Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea Loaf

This is a favourite recipe of mine which has evolved over time. This recipe is based on my Settling Ginger Tea Loaf. I love changing the flavours within this bake. This time I have made it using Darjeeling Earl Grey tea bags which are available from Tea Pigs.

This is what I did...

Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea Loaf


180mls Darjeeling Earl Grey tea (Iused 1 tea bag brewed in the water for about 10 minutes)
225g mixed dried fruit with candied peel
150g dark muscovado sugar
6 whole cardamon pods, seeds removed and crushed
1/4tsp ground ginger
1 egg
225g self raising flour


1 - Leave the fruit to soak in the tea for at least 2 hours

2 - Pre heat the oven to 170C fan

3 - Once the fruit is plumped up and moist tip the fruit and any remaining liquid into a large mixing bowl

4 - Add the muscovado sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved

5 - Stir in the ground cardamon and ginger

6 - Add the egg and stir thoroughly

7 - Sift in the flour and mix until all of the ingredients are evenly combined

8 - Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and place in the centre of the pre heated oven

9 - Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, but check every 10 minutes after 20 minutes of baking. This loaf can often brown quickly so keep a regular eye on the baking and cover with foil once it has browned off enough to prevent burning

10 - Once the loaf is thoroughly baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the  tin and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack

This loaf is delicious as it is or with a little butter for a mid morning snack.

Enjoy x

I am sharing this recipe with:

Honest Mum - Tasty Tuesdays
A Mummy Too - Recipe of the Week
Casa Costello - Bake of the Week

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com
Link up your recipe of the week
Casa Costello

Our Holiday Full of Firsts at Center Parcs

This summer we visited Center Parcs for the first time. Little did we know, this would not be the only first during the week.

During August we visited the Sherwood Forest resort. We had heard a lot about how lovely the resort was but seeing and experiencing the resort first hand even better than we could have imagined.

As soon as we arrived we relaxed. The calm and tranquil environment immediately puts you at ease. This was like no other holiday we have ever had.

This was the first holiday where I completely relaxed. I usually find it hard to truly unwind, having three children keeps us busy and on our toes. But on this holiday we even found that the children were calmer and they were all so content for the week. I found that the car free, forest environment had a huge role in the tranquillity that we all felt. We loved waking up and looking out onto the forest, having squirrels at the door, watching the ducks and swans waddle by and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature.

While we were there we hired bikes for the week and a trailer for the twins. It was the first time since childhood that I had ridden a bike. It was the twins first time riding in a trailer behind the bike. It was the first time that we had all been out on a bike ride together as a family. We all enjoyed the freedom that having the bikes gave us. We rode around for hours, not going anywhere in particular, just going wherever the path took us.

Before we arrived we knew that we would be taking the twins swimming for the first time. We knew that Isabella would like it as she is the more confident twin, however we were not sure what Taylor would make of it. We took it slow with him and after a while they both loved being in the water. This was the first time that we had taken them swimming together as a family. The pool area at Center Parcs was the perfect place to experience this first. The toddler area was an ideal place to start but they soon wanted to go in the "big" pool. We hope that this is the start of lots of swimming in the future. During our holiday my mother in law offered to look after the children one evening so that the hubby and I could go for an evening swim together. This was another first for us, we enjoyed it so much, having some time out, that we have decided that we are going to try and do it more often. Joseph is a keen, strong swimmer so he enjoyed having a bit of freedom and going on the slides by himself. This was the first holiday that I have felt at ease letting him go off on his own. However I did have fun going on the slides and rapids with him too!

The twins had so many firsts on this holiday. The first time seeing squirrels, the first time seeing swans at the back door, their first time swimming, their first bike ride, their first holiday that they really understood.

Leaving the comforting bubble that Center Parcs holds you in was hard. This was a first for me. Usually, by the end of a holiday, I am ready for home. But not this time. I had accustomed to the peaceful, stress and worry free environment. This time I was not ready to go home and I left with a heavy heart but knew that we would return.

We are due to return to Sherwood Forest in November as part of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club to enjoy the festivities their Winter Wonderland will offer. But since returning from our perfect week away we have also booked to return to Sherwood Forest for a pre new year mini break and to also visit Whinfell Forest at Penrith for the first time next May half term and believe me we cannot wait!

We experienced so many firsts on our holiday but did you know that we are not alone!

During September 2014 Center Parcs have conducted a survey with OnePoll to see what the extent of family firsts were while on holiday. They asked 2000 families about their personal experiences and the survey revealed the following:

  • Bravery Steps - 42% of children are more confident to try new things while away on holiday
  • Baby Breakthroughs - 11% said their children started to crawl, 10% said that their child learnt to stand and 10% said that their child learnt to walk on holiday
  • Early Escapes - Parents took their first breaks when babies were just 4 months old
  • Brave Children - Children felt more confident to try an assortment of new activities such as building sandcastles 37%, swimming 29%, going down a water slide 19% and kicking a football 10%. Parents felt that this was down to interaction with other children 61%, quality time spent with the family 57% and being in a completely new environment 54%
  • Active Parenting - 67% of parents try their hand at new activities whilst on holiday as a family. Popular new activities include swimming for the first time 32%, going down a water slide 23% and even rock climbing 10% and zip wiring 10%
  • But 31% of parents said that they'll never let their child do an activity on their own and 21% of families have never tried anything new while on their break
What do you think of these statistics?

Are there any that surprise you?

What have been your holiday firsts?

Disclosure: I am part of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club of 2013/14. The statistical information was provided to me by Center Parcs. No payment was received. All views and opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Foodcraft Collective Review and Giveaway!

I was recently sent some lovely food craft boxes to review from Foodcraft Collective.

This is something that is completely new to me so I was curious to see what they were.

I was sent:

  • Asian Dumplings kit
  • Bacon kit
  • Bubble Tea (featured in this review)
Before I tell you how I got on with the Bubble Tea kit, let me tell you a bit about Foodcraft Collective.

Foodcraft Collective are a North London based company. Wherever possible they source local products and all of their boxes are handmade. Foodcraft Collective use organic, recycled and environmentally friendly product at every available opportunity. All of their kits come complete with step by step instructions and they offer a lifetime guarantee of assistance. Whatever question you may have regarding the preparation just ask them and they will assist! If you are reading from abroad and think that these products look great, you are in luck, as Foodcraft Collective offer worldwide shipping and all UK deliveries are free.

I will now let you know how I got on using the Bubble Tea kit.

Bubble Tea is something that I have never heard of before so I was curious to see what it was. After looking at pictures on the internet it looked to be a novelty way to enjoy iced tea. They looked like they'd be great when having guests and a way to make drinks look more exciting.

I do like iced tea, however I am not a fan on milk in my tea. This got me thinking of a way to recreate the drink into a new drinking experience. What better way to try a new novelty drink than to add alcohol! I have used the kit to make a Bubble Gin and Lemongrass Tea. To make this I simply replaced the black tea with a pure lemongrass tea and added a good measure of gin and a dash of lime cordial on ice.

In the pack you get everything that you need to make about 5 bubble teas along with straws and full instructions.

I followed the instructions and made the bubbles. They were not as easy as I had expected. The starch was hard to mould but it was fun trying. I think that the bubbles came out ok, however mine did not have the clear appearance as expected. This may have been due to the water for the final part not being cold enough. However after they had been in the cold drink for a bit they did develop a clear layer. We will definitely be trying them again!

I am particularly looking forward to trying out the make your own bacon kit. However I am yet to get some pork belly. If you do make this make sure that the piece of pork belly that you use has a long use by date as it will be curing for a full week. This kit will enable you to make 1kg of bacon at home! As soon as I have used this kit I will definitely let you know how I get on!

These kits are fun, innovative ways to make food fun.

Foodcraft Collective are offering three of my readers the opportunity to win a one of the three kits. All you need to do to enter is complete the Rafflecopter below!

Good Luck!

Competition Terms and Conditions
  • This competition is open to UK residents only.
  • Once the winner has been selected by random using the Rafflecopter I will email the winners and pass on their details to Foodcraft Collective.
  • Once I have passed on the winners details I am no longer responsible for the prize.
  • If the winners do not respond to the email with in 14 days another winner will be selected.

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 29th September 2014

Wow I cannot believe that we are about to go into October! As the new month arrives I am sure the cooler weather will too. With the cooler weather will also come more warming and comforting meals, which I do love!

However at the moment the weather is still nice (touch wood) so we will continue to enjoy lighter meals.

Last weeks Weekly Meal Plan was a success with everything what was planned cooked. I even shared my recipes for Rich Mushroom Pasta and Lemon and Thyme Chicken Skewers.

This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Week Commencing 29th September 2014

Leftover Pork Curry

I love using leftovers. This week I will be using the leftovers in my easy sweet curry.

Grilled Fish

At the moment I am not sure which fish I will be grilling as I am going to go shopping at the beginning of the week to buy some fresh fish.

Chipolata Toad in the Hole

This is a meal which we have not had in a long time. So when I saw that we had some chipolatas in this weeks meat box I knew that we would be having toad in the hole!

Chunky Beef Chilli Con Carne

For this dish I will be using chopped up burgers for a change.

Ginger and Honey Chicken

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I will be trying for the first time. I will serve with homemade potato wedges and vegetables.

As always I am not planning a meal for Saturday as we often get something on the day.

What will you be enjoying this week?

Have a great week x

As always I am sharing my weekly meal plan with At Home With Mrs M - Meal Planning Monday

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

22nd September 2014 - 28th September 2014 - One Picture Everyday For One Year

This week has been a good week.

I finally feel that I have found a good life/home/blog balance. I have started scheduling posts so that I have the day free to do more around the house and with the children. This has not only resulted in a calmer me but also a more organised me.

I have had some exciting emails this week and have got plenty to look forward to!

Here is our week in pictures...

Monday 22nd September 2014

After having fun with the twins and their building blocks we discovered that they really did not have enough so on Monday we went shopping and bought a new bag each. They couldn't wait to get home and build castles. On Monday I also had a good clear out upstairs which was a good cleansing job. I have finally got rid of a lot of clothes that do not fit. This means I obviously have more room, which will mean a shopping trip at some point!

Tuesday 23rd September 2014

I got a very exciting email about a blogger event coming up and I have decided that I am going to go. I really am so excited about going and cannot wait to tell you all about it! I have also been thinking about doing more creative play with the twins. But as I am not the most creative, artistic person I often get stuck what to do. So I signed up for a mail order creative box that comes with activities and parental tips. Our first one will be arriving next week and I am really looking forward to doing more structured activities with the twins.

Wednesday 24th September 2014

On Wednesday I decided to go over to my Nanna and Grandads house for the last time before it is sold. I went armed with my camera as it was such a beautiful day as I really wanted to spend time in the garden. The house is now empty, it is just a shell, but the garden is how my grandad had it thanks to a gardener. So I spent time taking pictures and playing with the twins as I did with my grandparents and my parents. It really was a lovely trip and one that I am so pleased that I made.

Thursday 25th September 2014

Thursday was just an average sort of day, the shopping arrived, we played, I had my hair trimmed, nothing out of the ordinary happened. We did however receive a lovely parcel of treats for us to review.

Friday 26th September 2014

Friday was a baking day. I decided to have a go at making the technical challenge, Povitica, that was featured on The Great British Bake Off. I was delighted that it was a baking success. You can read how I made it here.

Saturday 27th September 2014

Saturday was shoe shopping day. Since we found out that we were expecting twins we have been members of TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Birth Association) and this weekend it was their 20% off weekend at Clarks. We try to wait until these weekends to get the children's shoes. This weekend all three got new shoes. We finished the day off having a family evening with Joseph watching a film.

Sunday 28th September 2014

Silent Sunday.

Have a lovely week x

As always I am sharing our week with:

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

twtwc badge HOSTING: The Week That Was; Captured (#65)

Silent Sunday


Saturday, 27 September 2014

My Weekly List - 27th September 2014

After being invited by the lovely Aby at You Baby Me Mummy to share a list for her new linky with Mums' Days I got thinking about starting a round up list.

This the first "My Weekly List" post. It will become a weekly feature of both a round up of the past week and what is to come in the following week. It will mainly feature foodies items like recipes made and planned, but will also include any reviews and other news I may have.

Here goes, here is my first Weekly List...

This weeks recipes

So far this week I have shared three recipes. They are:

Food for Thought

Each week we get a hamper of meat and vegetables delivered on Fridays. The contents of the boxes vary each week which means we are eating a greater variety of meat and often receiving meats that I wouldn't always think of buying. This gives me the weekend to plan what meals we will be enjoying over the week. This week we have received:
  • Burgers
  • Chipolata sausages
  • Flat iron steaks
  • Pork steaks
  • Chicken legs
I am hoping to share some lovely recipes using some of the ingredients from this weeks box and they will feature in my Weekly Meal Plan that I post on Mondays.


This week my blogging highlights have been:
  • Going up to #82 in the Foodies100 ranks, This is a score which I am over the moon with!
  • I did go down 1 place to #190 in the Tots100 ranks but I am still happy with it
  • Some exciting emails regarding reviews
  • An invitation to a Unilever bloggers event next month, and I have accepted!!
  • Getting the right life/home/blog balance
  • My favourite post of the week has to be How Does Your Garden Grow? Grandads Garden A Final Goodbye
How was your week?

I am sharing my list with Mums' Days and You Baby Me Mummy - The List

The List

Paul Hollywood's Povitica - Great Bloggers Bake Off

This week was advanced dough on The Great British Bake Off. I love working with dough so decided to have a go at the Povitica.

I have followed the recipe that was used on the programme as it was a bake that I have never heard of before let alone made. I used the recipe that is featured in The Great British Bake Off - Big Book of Baking or you can also see the recipe here.

This is a loaf that I have never made before and I love to have a challenge!

This is how I did...

Paul Hollywood's Povitica


For the dough

300g plain flour
40g caster sugar
7g salt
10g fast action yeast
30g butter, melted
1 egg
150mls warm full fat milk
1/2tsp vanilla paste

For the filling

60g butter
60mls full fat milk
280g walnut pieces
100g caster sugar
2tbsp cocoa powder
1/2tsp vanilla paste
1 egg yolk

For topping

15g butter, melted
1 egg white
100g icing sugar


1 - To prepare the dough use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Take the bowl and add the flour and sugar. Place the salt on one side and the yeast on the other side. Add the melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla paste and mix on a slow speed until you have a rough dough.

2 - Increase the speed to medium and leave to mix for 8 - 10 minutes or until you have a smooth elasticated dough.

3 - Tip the dough into a large oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

4 - To prepare the filling place the butter and milk in a pan and heat until the butter has melted then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla paste.

5 - Place the walnut pieces, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth powder.

6 - Pour in the butter, milk and vanilla paste and blitz until you have a paste and leave on one side at room temperature.

7 - Cover a table or large section of worktop in either a smooth table cloth or bed sheet and flour well.

8 - Remove the dough from the bowl and without knocking it back roll out the dough into a large rectangle.

9 - Using your hands stretch out the dough into a rectangle that is about 1 metre long.

10 - Take the filling and spread over the dough evenly.

11 - Take the long side closest to you and roll the dough tightly like a Swiss roll.

12 - Gently lift the rolled dough and place in a 1kg loaf tin in a U shape, continue laying the rolled dough over to create a second U shape.

13 - Place the tin in a large bag and leave to prove for about an hour.

14 - Pre heat the oven to 180C.

15 - Place the tin in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for 15 minutes on 180C then reduce the temperature to 150C and bake for a further 45 minutes. Keep a close eye on the bake and once it gets a nice golden colour on the top cover with foil to prevent it burning.

16 - Once thoroughly baked leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before removing and finishing to cool off on a cooling rack.

17 - Once cooled completely mix the icing sugar with a little water and drizzle over the top.

This is a delicious bake with a Nutella flavoured filling. This was a bake that was enjoyed by everyone and I will be baking it again. I may even try some new flavour combinations next time!

I was delighted when I cut into the loaf to find that it was baked though and was a lovely, light dough..

Enjoy x

As always I am joining in with The Great Bloggers Bake Off that is hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps and My #GBBO Bake Along that is hosted by the lovely Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

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I was kindly sent vouchers for Kerrygold butter which I used in this recipe.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Cinnamon Plum Crumble with Kerrygold

It is getting to the time of year when a good hot pudding is the perfect way to finish a meal.

What better excuse to kick start the autumn puddings than a lot of plums that needed eating and a lovely block of Kerrygold butter.

Plums offer a quick and easy way to make a lovely crumble pudding. With the addition of dried fruits and cinnamon this is a real autumnal pudding treat with a rich and buttery topping.

This is what I did...

Cinnamon Plum Crumble


8 large plums, stone removed and quartered
50g light muscovado sugar
100g mixed dried fruit with candied peel
1 cinnamon stick

For the crumble:

125g Kerrygold butter, cubed
125g light muscovado sugar
125g plain flour
25g chopped hazelnuts
50g muesli


Pre heat the oven to 180C fan

1 - Place the quartered plums in a pan with the muscovado sugar, mixed fruit and cinnamon stick and place on a medium heat

2 - Cook for 10 minutes before removing from the heat

3 - To prepare the topping place the butter, muscovado sugar, plain flour, hazelnuts and muesli in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter to create a heavy breadcrumb consistency

4 - Pour the fruit into an oven proof dish

5 - Scatter the crumble mixture over the top and place in the centre of the pre heated oven for 20 minutes

This pudding is delicious served as it is or with custard or cream. The butter gives this topping a rich texture which goes perfectly with the plums.

Having a deliciously warming pudding is a great way to welcome the colder weather!

Keep an eye out, next month, for the redesigned Kerrygold's butter.

Kerrygold packets are having a make over! The limited edition packs have been designed by Irish Fashion designer Orla Kiely.

In addition Kerrygold are offering the chance to win Orla Kiely kitchen items every week as part of an on the pack promotion on the limited edition packs. The prizes include cake stands, butter dishes and cake tins. These can be won by visiting Kerrygold's Facebook Page. I love the design and think that they should make their packets like it all the time!

What do you think?

Photograph courtesy of Kerrygold

Enjoy x

I am sharing my recipe with the lovely Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. I was delighted to see that my Earl Grey Cake was one of Lucy's featured bakes, thank you!

Disclaimer - I was sent vouchers for Kerrygold butter for the purpose of this post. No payment was received. All views and opinions are my own and 100% honest.