Today I thought I would share with you a roundup of my favourite bakes so far this year. I do like to look back at past recipes and hope that you enjoy them too. It also gives you a chance to see a bake that you may have missed!
Next week all of my regular posts will be back as normal and no doubt I will have plenty to share with you from our holiday!
As I am away this week enjoying time with my family I didn't want to leave you without a Family Favourites post.
This week I thought that I would share with you a collection of my favourite Family Favourite recipes that I have featured this year.
All of the meals that I have shared have been tried and tested on my family. They have all enjoyed trying new foods and new flavours. I look forward to trying more new foods and dishes on them and being able to share them with you in the future.
I hope you are all enjoying spring break half term and enjoying plenty of family meals!
For us, as a family, garden time is important. The garden is a huge focal point of our lives. When we were looking at buying our house a garden was high up on our must have list. The garden was what sold this house to us. As soon as we saw the garden we knew that it was ideal for us.
When the hubby and I were growing up we both had fond memories of fun play time in the garden and we always knew that we wanted our children to create the same happy memories. As the children have grown, over the years we have so many pictures of happy times and memories of them in the garden.
In the day and age of technology that we live in it is even more vital that we get our children away from the screens and out into the fresh air and enjoying outdoor play.
Our dream has always been to create a garden that the whole family can enjoy. We have a veggie patch where we grow our own fruit and vegetables as well as having chickens for eggs. We believe that the children have gained a better understanding to where vegetables come from. They watch as the seeds germinate, to being planted outside, to seeing the produce grow to helping to harvest. Then of course the fun part, eating what they have seen grow. We love getting the children as involved as possible.
My top tips for getting children into gardening are:
Get them their own seeds to plant and care for
Have sunflower growing competitions
Give the older children their own area of responsibility in the garden or a set job like watering the greenhouse
Take the children shopping and let the see the plants and allow them to select what to grow
Let them get their hands in and muddy, kids love getting their hands in the mud!
Get the children to paint and decorate their plant pots
Hunt for garden mini beasts
Helping in the garden is not only great family bonding time but it also has great developmental advantages. It assists with physical development and their understanding of the world around them including life cycles and where their food comes from!
Growing fruit and vegetables is fun but all children dream of having their own play area.
In our family play area of the garden we have a trampoline, swings, balls, sit on cars and rocking horses. This year we have made a new addition to their play area. We have added a playhouse for the twins. This has become a favourite area of play and an amazing piece of play equipment. To personalise the house for the twins we have painted the house in fun, bright colours. We are still yet to paint inside the house, that is next on our to do list. The hubby has done an amazing job at creating the area for the twins. He cleverly reused some old pallets to become the base for the house. Then by adding some extra planks of wood he has made an adjoining decking area for them to relax on. When we moved some old edging we realised that it would go around the sides of the decking perfectly to create a mini fence around. As you can see with their own little path leading to their house they have the perfect play area that they can call their own.
If you are thinking of adding any piece of play equipment this year to your garden to keep the children occupied during the summer and school holidays we would thoroughly recommend investing in a playhouse. This has been one of the best toy buys that we have made!
If you are a blogger Waltons are giving you the chance to win your very own playhouse, like the one pictured below! Waltons provide high quality playhouses, climbing frames, sheds, log cabins, green houses, summer houses and more. To be in with the chance of winning one of these fantastic playhouses all you have to do is write a blog post similar to what I have written telling Walton about how you like to keep your children entertained in the garden during the summer months. The best post, judged by Waltons, will win their very own playhouse! There will also be a runner up who will win a £50 voucher to spend at Waltons. Check out the Waltons blog for further information.
This week it is half term and we are having a much needed break.
That means no meal planning for me this week!
However I thought that I would share with you my top tips for meal planning and why I meal plan. If you are wanting to meal plan but are unsure how to get started this post should help you.
I am also sharing a selection of my favourite recipes from this year. I am sharing these to hopefully inspire you for some delicious meals.
Why do I meal plan?
I started meal planning as a way to budget better on our food shopping. I was also fed up of it getting to tea time and really not knowing what to cook for everyone.
What are the benefits of meal planning?
I find that when I work to a weekly meal plan I am not as stressed at meal time. I know what I am cooking and everyone knows what they are getting. I have found that meal planning not only saves us money as I use what needs using and buy what I need but also reduces our food waste. I hate wasting food as it feels like I am literally throwing money in the bin.
What are my top tips?
My top tips for meal planning are:
Plan on the same day each week and work it into your weekly routine.
Before you plan take a look in your fridge and freezer to check what you have, what needs using and what you may need to buy.
Before planning a meal to a specific day look at the dish and make sure you are going to have time to prepare and cook on that day.
Love your leftovers and include them into your meal plan
Accept that it may not always go according to plan, there will be weeks when it feels like you plan has gone completely out of the window, but hey, that is life. It is weeks like this that make you realise how much meal planning does help! Get on and plan for the following week.
Have a designated book or board for your meal plan. I use both my blog and a fantastic meal planning pad that I got from The Green Gables.
After you have been meal planning for a while it will become a part of your routine and believe it or not if you do not meal plan you will miss it!
If you want to meal plan and have any questions or advice please do ask, I would love to offer any help.
Any mum will know that planning a family holiday is manic.
Finding the right place to go, the right family accommodation, planning meals while away, activities to do, the packing, the list goes on and on.
At the moment we are getting ready to go on a holiday of our own. I always find the run up to holiday the stressful part. Remembering to pack everything, knowing what we will need while we are away, scheduling posts so Hijacked By Twins keeps ticking over and making sure we have a shopping delivery arriving on the day we return.
Knowing how stressed I get, I was delighted to receive a pamper kit from Al Fresco Holidays and knew that having a pamper evening would help to relieve some of the pre holiday stress.
When I went too bake the hubby his tea loaf for his morning snack at work I discovered that I have no dried fruit! This is unheard of in our house. However it did give me the perfect excuse to try a new bake for him.
These buns are packed full of muesli, made with spelt flour and contain chia seeds. They are a more dense bake which is ideal for a breakfast bun. They are also made with maple syrup instead of sugar which makes them a great, healthy start to the day!
Recently I have returned to getting my meat delivered. I have subscribed to a weekly family box which contains five different meats along with a few vegetables and fruits. All have been sourced from local farms and are of a high quality.
One of the reasons which I like to get the boxes delivered is because we get a greater variety of meats to try than if I were to buy from the shops or the market. When I buy meat I tend to stick to the meats I know that we like and do not tend to look at what else there is. This is often due to time and wanting to get the shopping finished and to be home in time to collect the twins. With the boxes I get sent different meats which make me think a bit more about how to prepare, cook and serve the weeks meals.
In a recent box I received some Pork Rib Eye steaks. This was the first time that I had seen, let alone eaten pork rib eye. So this really was a new meat for the family. I decided to serve the pork steaks on a base of pepper sauce which complimented the steaks perfectly.
What better way to use rhubarb than in a pudding. It goes perfectly in a warm pudding that can be served with custard!
This recipe idea came from my Spiced Apple Pudding. I find that fruit and sponge are a perfect way to have the best of both worlds It pleases people that want pudding while pleasing the cake lovers too! This recipe is a fantastic way to use any fruit that is in season.
In this recipe I am using freshly harvested rhubarb from the garden. I have stewed the rhubarb as per my basic Stewed Rhubarb recipe.
Last week I returned to getting my weekly meat delivered. This means we will be having a bit more variety. I like that each week I will be getting meats which I would not usually buy.
This week I was sent beef steak skewers, smoked bacon, pork shoulder, burgers and pork pies.
Last week I shared a variety of recipes and also wrote about a new campaign that is running to help parents get their children to eat more veg. It is a must read for any parent. I was amazed by the statistics that the campaign has shared! You can read more in my Eat Your Veg post.
This week has seen the children develop horrible colds and coughs. I can tell that it is nearly the end of the twins first half term. They are getting more tired but are still thoroughly enjoying nursery.
Here is our week in pictures...
Monday 11th May 2015
Monday was the first day that all three chickens have laid eggs since we added the two new birds to the flock. I can see I will be baking a lot to use the eggs!
Who doesn't love to receive a delicious box of chocolates? But I always find that we end up with the usual, unloved chocolates that end up being left until last.
That is how these cupcakes were created!
In our house you can guarantee that the last chocolates are the white ones and coffee ones. I love coffee but not coffee chocolates. But I hate to throw them in the bin. That is why I have used them in this recipe. The chocolates which have been unloved are reborn and loved!
This recipe gives you a perfect excuse to buy yourself a box of chocolates! To buy good quality, premium chocolates you are often looking at paying quite a bit. However it is possible to find some great discounts and promotion codes on the internet. One place to certainly take a look is on VoucherBin. There are often voucher codes for Thorntons, which are the chocolates that I have used in this recipe. So before you buy, take a look!
Anyway, back to the yummy part, here is how I made unloved chocolates loved again...
When I received an email asking me if I would share Eat Your Veg I was amazed to read some of the statistics that they were sharing.
Healthy eating, particularly in the children, is a subject which I feel passionate about. That is why I decided that I would share Eat Your Veg with you. I am in no way being compensated for this post, I just honestly believe that after reading the statistics that I am going to share with you, you will re-evaluate how your children eat.
Eat Your Veg is a charitably funded project which is aimed to encourage UK families to add more vegetables to their daily diet.
Recently CBBC reported that more than half of children do not eat a single portion of vegetables a day.This worrying statistic shows why we need to think more about what our children eat and get more veg into their diets.
can fall into all kinds of bad habits, and it's often tricky to get
out of them on your own. I know this first hand after being diagnosed with depression last year. I am delighted to say that now, the majority of the time, I am me again. I have managed to change how I feel with changes in my lifestyle as well as medication. The biggest change that I have made is exercising. I find that I feel so much better in myself when I take regular exercise. This in turn has resulted in healthier eating and drinking more water. This and having a good routine in place has had a huge effect.
If you, a friend, partner, or family
member needs help, why not take the first step to get back on track? Here are some examples of the kinds of negative
habits people commonly develop, and some top tips to help them break
Eating Junk Food and Unhealthy Eating
With a lot of options
when it comes to ready meals and snacks, and thanks to our busy
modern lifestyles, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of eating
the wrong kind of food. Healthier eating is something you can start together, as a family, by
planning nutritious meals you'd like to cook, and purging tempting
treats from the home. But with friends and family members it can be
trickier. One great option is to get them a subscription with a
healthy snack delivery service, or a fruit and veg box supplier.
Healthy treats are often just as delicious as their naughty
counterparts, and people often find that good, whole food fills them
up quicker than junk food too. A lot of unhealthy foods have a high sugar content which can cause huge energy slumps which in turn bring you down.
This meal is a great way to use up any leftover chicken from a roast dinner. You will all know that I love creating meals which use up any leftovers. Using leftover not only saves money and reduces waste but makes delicious meals.
This week I am sharing with you a recipe which is a twist on a chicken cottage pie.
We love cottage pie but I wanted to do something a bit different and steer away from the stock/gravy sauce. In this dish I have used a soup as a sauce. Not only is it a quick and easy way to create a sauce for a meal but it is so flavoursome!
As the conference started at 9am in Manchester I decided to go the night before and stay the night. This also meant that I could attend the pre conference night out! After a stressful journey, missing my train and waiting for an hour for the next one I arrived and met my roomie Becky from Diary of a Fat Bottomed Girl. Even though we had never met in person we got on great and headed off to the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester. Being a rock chick this was the perfect place for a night out. We all enjoyed a night of cocktails, food, more cocktails and so many laughs.
Sunrise Senior Living are care homes that specialise in dementia care. I have previously written why dementia is a subject that is close to my families heart. If you did not see it you can read why in my Dementia Friends post. So when Sunrise Senior Care got in touch and asked me to try one of their recipes I could not refuse!
Sunrise have published some deliciously tasty and nutritious recipes that are not just great for the elderly but for the whole family.
I decided to try out their Baileys Cheesecake recipe.
Last week thanks to the awful weather the barbecue that we had planned did not go ahead. On Saturday I ended up cooking a delicious smokey barbecue pulled pork so not all was lost. Thankfully Sunday was lovely and we were able to use some of the meat that I bought in preparation for a family barbecue.
Last week I did a lot of baking and we even harvested some homegrown rhubarb. These are the recipes that I shared last week...