Monday, 31 October 2016

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 31st October 2016

Wow, tomorrow is November! The months are certainly flying by. The beginning of November is going to be a busy and exciting week. On Sunday J and I are going to his first ever concert. I am taking him to see Bring Me The Horizon and I cannot wait to be with him for his first concert. I think my son is going to be my concert buddy! Then next week I will be enjoying a festive feast at River Cottage with Foodies100. I love River Cottage and still can't quite believe that I am going!

Last week was half term and the meal plan went smoothly, especially the lunch time plan. It was such a success and easier I am going to continue planning my lunches as well as dinners.

Unfortunately my weigh in did not go as planned. I actually put on half a pound which I am going to put down to half term and not get down about it. Yes I was disappointed but this week is a new week.

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

Sunday, 30 October 2016

8 Easy Halloween Cupcake Decoration

Halloween is upon us again and the kids always want some deliciously spooky treats. Last year I shared with you some healthy fruity treats, the year before I shared a spider web pizza along with banana ghouls and mini pumpkin pies. This year I thought that I would share my top, easy cupcake decorations. Time can be a big issue when it comes to decorating cakes and creating a spooky treat. All 8 of the following ideas are quick, easy and child friendly. Get the kids in the kitchen and let their imagination go wild!

Aldi have challenged me to create a Halloween themed bake using their products. In the past I have told you about their fantastic baking range The Pantry, which I have used in today's bake along with some great products that made the perfect toppers.

Here are my 8 easy Halloween cupcake decorations...

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Love it or Hate it Cottage Pie

This is going to be one of those love it or hate it recipes and one that I know will certainly divide my audience but it is just too good to go unshared!

I have recently joined a local Slimming World group, which I am planning to tell you more about soon. Changing the foods that I can eat freely has made me look at healthier alternatives and ways to add more flavour to meals. Cottage Pie is a firm family favourite but I usually thicken the stock with gravy granules. But, if you follow the Slimming World plan you will know, gravy is not a free food. This got me thinking of a different ingredient that was not only free but would also do the job. The magic ingredient did an amazing job, it thickened the stock to a gravy consistency and added a delicious depth of flavour!

The secret ingredient is Marmite! Hence me calling this my Love it or Hate it Cottage Pie. Even if you are not a lover of Marmite this dish is definitely worth a try. The two boys hate Marmite in sandwiches but loved this cottage pie and still have no idea what I used!

This is what I did...

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Finding the Perfect Autumn Winter Boots from Hotter

As much as I enjoy the summer, I always look forward to autumn arriving. There is something so comforting about autumn. Watching the leaves in the trees change from green to brown, cooking plenty of slow cooked meals, getting the jumpers out again and of course changing footwear! One of my favourite things about autumn is being able to get my boots out again. The flip flops have been put away and it is all about the boots. Even though I have plenty of boots a new years season definitely deserves a new pair of boots!

This got me searching for this years style. When I buy boots and shoes I am all for comfort before height of fashion. Gone are the days when all I want to wear are high heels, I now have kids to run around after, school runs to do, dogs to walk, chickens and rabbits to tend to. As much as I look for comfort I also want a pair of boots that look good! My ideal boots are ones that go with jeans or leggings but will also go with a long winter dress or with tights and a skirt.

When I was asked if I would like to try a pair of Hotter boots I jumped at the chance! In the past I always associated Hotter shoes with more mature wearers. However when I actually looked at what shoes they have to offer I was pleasantly surprised. I got my first pair of Hotter shoes earlier in the year and was instantly impressed. They stock both full and half sizes which, for me is ideal being a five and a half. My first Hotter shes were the the classic Shake shoes in a wonderfully summery cornflower blue. Over the spring and summer they were my go to shoes that went with all outfits.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Great Bloggers Bake Off - Savarin

As much as I love the Great British Bake Off I will admit that this year I have been a little disappointed with the themes *sorry* and I have found that on a number of weeks I have not been inspired to bake along. However as soon as I saw the technical from patisserie week I knew I had to have a go. I have never made a savarin before or, if I am honest, ever heard of it before. But I love yeast, sweet bread style cakes so knew that it would go down well here.

As always I was able to source all of the ingredients from my local Aldi. The ingredients are great and are low in price which is an added bonus! At the moment Aldi have got a lot of baking product that are on special buy and it was there I found a lovely non stick, premium bundt tin and an icing bag and nozzle set at a bargain price!

I will warn you that the savarin is a long bake. I started mine in the morning and it was finished in the evening. But it is a great bake and well worth the extra effort. As it needed a lot of time between steps I was able to do a bit, leave it and get on with other jobs and keep returning to the bake.

This is how I got on...

*UPDATE* Look what I received for my savarin!!!

Yes! I got a star baker award which I am over the moon about especially as I have never made one before and it was the technical challenge! Thank you Jenny for selecting my bake and for hosting the Great Bloggers Bake Off!

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 24th October 2016

The first half term for the children has been completed and we now have a week off! During the half term meal planning is even more important. As the twins have a hot school dinner in the evenings they have just been having a light meal so I am going the have to be organised. At the moment I am planning for us to all eat together in the evening, but if they are getting too hungry at lunchtime I will do them a hot dinner earlier. 

Last week I had my first Slimming World weigh in. Last week I was so good, I followed the plan 100% and was delighted to find that in my first week I had lost 4.5lbs! My target for this week is to loose 2.5lbs and get my first half stone award. So far, I am loving the food choices that the food plan is allowing me and have been eating a lot of free foods. My syns have mainly been a sneaky gin in the evening. However on Saturday the plan did go to pot. The day was manic, we have been redecorating J's bedroom and on Saturday we were putting up furniture, the kids were driving us crackers and I baked a Savarin! Cake and gin won and I enjoyed it. But from Sunday I was back on the plan and moving forward.

This week I am going to be paying particular attention to my lunches. With the children being at home snacking and picking is going to be more tempting so I need to plan even more.

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

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Fruit Layered Porridge Breakfast Bowl

Last week I joined a local Slimming World group. Recently I have been eating and drinking what I want without much thought to what it was doing to me health. This has caused my weight to naturally go up which is starting to effect my health and well being. So now my meals are all about using as many "free" foods as possible to ensure that I am full, but full of good, healthy foods. Normally I am not a breakfast person but this last week I have been looking forward to my breakfast. This has been my favourite breakfast. It does take a little effort but is so worth it and that is why I am sharing it with you today!

Oats are a deliciously filling fibre rich food that are the perfect way to start the day. Porridge oats should be classed as a super food. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre but they also help reduce high blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, keeping blood sugar levels steady and they give you enough energy to keep you going until lunch time! The best part is that you do not need to eat a lot to gain the health benefits. This breakfast, with the oats combined with fruit, is the ideal way to start the day.

This is what I did...


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Chocoholic Chocolate Cake

A few weeks ago I was delighted to be asked to bake a cake for the village Macmillan coffee morning. The cake sale was a huge success and raised almost £600 towards helping this amazing cancer care charity. Macmillan were there for our family when my grandfather was poorly with cancer and they are a charity that touch the lives of families that have been or are effected by the evil disease. So to help raise as much money as possible I knew my cake needed to be something special. I decided to make a chocolate cake and all that I needed to get was some items to finish it off. I knew that I would find the perfect finishing touches at Aldi and I certainly did.

Aldi have a great selection of home baking products along with chocolate treats, sweets and biscuits. I eventually settled on chocolate fingers, everyone loves chocolate fingers! So I stocked up with chocolate fingers, cocoa powder and the other ingredients and got baking!

This is what I did...

Monday, 17 October 2016

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 17th October 2016

Hello Monday and hello to a new week!

Last week I took a huge step to better health. On Friday I went and joined a Slimming World group. In the past when I have tried to follow the plan I have done it online and have soon gone off track. I think that this is down to a multitude of reason, one, I was not in the right mindset and two, I was only accountable to myself, I could make excuses to myself or just not bother recording my weight. I know that if I physically go to a group and get weighed, along with the support of a group, I am more likely to succeed. When I actually stood on the scales, it was not as bad as I was expecting, but I am at my heaviest and it is starting to show on my health. My back is aching again, I am getting excess acid and bloating, which are all signs that I need to change what I eat. I am not looking at this as a slimming diet, I am looking at it as a lifestyle change for a healthier me. My weigh in days are Fridays so I will let you know how I got on in my first week next week.

This weeks meals are a mixture of ideas and recipes that I have found in my Slimming World books as well as adapted meals to suit the plan.

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

Friday, 14 October 2016

Celeriac, Bacon and Cumin Soup

At this time of year I love a good soup. They are great as a lovely warming lunch or even as a light dinner. The best thing about soups is the added goodness that you get from all of the ingredients. With soups you can easily disguise vegetables that the children may not like but be happy that they are unknowingly eating and and most of all enjoying it. For us grown ups soup is a fabulous healthy option that can be bulked out with filling, good for you foods that will really keep you going for longer!

Today's soup uses celeriac. This is a vegetable that often gets over looked. It really is not the prettiest of vegetables but who says that is important? I would rather have a tasty, ugly vegetable than a pretty but horrible vegetable. Taste, at the end of the day, is what matters. Recently we have been having celeriac more and more. It is a cheaper vegetable and is so versatile. The other week I used it to make vegetable spaghetti and everybody loved it. The children did not even question what it was! It looked like spaghetti, it tasted good hence there were no questions. Celeriac also goes great in soup, it adds a really creaminess to the soup and one that I am sure you will love!

This is what I did...

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Saving Money for Christmas

In just over 10 weeks it is going to be Christmas. I do not know about you but I have a habit of leaving things until last minute. This includes saving money for the big holiday. We all love Christmas time. It is a real family affair and we always splash out. We buy lots of foodie treats and drinks and of course plenty of presents. As much as we love to give on Christmas not going over our budget is a must. Nobody wants to spend months paying off the credit card due to over spending. Today I thought that I would share with you my top saving tips. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dotty's Yearbook with Whiskas

Today I am sharing with you a post that is a little different from usual. Today I am sharing with you a post about our cat. Family and friends often refer to us as the good life family as we grow our own vegetables and have a lot of animals. We are out numbered by animals, we own 3 chickens, 2 rabbits, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and our dear little cat, Dotty. So when the leading cat food brand, Whiskas, got in contact and asked if I would like to share a year book style collage of Dotty I thought it would be a lot of fun.

Dotty is the first cat that we have had and we simply could not have asked for a softer, more loving cat. We got her as a kitten two years ago when the twins were two so both Dotty and the twins have grown together therefore there is a strong bond between them. We often find Dotty asleep in the twins bedroom either on the floor or alternating between their beds. She really is a valued member of the family.

Whiskas have started their Kitten Kollage campaign to celebrate the joy of owning a cat and the pleasure that they bring to our lives. They have developed a You Tube channel which specialises in educating people on how to care for their kittens and also inspires owners with their videos that have been set up in a mock college environment. The videos are not only informative but are also great fun and the kittens are the cutest! After watching a few of the videos I did get sentimental about the kitten days and spent most of the morning looking through pictures of Dotty from the first day that we met her. I have selected just a few of my favourite shots to create a Dotty memory post...

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Chicken and Chorizo with Artisan Tagliatelle

For this weeks Aldi recipe post I am featuring some delicious artisan pasta that I found when I was shopping last week. We all love pasta dishes so as soon as I saw Aldi's special buy of artisan pastas I knew I had to feature them in a recipe.

Cucina have created for Aldi some pastas that are not your regular pastas, they all have added twists of flavour to make them unique and to add even more flavour to your dish. Today's recipe features the tagliatelle with spring onion but I also came home with some tagliatelle with wild garlic and some Specially Selected taschle pasta. I have got a meal planned using the wild garlic tagliatelle this week. If it is a success I will definitely be telling you all about it!

Today's recipe combines some of our favourite flavours together to create a new family favourite.

This is what I did...

#CookBlogShare Round Up and Week 41 Linky

Welcome to week 41 of CookBlogShare.

I cannot get over how quickly this year is flying by. We are in October and dare I say it we have just over 10 weeks until Christmas! The weather is certainly changing as are our meals. Gone are the summery salads and we are now welcoming back warming stews and homemade soups. I love seeing the change of season around us, the leaves falling, the days getting shorter and outside feeling colder. With the changes outside comes changes in the kitchen. We all start to crave more warming, comforting dishes that have been cooking for hours and leave you with a cosy feeling inside. Now that I am wanting more savoury dishes my favourite recipes from week 40 of CookBlogShare definitely reflect that. This weeks recipes are all ones that I know the whole family would enjoy and ones that have all gone onto my 'to try' list.

Here are my four favourite recipes from week 40 of CookBlogShare...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 10th October 2016

Hello and welcome to another weekly meal plan!

Last weeks meal plan was going perfectly until Thursday when it all went pear shaped! On Thursday the hubby had the day at home. It was the twins first harvest festival service and the small car needed to go to the garage for a service. We had our day planned out, take the kids to school, drop the car off, do the weekly shopping, collect the car and watch the kids service. You can probably guess it did not go to plan! While we were at the garage we saw a car we liked and that was us for at the garage for the day! After a lot of waiting we agreed to go back on the Friday. As we had not managed to get the shopping in the morning we just picked something quick and easy from the shop for dinner. So that was Thursday's meal not made. Friday was yet another full day talking cars and driving around. In the end we left the first garage and went to a different one and had a fantastic, relaxed experience and left with a car bought! As I am sure you will know, if you have been car shopping, it is exhausting! We had no lunch and after nearly 5 hours all I wanted was to go home, have some food and a glass of wine! Yes, I had wine, my month of no alcohol has not gone to plan either!

But onwards and upwards, we are collecting the new car next week and we will be sticking to the meal plan!

Last weeks meal of celeriac spaghetti was a huge success!!! Everyone loved it and the children did not question what it was. This is a meal that we will definitely be having again.

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

Friday, 7 October 2016

#FoodieseekerFriday - Fun Around the Pool and Food!

Before we went on our holiday with Carnival one of the things that the children were looking forward to was playing in the pools. I knew that the outside areas would be where we would spend a lot of our time while onboard Vista.

The main, central hub of the ship was on deck 10 at the Beach Pool. This was where the majority of the activity was. There was a quieter pool on the same deck at the rear of this ship, Tides Pool.

This was our favourite pool. As it was a quieter pool it was ideal for the twins to become more adventurous in the water. However J spent most of the time at the Carnival Waterworks water park. This was the place for water slides, water fall and splashing fun!

J is a confident swimmer so he loves to be off. In the past Little I was the more confident in the water so I did not have any real worries but Little T, on the other hand, really was not sure. When he was smaller he did not like loud noises and seemed to have sensitive ears, he hated water being near them. As he got older he became more tolerant of water and even enjoys showers. So before we left for our holiday I got thinking about how I could make swimming more exciting for him. What would give both the twins more encouragement to get into the water. This led me to SwimFin.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

#FloraLunchbox Challenge - Getting the Balance Right

All parents who have children of school age will know how hard it can be to give your children a good variety of packed lunches. But it is not only variety that is important. We also need to ensure that they contain a good balance of nutritional elements that are essential for good health.

Flora have recently conducted a survey regarding children's lunch boxes and their results have shown that this is a common dilemma that parents face. I was not surprised that they had found these results, however what I was surprised about that only 1.6% of children's lunchboxes are meeting school food nutritional standards! This percentage has only increased by 0.5% in the last 10 years! Only 1 in 5 lunchboxes contain any salad or vegetables! The report illustrates that the majority of lunchboxes do meet the standards of protein and vitamin C, which is great, but there is still work to be done.

To help parents Flora has sent out 631,000 lunchboxes and lunch meal planners to retailers throughout the country. The guides are intended to make packing a lunch easier. I was sent one of the lunchbox bundles and have found the guide to be an immense help. The guide sets out exactly what our children need to be having in their lunchboxes.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Degustabox - September Contents and Recipe

It is that time of the month when I share with you what foodies treat arrived in Septembers Degustabox. As with each month, the box contained a wide variety of products from snacks to drinks, from desserts to lunches. There really is something for everyone each month.

Today I am going to tell you about all of the products that arrived and share a dish that I have made using one of the products that came in the Degustabox.

  • Metcalfes - A dark chocolate treat that is both delicious as well as light. The popcorn base has been topped with the finest Italian chocolate.
  • Get Fruity - This Tangy Pineapple, Coconut and Lime bar is 100% natural and made from gluten free oats and virgin coconut oil. It contains so refined sugar and is produced on a nut free site.
  • Say Yes to No - These toasted bread chips are so moreish! They contain no artificial colours or flavours.
  • Hartley's - These little pots of jelly, went down a treat and had disappeared thanks to the kids as soon as they saw them!
  • Mrs Crimble's - We have tried Mrs Crimble's products before but have never seen the gluten free pasta before. This is a product that we are excited to try!
  • Chia Bia - We love chia seeds and were not disappointed with these ones.
  • Miso Tasty - Miso soup is made from 12 month fermented rice and this soup has been paired with wakame and spring onion which comes in separate sachets to retain the true miso flavours.
  • Cirio - I have featured Cirio's borlotti beans in today's recipe. These beans are ready to eat and are delicious in a salad.
  • Teisseire - This raspberry and cranberry squash contains zero sugar and gives water a lovely refreshing twist! Perfect for this sober October!
  • Cape Drinks - Both the sparkling pineapple and passion fruit and the sparkling peach and lychee drinks are made with rooibos tea and a full of anti oxidants. 
As you can see the products are all that little bit different from what you usually find in the supermarket and that is what we like most about Degustabox.

Now let me tell you about how I used the borlotti beans in a quick and easy salad!

This is what I did...

Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Borlotti Bean Salad


75g mixed leaf salad
1 small fresh beetroot, thinly sliced
Goats cheese, cubed
1 x 150g tin of borlotti beans
1tbsp truffle oil
1tbsp balsamic oil


1 - Mix the truffle oil with the balsamic vinegar in a bowl

2 - Place the mixed leaves in a large mixing bowl, add the borlotti beans and pour over the oil

3 - Mix the ingredients thoroughly

4 - Serve the oil coated vegetables on a plate, top with the slices of beetroot and scatter the cubes of goats cheese. I have not added an amount as you can add as much or as little as you wish!

This is such a quick and easy lunch and can easily be packed in a box and taken out. The truffle oil combines perfectly with the balsamic to create an easy yet full of flavour dressing. The beetroot that I have used in this recipe was freshly picked from the garden, but you can use any fresh beetroot.

If you would like to try Degustabox yourself they are offering Hijacked By Twins readers the chance to receive a whopping £7.00 off your first box when you add the promotional code BLDEG15 at the checkout!

Enjoy x

Disclosure: I receive a monthly Degustabox for the purpose of my posts. No cash payment was received. All views and opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Link up your recipe of the week

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Homemade Pizza

For this weeks baking post with Aldi I thought that I would share with you a perfect recipe for easy homemade pizza dough. If you are looking for a fun meal that can be made with the kids then this is the recipe for you. Pizza dough is so quick and easy to make all you need is a good quality flour. On a recent shopping trip to Aldi I found the perfect flour on special buy. The Italian tipo '00' flour is a lovely fine flour that is ideal for pasta, pizza and grissini. As soon as I saw it, it was placed in my trolley and I went on the hunt for toppings. 

On Saturday I needed to keep the kids busy as the hubby was out so what better way to keep them busy than to bake? I prepared the dough then gave them a ball of dough each, the toppings and let them go!

This is what we did...

Monday, 3 October 2016

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 3rd October 2016

Welcome to another Weekly Meal Plan and the first one of the new month. I still can't believe we are in October! The year is flying by. October brings more autumnal weather and the return of comfort foods. Autumn is one f my favourite months. I love seeing the change of seasons, when I live abroad there was not the distinctive seasons like we have here and I really did miss them. I enjoy watching the garden as the seasons change and the change in seasonal vegetables. Once autumn arrives along with the colder days our meals feature a lot more root vegetables which are so versatile.

Small gs16 please support me 600x600

October also means no alcohol! We have challenged ourselves to go sober for October. This is a big thing for us as we both enjoy a drink in the evening. I am looking forward to seeing some health changes and hopefully a weight loss. If I can raise a little bit of money for Macmillan along the way, fantastic. If you would like to sponsor me you can do here!

We are also cutting gluten out! Recently the hubby has been suffering with his excess acid. This is caused by a number of dietary issues, but one that always plays havoc for him is bread. He needs to have gluten free products but he has got lazy with it and is paying. So I am experimenting a lot with baking with gluten free products at the moment. 

I mentioned last week that we are eating healthier. This means more vegetables, poultry and fish in our diets and less red meat. As a family we are quite big red meat eaters, especially beef. We love minced beef, diced beef and of course steaks. This is another challenge, especially for me, the cook! When I did our weekly shop I stayed away from beef and stocked up on fish, chicken and turkey. I have found turkey mince and turkey steaks to not only be a healthy alternative but also a cheaper option! For our beloved minced beef dishes I have got a bag of Quorn mince in the freezer which, when cooked with beef stock and gravy, tastes just like beef!

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