Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Raspberries and Cream - 1 Basic Recipe, 2 Decadent Desserts

Raspberries are such a great fruit for adding a hit of flavour to desserts. As soon as the sunny weather comes the hot, comforting puddings are swiftly replaced with fruity desserts. I have to admit, I cannot resist a creamy fruity dessert hence why today's post contains not one, but two raspberry desserts!

Both recipes use the same basic recipe but used in two different ways you have two delicious alternative desserts. This makes dessert preparation so easy, especially when entertaining and you have guests who have different preferences, or as in our case, children who like different desserts!

For adults, Manchester Gin's raspberry infused gin added to the raspberry coulis makes these desserts an exquisite treat! When you pair the sharp flavours from the raspberries with a creamy cheese sauce you are left with a truly indulgent dessert.

This is what I did...

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Rich Venison Ragu

Game is such a lovely rich meat that we do not have as often as we would like. But this does make it a treat when we do have it. I will admit to buying this venison a few weeks ago when it was in the reduced section and put it straight in the freezer. Venison is a mince that I like to take my time cooking, I like to spend time perfecting the meal, it is not a meat that I like to cook when in a rush. With venison mince I find that the slower it is cooked, the tastier it becomes. So during the half term holidays I took the opportunity to put together a recipe that I had planned. During a shopping trip to our local TKMaxx to pick up some gourmet pasta I found a lovely Sicilian herb mix. These two ingredients were the finishing touches that I needed to create a rich ragu dinner.

This ragu takes just over an hour to cook but believe me it is certainly worth the extra effort. The extra time allows the flavours to marry together to create a deliciously rich sauce that you will not be able to resist!

This is what I did...

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Easy Giant Couscous and Mixed Bean Salad

As soon as the good weather comes I love getting creative with my salads. Trying new ingredients and new flavour combinations is all part of the fun of recipe development. Now that I am working full time I am constantly making meals that can either be heated up as leftovers the following lunch time or bulk making salads that will give the hubby and I lunches for a couple of days.

This recipe came along after a compromise between the hubby and I. I enjoy couscous but he does not like the regular small couscous but he does like giant couscous. He finds it to be more filling and more of a satisfying addition to a salad. I find couscous of any size such a versatile ingredient that can be adapted to fit each individual meal. If I am adding chicken I cook the couscous in chicken stock, if I am using vegetables I use a vegetable stock. I find that cooking the grains in stock injects so much flavour to the dish.

This salad is not only an easy meal to make but also keeps well in the fridge for up to three days. It made a delicious salad, especially when served with some crunchy fresh bread!

This is what I did...

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Rhubarb and Berry Compote and a Veggie Plot Update - Plus 2 Easy Recipes!

I love rhubarb season!

Keep reading for this scrumptious recipe!

When we bought our house 6 years ago we were delighted to find an established bed of rhubarb. Since we moved in, year after year, it has provided us with plenty of fruit. I have to admit that last year we neglected the veggie patch. This was due to time, there simply wasn't enough of it! But over the last couple of weekends the hubby and I have enjoyed taking time out in the garden. It has been hard work getting rid of all of the weeds but the end in sight. We only have one more raised bed to weed then it will all be about planning what to grow. Last weekend I spent some time focusing on the rhubarb bed. It had started to shoot and was flowering so I cut them off, had a good harvest and am hoping that this will encourage even more fresh growth. A couple of years ago the hubby built a fruit frame for our soft fruit, which at first did a fantastic job. But due to the neglect of the past year the raspberry canes in particular really took over. They had grown so tall they had broken through the mesh that we put up to stop the birds getting the berries and it really did look a mess. So, while I was weeding and sorting the rhubarb out, the hubby ripped all of the mesh off, trimmed the raspberry canes, blackcurrants and red currants, which had also become huge. We now have an accessible path through the fruit frame and are planning to create a path around the back so that we can harvest the currants easier. Looking at the amount of green berries that are on both plants I can see that there will be plenty to harvest and use in recipes! Next weekend we are planning a shopping trip to buy some vegetable plants. We are too late for seeds but we are still have time to sow plants. At the moment we are planning on getting some courgette plants, peas, edamame beans and maybe even a pumpkin for autumn. I will be keeping you up to date with how it all goes as I have loved being back in the garden. Not only do I enjoy time outside and getting back to nature but it also works wonders for my mental health. I feel so much better after a day in the garden! Too much time in can get my anxiety and depression creeping back in.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 22 Plus 4 Sweet Treat

Yay it's half term which means it is my turn to host CookBlogShare!

The last two weeks have been exhausting, but I have loved them! Our house has undergone a complete role reversal. Before I got my second job, it was the Hubby who was up and out first thing in the morning leaving me a cup of coffee in bed and at home with the children. Now it is me taking the cup of coffee to the Hubby in bed and leaving at 07:30am! The kids are loving the extra daddy time and knowing that I will be at home for them during the holidays means that they always have one of us around! I am still getting used to the long days and I am planning on doing a lot of research for healthy lunch ideas that can be made the night before, so if you have any ideas please do share them!

Last week the lovely Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes hosted the CookBlogShare linky. I have loved looking through the scrumptious recipes that you all shared and it was definitely the cakes that won me over.

Here are my four favourite recipes from week 21 of #CookBlogShare...

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 19 - Plus 4 Delicious Dishes

What a lovely long weekend it has been. Got to love an extra day at home. I don't now about you but as soon as the sun comes out our barbecue comes out and this bank holiday did not disappoint! We had lots of food al fresco, went to a foodie festival and spent time in the garden. 

Over the weekend Doncaster hosted not only the finish line for the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire but also had their own food festival called Delicious Doncaster. The hubby and I love a good foodie festival, yes I am not the only foodie in the house! The market area was full of delicious street food stalls, local produce, locally made alcohol and even The Hairy Bikers! Yes the bikers were there doing demonstrations and taking in the atmosphere. Needless to say we came home with lots of foodie treats!

Monday, 30 April 2018

To Blog or Not to Blog? That is the Question!

On 2nd July 2013 I introduced myself to the blogging world. Little did I know that I would still be sat here nearly 5 years later. The title to this post may have you wondering what I am going to write. To blog or not to blog? That is the question on my mind.

Over the last few weeks the amount of times that I have sat and written has reduced dramatically. This is due to a number of factors the main one being my return to the world of the employed. I love being back at work, socialising with adults and have human contact. Staying at home with the laptop can be extremely isolating. But on the other hand the blogging community is one of the strongest, most loyal online communities that there is. I have some wonderful friends that I would not have if it were not for blogging. But, for my mental health and stability, I need to have actual people around me, not virtual people. Since I returned to work I have noticed an improvement in my mental health. Having a routine in my life and the feeling of need has brought the 'old' me back. I thrive at work and even want more hours (yes I am that crazy!). 

I have also found that juggling everything together is even harder than I expected. I was putting too much pressure on myself. I wanted to work full time, be the ideal housewife, the perfect mum and blogger all in one. But as we all know there are only so many hours in the day.

I need to sleep, I cannot do everything.

So, something has to give!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 16

Hello and welcome to week 16 of #MealPlanningMonday!

This week is a week to go back to normality. The children have returned to school today, I am back to work and we have got our routine back. Following the Easter holidays I have gone back to part time hours at work, which I have to admit is kind of nice. I have got the house to myself this morning, I have been able to walk the children to school and have got some 'me' time back!

Last week we enjoyed a lovely, but busy, week away in Northumberland. We went out every single day, we spent quality time together as a family and time out from social media did me the world of good! I have even found that since coming home I have kept away from checking Facebook every few minutes. While we were away we visited lots of National Trust and English Heritage sites and found that having membership for both saved us a lot of money. Now that the twins are older we found that they were curious and keen to learn about the places that we visited and it was lovely. The weather may not have been great, we got wet in the rain, we got cold in the wind and splashed in the cold sea with the sun on our back and it was perfect!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

How Omega Fats Are Good For Your Diet - Guest Post

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

Omega-3 fatty acids have an incredible reputation when it comes to basic nutrition. But for sure there will be a lot of questions on your mind regarding them. Like what are Omega-3s? Is it important for my health? Will a deficiency cause problems? We will answer these question in time. But before that let us get down to the basics.
What are Omega-3 fatty acids?
We could get into the chemistry of it, but that is a whole other diverse topic. Here is what you need to know. Omega-3 fat is the good kind of fat. The kind that will benefit your health in an effective way. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are the holy grail of nutrients.
What you need to know
Most health organizations recommend 250 - 500 mg of these healthy fats per day. Those suffering from heart ailments and cancer must go up to 4000 mg per day. These essential fatty acids cannot be made by the human body and must be consumed through diet. There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. They each play a significant role in nutrition. Apart from these vital facts, read on to find its benefits on your health.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Holiday Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 15

Hello and welcome to week 15 of #MealPlanningMonday!

This weeks meal plan is a bit different as this week we are on holiday! We are staying in Northumberland for the week with my parents. Holidays are the perfect time to spend quality time together as a family away from the day to day routine. To make life easier and the load in the car lighter we did an online order that was delivered to the cottage on our arrival. As we did the order before coming my mum and I were able to plan some meals. We will not be cooking everyday but taking it in turns to cook will certainly save us a lot of money that would have been spent on meals out.

This is what we have got planned for this weeks meals...

Friday, 6 April 2018

Spring Cleaning with Dr Beckmann

As we head into the final term of the academic year I always find that the children's white t-shirts and shirts start to get tired looking. But with just one term left I really do not want to be going out to buy new shirts for three children. So when I was asked if I would like to try some Dr Beckmann products I saw it as the ideal opportunity to not only save me buying more shirts but to also put the products to the test.
I received a package of:
  • Stain Devils Pre-Wash
  • Glowhite Ultra
  • Stain Devils Survival Kit

The Stain Devils Pre-Wash works on both old and new stains. Dr. Beckmann’s Pre-Wash Stain Devil contains a unique Triple Active Complex that’s tough on stains, yet gentle on fabrics. Removing a variety of everyday stains from grease to baby food, this powerful gel is suitable for all washable white and colours, even working at low temperatures, on short cycles. This household essential doesn’t contain bleach, yet works fast to remove stains in 10-15 minutes with the help of the unique soft brush applicator. This is a great way to target stains without treating the whole garment.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

My Little Sous-Chef Tandem Cookbook Review

All of my children love to help me cook. Whether it is baking a cake or preparing a dinner they always want to be involved. Cooking is such a valuable life skill for our children to learn and a fantastic way to teach them about cooking and eating a healthy diet.

When My Little Sous-Chef asked if I would like to try their cookbook I jumped at the chance. My Little Sous-Chef is not your regular cookbook, it is the first tandem cookbook. You get two cookbooks, one for the grown ups and one for the children. Both books feature the same recipes, the grown ups book contains the detailed recipes and mouthwatering pictures whereas the children's cook is full of easy step by step instructions that are accompanied by fun drawings.

The cookbooks are divided into three scrumptious chapters:
  • Have a Bite - 7 recipes for lunches, light bites, buffet food, including sausages rolls, focaccia, pizza muffins and cheese crackers
  • Enjoy your Meal - 13 main meal recipes including bean tacos, gnocchi, spinach ravioli and fishballs
  • Yay, Dessert! - 10 irresistible sweet treats including apple roses, cheesecake, tiramisu and brownies

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 14 - Plus Three Irresistible Drinks!

Hello foodies and welcome to week 14 of the CookBlogShare linky.

I hope you all had a tasty Easter weekend. We enjoyed fish on good Friday which was followed by a mouthwatering roast lamb dinner cooked by the hubby on Easter Sunday! I will admit to being a mad shopper on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. I suddenly remembered that I had not picked up any fresh rosemary for the roast and every single shop (yes, I made the hubby drive to all of the supermarkets in the area!) had sold out. This meant that we had to rethink our roast ideas and if I am completely honest, it was even better! I simply left some dried rosemary in some rapeseed oil to soften with some chopped garlic and sea salt then before putting the leg of lamb in the oven it was scored and rubbed with the oil. It was that simple and so tasty.

It is lovely to have some time off work and being at home with the family. This week is going to fly by, the hubby has gone back to work today but is off from Thursday as we are having a week up in stunning Northumberland. This is my idea of pure bliss. I love Northumberland and always find holidays there so relaxing. I am looking forward to plenty of beach walks, freshly caught fish and delicious food, time out and quality family time. I am even planning on some time out from social media and having a true break from everything.

Anyway, back to CookBlogShare. Last week the linky was hosted by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes who did an Easter inspired round up. There were so many Easter recipes shared and despite looking so good, I have decided to go for a different theme this week.

Unfortunately there were not four recipes of the same theme so I have gone with the three that I could not resist! Here are my three favourite recipes from week 13 of CookBlogShare....

Monday, 2 April 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 14

Hello and welcome to week 14 of #MealPlanningMonday!

Yay! It is now the Easter holidays. I had a week and a half off blogging but now that I have got going again I realise that I have missed it. For me blogging has always been a way for me to get things and ideas out of my head. There is something so therapeutic about writing. This week's meal plan is full of meals that I know I am going to have time to cook, unlike when I am at work.

On Friday we are going to be leaving my mother in law, who has been living with us until the sale of her house goes through, and going up to the stunning Northumberland for a week away with my parents. This is a part of the country that I love, it is such a beautiful part of the country that is so unspoiled. We will be staying in Bamburgh and one thing I am looking forward to is walks along the perfect coastline with the castle in my view. To make next weeks meals easier and cheaper my mum and I are going to do an online order so that we can get the groceries delivered, which will save us taking a lot of food with us, to save us doing a big shop once we get there. Next weeks meal plan will be full of easy meals that can be made while on holiday so keep an eye put for that!

Now onto this weeks meal plan. This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Friday, 30 March 2018

Easy Hidden Veg Tomato Sauce

Who doesn't love a recipe that is full of hidden goodness?

I know that one of my favourite things is seeing my children tucking into a meal and not realising that they are eating vegetables that they, ordinarily, may not have wanted. This incredibly versatile sauce is my favourite go to pasta sauce. It is quick to make, easy to prepare, full of flavour and full of goodness!

There are so many ways that this basic sauce recipe can be used. The possibilities are endless. It can be used with meatballs, with mince beef for a bolognese style sauce for spaghetti or even lasagne, you could add some tuna and have it as a tuna pasta bake, you could even add some water and have it as a soup!

By combining seven vegetables with some herbs you have a great base for so many different meals.

This is what I did...

Monday, 26 March 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 13

Hello and welcome to week 13 of #MealPlanningMonday.

You may have noticed that over the last week things have been very quiet on Hijacked By Twins. I have to admit that working full time, being mum/wife and blogger is a lot harder than I expected. I have struggled to find the time to sit down and write. Luckily the Easter holidays are on their way and we have got a family holiday planned where I am planning to have a complete break from blogging and social media. I am looking forward to cutting myself off from everything to concentrate on my family and myself. I think we all need to do this every now and then for our own sanity.

My posts may have been quiet but in the background I do have some exciting review posts coming up as well as a charity post in the pipeline. Over the Easter weekend Little I will be helping me to review a tandem cookbook and I will admit to being just as excited as she is. That post will be live on 4th April so keep an eye out for that!

Now on to this weeks meal plan. The children finish school on Wednesday but I have got an extra day to work so I have a feeling that by Thursday evening I will be ready for a delicious, easy meal and a lovely glass of wine. But before then I have got some quick and easy meals that we all love!

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

#BigMac50 - Celebrating 50 Years of the Big Mac!

McDonald's has been a family favourite for years. I remember going for a McDonald's as a child and have fond memories of us taking my late grandmother who asked where the cutlery was. I am sure that there are families all over the world that have McDonald's memories too. They are a worldwide brand who everyone knows and loves. You can guarantee that where ever you are in the world, if you order a Big Mac it is going to taste exactly the same as it does at home.

Back in 2016 I wrote a post about the evolution of McDonald's after visiting one the newly refurbished restaurants in Leeds. While I was there I even made my very own Big Mac using two all beef burgers, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions all in a sesame seed bun.

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 11 - Plus Super Soups and Bread

Hello and welcome to week 11 of the Cook Blog Share linky.

The week when it is my turn to host, is always a week I look forward to. Hosting gives me the perfect excuse to sit back and read your posts. Since I started working full time I have found that I never stop and really do miss having the time to dedicate to reading blogs like I did before. During term time I tend to be more quiet but working in a school means that I have lots of holidays which gives me the ideal time to catch up. In two and a half weeks we all break up for the Easter holidays so we are all well and truly on the count down.

Usually at this time of year I am looking at making more spring time recipes but thanks to the great British weather that we have been having, snow, rain, wind, etc. I am still swaying towards warming, comforting meals. So it is not surprising that this week it was the warming soups that won me over and a necessary side dish to go with them!

Here are my four favourite recipes from week 10 of #CookBlogShare...

Monday, 12 March 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 11

Hello and welcome to week 11 of my weekly meal plan.

Last week, blog wise, things were quiet. It was a manic week, as always and I simply did not have the energy to post. But do not worry, I have plenty of recipes to share and tomorrow the fantastic #CookBlogShare linky is here on Hijacked By Twins.

This week's meal plan is a mixture of using what we have got in and meals that my mother in law can help to prepare. Fingers crossed she will be getting moved over soon, but for now she is staying with us. When we were looking in the freezer the other day we were amazed at the food that we found at the bottom. I cannot be the only person the puts foods in the freezer and forgets about them. I did start to write a list of what was in the freezer, but life took over and time became sparse. In the Easter holidays I am planning to invest in a white board that I can list everything that is in the freezer and as we use it I remove it from the list. I am sure that this will not only help to keep us on track of what we have got but should inevitably save us money on food shopping.

I have mentioned in previous blog posts about how the Hubby needs to reduce his cholesterol and blood pressure. If we are completely honest, not a lot has changed with our diets but after discussions over the weekend we are going to make a conscious effort to make small changes which will, hopefully, make a big difference. We are going to reduce the amount of red meat that we have to once a week and when we have meals that use minced beef I will substitute it with Quorn. I have discovered that nobody realises that it is Quorn if I add beef stock to the sauce. We are also going to have more chicken, turkey and oily fish.

This week's meal plan is not going to be structured to days as I think that we will need to be a little bit flexible but one day that will remain the same will be Thursday's freezer meal. After the twins swimming lesson all I want is to be able to cook a quick, easy meal.

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

Monday, 5 March 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 10

Hello and welcome to week 10 of #MealPlanningMonday 2018.

Last week was certainly an eventful week after the Beast from the East descended upon us. The temperatures dropped dramatically and the children had Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at home thanks to the school closures. However I was still at work as the Hubby was not able to get to work, thankfully my work is a lot closer and in the opposite direction so I had no excuse!

The week may have been upside down but our meal plan still went well. The only day that was different was Wednesday's meal. The only reason that it changed was because I was not sure if our online shopping delivery would arrive so I picked something up on my way home from work. But I was worrying for nothing, I was astounded when our delivery arrived 15 minutes early by Paul in the Onion van from Ocado!

On Saturday we all tucked into what is becoming one of our most favoured meals as a family. We had a Mexican meal. I made some crispy chicken for fajitas, a Quorn chilli for tacos, salad, rice, nachos and dips. I always find that the children enjoy being able to dig in and pick their food. Meals like this make meal time a really enjoyable experience!

Do you have a family favourite meal? I'd love to know what it is. I am currently looking for ideas for Saturday!

Now onto this weeks meal plan. This is what we will be enjoying...

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Beef and Lentil Cottage Pie

Sometimes you just need a good comforting meal and a favourite in our house has to be cottage pie or shepherd's pie. To keep my lot guessing I do like to make changes to this dish. So far we have enjoyed my Marmite cottage pievenison cottage piebutternut squash topped cottage pie and a curried cottage pie which I am yet to blog! I love how versatile this dish is, it can be adapted to suit all tastes.

Today's cottage pie contains low fat steak mince, fresh vegetables and lentils for extra goodness which also act as a fantastic thickener for the sauce.

This is what I did...

Monday, 26 February 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 9

Hello and welcome to week 9 of #MealPlanningMonday!

Last week really was not great. On Monday I ended up leaving work at lunchtime feeling ill, which ended up lasting all week! After a couple of visits to the doctor I finally got some antibiotics so am now, thankfully, feeling more like myself. I returned to work today and it was lovely to get some normality back.

Last week I did manage to blog about a subject which has, in the past, haunted me. In my post Body, Size, Acceptance I wrote about how I feel about my body and where I am both physically and psychologically. This post has been so therapeutic and I feel that it has lifted such a weight of my mind and I have a new found confidence, which I am loving!

This weeks meal plan is full of delicious meals and I have to admit that I am looking forward to each and every meal. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some leftovers for my lunch the following day.

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

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Body, Size, Acceptance

In the past I have written a lot about wanting to loose weight, I have been on numerous "weight loss journeys" and thought that being a small size was important.

This post is different.

This post is about finally having acceptance.

Acceptance that there is no "perfect" size, acceptance that you can never please, nor should you have to please everyone, acceptance that as long as I am happy, my husband loves me and our children are happy, size really has no significance.

This year I turn 40. The big 4 0 or as I like to say that fantastic 4 0! I am finally in a place where I am looking forward to embracing my 40's. I went into my 30's constantly seeking to please others and was way too concerned of what people thought of me. Not what they thought of me as a person, but what they thought of how I looked. Over the years, other peoples perception and the medias interpretation of the perfect body led me to bouts of anorexia and bulimia. I am not proud of this but I am not ashamed to discuss it. Eight years ago my life changed. Eight years ago I met the love of my life who 10 months later became my beloved husband. I am going into my 40's with him by my side, showing me a love like I have never known before, with our happy, healthy children and that makes me the happiest I have ever been.

He has always shown me unconditional love. He loves me for the person that I am, regardless of whether I am a size 12 or a size 18. He has given me so much confidence and it is thanks to him and his love that I am finally in the place that I am.

I am saying goodbye to fad diets, goodbye to calorie counting and hello to life. Of course I am going to eat healthily, I am just not going to constantly count calories or syns. Life is much to short to be stressing about whether you have put on or lost a pound in weight, it is too short to be beating yourself up because you had a slice of cake. I love food, I love drink, having good food and drink makes me happy and if it means that I am a bigger size, then so be it. I do love having curves, and I know that my husband loves me having curves and I think that now it is time to start embracing them. It is time to start loving my body. My body changed dramatically after having the twins but they are not changes that I should feel ashamed of, they are changes I should be proud of. Proud because my body carried 2 babies at the same time, carried 2 placentas and grew, protected and nurtured them both until they were ready to arrive. Little I weighed 5lbs 13oz and Little T weighed 6lbs 0.5oz, they were both good weights and my body paid the price. Now I look at the twins who are now 6 years old and I am still amazed by them and amazed by what my body did. Now it is time to celebrate my body and what it has done!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Chicken and Pepper Pasta - Perfect Mid-week Meal

During the working week it is always great to have a quick and easy meal that you know that you can rely on. People often associate quick and easy with processed ready meals. But with this recipe I am aiming to show you that is not the case! 

This meal is quick, easy, low fat and super healthy but more importantly is a meal that the whole family will love, even the kids and the fussy eldest, wanted more! In my mind, that makes a meal a success. There was even enough leftover for me to take to work the following day for my lunch.

Chicken meals always go down well in our house, especially with the cycling Hubby. Chicken is a fantastic source of protein and is low in fats. This meal is the perfect muscle repairing dinner for when he gets home after a ride home from work. To make it even healthier I have used Quark instead of cream which gives him an additional boost of protein.

This is what I did...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 8

Hello and welcome to week 8 of #MealPlanningMonday!

How was your half term? Ours has flown by and marred with colds, coughs and bugs. Little I's temperature has been up and down. As soon as we thought she was feeling better it would shoot up again leaving her exhausted. On top of the fever she also had a terrible cough which resulted in a week of disturbed sleep for us all. Then to finish the week the bug has got hold of me, just in time to go back to work!

Last week the twins had their 6th birthday party which was a huge success. They had such a great time playing, going on the tractor, feeding the animals and being little farmers with their friends and cousins. It really was a lovely few hours and we left feeling extremely grateful for their friends and for the Pink Pig Farm for being the party hosts!

There was also a lot of changes that went on last week. We have got my mother in law staying with us. She has been in the process of moving house to the village but after an unfortunate turn of events the sale did not go through. I say unfortunate, but it has turned out well. She is now buying the house next door to us so is staying for a bit longer.

Because of our guest this weeks meal plan is going to be a little bit different. While the hubby and I are at work my mother in law has said that she will get the dinners started for us so for this weeks meal plan I am not allocating meals to days from Wednesday. I have got Monday and Tuesday's meals planned but for the rest of the week we will pick a meal from the list.

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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 7 - Plus 4 Sweet Treats for Shrove Tuesday

Hello lovely foodies and welcome to week 7 of #CookBlogShare!

How are you all? It has been a manic few weeks at work but thankfully it is half term which gives us all a bit of much needed time out!

Not only is it half term this week, but there are also not one, not two but three opportunities to have a foodie celebration. Today is Shrove Tuesday where we all enjoy pancakes, followed by Valentine's Day tomorrow and finally the week ends with the Chinese new year! What a week of foodie treats.

Last week Eb from Easy Peasy Foodie shared 4 romantic recipes so I thought that I would follow that with four deliciously sweet treats for pancake day. But I know that not everyone likes pancakes so I have chosen two pancake recipes and two sweet treats that, in my opinion, would be just as good!

Monday, 12 February 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 7

Hooray! It is half term! We have a full week off and a busy week planned!

Next week the Twinnies turn 6 so as half term is a week earlier than usual we are having a birthday party before the big day. One of our favourite local places to visit has to be Pink Pig Farm so it was top of the twins list for a party. They will be little farmers, having a ride on the tractor to see the pigs, they'll help to feed the alpacas, goats and sheep, pet the rabbits and guinea pigs before having party food. The Twinnies are so excited, as am I!

Even though it is the half term, the week is going to be busy. Today we have had hair cuts and dentist check ups, tomorrow it is the dogs turn to have their check ups then we have the Hubby at home the rest of the week. 

This weeks meal are going to be a mixture of comforting meals and easy meals. This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Week Commencing 12th February 2018

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Beetroot and Fennel Baked Risotto

We love a good risotto and when I had a lot of lovely fresh beetroot that needed using and I knew that it would make a delicious, vibrant coloured dish. When I looked in the fridge I also found a fennel bulb that needed using. Fennel and beetroot go hand in hand. The aniseed flavours from the fennel give the earthy flavours from the beetroot a fantastic lift. They really are a perfect match. Combined they create a really rich, special flavour. This meal is more time consuming but believe me it is worth the extra effort. Plus while the oven is working it's magic you can either sit back with a glass of wine or spend time with your loved one this Valentines day.

How will you be spending Valentines day this year?

A recent study was completed by Hello Fresh and they found that, like us, 70% of couples were going to stay in with a romantic, home cooked meal. They always say that the way to a mans heart is though his stomach so it is not surprising that 66% of those asked, also believe it. Also 72% said that a meal cooked by their other half was much more romantic than going out.

So, what were the most popular homemade meals for Valentines day?

One of the first meals that I cooked for the Hubby was steak and chips, so I was not surprised that steak and chips were the nations favourie Valentines meal. This was closely followed by curry and lasagne. They also asked what we the foods to turn you on and off. People voted chocolate, champagne, oysters and asparagus as turn on foods and beans, garlic bread, spicy foods and snails at turn offs. So if you are looking at cooking a romantic meal for you loved one, stay away from these!

When it comes to drinks the top romantic drinks were red wine, champagne and prosecco. But I have to admit my top drink has to be gin! If you follow these top tips you should be ok, just don't burn the food!

I have to admit that the hubby is not one for fancy foods and yes, when he saw the colour of this risotto he was shocked but I thought that the vibrant pink made this a meal that you will not forget and after tasting it, you will be making it again! This is a perfect vegetarian meal for Valentine's day!

This is what I did...

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Full of Veg Soup

I don't know about you, but whenever I have been poorly all I want to eat is soup. This has meant that I have been experimenting with new soup flavours and additions. One of my favourite soups has to be a good chicken and veg soup. It always feels like a great, uplifting bowl of goodness.

My pick me up soup last week came about after I looked in the fridge and discovered a lot of fresh vegetables that needed using up and what better way to use up a glut of vegetables than in a soup. Instead of chicken I have used turkey and have left it as a chunky, filling bowl full of health boosting vegetables. The perfect pick me up bowl!

This is what I did...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday (on a Tuesday!)

Hello and welcome to week 6 of my weekly meal plan.

I know, today is Tuesday, but life took over. I did write my meal plan over the weekend but we had a busy weekend and I did not get round to blogging. Here I am with #MealPlanningMonday on a Tuesday.

Last weeks meal plan was a huge success. We had all but one of the meals. Our favourite by far had to be my beetroot and fennel risotto which I am planning to share the recipe because it was so good! I will also be sharing my chicken and kale pasta and my butternut squash and sweet potato soup. All in all last week was a successful week of dinners!

This week is the last week before the half term holidays and believe me we are all ready for a week off. But first we need to get through this week!

This is what we have got planned for this weeks meals...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Beef Strips in a Fat Free Mushroom and Red Pepper Sauce

We all love mushroom stroganoff but the cream that is in the traditional recipe is not all that good when you are trying to lose weight and your husband needs to reduce his cholesterol. Thankfully there are ways that this delicious meal can be made healthier.

By making a few simple swaps most meals can be made healthier and better for you. When cooking with meat get better, leaner cuts, when having chicken remove the skin and have more plant based proteins. I know that good cuts of meat can cost more so just add more vegetables, pulses or grains to bulk out the meal. That is what I did with this meal. I used more vegetables, namely mushrooms, which are a great 'meaty' vegetable. Instead of full fat cream I have used quark to make it a creamy sauce.

This recipe was inspired by Gino D'Acampo's beef strips in porcini mushroom sauce from his Pronto book. In Gino's recipe he uses 150g of dried porcini mushrooms which would have cost a whopping £15, just for the one ingredient! This led me to reassess the recipe and make my own changes. I decided to go for a mixture of mushrooms that would all bring their own twist to the dish. The nutty flavour from the chestnut mushrooms, combined with the distinct flavour from the shitake mushrooms and the sweet almond like flavour from the delicate grey oyster mushrooms created a deliciously rich base. Topped with a few porcini mushrooms to add an extra depth of flavour, this sauce is not only cheaper but is also a perfect combination of mushroom flavours that together create a rich sauce that, with the beef, makes a really special meal!

This is what I did...

Monday, 29 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 5

Hello and welcome to week 5 of #MealPlanningMonday.

So, last week, did not go to plan at all! Sunday evening I was struck down by the bug and ended up being off work until Thursday. I had absolutely no appetite so needless to say the meal plan went out of the window! Thankfully we are all better now and starting afresh with a new weeks meal plan.

Last week our shopping was done between Riverford organic deliveries and Asda. We ordered a bumper veg box and a fruit box from Riverford and ordered everyday essentials, such as milk, bread, yogurts from Asda. We are hoping that having the delicious organic veg boxes will encourage us to try more vegetable based meals and having vegetables that we may not always think of buying. I have planned this weeks meals around the vegetables that came and I have to say, I am really looking forward to our dinners this week!

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

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Quick and Easy Feel Better Soup

The dreaded bugs are doing the rounds at the moment and they have hit our house. First Little I had a bad tummy, followed by T and ending with moi!

While Little I was poorly all she wanted was a bowl of tomato soup so I had to get cooking. As much as I love spending time cooking a soup from scratch, using fresh vegetables there are often times when you need to just rustle something up quickly using what you can lay your hands on. But sometimes they make the best meals! On this day, it was the day before we were due to receive our online delivery order so we were running out of fresh vegetables. So I used some of my trusty store cupboard essentials.

This soup recipe uses 5 simple ingredients, is ready in 20 minutes and is a delicious bowl of comfort.

This is what I did...

Monday, 22 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 4

Hello and welcome to week 4 of #MealPlanningMonday.

What a manic week we have just had! I have been struggling all week waiting for my new glasses, which I have finally got. Yay! On top of that I had a busy week at work, a sicky twin, being mum's taxi and a health scare for the hubby. All in one week! As you can imagine we are pleased that it is the weekend.

Last weeks meal plan was a bit of a flop. We did have a lovely leftover chicken dinner and the chilli con carne but that was all. Life took over and I did need easier meals and even an Indian takeaway. But this happens some weeks. This week and onwards our meals are having to change a little but not in a bad way. The hubby has recently found out that his cholesterol level is too high and after writing about National Cholesterol Month last November I know how serious this is. So from now on gone are processed meats, such as sausages which will be replaced with soya alternatives, any full fat dairy, animal fats and fatty meats. I do always ensure that meats that we have are all lean and if there is any fat on it I do cut it off but I will be keeping an even closer eye on what I buy. After reading into it more on HeartUK I can make a few simple changes which will make a big difference. By having more fruit, vegetables and wholegrain starch and replacing saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats. By following these steps his cholesterol level could be reduced by 5 - 10%! I will be adding more cholesterol lowering foods into our meals. HeartUK have got a fantastic plan called ULCP, Ultimate Lowing Cholesterol Plan, which consists of 4 groups of foods:
  • Soya Foods
  • Nuts - unsalted and unsweetened
  • Oat and Barley Beta-Glucans such as porridge oats, oatcakes, pearl barley, brown rice and wholegrain breads
  • Foods fortified with plant sterols/stanols such as dairy free drinks, plant based spread and yogurts
Thankfully we like these foods so they should not be too hard to incorporate into our diets. The changes will not only benefit the hubby but will give us all a boost!

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

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 3 - Plus Four

Hello and welcome to week 3 of CookBlogShare 2018!

I hope that 2018 has started off well for you all. For me, it has been a bit up and down, hence the minimum posts at the moment. Before Christmas I was getting a lot of headaches but I knew that I was getting ready for an optical check up so put it down to that. During the Christmas holidays I went for my check up and found that my eye sight has changed but they have also seen some signs of glaucoma. This is something that both of my grandmothers had, but I am only 39, could this really effect me? At the moment I do not know if I have got it or not but I do know that I am getting headaches and eye ache and cannot wait until my new glasses arrive so I can see properly again. In the meantime I am waiting for a hospital appointment where, I should, get a lot more answers! We all take our eye sight for granted until we have problems. I am planning to write a more detailed post during World Glaucoma Week during March, where I hope, I can tell you that I do not have it! But this has been a wake up call and has made me realise how important it is to get your eyes checked even if your sight is good!

Anyway back to food. Last week the CookBlogShare linky was hosted by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie and there were so many delicious recipes shared. There was a definite healthy feel to last weeks linky and as we are also on a health kick, my four favourite recipes from last week are all deliciously healthy recipes!

Here are my four favourite healthy recipes from week 2 of CookBlogShare...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 3 2018

Hello and welcome to #MealPlanningMonday and week 3 of my weekly meal plan.

Last week I wrote about our new eating plan and am looking forward to our meals this week. I say new eating plan but it really isn't anything new. We are simply combining our favourite parts from various plans and having meals that we will both enjoy but are also healthy. I have tried so many 'fad' diets and none of them last. I stick to them for a while but seem to fall back to my old ways. With this plan I am hoping that it will be a lifestyle change and as we enjoy the meals and will not feel deprived of anything it will be something that we can stick to. We are going back to basics, cutting out processed foods, apart from as the odd treat, filling our meals with vegetables, meats, fish and grains. I am cutting out dairy as I have been having reactions to yogurts and cow's milk but the children will still be having plenty of dairy. Basically we are going to be eating cleaner, healthier meals that do not compromise on taste.

This weeks meals have got a lot of inspiration from Deliciously Ella's cookbooks. I love her recipes but will be adding meats and fish to make them more family friendly.

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

Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Eating Plan Plus Red Cabbage, Sprouts and Giant Couscous Salad Recipe

January seems to be the time of year when everybody either wants to get fitter, eat better, lose weight or simply make resolutions that they know they will not keep. We all do it at some point. I think that is because of all the over indulgence of Christmas and the promise of new times. But when they arrive we all realise that making resolutions do not work. We need to make changes that will last and make realistic goals. If you set yourself goals that are out of reach you will be disappointed when you do not do what you set out to.

As a family we have always been interested in eating healthier, better food. That was one reason that I started to write my food blog. It was my way of showing that even when you are on a budget, you can eat good wholesome meals. Cheap does not always mean processed and lower quality foods. Shop around, go to local independent suppliers, visit the market and find the best prices. In the past we have tried different diets from Slimming World, clean eating, FODMAP I think we have tried most 'fads'. I know that Slimming World is not a fad diet but there are parts that I do not agree with. After trying so many plans we have a good idea of what we like so we have decided to combine our favourite parts of different plans to create an eating plan that is both healthy and something that we know we can stick to.

One of my favourite foodie writers has to be Deliciously Ella. I love how she has changed her diet and improved her health dramatically. Her recipes are great but for us they are missing something. We are meat and fish eaters and this is one food that we will not cut out so meals similar to Ella's but with meats are an ideal choice. I also find that her recipes are quite strict and I understand that, for her, they need to be. So we will be going back to basics, cutting out processed food, cutting out dairy (apart from cheese every now and then!) buying fresh vegetables, fruit, meats and fish, using more grains to bulk out foods but still having wholegrain pasta and other gluten products. We feel that if this becomes a way of life, the health benefits will be worth it.

Today I am sharing with you a really simple, yet really tasty salad that uses some of the best produce that is available at this time of year!

This is what I did...

Monday, 8 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 2 2018

Oh my goodness! I had so much planned for last week but after the Christmas holiday and returning to work and school we were all so tired so once we got home all we wanted to do was rest! We decided that we all needed to have a weekend where we did very little and it has been lovely. It was just what we have needed. We have been in all weekend, had lie ins and have been so lazy. But, for once, I genuinely feel rested. So now I am back on it and have lots of posts planned!

Last weeks meal plan was not a huge success. Life took over and I had to make changes. On Tuesday we did not have the butternut squash orzo risotto as I had a lot of leftover beef so I went for my trusty beef ragu which was a huge success. It really is a family favourite that I must share! On Wednesday we ended up visiting my mother in law and had dinner out with her so that was an easy start to the working week so I still have lots of soup in the freezer that will come in over the week for lunches. Thursday's meals went to plan, yay! Friday was a long evening thanks to an opticians appointment for me so to make life easier I popped into Iceland on my way home and picked up some Slimming World meals. I find that having the hubby on-board I am even more motivated with a healthy eating plan.

I selected my weigh in day to be Friday's and despite only starting my plan on Tuesday I did jump on the scales. The result wasn't great but I did maintain which I suppose is good as I had only been following the plan for three days. In hindsight I should have waited until this week to weigh in but I did not. But never mind, fingers crossed for a better result this week.

Now on to our meal plan. This is what we will be enjoying this week....

Monday, 1 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 1 2018

Hello and welcome to week one of MealPlanningMonday 2018!

I am planning to continue meal planning throughout the new year. I find that having our meals planned it eases some of the pressure of daily life. That is one area that I do have under control, most of the time!

After way too much over indulgence over the Christmas holiday (and in the run up to) both the Hubby and I are going to be following the Slimming World eating plan to get some weight shifted. I have done it before so I know that I can do it again. We are also going to try and complete dry January, this in itself will be a challenge but will give our health a much needed boost. I will keep you updated with how we get on. As soon as January arrives we always crave healthier foods, I think that this is due to all of the sweet treats, drinks and snacks that we all have over the festive season. I for one and looking forward to no more mince pies or puddings!

I have a feeling that this week will go in a flash. Monday is about over, tomorrow the Hubby returns to work then all of the kids and I return on Wednesday. So by the weekend I know that we will have tired children but more settled now that we are all back into our daily routine.

This weeks meals are all easy meals that are Slimming World friendly. I am going to have my weigh in day on Friday so that I can have a treat at the end of the week.

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