For the sponges:
7oz self raising flour
6oz light brown sugar
2oz white sugar
3 tablespoons of soya milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling and decoration:
Preheat the oven to 180degrees. Grease three sandwich sponge tins with butter and flour.
Cream both sugars and the butter together. Add half of the flour and one egg and mix. Add the remaining flour and egg. Mix in the vanilla essence and the milk. Split the sponge mixture between the three tins evenly and put them in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer in the middle comes out clean.
Remove the sponges from the oven and tip out onto cooling racks. Whilst they are still warm, spread jam on two of the sponges. Make buttercream icing using icing sugar and butter, using the measurements provided on the back. Once the sponges are completely cool add a thin layer of buttercream on top of the jam and assemble the cake. Cover the top in buttercream and decorate with malteasers.
(excuse the messy photo. Hurriedly taken before the cake was sliced and demolished!)
Butternut squash and potato soup
350 grams butternut squash and sweet potato (if you want to cheat a bit tesco sell a bag this size of them ready prepared)
2 garlic cloves
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
1 tsp of nutmeg
Splash of milk
2 stock cubes mixed with 500 ml of boiling water
A third of a celery stick
1. Cook the sweet potatoes and squash. I steamed mine but roasting would work fine too. They usually take about 40 minutes in the oven.
2. Dice the onion and the celery. Cut up the garlic finely or crush it.
3. Heat a little oil in the bottom of a large pan or pot. Add the onion and garlic and some salt and pepper. Add the celery. Sprinkle the nutmeg in. When the onions are mostly cooked, pour in the stock.
4. Bring to the boil and add the potatoes and squash. To make it easier to blend I mashed the vegetables up a bit with a fork.
5. Using a hand blender, blitz the vegetables and stock so it starts to thicken. (I kept the soup on the heat to do this but you can take it off if you prefer)
6. When the soup is smooth add a splash of milk to thicken. Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. If it is too thick add a bit more water.
7. Either eat immediately or cool and store in the fridge and heat up within 2 days.
(These biscuits are meant to be Easter egg shaped but Lakeland had every cookie cutter apart from an Easter egg shaped one. They even had a one shaped like two cats sitting next to each other. But no Easter egg one!)
125 grams sugar
125 grams butter
225 grams of plain flour
1 tbsp vanilla essence
Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees (lower if you have a fan over
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the vanilla essence and the flour. Squish together with your hands to form a dough ball and roll out on a floured surface. (We cut ours out with a knife and it made 16 good sized biscuits).
Cook them until golden which is about fifteen minutes. Leave the biscuits to cool on a rack and make the icing sugar. Mix icing sugar with water until a thick paste is formed. For ours we added a few drops of blue food colouring. Using a spoon smooth the icing over the cooked biscuits and add the sprinkles.
These are what our finished biscuits looked like. No, they aren’t perfect but Amelia had fun helping make them and loved licking the icing off when they were finished.
With the weather cold and icy it’s not always easy to keep the little ones entertained in doors. Amelia is crawling and trying to walk now and the little monster doesn’t like being confined to the living room. She likes being a free titch and it’s hard work trying to keep her distracted – she’d much rather be emptying the drawers in our bedroom or tipping over the bin in the bathroom.
One thing that is brilliant for distraction the little mess making tornado is chocolate. Chocolate cake. Chocolate buttons. Hot chocolate. Chocolate ice cream. Amelia is not fussy.
So one of the activities we did together last week was making these peppa pig muddy puddle cakes.
Amelia helped with the mixing, although her favourite part was decorating them with the chocolate icing. Most of it ended up in her mouth and on the floor but for half an hour she was happily entertained. Amelia loves being the diddy chef.
They weren’t beautifully decorated but Amelia had fun and she thought that were delicious. The mix cost me £1.25 in Tesco and there’s even a competition the little ones can enter on the side. Cheap and messy fun. Between the making and the eating Amelia was entertained for most of the morning.
I’ve posted before about stir fry’s. They are quick and so easy to make and the ingredients are very cheap. They are also really healthy.
When Yutaka sent me a bundle of their ingredients I couldn’t wait to try them. The new edamame bean noodles and soya bean noodles both looked delicious. The bright green of the edamame bean noodles makes them fun for little ones and a healthier alternative to egg noodles.
There are loads of different recipes you can follow; the black roasted sesame seeds are perfect for rolling sushi in, the white sesame seeds make a tasty topping for a stir fry and the soya sauce is an excellent addition to any kitchen.
I of course had to try a stir fry first. With the addition of the edamame bean noodles, the soy sauce and the white roasted sesame seeds it turned a sometimes boring meal into a tart colourful one. Amelia had her own portion and tucked in happily. Here are some pictures of the meal I made:
The Yutaka products can be found in most supermarkets and they have an array of recipes on their website you can try out. The products are between 1 and 3 pounds – a complete bargain. I’m looking forward to having a go at making the noodle soup next.
*** I was sent these products for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own ***
1. Stir fry. The easiest has got to be a stir fry. for the one below I used a garlic and hoisin sauce from Aldi, a Chinese stir fry mix from Tesco, mushrooms and dried egg noodles. It’s super easy to boil the noodles and stir fry the vegetables.
2. At home Indian. For this one I shopped at Asda. I bought a saag aloo side for me, a chicken tikka masala for rob and a pack of 8 mini vegetable samosas and onion Bhajis. Boiling rice and warming up naan breads was simple enough and the other bits were microwaveable
3. Shepherds pie. To make this one easier I use frozen mashed potato. Frying the meat and your choice of vegetables and adding gravy is quick and this can be prepared in advance and warmed in the oven before serving. I usually top mine with grated cheese
4. Of course there has to be easy to make and delicious puddings too. One of my favourite is these double chocolate cookies. These are good for little fingers too. Find the recipe – one of my cookie in a jar gift ideas – here.
Raspberry and white chocolate tray bake
4 ounces of self raising flour
4 ounces of sugar
4 ounces of butter
3 and a half ounces of white chocolate chips
3 and a half ounces of fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a small square baking tin by rubbing with butter and dusting with flour.
Cream the sugar and butter together. Add an egg and half the flour. Mix well and add the remaining egg and the rest of the flour. Fold in the white chocolate chips, adding the raspberries last so they don’t get to squashed.
Pour the batter into the tin and gently spread the mixture out so that the pan is evenly filled.
Cook the cake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and springy to touch.
Allow to cool and cut into pieces – I made mine into 9 good sized squares.
This recipe would also work with strawberries and milk chocolate or could be used to fill cupcake cases.
I served mine with squirty cream and extra raspberries
(This recipe is my own and so are my pictures.)
I’ve been a little absent on the blog recently. Christmas was extremely busy, Amelia has been waking more often through the night and this week and next week I have three essays due and an exam. I’ve been surrounded by text books and resources and still have a pile of 10 academic books that I haven’t even begun reading. Amelia, housework and coursework require more hands and brain cells than I have available.
Am I the only person who still has their Christmas decorations up?
Our flat isn’t as tidy as it should be, Amelia’s Christmas presents still don’t have proper homes and I’ve been drying the washing on the radiators as I haven’t had chance to put the clothes away that are on the airer. I still haven’t purchased an iron so our clothes are all a bit wrinkly and my steamer is still at my mums as I leant it to her for cooking Christmas dinner. I’m just not organised enough to have collected it yet. I go back to work in a few weeks and I’m back at uni too so free time is extremely limited.
But we are all fed and clean and Amelia is happy so everything else will get done when I have chance.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and new year.
My last post was about two gifts that rob and I had purchased for Amelia. This post is about a few gifts I know my mum has purchased for Amelia. (Because I was with her at the time.)
Amelia is getting bigger now and eating anything she can get her hands on. She is still toothless so struggles with some bits but otherwise is a very happy little eater.
This wonderful monster bowl, plate and cutlery set makes meal times more fun for little ones. It’s from Aldi and I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it on Christmas Day.
The snack bowl is designed to help little ones with their coordination as it has a soft lid that they must put their fingers through to pick up the food. I’m looking forward to seeing Amelia’s little face. She loves bright colourful things and eating so combining the two will be a win all round.
Traditional Christmas Dinner or Something Else?
Christmas dinner. Most people imagine turkey with all the trimmings. Roast potatoes. Stuffing. Red cabbage. Brussels sprouts. Roast parsnips. Cauliflower cheese. Pigs in blankets. Gravy.
But are you a family that chooses something else?
Over the years my family have had a variety of meats for dinner; turkey, chicken, gammon, lamb, beef, duck. (Not that it really affects me as I don’t eat the meat part.)
But regardless of the protein the rest of the dinner is pretty much the same.
Some ideas I’ve heard recently:
A surprising number of people have a huge cooked breakfast for their Christmas dinner. This isn’t my favourite choice but it’s definitely an option for dealing with a Boxing Day morning hangover. (I’m sure plenty of people have a fry up for breakfast and then a roast turkey dinner on Christmas Day. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.)
This gives you a variety of meat options, just like roast dinner. It also means you can all pick your own spice strength and type of rice. Poppadoms and naan bread are easily ordered or bought from the supermarket. In fact you could easily buy a variety of curry dishes from Tesco or Sainsbury’s and heat them up. Much simpler than roasting an entire turkey.
Fish and chips
The old English favourite is another popular choice. I’m sure we will have a takeaway at some point over the festive period but for me it’s a roast dinner all the way.
Here’s a picture of Christmas dinner last year, cooked by me and my mum. Last year I was over 20 weeks pregnant. This year I have a 7 and a half month old little monkey.