Friday, 30 June 2017

Venison Sausage Casserole

In our house we all love a good stew. They are always so full of flavour and a real comforting meal. When we were shopping recently in Marks and Spencer's Food Hall we spotted some delicious sounding venison sausages. Venison is a meat that we love so when we spotted these sausages we could not resist.

I knew that they would taste amazing in a stew and wold help them to go even further.

This is what I did...

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Weight Loss Fashion

Today I am sharing a post that is a little different to my foodie post. I have spoken in the past about my weight loss journey. I still have not reached my final target but I have reached my original target and I am finally feeling happy with how I am. Since I returned to the working world a few weeks ago I have been getting glimpses of the old Kirsty coming back and I love it!

Along with the weight loss and returning to work I definitely needed some new clothes. So when I got an email asking me if I would like to try out some summer clothes the timing was perfect. When it came to deciding what to try I knew that I would need some blouses and dresses. But I like clothes that can be multi functional, items that can be worn for work but also at the weekend.

#CookBlogShare Week 26 - Plus 4 Summer Recipes

Hello and welcome to week 26 of Cook Blog Share.

Well a lot has happened during the last 4 weeks. I have started my new job and loving it! But next week it is changing again. Until the end of term I am doing full days. So I have a feeling I will be well and truly ready for the six weeks summer holiday to come!

Last week the Cook Blog Share linky was hosted by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes who, like me, could not resist the lovely summer feeling! As the weather has been glorious it is no surprise that summer dishes won again this week. I am hoping for plenty more lovely weather and lots of eating al fresco. The meals that I have decided to feature are all perfect for outside dining with the family or friends.

Here are my four favourite recipes from week 25 of #CookBlogShare...

Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2017 Week 26

Hello and welcome to week 26 of #MealPlanningMonday.

Wow we are already half way through the year! Where has the time gone?

Last weeks meal plan was a huge success, we had each and every main meal that I had planned! The only slight alteration was that the meatballs were used in a bolognese sauce and is in the freezer ready and waiting for next week as we decided to get an easy meal while we were out on Saturday. I am finally getting used to my new routine of housework, kids, blogging and work. But it is all about to change yet again! I have been asked to do some overtime as of next week. I will be doing full days until the end of term which is going to make meal planning even more important!

This weeks meal plan is a super cheap budgeting plan. As I am now employed I have had to declare this for our tax credits. I always declare any changes as soon as I can so that we do not get any over payments. This has meant that we have had a drop in money which, until I get paid, really is effecting our shopping budget. But I am not complaining I think it does us good to have a cheap week! Since my work with Aldi came to an end I have been looking round at supermarket prices and have been pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of prices at Tesco are now comparable to Aldi. This, for me, is great news as I can place click and collect orders and not have to pay significantly more for our shopping! The click and collect service is now a God send! I drive past Tesco on my way home so not only does it save me time but also saves us money each week!

This weeks meal plan is not only a cheap one, but, I think, a delicious one! This is what we will be having this week...

Friday, 23 June 2017

Lemon and Lime Meringue Pie - A kMix Recipe

One of the hubby's favourite desserts has to be lemon meringue pie. He often moans that I do not make this a lot and he is right. I could not tell you the last time, before now, that I made one. So when I mentioned to him that I wanted to try out the balloon whisk attachment on the Kenwood kMix stand mixer he suggested a lemon meringue pie without hesitation. As I was baking for father's day I could not refuse.

When I made the pie it was one of the hottest days of the year so needless to say I did not want to be in the kitchen for hours so I did cheat a little. Instead of making my own pastry I did buy some pre made shortcrust pastry. Unfortunately it did not turn out as well as when I make my own. I must confess I did wonder whether or not to share this recipe simply because of the poor pastry but the pie tasted amazing and the meringue was the best I made! Plus I am only human, not every single meal or recipe I make turns out Instagram perfect, but hey that is life!

When it came to making the meringue the Kenwood kMix did a fantastic job and I was able to hold the bowl upside down in no time! The meringue has to be the best meringue that I have ever made. It was so light and fluffy and once baked had the perfect crispy topping combined with the softer centre.

This is what I did...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sprouted Wholemeal Spelt Flour Carrot Cake

One of my all time favourite cakes has to be carrot cake. Surprisingly it is not a cake that I make very often but that makes it even more of a treat!

I was recently sent some new flours to try which gave me the perfect excuse to make a carrot cake! I was sent an email from the team over at Bite UK telling me about the new Spiffing sprouted flours. Needless to say I was curious and wanted to know more. Sprouted flours have been through a germination technique called sprouted. This process wakes up the grain, bringing it to life and acting as a catalyst for nutrients. Flours that have undergone this germination have many benefits including:
  • More easily digestible. They are rapidly absorbed by the body and kinder to the stomach.
  • Increased key nutrients such as Vitamins B and C, folate, fibre, essential amino acids and increased anti oxidants.
  • Enhanced taste and texture.
The flours come in four varieties:
  • Sprouted wheat flour
  • Sprouted wholemeal spelt flour
  • Sprouted buckwheat flour
  • Sprouted chickpea flour

For this bake I decided to use the sprouted wholemeal spelt flour. I love the nutty flavour that spelt brings to a bake and knew that it would be perfect for this cake. I got my inspiration for this cake from Signe Johansen's beautiful book Scandilicious Baking. This is what I did... 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Quick and Easy Food Hacks for a Healthier Tea Time! - Guest Post

Fast food and being healthy don’t usually go hand in hand, but when you’re whipping up your own dinners it’s possible to combine the two. Take a look at my food hacks for making classic dishes healthier and quicker, or preparing in advance to get you ahead on the night.
Wok it up
One of the quickest meals you can make has to be a stir fry. I like to pack in loads of vegetables so it’s really good for you – whatever I have in the fridge but usually carrots, peppers and greens at the very least. If you have a big wok you can cook your meat, veg and sauce together too and save on washing up.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2017 Week 25

Hello and welcome to week 25 of MealPlanningMonday!

I hope you had a great week and were as blessed with the summer weather as we were! It feels so good to finally have some sunshine and heat. My moods are always so much better when it is sunny! Over the weekend we have spend the majority of the time out in the garden. I even did my ironing outside in the sun while the children were playing under the water sprinkler.

Last week I started my job and I love it! I know that I made the right decision applying for the job. It has given me a new lease of life. I am my old self again, interacting with real people and having something different to apply myself to. Being part time means that I can still keep up with my love of blogging. I really do have the best of both worlds.

The only thing that did not quite go as well was my meal plan. It started off well but then the nice weather came and my food motivation went out. We did have the mushroom and lentil ragu, which was amazing and enough left for a second meal. So the following day I added some MOR pork, super green veg and lentil sausages that I was sent to try and had a second meal. The gluten, wheat and dairy free sausages went perfectly with the sauce. Each sausage is full of pork, asparagus, peas, spinach, green lentils, onion and coriander in a sweet chilli dressing.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Birthday Gift Round-up

It is official, I have been well and truly spoilt with both gifts and love! I thought that I would share with you some of my gifts and some things that I plan to treat myself to with some of my birthday money!

My family know that with Cath Kidston items they simply cannot go wrong. This is a brand that I love! So when I opened this beautiful British Birds Curved Saddle Bag I was over the moon. This is a bag that I had pointed out in the past to the hubby. It is smaller than my other bag and is perfect for me to take to work. As the bag is smaller he knew that I would also need a smaller purse, so also wrapped me up this lovely little leather Cath Kidston purse. As I have recently started my new job I also wanted some new work shoes. I like my shoes to be a bit different. If I am wearing all black I like a pair of shoes that give it a bit of contrast. These Elvington Rose Embossed Ballerina Shoes are a fantastic addition to my shoe collection!

Anyone that knows me knows I love gin! So receiving a bottle of Thomas Dakin small batch gin got the thumbs up from me! This is a gin that I have not tried before which made it even more exciting! For my coffee at work the kids also gave me this quirky quote mug that says "Do more of what makes you happy" this is a perfect quote for life!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Race for Life Energy Boost Flapjacks

Last week my mum and I completed the race for life. We usually run in the morning but the race for life was being held in the evening so I knew that we would both need an energy boost both before and after the race. This is how this recipe came along. After doing some research into foods I discovered that malt extract is a fantastic, healthy way to boost sugar levels and replenish your energy levels. Malt extract is not something that is widely available in supermarkets but I did find some in our local Holland and Barrett store. In this recipe I have paired the malt extract with honey, bananas, dates and plenty of protein!

This is what I did...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Life and Luck Before 40!

Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

Today is my birthday.

Today I turn 39.

39, how can I be 39?

All of a sudden the years seem to have crept up. Next year I hit the big 4 0. I remember feeling dread as I went from my 20's into my 30's then once my birthday was over I realised it was not such a big deal. So why is 40 such a big deal?

People say that once you hit 40 you have hit mid life but I am going into my final year of my thirties with a different view. When I hit 40 I am going to be going into some of the best years of my life. During my thirties I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel about life. I went into my thirties as a single working mum to J. During my 30's I met, fell in love with and married my hubby. He turned my life into something that I dreamt of. He gave me the stability and completed me in a way that I always longed for. We have been blessed with our beautiful twins and have a loving family. My 30's have been the most settled, happy and stable years. Lady luck has definitely been on my side and as I go into the final year of my 30's I am actually looking forward to seeing how my life changes during my 40's.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Food for Healthy Hair

Recently I have been looking more closely about what vitamins and minerals are good various aspects of our health. At the moment I have been looking how food can benefit the health of my hair. Last summer I had a hair disaster. I decided that I wanted to change the colour of my hair from dark brown to blonde. Yes I thought that I would save some money and do it myself. Not surprisingly it did not go as planned. My hair went from dark brown to orange! This happened just before we were due to go on holiday with Carnival Cruise. I ended up getting the colour sorted at a hair dressers which did get the colour looking good but it did damage the condition of my hair. It needed a lot of bleach and toners and since then the health of my hair has not been fantastic. I try not use heat products unless I am going somewhere special and use deep conditioning products. But to try and repair my hair the natural way I have been looking at what foods will help to naturally repair the colour damage that I have done. Eating the correct balance of minerals, nutrients and vitamins will help to keep your hair shiny, lustrous and strong.

This is what I have discovered...

Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

Monday, 12 June 2017

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2017 Week 24

Hello and welcome to week 24 of #MealPlanningMonday.

This is a big week for me. Today I am finally starting my new job. I am so excited and a little nervous but looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life.

This weeks meal plan was planned before I did my shopping. Over the last few weeks I have been getting a box of vegetables delivered so I have planned after the box has arrived. But as they are away for a couple of weeks I have had to plan more in advance. To save money I have also gone back to ordering our shopping online. When I go shopping I often get tempted by offers and always end up buying more than we actually need. So by shopping online I have more control and can easily add or take things off over the week. During the half term I did a 'click and collect' order so that I did not have to take the children shopping and it was so easy! So instead of getting my shopping delivered this week I have done another click and collect order and plan to continue shopping this way as it is going to be so much easier now that I am working.

Last week I completed the Cancer Research Race for Life. This, for me, was a great achievement because when I signed up to do it I could not run for 2 minutes let alone for 5k. So I am feeling quite proud of myself and plan to continue running. I completed the race in 41 minutes and found finishing with my mum to be really emotional.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Family Time at Prezzo

During the half term last week the children and I met up with my sister and her daughters for a lunch treat at Prezzo. The school holidays gave us the perfect opportunity to get together with the children to enjoy some food. 

Prezzo have made family dining even easier and family orientated with their new La Famiglia Feast sharing dish. We, as a family love to sit and eat together and regardless what others have everybody wants to dig in and try other meals which when you are out can be a bit difficult. But Prezzo have created the perfect feast for a family. One large bowl of pasta, side dishes, drinks and even ice cream. One bowl for everyone to share. This is ideal for families and a fantastic way to come together over some delicious food.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

One Pot Fish Stew on a Budget

Who does not love a good way to save money on meals? As the prices of our everyday food goes up I am constantly trying to find ways to make both the food and our money go further. Back in March The Guardian reported that there had been a 2.3% rise in the price of everyday produce that we buy from the supermarket. I am sure that we are not the only family that is feeling the pinch! Despite trying to save money I also want to ensure that we are eating healthily. One food that is full of goodness but always seems to be quite expensive is fish. When I go shopping I always check out the reduced section and when they have fish I get stocked up! 

Before I tell you all about my Fish Stew on a Budget recipe let me tell you how I save money on our meals...
  • Use less meat/fish and bulk dishes up with vegetables, beans or grains such a pearl barley or lentils
  • Always check out the reduced section in the supermarket
  • Freeze any leftovers as they can be added to future meals
  • Don't always go for the branded items, try the supermarket own brand and value brands
  • Check the price of loose fruit and vegetables and compare as they are often cheaper than the pre packaged ones
  • Visit the local independent greengrocer
  • Compare prices between the supermarkets
  • Visit bargain supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl
  • Before buying household items and toiletries check out the prices at discount home stores such as Home Bargains and b&m
  • Take any money off vouchers with you
  • Meal plan before you shop and write a list of what you need

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Honey and Lavender Cake

I love this time of year. In the garden produce is growing and flowers are coming into bloom. One of our favourite flowers has to be lavender. Not only does it smell amazing and look beautiful but it also goes perfectly in bakes. In the past I have usually paired lavender with lemon and my Lemon and Lavender Cake has always been a huge success! But this time I wanted to try something different and was delighted with the results.

This is what I did...

Monday, 5 June 2017

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2017 Week 23

Hello and welcome to week 23's Weekly Meal Plan.

Last week I was a rubbish meal planner as I totally forgot to plan! I got so wrapped up in the long weekend I only realised on Monday evening that I had forgotten. So I rebelled and completely winged it and it really was not so bad! It was half term so we enjoyed a meal out then I was not feeling well so I reached for quick and easy dinners.

How was your half term? We had a lovely week and it really did fly by. We were only in for one day so I think that made the time go quicker. We had a lovely lunch at Prezzo for BritMums post and met up with my sister and her girls. Another day we went for a walk at the local hall and gardens and we finished the week with a bargain Mini Morn movie at our local Vue cinema. Normally the cinema costs us a small fortune but thanks to the Mini Morn offer I only had to pay £2.50 each!