Well, sorry it has been a little while but since I have been at work it has been tough to keep up with sewing and creative projects. I have given my son's room a make over using wall stickers from Pound World, and I'm really pleased with it. We didn't want to spend a lot as we're moving, but I have to admit, this is the cheapest room revamp I've ever done!
Price break down: 8 x wall sticker packs (£1 each) = £8 Paint from the garage = free (blue, green and white, left over from bathroom and Dylan's room first time around) Fabric = £4.50 (£2.99 pm used about 1.5 m (for cushion and bunting) Curtains = £20 (Argos) 3 x canvases (£1.50 each) = £4.50 (Dunelm Mill) 2 x mobiles (£10 each) = £20 (Ebay)
Total = £57
Here is the finished result:
Meant to say, I went for neutral curtains so I can always change the theme later on (I'm thinking a rocket theme!)
Had a pineapple, tried this recipe for pineapple upside down cake this morning. Except (and let's face it I can never leave a recipe alone) I added some coconut to the caramelised pineapple mixture, and popped it in a loaf tin (upping the cooking time to about 30 min). BTW line your loaf tin a la this link at Stock Food.
Looks terrible (I didn't grease my baking parchment well enough, so it ended up right side up, doh...), but it tastes good, not overly sweet so okay for kids and grown ups :-)
FEED THE 5000 CASSEROLE! We had friends over this weekend so I did a vat of chicken casserole to feed everyone. It did us for lunch today (4 adults, 3 kids) and also for the two of us for dinner tonight. I've also managed to get a few toddler sized portions frozen for the wee man.
It cost less than a tenner as I used cheap chicken quarters (about £2-3 per pack) and the veg I had knockin' around the fridge. You can use any veg you have, and as I used a slow cooker the older veg which is on it's way out is fine as you cook it for an age. These sort of meals are ace if you're a working parent as you prep in the morning (or the night before, and refrigerate overnight) and pop them in the slow cooker on low all day. It means you come home to some lovely yummy dinner which is hot and smells d.e.l.i.s.h.
So, how do I make it, I hear you cry?
Firstly, you need a slow cooker or a large oven/stove top casserole dish. I am a total slow cooker convert and use mine all the time. I have a large Rachel Allen one which is about 6.5 litres.
Ingredients: 3 peppers 6 carrots 2 onions 1 leek 1 pack mushrooms 4 cloves garlic 1 carton passata (500 g) 1 tin tomatoes 1.5 pints chicken stock (or very thin chicken gravy) 6 chicken leg quarters 2-3 tsp cinnamon 3-4 tbsp paprika 3-4 tbsp italian herbs 4 good sloshes of worcester sauce (or to your own taste) Black pepper 1 tbsp sugar
1) Sear your chicken in a very hot pan with the lid on (it spits like hell). Get it good and brown. Leave it to rest on a plate. Turn on your slow cooker.
Here is some I made earlier...
2) Chop up your garlic and onions. Add the cinnamon, paprika, herbs, sugar black pepper (to taste i.e. as much or as little as you like), add the worcester sauce. Remember that when you're cooking in a slow cooker, the more flavour you add the better as it will diminish over the long cooking period, so... don't be shy with the herbs and spices. I shove mine in, but I've given you the amounts above as a guide. 3) Add your veg (chopped up). Give it a good mix and get it well coated.
4) Add your chicken on top of the veg.
5) Pour over the passata, tinned toms and then the stock. Give it a good stir (but be careful as it will be pretty full). Push the chicken down so it's half in the sauce.
6) Start your slow cooker on 'high' for about 30 minutes and then switch to 'low'. Leave it all day, or for at least 5 hours.
7) When you serve you can either leave the chicken on the bone, or, take the quarters out, strip the meat off and put the meat back in the saucy veg. I serve it with crusty bread in a bowl, or with pasta or brown rice.
Tip numero uno: If you do decide to strip the meat off, keep the bones and make a stock with them. I normally empty my casserole out of the slow cooker dish into fridge containers, pop the bones back in and add a load of boiling water from the kettle (normally two full kettles as I have a big one... fnah, fnah). Leave them to cook overnight and then freeze your stock for your next casserole (this is also good for toddlers as this stock from the bones will be less salty than using stock cubes/gravy).
My stock simmering post casserole consumption.
Tip numero dos: Use weaning pots (about 50-100 ml size, you can buy bulk lots on eBay) and freeze off toddler sized portions. These are very handy when you're stuck with nothing to eat in the house, or you're sending your little fella to the childminder/grannies/aunties etc etc so they don't have to worry about prepping a veg filled nutritious meal!
GET AS MANY VEG IN TO YOUR TODDLER AS POSSIBLE RECIPE: 5 VEG PASTA BAKE This is a great dinner to get your little ones eating their veg. We made it this morning to take to a friend's house for lunch. We wanted something quick and easy that would feed four of us for lunch and then do the dinner as well. We've actually ended up with some left over for dinner tomorrow. I thought I'd share this as my friend was very complimentary about it today, and her little girl ate lots of it too!
Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves 1 onion 4 tomatoes 500g (1 carton) passata (or 2 tins chopped tomatoes) 2 peppers 1 leek 4 carrots Mushrooms (we only had one so chopped it fine, but add as many as you want!) Frozen peas 2//3 jar pesto Grated cheese (as much or as little as you like) 500 g bag of macaroni pasta (or whatever pasta you have) Generous pinch of black pepper, 1 tbsp sugar (optional) and italian herbs (2 tbsp)
1) Cook your pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Stand off to the side. Also start your sauce by lightly frying off the 2 cloves of garlic and onion. Turn on your oven, set to 180degC (about 350degF, gas mark 4). 2) Add about 4 tomatoes (chopped), cook through. 3)Add the pepper, mushroom, leek, and carrots (to be honest just use whatever veg you have in the fridge) and cook through (lightly - you don't want tocook the veg too much as they'll be overcooked) 4) Add the passata, pepper, sugar and herbs to the veg/garlic/onion mix. Mix well and cook on the hob for 15 minutes at a simmer. You just want to cook the veg through and reduce the sauce a bit. 5) Get your dish ready. I use a large glass roaster. Pour in the pasta and veg/sauce mix, add the pesto and then put in a generous amount of frozen peas. Stir well and get all the pasta well covered. Even out the pasta level. 6) Top with cheese (you can also use a cheese and crushed breadsticks if you want it crunchy). 7) Bake for about 1/2 hour. 8) Et voila - enjoy your dish with your family! It goes well with crusty bread and salad.
TODDLER OAT BARS RECIPE I went a popular supermarket chain the other day and purchased the wee man some carrot soft oat bars for the hefty price of 2 quid (2 quid, 2 quid, what the is in them? gold??). However Dylan hoovers them up like they cost about 10p. I decided today to make some and try them out with him (I am praying that he likes them the same, if not more).
I used the recipe from Kath eats real food but instead of nuts I used ground almonds, I also swapped the salt to bicarb of soda, upped the seeds to 1/2 cup (and chopped them up, I used a mix of pine nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds), upped the fruit to 2/3 of a cup (he likes his raisins) and added a squidge of honey to the final mixture.
Cutting in to bar shapes.
Having now just tasted the recipe, I would up the fruit (1 cup) and the honey (2 squidges!) and maybe drop the bicarb of soda as it makes for a more cakey texture, without it they'll be more flapjacky.
I'm going to try a carrot version of this, will let you know how it goes!