrap in cling film ad chill for at least 3 hours, I left mine in the fridge over night and found that I had a lovely manageable pastry
 
4 - When your pastry is ready pre heat the oven to 180C (fan)
 
5 - To make the topping mix together the flour, semolina and caster sugar
 
6 - Add the cooled melted butter and bring together
 
7 - Once you have a dough like texture wrap in cling film and place in the freezer. The more solid the better as it is easier to work with!
 
8 - Roll out the pastry to the size to line a small baking tray or Swiss roll tin
 
9 - Line the tin with the pastry and add your mincemeat
 
10 - Take the topping out of the freezer and grate the block, sprinkle the grated topping over the mincemeat
 
11 - Place in the pre heated oven and bake for 25 minutes
 
12 - When it is baked leave to cool slightly before cutting and serving
 
This streusel is delicious served warm with a little brandy butter but equally as nice a couple of days later cold! Just keep in an air tight container to help keep some of the crunch!
Enjoy x
 
 
 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and the lovely Helen at The Crazy Kitchen

 
mummy mishaps

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Blipfoto

I am now on blipfoto!!!

I am joining in with blogger365 where I will be posting a picture a day during 2014 on my blipfoto page.
The challenge, which I am sure it will be just remembering to get snapping, will start on 1st January. I decided it would be fun to take part as I think that it'll be great to look over at the end of the year and remember what the year entailed.
So what will my pictures be of?
I am sure that there will be plenty of pictures of my baking, food and of course my beautiful children.
I will be sharing my years journey and hope that I don't miss a day!
 
You can follow my year in pictures by following the link below
 
 

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Whisky Christmas Cake

I decided to make two types of Christmas cake this year.
This is for 2 reasons. The first being for different tastes, but the second was to see which cake is better!
I followed a traditional fruit recipe for the sherry cakes but only used mixed fruit and cranberries in the whisky cake. I found that using the mixed fruit is just as good as adding the individual fruit but it is also more cost effective and saved a lot of money!
My hubby does not like cherries so that is why I changed the cherries to cranberries. But I also find that cranberries are more flavoursome than cherries.
This is what I got...
 
Whisky Christmas Cake
 
Ingredients

1.2kg mixed fruit with candied peel
200g dried cranberries
200ml whisky
Zest of 1 orange
250g butter, softened
250g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 tbsp black treacle
85g flaked almonds
75g self raising flour
175g plain flour
2 tspn mixed spice

Method

1 - Place the mixed fruit and cranberries in a container and pour over the whisky. Cover and leave for 1 week remembering to stir daily!

Pre heat the oven to 120C

2 - Place the butter, eggs, sugar, treacle into a bowl and mix well

3 - Add in the flaked almonds and continue to mix

4 - Sift in the flours, add the mixed spice and continue to mix until all of the ingredients are evenly combined

5 - Stir in the soaked fruit and any juices

6 - Put the cake mixture into a deep cake tin which has been double lined with greaseproof paper and place in the pre heated oven.

7 - Bake the cake for about 4 1/2 hours. Check after 2 hours, if the top is browned cover if foil and continue to bake until baked throughout

8 - When your cake is done remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin

9 - Once cool remove from the tin and double wrap in greaseproof paper and foil, the greaseproof paper will ensure that the cake keeps it moisture

Up until you are ready to ice your cake feed at regular intervals with extra whisky. The cake will keep wrapped and in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Do not be tempted to eat the cake too soon as it will be crumbly if it is not mature!
I decorated our family cake with 5 little snowmen, one for each of us!
I also made a whisky cake to go in my parents hamper for my dad. As he does not like icing and marzipan I covered the top of the cake with an apricot glaze and decorated it with whole almonds.
However you decorate your cake you will have a lovely, moist, boozy fruit cake!
Enjoy x

 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and the lovely Helen at The Crazy Kitchen

 
mummy mishaps

Christmas 2013

We have had an amazing Christmas! 
 
We had so much fun I really do not know where to start.
 
Christmas eve is the best place I guess!
 
We enjoyed a lovely family evening. My mother in law came to stay with us over Christmas so we had another pair of hands on board to help with the kiddies. Thanks to the extra help I was able to spend some valuable time in the kitchen preparing vegetables for the big days dinner. I was determined to get as much done as I could so that I could spend time with my family as opposed to being in the kitchen all day. Once I was done I could relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the special, magical evening. 
 
We all sat in the living room, before the twins went to bed and watched their favourite film, The Snowman.
 
Once they were all tucked up in bed after leaving a yummy mince pie, carrot and a wee dram for Santa it was time for us to get busy creating the magic.
 
Santa's presents were brought into the house and the last few bits were wrapped. Then the stockings and sacks were filled with the children's presents!
 
Joseph's full stocking and sack
Taylor's sack of presents
 
Isabella's presents and a few of the twins joint presents
 
Every year we have a budget that we try to stick to. In the past we have been known to go over this budget but as we were both working it wasn't really a problem. However this year I gave up work to become a full time stay at home mum so now we only have the hubby's wage so we knew that we had to stick to our budgets.
 
At first we were worried that the children did not have much.
 
We were so wrong!
 
When we actually got their sacks filled and all of their presents out we were amazed by how much they had all actually got.
 
Since the twins arrival late nights have become a thing of the past as they are both early birds so we went to bed as normal. We were so excited to see the children's reactions in the morning!
 
Taylor was the first up as usual! But he was quickly followed by Isabella and then Joseph.
 
Everyone was awake, it was time to go down and get the children's Gran up too! Once they had woken Gran up it was time for them to see what was in the lounge!
 
Taylor just stood there looking at all of the presents saying "wow! wow!" he was amazed by everything that had suddenly "appeared" overnight. We found that Taylor was a little bit overwhelmed by it all. He really took his time opening his presents and wanted to sit and play with what he'd opened before moving onto the next.
 
Whereas Isabella took her big brothers lead and was straight in to see what was she had got. She loved ripping off the paper and soon learnt the word "presents!"
 
Joseph started on his and we were over the moon to hear his shouts of surprise and delight as he opened his parcels. We needn't have worried about Joseph being disappointed. We had been worrying about this as now we have 3 children the money has to go further and we have had to stick to budgets but he was so pleased with all of his presents and received things that he really was not expecting!
 
Once the children had worked their way through their parcels it was our time!
 
I have been quite excited about the presents that I got for my hubby as I knew that he would love them all and I was not wrong!
 
As for me, I certainly was spoilt again with books, chocolates, pyjamas, baking bits, I even got some of my favourite Crabtree and Evelyn hand cream!
 
Oooh and not forgetting, tickets to go and see Paul Hollywood's Get Your Bake On and a night away!!!!! Excited does not get close to how giddy I was about this present!
 
After we had opened everything it was time for breakfast. I managed to get the children to sit down for all of 10 minutes for breakfast but they were itching to get back to their toys as soon as they could!
 
Taylor is a typical boy and just wanted to lay on the floor pushing his new cars and tractor about.
Isabella is certainly like her mummy! We got her a Minnie Kitchen and she loves getting her play food to cook! Like her mummy she is often baking a cake! But at the same time they enjoyed playing together with each others new toys. I love watching them playing together.
 
Joseph was soon up in his bedroom with his new stereo rocking out loud!
 
All 3 children were delighted with their toys!
 
Before our breakfast we surprised Joseph with a few more, unexpected presents. We gave him his wish list that he won from Compare4Kids! His face was a picture when he realised that he had won and kept saying "but I never win anything!" Well Joseph, you did this time! He was so pleased and quickly got hubby to put his name stickers on his bedroom wall!
 
As it was Christmas we treated ourselves to a luxurious breakfast of toasted bagels, topped with cream cheese, capers and finest smoked salmon! This breakfast went perfectly with a cold glass of bucks fizz!
 
 
Thanks to a lot of the vegetables being prepared the day before I was able to enjoy the morning with my family. It was lovely being able to give that undivided time and explore their new toys with them.
Once it was the twins nap time I was able to relax a little once the turkey was in! I sat with Joseph and played one of his new card games and had lots of giggles with my big boy! He is growing up so fast, so I really do treasure the times we get together. We had so much fun playing and he enjoyed having a bit of time with his mum and dad to himself!
 
Before I knew it, meal preparation time had come!
 
I have been planning this dinner for weeks.
 
This was my first Christmas dinner!
 
No pressure then!
 

I just kept telling myself, it is a glammed up Sunday roast!
 
I was in my element in the kitchen. Busying around, checking timings, putting the vegetables to cook, preparing the stuffing, I was loving it!!!
 
However, I was so busy thinking about and preparing the turkey dinner, I completely forgot about the starter until everything was ready!
 
I had planned to do a pate starter, however on hindsight it was a good job that I did forget. We had so much food for our main course!
 
We had salt and peppered turkey breast, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, honey roasted parsnips, pigs in blankets and stuffing wrapped in bacon!
 
I have got to say there were clean plates all round. Seeing all of my family enjoy their Christmas dinner made my day!
 
My first Christmas dinner was a success!
 
The twins tucking into their Christmas dinner
 
After our huge meal we were too full for my Wee Dram Christmas pudding so we decided to walk our dinner off. We all got wrapped up and walked down to my mum and dad's house as my sister and her family were there along with my nanna.
After our trip out I re steamed the pudding. I made this pudding back on stir up Sunday and it has been maturing on a shelf in the utility. I have been so excited about trying this pudding as it is the first one that I have made.
We were not disappointed and the Wee Dram certainly gave it a powerful kick!
 
My Wee Dram Christmas Pudding
 
Before we knew it 6 o'clock had arrived and the twins were shattered. They had thoroughly enjoyed their day. There had been no tantrums, no tears, just lots of giggles and excitement. Exactly as we had wanted it to be. They took it all in their stride and had so much fun! But bless them they were exhausted. So a little earlier than normal they had their milk and were tucked up asleep in bed.
 
Now it was time to have some quality time with Joseph. As we guessed, the board games came out! First we played a trivia game that he got, this was a little bit hard but we adapted the questions for him. Next was one of his wish list items. Next it was time for us to face the Cube! This was the first thing that Joseph put on his wish list so he couldn't wait to give it a go!
 
We had so much fun playing games together and Joseph loved the attention being devoted to him on his own!
 
 
I can confidently say that we had the best Christmas! The twins and Joseph's reactions to their presents was exactly what we wanted from them. They all had a great day.
 
But our Christmas wasn't over, we were doing it all again on Boxing Day at my mum and dads!
After a leisurely morning we got ready and walked down to my parents house.
We were all spoilt again!
We enjoyed another lovely dinner and spent more quality time together.
We finished off Boxing day down at our house. Once we got the twins settled my mum and dad came to our house and we all sat and watched Despicable Me 2.
Over these 2 days we have created some magical, treasured memories.
For me, this is what Christmas is all about.
Family, giggles, food, drink and just being together x
 
 
 


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Well all the presents are wrapped and Santa has been.
Now I need to get some sleep but I am so excited for the children.
I just wanted to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and here's to an amazing 2014!!!
Have a great day, eat, drink, be merry and create lots of magical memories!!!

Sherry Christmas Cakes

This year I have made so many Christmas cakes and feeling quite proud of myself as this is the first year that I have baked and decorated Christmas cakes!

I love making homemade gifts and especially love making my homemade hampers so this year I decided to add a Christmas cake in each of them.

I have in made in total 1 large whisky cake, 1 small whisky cake, 2 small sherry cakes and 12 mini sherry cakes!

I have used Mary Berry's Classic Victorian Christmas Cake recipe as a base but have changed some quantities, added ingredients and take a couple off.

You can find Mary Berry's recipe here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/classic_christmas_cake_04076

I made the cakes back in November and have feeding them all in the last month and a half. When I opened them up to decorate I have found that I have got beautifully moist cakes.

Here is how I made the Sherry cakes...

Sherry Christmas Cake

Ingredients

175g raisins
300g glace cherries
510g currants
375g sultanas
200ml sherry
Zest of 1 orange
250g butter, softened
250g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 tbsp black treacle
85g flaked almonds
75g self raising flour
175g plain flour
2 tspn mixed spice

Method

1 - Place all of the dried fruit in a container and pour over the sherry. Cover and leave for 1 week remembering to stir daily!

Pre heat the oven to 120C

2 - Place the butter, eggs, sugar, treacle into a bowl and mix well

3 - Add in the flaked almonds and continue to mix

4 - Sift in the flours, add the mixed spice and continue to mix until all of the ingredients are evenly combined

5 - Stir in the soaked fruit and any juices

6 - Put the cake mixture into a deep cake tin which has been double lined with greaseproof paper and place in the pre heated oven. If you are making miniature cakes simply place some of the cake mixture into cupcake cases!

7 - Bake the cake for about 4 1/2 hours. Check after 2 hours, if the top is browned cover if foil and continue to bake until baked throughout

8 - When your cake is done remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin

9 - Once cool remove from the tin and double wrap in greaseproof paper and foil, the greaseproof paper will ensure that the cake keeps it moisture

Up until you are ready to ice your cake feed at regular intervals with extra sherry. The cake will keep wrapped and in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Do not be tempted to eat the cake too soon as it will be crumbly if it is not mature!
The cakes can then be decorated as you please. I have put a marzipan and icing topper on my miniature Christmas cakes and covered the small cakes in traditional marzipan and icing.
However you decorate them they will be delicious!
Enjoy x

 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and the lovely Helen at The Crazy Kitchen

 
mummy mishaps

Monday, 23 December 2013

Missing You At Christmas

The other day I saw this poem and I wanted to share it on Christmas Day as it will definitely be on my mind.

Missing You At Christmas
 
Every day without you,
Since you had to go,
Is like summer without sunshine
And winter without snow.
 
I wish I could talk to you,
There's so much I would say,
Life has changed so very much,
Since you went away.
 
I miss the bond between us,
And I miss your kind support,
You're in my mind and in my heart,
And every Christmas though.
 
I'll always feel you close to me,
And though you're far from sight,
I'll search for you among the stars,
That shine on Christmas night.

Author Unknown
 
For my two Grandads, Nanna and Anita who are all missed so dearly x

Christmas Eve Eve!!!

Today is Christmas Eve eve!!!
Today I have not stopped, until now!
I have been running around trying to get as many jobs done as I can so that I don't have many to do the rest of the week.
The house has almost been cleaned top to bottom.
Washing is almost up to date.
Baking has almost been done.
I will be done by tomorrow, I'm sure!
But then again what gets done will be done and what doesn't can wait.
Yesterday I had the hard, emotional visit to the crematorium.
Before we even got there I was in bits.
All I could think is that this isn't what we had got planned.
We had a great big family Christmas planned but instead of that I had to visit my grandads ashes.
Anyway I am going to try my best to not get upset.
If he was here he really would tell me off!!!
My jobs that are still on my "to do" list are
  • Bake a streusel
  • Bake mince pies
  • Bake macaroons
  • Bake buns for the kiddies
  • Prepare vegetables
I am sure there is more but that is what is top of the list.
Tomorrow is certainly going to be a baking morning!
Mornings that I love!!!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Silent Sunday

Citrus Spiced Tunis Cake

After watching the fabulous Christmas Great British Bake Off Masterclass I knew I had to have a go at quite a few of the bakes.

I loved the look and sound of Mary's Tunis cake but it is not a cake that I would serve at Christmas *Sorry Mary*. For me, it was not a cake that had a lot of the classic Christmas flavours that I love.

So I have used the basic recipe that Mary Berry used but have added orange zest, mixed spice and a spiced chocolate orange ganache.

The original recipe can be found at http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/mary-berrys-tunis-cake/

This is what I got...

Citrus Spiced Tunis Cake

Ingredients

Cake

4 eggs at room temperature
225g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
225g self raising flour
70g ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 tspn mixed spice

Ganache
 
300mls double cream
400g orange chocolate

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160C

1 - Mix the butter until light and creamy

2 - Add the sugar and mix until the butter and sugar are both creamed together

3 - Gradually add the eggs with a little flour to prevent curdling

4 - Sift in the flour, add the mixed spice and almonds and mix until all the ingredients are evenly combined

5 - Line a high sided cake tin with greaseproof paper making sure that the paper comes above the top of the tin as it will be needed for the ganache

6 - Bake the cake for 1 hour but checking after 45 minutes if the top is browned cover with foil and continue to bake until a knife comes out clean when placed through the centre

7 - Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin

8 - Once the cake is cooled, make the ganache by heating the cream until just below boiling point

9 - Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate then leave to cool

10 - Once cooled pour over the cake and place in the fridge to allow the ganache to set

This cake is more of a dense sponge and the thick layer of ganache compliments it perfectly.
You can decorate it anyway that you like. I drew on lines of white chocolate writing icing and swept a cocktail stick through them to create he ripple effect.
Try this cake on its own or with pouring cream or even ice cream!
Enjoy x
 

 
 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and the lovely Helen at The Crazy Kitchen

 
mummy mishaps

Friday, 20 December 2013

Ella's Kitchen - My Little BIG Meals Review

I am a passionate about feeding my children good, healthy home cooked food.

However in our busy lives having a ready made meal to hand is a huge help. I always made the children's baby food when they started weaning. Now that they are bigger I feel happier giving them a pre made meal but it must be from a trusted brand.

When I looked at children's meals one brand did stand out.

That brand is Ella's Kitchen.

This is the only brand of meals that I will buy for my children because all of the ingredients are organic and they contain no artificial colours, additives or preservatives. On the back of the packets it lists clearly what is used and the quantities. This is something that is important to me as I want to know exactly what my children are eating when I give them a pre made meal.

When the opportunity came to test and review their new “My Little BIG Meals” I jumped at the chance.

We received to try:
  • Chuncky Pasta Bolognese Bake with a Handful of Herbs
  • Full of Beans Pork Stew with Hearty Veg
  • Stacked & Packed Veggie Moussaka topped with Creamy Sauce
The twins enjoyed all three of them and ate the lot!

The portion sizes are also good. I found that one pot fed both of them and they had room afterwards to finish their meal with some fresh fruit and yogurt. But the meals could easily be bulked up with any vegetables if I wanted to. For one child there is more than enough!

Chunky Pasta Bolognese Bake with a Handful of Herbs

The twins love pasta so I knew that they would love this one too.

The sauce is lovely, however my twins are used to a few more spices so I did add some black pepper and a few more herbs to it for a little more flavour. That is the great thing with these dinners if you want to add anything you can. The pasta was regular sized pasta which I chopped up a bit but is ideal for them as they learn to cope with bigger bits of food.

This meal contains

Organic vegetables 63% (tomatoes, yellow peppers, red peppers, carrots and onions
Organic vegetable stock 15%
Organic beef 12%
Organic pasta 8%
Organic sunflower oil 1%
Organic garlic <1 font="">
Organic cornflour <1 font="">
Organic mixed herbs <0 .1="" font="">
Other stuff 0%

Full of Beans Pork Stew with Hearty Veg

This is a new one for the twins.

They haven't had a pork stew before so I was unsure whether they would like it. But they did! They even enjoyed the beans, which I was expecting them to be fussy with. This meal is a great way to get the added fibre into the children that the beans provide. Having this meal the twins discovered new flavours and I discovered new foods that they like.

This meal contains
Organic fruit and vegetables 48% (tomatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples and green beans)
Organic vegetable stock 23%
Organic haricot beans 17%
Organic pork 10%
Organic garlic <1 font="">
Organic cornflour <1 font="">
Organic mixed herbs <0 .1="" font="">
Other stuff 0%

Stacked and Packed Veggie Moussaka topped with Creamy Sauce

This was to be another new meal for the twins and as with the Pork Stew I was unsure what their reaction would be. They have not had lentils before. However as with the Pork Stew I needn't have worried, they loved the new flavours! This meal is packed with vegetables and lentils so is full of the goodness that they need plus the added fibre!

This meal contains

Organic vegetables 57% (tomatoes, aubergines, carrots, potatoes, red peppers, yellow peppers, onions)
Organic whole milk 22%
Organic vegetable stock 12%
Organic lentils 3%
Organic cheddar cheese 3%
Organic cornflour 1%
Organic garlic 1%
Organic unsalted butter <1 font="">
Organic mixed herbs <1 font="">
Other stuff 0%

Our Verdict! 

Both the twins and I loved Ella's Kitchen My Little Big Meals. The only negative comment that I would make is that the meals could do with a little bit more flavour. However these can be added to taste, so this is not something that would put me off buying them. On the contrary, I have been and purchased more as they are going to be ideal to take away on our holidays!

The Ella's Kitchen My Little BIG Meals available are:

Creamy Coconutty Chicken Curry with a sprinkle of spice

Full of Colour Chicken Paella-ella-ella

Beefy Beef Stew

Chunky Pasta Bolognese Bake

Full of Beans Pork Stew

Stacked & Packed Veggie Moussaka

We give Ella's Kitchen My Little BIG Meals a 5 stars!
 
Disclaimer: I am a Monter Mummies VIP and this review was done on behalf of Monster Mummies. We recieved the three dishes from Ella's Kitchen to try and review. The opinions and views are 100% honest.
 
For more information on Ella's Kitchen My Little BIG Meals visit
 
Visit Monster Mummies to read reviews, news, lifestyle, blog posts and competions.

http://www.monstermummies.co.uk/



Thursday, 19 December 2013

Wednesday Words (on a Thursday!)

Yesterday was so manic I didn't get round to writing my Wednesday Words post.
I had my quote all ready but did not stop until 10pm.
That's why this week we have Wednesday Words on a Thursday!
This week is so busy with all of the Christmas preparations, run up to the end of term along with the everyday jobs and challenges that being mum brings.
I am starting to get really excited about Christmas.
The twins are going to be so much more aware of what is happening and their presents.
Joseph has got a huge surprise (his wish list from Compare4Kids)
I'm cooking my first Christmas dinner.
My hubby is going to be getting so presents that I know he is going to love!
It is just going to be a great day.
So this week I have chosen a Christmas quote.
This quote is about the magic of Christmas.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold,
everything is softer and more beautiful."
Norman Vincent Peale
 
This season, everything does always seem better, I just it to continue throughout 2014.
This year has been a hard year and I hope the next is better.

Wednesday Words is hosted by Emma at Crazy With Twins. This week Emma has shared a great Christmas song!
http://www.crazywithtwins.com/2013/12/18/wednesday-words-14/

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Festive Maids of Honour

My hubby loves Christmas treats and particularly loves traditional Christmas bakes.
He knows how I love trying out new bakes and putting my twist on things so we have compromised, I will bake traditional bakes as well as my new ones!
So when he asked me to make some maid of honours I knew I had to do my own style!
No traditional raspberry jam in these!
I have made 3 different filled maids of honour.
I have used homemade plum jam, cranberry sauce and marmalade.
I have not made a traditional sponge either.
I have gone for a festive spiced sponge to make them even more Christmassy!
Here is what I got...
 
Festive Maids of Honour
 
Ingredients
 
Pastry
 
165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg
 
Filling
 
100g baking spread
100g caster sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
100g self raising flour
1tspn mixed spice
Jam/Marmalade/Cranberry sauce
 
Method
 
1 - Put the flour, ground almonds, sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until you have breadcrumbs
 
2 - Add the egg and blitz until it the ingredients come together
 
3 - Remove and work a little and make into ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 3 hours
 
4 - When your pastry is chilled roll out and cut out the bases. With this amount of pastry you should get about 24
 
Pre heat the oven to 180C
 
5 - To make you spiced sponge cream the butter then add the sugar and continue to mix until light and creamy
 
6 - Gradually add the eggs along with a little flour to prevent curdling
 
7 - Sift in the flour and mixed spice and mix until evenly combined
 
8 - In the pastry case place a teaspoon of the jam, marmalade or cranberry sauce
 
9 - Place on top of the jam a teaspoon of the cake mixture
 
10 - Place in the pre heated oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes
 
11 - Remove from the pie tray and cool on a cooling rack
 
Once the Maids of Honor have cooled sprinkle over some icing sugar and decorate how ever you like.
These are delicious little treats and are a great, lighter alternative to mince pies.
My favourite is the cranberry Maid of Honor, I love the light sponge with the sharpness that the cranberry adds. But they are so versatile and you can add what ever fruit filling that you like.
Enjoy x
 
 
 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and Helen at The Crazy Kitchen


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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Stressful Morning

What has happened to my children?

They have gone from sweet, angelic little children into little devils!!!

Since getting up this morning they have been on a mission to drive me crackers!!!

Before 7:30 Isabella had been in time out twice and Taylor was a teething grump. Then to finish the morning off, while I was getting Taylor ready to go on the school fun Isabella thought it would be fun to empty out all of her clothes and Taylor's pyjamas onto the floor!!!

Arrrrrrrr!!!
Give me a break!!!

We have started using the time out technique with the twins. I have started to put one of their chairs behind the lounge door so when they are in time out they are removed from the main area of the room, they are behind the door so they cannot see television or get any toys. I feel that the only way to really make them realise when they are doing wrong is to bore them!

We'll see how it goes.
It worked with Joseph and I think that it will work with Taylor, but little Isabella has a defiant streak so we will see!

Thankfully we had a nice walk to school and on the way home I had some chatting time with friends.
Plus making bread gave me a great way to ease my tension, kneading dough for 10 minutes it a great stress reliever!

The twins are now having their morning nap and I have had some "me" time, I have been enjoying some festive cooking programs and now I may have rethought my turkey ideas!

After lunch it is Joseph's school carol concert so it should be a lovely afternoon with lots of singing and Christmas thoughts.

Fingers crossed the terrible twosome, as they have been named this morning, will have transformed back into my little angels!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Visiting Santa's Winter Wonderland


We had a lovely day out on Saturday and took the children to see Santa's Winter Wonderland!
Every year a local garden centre creates a beautifully magical winter wonderland for the children to visit Santa.
We were not sure about taking the twins as we did not know what their reaction would be.
We knew that they would be mesmerised by the lights but as they are both very shy we were expecting tears when they saw Father Christmas.
Luckily the garden centre said that it was ok to walk the twins around the winter wonderland without actually going to see Father Christmas.
This year Joseph stills believes so we was extremely excited to see Father Christmas. The closer we got to the garden centre, I too, got excited however as we got to garden centre Taylor fell asleep!
Bless him he was flat out so we left him to sleep!
 
 
So unfortunately he missed most of the winter wonderland however Isabella was wide awake and was fascinated by all of the lights, stuffed animals and music! She loved it!
Her face was a picture as she gazed around.
 

I loved watching Joseph showing his sister the different animals and lights. He is such an attentive big brother!
I will particularly treasure my memories of Joseph's visit this year as I feel that this year may be the last year that he will believe in the magic of Father Christmas. However I do know that even if he doesn't believe anymore he will continue to help us to create the magic for the twins!
He may be growing up, admittedly quicker than I would like, but it was lovely to see him enjoying the winter wonderland and being a child!
 
 
 
Towards the end of the winter wonderland we woke Taylor up so that he didn't miss it all and made our way to the sleigh ride to Santa's grotto!
When it was our turn to see Father Christmas we realised that our double pushchair was too wide to get in! So I took Joseph in while hubby stood at the door with the twins. Isabella did start to get upset when she saw him so it was probably a good job we couldn't get them in!
When Joseph was asked what he would like for Christmas he just said "a surprise!" which I thought was such a lovely answer! So many children create huge lists asking for every single expensive item that they can think of but Joseph has said he'll be happy with a surprise!
After posing for a picture we continued to see the real reindeer while the children munched on their chocolate coins.
The chocolate coin was Taylor's favourite part, bless him!

 
We had a lovely family day out and really got into the Christmas spirit!

Halos N Horns Toothy Fruity Toothpaste Review

I recently got a tube of Halos N Horns Toothy Fruity Toothpaste to try with my 19 month old twins.

This is a product that I have not previously heard of but was immediately drawn to it thanks to the funky logo and colourful design on the tube. It certainly stands out and makes you look!

The tube is a practical stand up tube which stops the annoying times when the toothpaste gets stuck at the end!

It has a handy, easy open flip top that can easily be opened one handed. This makes life that little bit easier during the morning rush getting the children ready!
 

The twins, who often curl their noses up at minty toothpaste, love the fruity flavour of Halo N Horns Toothy Fruity. Once I have brushed their teeth I let them chew on the toothbrush and have a go at brushing themselves. Thanks to the lovely fresh fruity flavour getting the toothbrushes back from them has become a battle! They love brushing their teeth!

I noticed on the front it says that it is SLS Free. This is something that I have never heard of. I read on that back of the tube what SLS actually is, SLS is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. I wasn’t too sure what it was for and what, if any, are the benefits of it so I decided to do some research.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a synthetic detergent, or cleaning agent, and surfactant, which means it makes bubbles. I was shocked to read that it is used in industrial products such as car wash soap and floor cleaners! SLS is also an ingredient in a range of personal care products such as soaps, shampoos and toothpastes! Straight away this caused me concern as toddlers and babies do not understand that they cannot swallow toothpaste. SLS is added to soaps, bubble baths and toothpastes for its thickening effect and its ability to create bubbles. Knowing that Halo N Horns toothpaste does not contain this ingredient has won me over! Just because a product makes bubbles does not mean it works any better. Halos N Horns Toothy Fruity toothpaste also contains 1450ppmF (Parts per million Fluoride) so you know that their teeth are getting the protection that is needed.

I had a look at Halos N Horns website, which I easily found, and was excited to see that they have a wide range of children’s toiletries which I will be keen to look at in the future. I have also found which shops and supermarkets stock their products so I now know where I need to be looking. Their website has a section which explains what “nasties” have been removed. It is so refreshing to find a brand which tells us why certain chemicals, that are often used, are not too good for our little ones!

Our verdict:

Halos N Horns Toothy Fruity Toothpaste gets huge thumbs up from us! Thanks to reading the back of the tube I have done research and will now only buy toothpaste which is SLS free! The price, £2.34, is a little bit more than other children’s toothpaste but I honestly do believe that it is worth paying a bit more to have a SLS free toothpaste.

Halos N Horns is a brand that was new to me but after researching further it is, now a brand which I will trust!
 
 
 
Disclaimer: I am a Monter Mummies VIP and this review was done on behalf of Monster Mummies. We recieved a tube of Halo N Horns toothpaste to try and review. The opinions and views are 100% honest.
Visit Monster Mummies to read reviews, news, lifestyle, blog posts and competions.

http://www.monstermummies.co.uk/




Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Spiced Clementine Drizzle Cake

I love this time of year in the kitchen.
I love using spices in my baking so this time of year is a perfect excuse to use them.
Like I really need an excuse!!!
When I was thinking about flavours that are seen as "Christmassy" I came up with a few and have mixed my favourites to create this festive cake!
This is what I got...
 
Christmas Spiced Clementine Drizzle Cake topped with dried Cranberries
 
Ingredients
 
Cake
 
150g baking spread
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
165g self raising flour
10g ground almonds
1/4 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn nutmeg
1 tspn cinnamon
Zest of 4 clementines
Juice of 2 clementines
 
Drizzle and topping
 
Juice of 1 clementine
60g golden caster sugar
50g dried cranberries
 
Method
 
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
 
1 - Cream the baking spread until smooth
 
2 - Add the golden caster sugar and mix until creamed together
 
3 - Mix the flour, ground almonds, ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon together in a bowl
 
4 - Gradually add the eggs along with a spoon of the flour mixture to prevent curdling
 
5 - Mix in the clementine zest and juice
 
6 - Sift in the flour adding any of the almonds and spices that remain in the sift
 
7 - Mix until all of the ingredients are combined and you have a smooth cake mixture
 
8 - Put the mixture in a prepared cake tin, place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes
 
9 - Once the cake is baked remove from the oven, keep in the tin and prick the cake in various places with a knife
 
10 - To prepare the drizzle topping mix the golden caster sugar into the clementine juice and spoon over the cake making sure it is evenly covered then sprinkle over the dried cranberries
 
11 - Leave the cake to cool in the tin before serving
 
The clementine juice and the ground almonds make this a deliciously moist cake. I love the combination of the sweet cranberries with the citrus and spice!
I will definitely be making this cake again, however, I will bake it any time of the year!
Enjoy x
 
 
 
The Christmas Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and Helen at The Crazy Kitchen
 
 

 
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