Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Belgian Buns

It's Wednesday which means it's baking day without the 'help' of The Sweetpeas. Today I opted to go for Belgain Buns. I am quite addicted to them and I simply cannot walk past a bakery without the urge to empty of pocket of change and buy as many as I can.

I found a recipe on a blog that I love to visit http://www.rosiesgreatbakes.com/2012/11/belgian-buns.html and set about giving them a go myself. (Take a peek over on that blog if you want to drool over this recipe or some of her other delicious bakes.)


Ingredients

450g Strong white bread flour
7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g melted butter
2 large eggs
150ml milk
3 tbsp lemon curd (if you like it)
175g sultanas
100g icing sugar
2 tsp hot water
Glace cherries for the top .... COMPULSORY in my opinion.

Method .... if there is such a thing in my madness

Mix together flour, yeast,salt and caster sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Beat the eggs and add to the well. Fill that well up then with milk and the butter.

Mix it to form a sticky dough which will make you start to panic that you've not done something right.

OPTIONAL ~ Answer the door to the postman who has a heap of parcels. Get dough all over his machine whilst signing for them and apologise profusely.

Put dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until it goes all smooth and elastic. Consider this your workout done for the day.

Place into oiled bowl and leave somewhere warm until it's doubled in size. (about an hour.) I put it in my airing cupboard. REMEMBER what a good hiding place that would be next time I pay hide-and-seek with the children.

Turn out dough and knead again until smooth and elastic once more.

Roll out into a rectangle (ish!)  shape.

 I don't own a rolling pin so I used a bottle of Port. (I don't drink so no idea how that materialised in my house!)


I added a layer of lemon curd onto it and then sprinkled on 175g sultanas.



Roll the dough up from longest side..

Cut into equal portions and put onto greased baking trays. (I bought myself a silicone baking sheet which I love using for everything.) I did 15 as wanted slightly smaller buns.



Cover with cling film and leave again in your new hide-and-seek warm place until double the size. (About 30 mins) Mine never 'grew' that much and I couldn't be bothered waiting anymore.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. The base will sound hollow when tapped.

Put onto a wire rack to cool.  


Mix together icing sugar and warm water to make a lovely icing. Spoon over the cooled buns and ...

......stick the cherry on the top of each one.

Verdict from The Sweetpeas ~ "These are amazing."


avoiding the washing up and making Belgian Buns.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Bingo


When I was little, my Grandma used to take me to Tombola evenings which was like bingo but you won prizes. I loved it!  I would sit there, dabber in hand, and dob dob dob away when my numbers were called out.

"Grandma...I've got a line. Shout for me please."

I was quite shy. Didn't want people knowing that I'd won that giant fluffy toy or the tin of Quality Street. Don't know why as I proudly walked out with both arms full of prizes.

Guess I've always been lucky even from a young age.

I've now moved on to online bingo. My Grandma died many years ago now and it would feel strange sitting playing bingo with anyone else I think.

I like that I can win money as, let's face it, who doesn't?!

I'm a member on many bingo sites including 888 Ladies.

                      Three fat ladies 888


 I like that I can play a bit of traditional bingo but also have a flutter on some of the various slot games.

My favourite game is Bejeweled. What girl doesn't like a bit of bling? I like the graphics and the ease of play. I extremely like that with the slot games you can win large jackpots.



If I win little amounts, then I tend to have a few more games but if it is over about £30 I will withdraw it. This then goes into my Beetle fund. 

Yes, Beetle fund.

My children (funded by me)  bought me a Beetle as I have always wanted one. The number plate says 'MUM' on it ~ such a perfect gift. 



It's a good job I play my bingo from home as this car won't be taking me anyway for some time! It now even has a bit of foliage growing in it.



If I won a big amount from 888 Ladies then I would send my car off to be professionally restored. 

That's my dream. Just need that full house now or the jackpot. *fingers crossed*

“This is my entry for the 888Ladies Bingo Competition”    http://bit.ly/1mH8eaR

One of 'those' words

There are always going to be some words that children pick up no matter whether you intentionally want them to or not.

A simple walk home from school and Alyssa found a feather. She promptly stuck it in her hair....as you do. Another 5 minutes later and she saw another and gave that to Harvey.

"Here you go Harvey, we can both be lesbians now!"

Think you mean Indians Alyssa, Indians.




 Obviously my little chat with her a while ago hadn't really worked after this classic of a conversation to a friend's baby girl. 

Alyssa to baby "You look like a lesbian." very cutely said in a sing-song tone 

Erm....Alyssa. Where have you heard that?

"It was on CBeebies"

Erm.......WHAT!? Describe what they said

"Well it began with an L."

.....Ah! You misheard them.They said leprechaun....leprechaun. 

That evening we discussed that 'lesbian' isn't really appropriate word to be using to describe little girls. She asked what it meant so I explained it was when two women loved each other. 

"Well I love her!...and I love you. We are all lesbians."

Good point. My explanation had flaws in it. 

Take 2. Ok, well it's when they really love each other so that they want to be girlfriend and girlfriend or a Mummy and a Mummy.


I had thought she had understood but obviously not. How do other parents deal with these kind of situations? She is only 6 and growing up so fast that I don't want to be bombarding her with explanations of every little word. 

 I'd love to hear some advice!







Friday, 25 April 2014

Dough Day


Friday so Harvey has the whole day at home with me. On the way home from dropping Alyssa to school, he informed me that we needed to make pizza. Ok, why not?!

We set the breadmaker off mixing us some pizza dough. (A recent gadget to my kitchen at a bargain price of £6 from eBay.)

 I then took the opportunity to actually make some bread by hand with him too. He really loves getting messy so he thought this was a fantastic task. He particularly enjoyed the kneading process too.







We used it as a bit of a lesson too with measuring and weighing. He loved seeing what the yeast did to the mixture and how, when we left it alone, it grew and grew and grew!




Once the breadmaker had done its job, we spread half the dough onto a pizza pan. Think it's safe to say that we won't be much competition to the local pizzerias.

Harvey smothered the base with tomato puree and then we chopped up some leftover ham and part of a pepper. I do love making use of things already in the fridge. Waste not, want not.

"Why are we putting cat meat on the pizza?"

"It's tinned ham Harvey"

"Ahhhhhhh......good.....cos I'm not a cat."


With the other half of the dough, we made some garlic dough balls. Bit of butter mashed into a crushed clove of garlic and then we just brushed it onto the balls. Very easy and absolutely delicious.




 A very productive Friday. 








avoiding the washing up and having a nap after such a busy 'dough' day.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

In memory of Bobby


I'm a comper which basically means I enjoy the hobby of entering competitions. This has enabled me to have and enjoy some pretty spectacular things. The best thing about it though is the social network I have created and some very dear friends that I have also had the pleasure of meeting.

Bobby Green is one such person.

She was one of the very first 'compers' that I added to my Facebook profile and over the months and years that I knew her, we became very good friends. She was there to support me in any competition but, more importantly, she was there to offer advice and a virtual shoulder to cry on when I needed it. She was absolutely wonderful.

I had the great pleasure of meeting her and her husband and another fellow comper, Claire. We had a fantastic weekend together in a top London hotel ~ of course, it was a competition win!


As you can now see, I'm saying 'was'. Unfortunately, Bobby lost her battle recently. There is one last competition that we are now trying to win in her memory which is a very fitting tribute.

VOTE FOR PSEUDOMYXOMA SURVIVOR

Pseudomyxoma Survivor  "is the home of the support network

for survivors and carers of pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP),

appendix cancer and other peritoneal surface malignancies."

For more information, please visit their website http://www.pseudomyxomasurvivor.org/


There is a  Facebook event In Memory of Bobby Green that was set up to try and get this fantastic charity into a winning position by the closing date of 30th April 2014.

It is really amazing that in the space of a fortnight it has gone from 140 votes to a whopping 1420. Plenty more votes are needed though so please spread the word and click vote. It's so simple and FREE.

If they get to first, the charity will receive £2000 which is a massive amount for such a small charity.

Let's do this for Bobby. Thank you for reading and an even bigger thank you for voting.


St George's Day


The Sweetpeas are back to school today and, as it is a Wednesday, Chunky is there all day too. Yippeeeeeeeee. The one day of the week to catch up on everything. I've done 3 loads of washing, vacuumed, had my shopping delivered and then I was ready to do a bit of baking.

First up were some banana and sultana cakes which I had previously made before. Delicious!



I then decided to make a chocolate Victoria Sandwich. Why not hey?


Weigh 3 eggs in their shells. (Mine weighed 180g). Well, roughly in my case.

This is the condition of my current weighing scales. I'm sure a dragon melted them!



Measure whatever that weight is in margarine and caster sugar.

Cream together the margarine and sugar. Add in the eggs....without their shells this time!

Weigh out 50g of cocoa powder and then make up to your 'magic egg weight' in self-raising flour.

Add this to your mixture and mix until all lovely and fluffy.

Put into sandwich tins that have been greased and also lined with greaseproof paper.



Pop in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. Don't forget to tell them to get "all hot and yummy" as per Harvey's usual baking routine.

You can tell when they are done as you can gently press the top and it springs back.

Allow them to cool and that's it.... ready to decorate.

I used whipped fresh double cream and some delicious raspberries.







Monday, 21 April 2014

Getting older


Alyssa - "I'm going to be 7 this year. Where does the time go?"

Me - "I know. I'm going to be 30 and would rather be 7."

My mum - "I'll be 63. I'd be happy with 30."

Harvey - "I want to be one billion."

Age is just a number so they say. I'm 29 yet consider myself nearing the 'old' age bracket and here's why.


1. Sweets I bought as a child are now considered "retro" and penny sweets don't cost a penny. When I can remember going into my local shop and buying Opal Fruits and a Marathon, I feel old.

2. 99p ice-creams no longer cost 99p and I find myself muttering away to anyone within earshot during the Summer that the whole point of a Mr Whippy is that it cost 99 pennies. ***After a Facebook conversation though, it turns out that a 99 isn't actually named after the price. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Flake *** ~ Thank you Sara, that's my 'learn something new everyday' for today. :)

3. On a rare night out, I feel old that by 8pm I am yawning and looking forward to getting home and into bed. 

4. I get excited about buying new duvet covers and the weekly 'changing of the beds' routine is a highlight in my life. Fresh, clean sheets = bliss to me. Don't get me starting about line drying my washing too. That really gets me in a happy mood but makes me feel old.

5. Bin days are something to worry about now that I'm 'old'. What day will it be on after the bank holiday and what colour do I put out?

6. Tupperware. What is it with me and plastic boxes? I mean seriously. I have one to collect old stamps in for a charity and one that has fuses in for my car along with Allen keys from flat-pack furniture I've bought over the last 5 years. I also then have various sized ones for different pastas and don't get me started on the bigger ones for the craft boxes. I feel old that I now feel the need to organise and label everything.

7. I refuse to venture to the cinema as I consider it a waste of money and that I'll just wait for it to come out on DVD. Even then possibly waiting for it to appear in a bargain bucket. Possibly showing not just old I feel but how 'tight' I can be too.

8. On a rare night out, I feel old that by 8pm I am yawning and looking forward to getting home and into bed. Now wait, I've just written that for number 3! Forgetfulness...that's another thing that makes me feel old.

9. I feel old that when I've carried the Hoover upstairs, I'm out of puff by the time I get to the top. I'm old and unfit. My hearing is going along with my eyesight. A game of 'hunt the glasses' starts every morning for me.

10. Modifying my car ..... BACK to standard in some ways. An odd one, granted.  For this mum, who is a massive car enthusiast, this was the ultimate way of feeling old. I used to love changing my car so that it was that little bit different from the norm. Now, I find myself raising my car rather than lowering it so that "the ride is more comfortable." I'll feel really old if I ever change my car to a completely 'normal' car though.



All these things make me feel old and often think I've done very little with my life but then I have a harder think about things.....


  •    I have some pretty wonderful and amazing children who make me laugh and smile every day without fail. (They also quite often send me round the bend but then quoting one of my favourite films, Shirley Valentine, "I've always wanted to travel."


  •  I have my own home which many people would only dream about in this current economic climate
  • I've looked after my things which mean that I still have 6, yes 6, cars that I could potentially get back onto the road. Few more children and they'll be set for the day they turn 17.  L plates at the ready! 

  • I've got some fantastic friends up and down the country that I know would do anything for me. At just 29 years old, I'm very privileged to have such a social network.
  • ...and above all. I'm 29. Only 29. I'm young enough to be able to play tag with my children and ride their pushbikes. (yes, I'm that kind of mum!)
Age is just a number....so I say.

avoiding the washing up and realising a few things about ages.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Curly Wurly Cupcakes


Something is wrong with me. I've suddenly become extremely interested in getting the children into the kitchen and us creating some yummy cakes.

I don't know why as this is often Harvey's way of "helping."



We had some Curly Wurly chocolate bars in the house so we decided to use those up in a cake rather than just eating straight from the packet.


Alyssa's "chocolate" mix

60g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
50g self-raising flour
10g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg

Harvey's mix

60g butter
45g light soft brown sugar
60g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg

(the original recipe called for 1tbsp golden syrup but we'd used all of that up on pancakes previously so we didn't worry with that bit)

They each had a bowl and had to cream together the butter and sugar. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and beat it altogether.





They then had to put a teaspoon each into their 12 silicone cupcake cases.




"off you go....get all hot and yummy." ~ Harvey

Harvey does like to talk to his cakes. (I suppose it's like some gardeners believing that if you talk to the plants they will grow better.)

I put them into the pre-heated oven at 190c / 170C fan / Gas mark 5.

They spent 20 minutes in there until looked lovely and golden. Allow to cool and remember not to eat any as they need some frosting!

Frosting mixture

1 and a half bars of chopped up Curly Wurly.
3 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
275g icing sugar
75g butter
1 tbsp milk

Melt the Curly Wurly, double cream and cater sugar in a suacepan stirring all the time. That was Harvey's job as it likes to stir. (In more ways than one!)   Leave to cool slightly.

Rb the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. Alyssa's job and she has a question for you all ~ "why does it have to be a wooden spoon?"

Once combined, add the milk and then 1.5tbsp of the Curly Wurly sauce to it. Whisk until lovely and fluffy.

The original recipe calls to pipe the frosting onto the cake but we just "dolloped it" on. You then just need to drizzle over some of the Curly Wurly sauce. Decorate with chopped up bits of another Curly Wurly ...... if you haven't eaten it whilst baking!

WARNING ~ this frosting is incredibly sweet and you do get lots of it on each cake. Next time I may double the amount of cakes for that quantity of frosting.


The original recipe we 'sort of' followed can be found here http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/658608

No avoiding the washing up when you are baking.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Bedroom


"It was my bedroom before it was yours."

There are sometimes arguments between them when it comes to their bedroom as they have to share. Harvey has the half near to the door and Alyssa has the half that has the window. This often throws up some great (and sometimes funny) conversations.

"You can't get in as the door is mine." ~ Harvey

I have to keep reminding them that, although they have to share, they are extremely lucky to have a bed of their own, a roof over their heads and some lovely toys. Some children don't have any of those things.


There have been a few social media charity efforts. The newest one I have been nominated to do is to post a photo of your bedroom, donate £3 to SCF4kids charity and then nominate someone else.


"These photos are the bedrooms of children around the world! What a difference to my bedroom.

SCF4kids help vulnerable children around the world. Text ROOM43 £3 to 70070. To make a difference!!!

Upload your Bedroom photo and donate! I nominate these wonderful people .... you have 24 hours. Keep the nominations going!!!!
#betterbedroomsbetterfuture
 "

More information about the charity can be found on their website. http://www.scfoundation.org.uk/ or on their facebook or twitter pages. 

I showed these photos to them and they were simply amazed at how those children have as 'their bedroom'.

I have sent my donation by texting ROOM43 

£3 to 70070 and now they also have a much

 tidier room. Win win situation.





(Harvey didn't look too happy when I cleared the toys found under his bed.)


avoiding the washing up and tidying for our #betterbedroomsbetterfuture photos. 


Monday, 14 April 2014

Another bit of baking


Harvey had an "Octonaut" themed birthday and there were some leftover rice paper with various images on them. I made some simple chocolate cakes and then used these to decorate. Very simple although the children were much happier eating the off-cut pieces of rice paper.

They were very cheap from eBay and I won't hesitate buying some more of these cake toppers in the future.Much cheaper than those small themed cake packets you can buy.



"Not all paper is edible Harvey. When you get to big school, there is sugar paper. Don't eat that!" ~ Alyssa




As the oven was on, I thought I'd make the most of the heat and make another Victoria Sandwich. Lesson learnt with that! 2 tins do no fit on the same shelf together. Tasted yummy though even though it did look like "The leaning tower of Cake".


avoiding the washing up and baking....again!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Braces


Harvey always feels the need to be showing everyone his 'builder's bum'. No matter what size trousers I get or how well I fix the adjustable waists, they always seem to slip. There is one item of clothing that will now be the future for him ...........


........braces!

I bought some from eBay from a user called scarawac for just £3.99 delivered. scarawac store  They had a duck design which Harvey had chosen so I went with those thinking that if he liked the design he might want to wear them.

They arrived very quickly, within 2 days,  and I instantly showed them to Harvey. He loved them but when I came to putting them on his trousers, well, it's accurate to say he didn't want to wear them!

This is where Facebook came in. I posted up a picture on my wall with the caption of.....

Harvey doesn't like his new braces to keep his trousers up.  I've promised him 50p for every like he can get to show that braces are the future for him!





Throughout the day, Harvey kept his braces on and would ask how many likes he was getting. Lovely comments from my friends too for him which encouraged him to wear them.

All was going great until they broke. I'd like to add that Harvey isn't the kindest of people to his clothes so it was expected at some point. (I have actually fixed them now as the metal just needed a bit of a nip together.)


He achieved a grand total of 102 likes during the day with that number then rising into the evening. He was more than happy with his £52 he made and treated himself to the largest ice cream that he could get. I'm just glad I had negotiated it down from £1 a like.

The money is now sitting in his account ready for whatever he needs or wants in the future.

Thank you to Taz, Ant and everyone on the comments for attempting to make it go viral and bankrupting me ~ that's true friendship that is! Love you all :)



I have now bought 2 more pairs for him as he absolutely loves them. One converted little boy with no more 'builder's bum' and one very happy mummy.

avoiding the washing up and attempting a bit of blackmail.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Easter holidays

The Easter holidays have started so I was keen to get them exciting with doing different activities each day. We decided to do a bit of baking today so that they Alyssa could use some of her silicone baking equipment she had got for Christmas.

We made 'Banana and Sultana Hearts'.



Whilst the cooker is on, I try to use all the shelves so we also made some vanilla cakes which they could then decorate.



We used silicone cases that my very lovely friend (Thanks Sandy!) sent for the children. They are absolutely superb as the cakes don't stick to them and they then can be washed and reused. Brilliant and right up my street.




It was a lovely day so I opted for them to do the decorating outside ~ my carpet thanked me after the abuse it received last time. If you think treading on Lego hurts, try those silver cake balls. Ouch!

"Mmmmmm.....absotootley delicious."


Avoiding the washing up but not succeeding as we've made loads more!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ribena Marble Cheesecake

I had a couple of tubs of cream cheese in my fridge so thought I'd make a cheesecake. I found a recipe on another blog (http://happyhomebaking.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/yummy-delight.html)  and attempted to give it a whirl.



Next time, think I will use some more biscuits as I quite like a deeper base. It should be set by the time the children finish school so I await their verdict.....


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

"make use of it" mission

I'm trying to encourage The Sweetpeas to not waste food and to generally try to use things up before they go bad and have to been thrown away. This is not only making my cupboards look considerably better but it is also saving plenty of money on our food bills.

It all started off with a red cabbage that had been lurking in my kitchen for some time and I can't even remember why I had bought it. I cooked it up with some Ribena (another random recipe I found online) and it was delicious.



We made our own bread as I had everything we needed in the cupboard already.

It turned out edible so we shall be doing that again. We made little rolls so that we could use the leftover pork and some apple sauce and that was tea sorted for that evening.



I made the dough in the morning with the sound of Harvey shouting "I'm going to a party. I need my party shirt!" so that it was all ready to just be shaped when we got back in. Very quick and painless and will become a regular thing to do with them.



I had a sponge mix in the cupboard so we decided to make a Victoria Sandwich. We needed just one egg for this so we sent Harvey on a mission. Amazing what a bucket of eggs can do to control the speed at which he walks. Why on earth didn't I try that before?! He was like a completely different child.





Making the cake was very easy as obviously it was straight from a packet. It was fine though and perfectly edible which is obviously the whole idea of a cake.

I put the last of the jam inside and made a buttercream filling too.





Now, what can I make with a jar of sandwich spread, stuffing and a tin of fruit cocktail?

avoiding the washing up and using things up.