Lunes, Enero 15, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - week 3

I'm working from home twice this week as I have an appointment with the diabetes midwife on Tuesday and a growth scan on Friday, so a bit more time hopefully to cook some nice meals!


Monday
Breakfast porridge
Lunch tuna sandwich
Dinner fish pie for me (frozen a while back pre-GD but only has a little mashed potato on top) and chicken kiev for him

Tuesday - working from home
Breakfast smoked salmon and poached egg
Lunch ham and cheese toasted sandwich
Dinner spicy chicken escalopes I was going to do last week but didn't, with potato wedges/ sweet potato wedges

Wednesday
Breakfast yogurt and oats
Lunch chicken soup
Dinner  tuna steak with vegetables and quinoa for me, my husband is out at a work event

Thursday
Breakfast yogurt and oats
Lunch tuna or ham sandwich
Dinner out

Friday working from home
Breakfast - porridge
Lunch ryvita with cream cheese and smoked salmon
Dinner salmon en croute for me, chicken in breadcrumbs for him

Saturday
Breakfast toast with peanut butter
Lunch tortilla wrap 'pizza'
Dinner steak and chips/ sweet potato fries

Sunday
Breakfast  toast with peanut butter
Lunch baked sweet potato
Dinner pork chop and roast potatoes for me

Join in the blog hop!

Huwebes, Enero 11, 2018

Review: Pure freeze-dried cat food

While this blog usually focuses on food and drink for humans, I have written a few posts before about meals I've made for Tilly - my gorgeous tabby cat.

 
I was asked if I wanted to review some cat food and since there is a link (albeit small) with what I've covered before, I said yes. The product itself is interesting I think to foodies anyway as it's freeze-dried - you just add water - making me wonder if there is any food for humans (other than what astronauts eat in space!) that is prepared in this way. I have a feeling that herbs are sometimes freeze-dried as a way of keeping them tasting fresh - if you know of any other freeze-dried food let me know in the comments!

So on to the cat food. Made by a brand called Pure Pet Food, a company founded by two friends who wanted their dogs to eat food as good as they did, rather than highly processed food made with low quality ingredients. After developing the business and seeing it start to take off, they appeared on TV's Dragon's Den (the equivalent show in the US is called Shark Tank if you're an American reader!) and were offered investment but decided to turn it down to go it alone.

They started off with dehydrated food in 2012 and only last year moved into freeze-dried. The company says its freeze-drying technique keeps the texture of the meat which did look to be the case from appearance (I drew the line at tasting it myself) and it doesn't need preservatives added. There's plenty of nutritional information on their website which I won't repeat here but I am impressed at the list of ingredients and their benefits, and that it contains nothing 'bad'.

I was sent finger-lickin' chicken and surf and turf flavours; here's what you get inside the box:


Mix with the recommended amount of water and leave for a few minutes to rehydrate, mixing well.


Tilly (my cat) really enjoyed this - she does like to switch up her brands and flavours every so often - and seemed to prefer it when I added a little more water to the mixture.


Here she is posing for a photo!


It does take slightly longer to mix this up in the mornings, and I'm always in a hurry before work,  though you can do it the night before and keep it in the fridge. You can buy online from their site and the products are also stocked in Pets At Home.

A 200g bag costs £11.99 but this is equivalent to 800g of fresh food, Pure says.

Thanks to Pure for the pet food for review. All opinions are my own.

Lunes, Enero 8, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - week 2

Linggo, Enero 7, 2018

Restaurant review: Ewe Tree Cafe, Cholderton Charlie's, Wiltshire

Sabado, Enero 6, 2018

Low Sugar Low Carb Diabetic Lemon Cheesecake

Martes, Enero 2, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - Week 1

Welcome to 2018! I hope it's a great year for all my readers. It's going to be a life-changing year for me as our baby is due in just over 10 weeks... and potentially sooner which is quite a scary thought! I haven't been blogging as much as things like choosing a car seat and buggy are more important at the moment but I will continue to bring you recipes ranging from the birthday cake I made for my niece to diabetic-friendly baking so please stay tuned!

Here is the first meal plan of the year - as I explained in a recent post I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and have to cut carbs as well as sugar, which is actually pretty difficult - in the summer I'm happy to have salad for lunch but in winter am more likely to have something carb-based, and while I don't always have potatoes, rice or pasta with dinner, I do sometimes- and once or twice a week when I get home late like most people I might bung some chips or a frozen pizza in the oven. Can't do that any more! So meal planning will become even more important, and probably more time consuming until I get the hang of what I can and can't tolerate to get blood sugar readings within my target range.

I'm slightly late posting this week so the first two days have already happened!

Monday
Breakfast plain soya yogurt (Alpro) with sweetener
Lunch tuna sandwich using Burgen soya & linseed bread
Dinner As it's a bank holiday and we were not looking forward to going back to work I decided to give takeaway a go after all (having read online some options are not that bad from a diabetes perspective), and had a few slices of thin crust takeaway pizza - and my blood sugar reading was well within range! Won't be doing this sort of thing often (if at all) for the next few months though.

Tuesday
Breakfast having been told by my midwife and read elsewhere that porridge made from scratch should be OK (complex carb, low GI, slow release) so I made some using Tree of Life organic porridge oats from Ocado, using a mixture of water and milk and added a little sweetener - and got a blood sugar reading well over my target level! Sigh.
Lunch At the hospital after a lengthy set of antenatal appointments and a long wait at the hospital pharmacy - I expected to be home hours ago so didn't take any food (or a book to read!) with me. My only option was lunch in the hospital restaurant where nothing looked particularly diabetes-friendly (though I could have had sausage and mash without the mash I suppose). I had a small portion of lamb pasta bake which wasn't particularly nice but I got a surprisingly good blood sugar reading.
Dinner tuna steak with wholewheat noodles and vegetables.

Wednesday
Breakfast Going into work early and need to take something with me so going to try overnight oats using a little porridge oats and the soya yogurt.
snacks al desko: mini babybel, sour cream and chive dip and carrot sticks, sugar-free jelly
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner spaghetti and meatballs, but using spiralized carrot for me

Thursday
Breakfast depending on my blood sugar reading and which train I get to work - toast with peanut butter, overnight oats or just yogurt
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner sausage and mash for him, and sausage and cauliflower, sweet potato and kale bake (from Ocado) for me

Friday
Breakfast as above depending on the same factors
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner out with a friend

Saturday
Breakfast depending on when I get up - toast and peanut butter most likely
Brunch/ Lunch buckwheat pancakes with apple or lemon and sweetener
Dinner for me: pork with cauliflower cheese. For him: chicken breast wrapped in bacon with potato croquettes

Sunday
Breakfast toast and peanut butter
Lunch need to take a packed lunch as we are on our antenatal course
Dinner homemade lasagne

Join in the blog hop!

Lunes, Enero 1, 2018

A Year in Review and 2018 Resolutions

Each year I look back on the year in blogging (and a few aspects of my personal life) and my top 10 most popular posts, and think about what I want to tackle for the blog in the coming year.

The first half of last year was pretty normal; I made cakes for birthdays, reviewed restaurants, did some crafts, all the usual things. Then at the beginning of July I found out my husband and I are expecting a baby - and everything changed. We are really excited and looking forward to the new addition to our family; I've been lucky and not suffered from morning sickness or much else during this pregnancy apart from a few aches and pains (trying to get out of bed in the morning is quite difficult these days) but I have been extremely tired for several months, often needing a nap (or simply falling asleep wherever I am) which means I am not getting much done! I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes right before Christmas, which should disappear as soon as the baby is born, but means I now have to watch what I eat a lot more and cut out most carbs as well as sugar.

Lack of time and the tiredness meant I blogged a lot less in the last few months of 2017 and my readership stats reflect that. It's been interesting to see what my top 10 most read posts were over the year:

1. Slow cooker butterscotch pudding - from a book called the Slow Cooker, you cook the puddings in a water bath and they set like custard - they tasted great. I have lots of other slow cooker recipes on my blog!

2. Vegan French apple tart - often people who are not vegan need to make a vegan recipe and this is where the internet rather than recipe books comes in! I found this on the Good to Know website and made it for last new year's eve where I was with friends including a vegan, and also entered it in the Food n Flix challenge. You can find lots more vegan recipes on my blog.

3. Chicken and chorizo filo parcels - I always have a few sheets of filo pastry left after opening a packet and this recipe from the Jus-Rol website is a great way to use them up.

4. Slimming World coronation chicken jacket potato - I haven't followed the Slimming World plan for a while but still have a lot of the recipe books and cook from them sometimes. This coronation chicken filling is low fat and really nice in a baked potato.

5. I'm glad to see that my meal plans, which I post every Monday, are popular, and hopefully useful. One of them - my very first meal plan of 2017 - made it into my top 10 most read posts.

6. Chocolate crumble - something I made for my husband while I enjoyed an apple crumble as he doesn't like apple. The recipe comes from the Tesco website and I recommend you check it out!

7. Weightwatchers Turkish pizza - another good recipe for people who are watching their weight. This Turkish take on a pizza has no cheese but is topped with minced lamb and spices and is really good.

8. A roundup of soup recipes I'd previously featured on my blog - soup is really easy to make and pretty much a fail safe lunch in the winter for me!

9. Super-moist vegan strawberry cake - a birthday cake for my vegan friend which she really enjoyed. If you like strawberry flavour check out these other strawberry recipes.

10. I'm pleased to see one of my card making projects made it into the top 10, even though this snow scene foil Christmas card is based entirely on a design from a card making magazine - if you want to see the other cards I've made click here.

In terms of goals for 2018, I'm not going to write a whole long list like I sometimes do - as I can't even begin to imagine how much my life will change when I have a baby. My resolution instead is to continue my blog, even if I'm not able to post often; I would also like to revise the layout and make some design changes which I've wanted to do for a while now but never seem to find the time to do. So I think given there is a baby on the way, blogging at all this year will be an achievement!


Martes, Disyembre 26, 2017

Mini Lebkuchen Doughnuts for Christmas

Lebkuchen is a German biscuit-cum-cake, a bit like gingerbread, that is traditionally eaten at Christmas; they are easy to find in UK supermarkets but having also lived in Germany for two separate periods between the ages of 18 and 22 (both including Christmas) I became quite keen on them.

I thought about making some Lebkuchen at Christmas but didn't get around to it; instead I decided to make some baked mini doughnuts using my Wilton doughnut pan which I was going to flavour with gingerbread spices, but then remembered I had a small packet of actual mixed spices for Lebkuchen that a German colleague had given me a little while ago that I'd never used. So the doughnuts tasted of Lebkuchen and I glazed them with chocolate as Lebkuchen often are.

I used this pan and the Wilton recipe to make Halloween doughnuts last year though I found the batter really thick - possibly because my buttermilk had set quite thick in the fridge - so also added some milk, and switched the plain flour and baking power for self-raising flour as follows:

300g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
175ml buttermilk
50ml milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 x 15g sachet of Ostmann Lebkuchen gewurtz
to decorate: 100g plain chocolate

As an alternative to the ready made Lebkuchen spice mix, you could use:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 tsp allspice


Preheat oven to 200C. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until you have a batter that is a dropping consistency.

Grease a doughnut pan - you could also try making these as cupcakes in a cupcake tin - and drop in the batter so each doughnut ring is 2/3 full. This quantity will make two batches of 10-12 doughnuts. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes.


Allow to cool in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack. Melt some plain chocolate in a microwave or bain-marie and spread over one side of the doughnuts and allow to set.

I allowed myself to try a bit even though I'm supposed to be cutting out sugar - it is Christmas after all and I hoped that a few bites wouldn't hurt - and they were delicious, tasting a lot like lebkuchen!

Linggo, Disyembre 24, 2017

Chocolate Orange Christmas Bundt Cake


This cake is delicious and a special treat at any time of year but especially at Christmas where chocolate oranges are often a popular gift (though I also asked for a Terry's chocolate orange at Easter some years!).

I had decided to make it before finding out I had gestational diabetes and still wanted to bake the cake, as I was planning to take it to my brother in law's on Boxing Day for everyone to eat anyway - it's not like I was going to eat the whole cake myself. Depending on my blood sugar readings and what else I've had I may be able to have a very small piece of it anyway - the diabetes midwife did say it wasn't a case of not being able to ever have anything sweet, but it has to be a small amount on rare occasions.

Terry's chocolate oranges are, as I said, pretty iconic at Christmas. A month or so ago Tesco had a really good offer of 3 for the price of 1 (no that's not a typo) so I think I paid £3 for three. I decided at the time to give my husband one for Christmas and use the other two for baking.

I thought the chocolate orange slices would look great across the top of a bundt and that the cake itself should be chocolate orange flavour. I'd like to be able to say I developed my own recipe but these days I'm so busy preparing for the baby as well as doing everything else, and I am very tired all the time - I actually baked three different things today and had a nap in between as well! So I used a recipe I found online at Marsha's Baking Addiction.


 
It was easy to make and delicious (according to my husband who ate the offcuts when I levelled the cake) - really moist and you can taste the orange with the chocolate. I definitely recommend this recipe!
 


The cake came out of my Nordicware bundt tin easily after I sprayed it with PME Release A Cake Spray 600 ml- sometimes I've had problems with cakes sticking in my metal bundt tins but I really wanted to use it because the ridges around the cake are beautiful and I thought would be perfect for this particular cake.

To decorate the cake once it had cooled, I melted a whole Terry's chocolate orange (broken into segments) and stirred in about 50 ml double cream.


I planned to pour this over the top of the cake but it was still a bit thick so I spooned and spread it into the ridges, and topped each one with another piece of chocolate orange (using half of another one so you need one and a half in total). As a final touch I added some Dr. Oetker gold pearls.

 
I'm pleased with the way it turned out and my husband loved how it tasted so I hope the family enjoy it on Boxing Day!



I'm sharing this with We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin and Thyme and Cook Blog Share, hosted by Recipes Made Easy.

Sabado, Disyembre 23, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 Week 52

Miyerkules, Disyembre 20, 2017

Personalised Hand-Decorated Ceramics: Father's Day Plate and Egg Cups

I love crafts and making homemade and personalised gifts and this year I kept seeing decorated plates and bowls that I thought looked really cool. I’d seen them on various sites including the local Facebook selling group and could tell they were homemade, so had a look online to figure out how to make them so I could do something myself!
 
You can buy pens that let you draw or almost paint on ceramic crockery; they are not that expensive and you can buy a basic set with a selection of colours for less than £10 on Amazon; they are also available in craft shops. It’s important to make sure that the pens are non-toxic! I bought these ones from Amazon:  Fine Paint Oil Based Art Marker Pen Permanent Chalk Pens Boxed for Metal Rubber Glass Waterproof 12 Pack Colors
 
Some of what I’d read online suggested you need to put the ceramics in the oven after you have decorated them, to fire and set them so the design won’t wash off. I baked the plate at 150C for 30 minutes; I followed the advice to put the plate in a cold oven so it would warm up gradually to prevent cracking.

I'd be interested to know what other people have done because my parents told me even after a few washes it looks like the colour was starting to come off a bit.

 
I created this plate for my dad for Father’s Day but it's also a good idea for gifts at Christmas or any time of year. I bought various bits of ceramic very cheaply at Ikea and decided a plate was the most likely thing my dad would use.
 
He likes a fry-up on the weekend so I decided that would be a good theme for the plate. I like Emma Bridgewater’s style with words around the edge of the plate so I decided to do something similar and started with the words ‘Dad’s big breakfast’, then a star in a different colour, then ‘fry-up’ and another star, then as I still had space, the word ‘yum’ – which makes the plate a bit fun and irreverent I think. There’s plenty of white space in the middle to put the food on, which I think looks better than if there was a design across the whole plate.
 
It was very quick and pretty cheap to do if you intend to use the marker pens again.
 
 
I used them again almost straight away on these two egg cups, which again were very cheap from Ikea. I had a personalised egg cup as part of a set (with a mug as well) as a young child, I remember having it when I was about 8, and I’ve still got them today! I simply wrote the names of my friend’s two daughters on the egg cups and decorated them with polka dots – I think I will give them to the girls at Christmas. 

Lunes, Disyembre 18, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 Week 51

Almost Christmas!

Monday
Lunch rest of mackerel pasta
Dinner hake in lemon sauce I didn't do at the weekend for me, sausage and mash for him

Tuesday
Lunch  sandwich
Dinner using up leftover hake in a curry for me, from this recipe; chicken curry for him - carried over from last week as I didn't do it

Wednesday
Lunch sandwich
Dinner out; the other half will be at his mum's

Thursday working from home as I have an antenatal appointment
Lunch beans/macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner hunter's chicken in freezer for him, lemon and garlic prawns with spaghetti for me

Friday
Lunch sandwich
Dinner  scampi/ chicken nuggets and chips

Saturday
Lunch breakfast burritos
Dinner sausage casserole and mashed potato I didn't do last week

Sunday  Christmas Eve! With my family

join in the blog hop:

Linggo, Disyembre 17, 2017

3D Christmas Cookie Tree


I feel like Christmas has almost passed me by this year. Normally I do all my shopping in November if not before, and do plenty of Christmas baking. This year being pregnant has meant I'm tired a lot of the time, spending half my weekends having naps, and when I am awake I have far more important things to do like register for nurseries which have a one-year waiting list!

My beloved cat was also unwell over the past week but is much better now, and I feel a bit more awake at the moment (I hope that lasts!) so decided it was about time I did something festive. Yesterday I listened to Christmas music while wrapping gifts and actually did some baking.


I bought the Lakeland 3D Christmas cookie cutter set in their January sale last year and hadn't used it yet so this was the perfect time. You get a set of star shaped plastic cookie cutters in varying sizes and two piping bags and nozzles.


There's a recipe on the back of the box which I followed though I also added some cinnamon for a more Christmassy taste. You need to make two cookies from each cutter, though I found the recipe recommended baking the cookies for 12 minutes, which I think works for the larger ones but once you get to the very small cookies, 12 minutes is too long. I baked them in batches and reduced the oven time as the cookies got smaller.


I left them all to cool, then mixed up some icing sugar with water to make a thick paste that I could pipe. I found the nozzle provided in the kit a bit thin so just snipped off the end of the piping bag and piped an outline around the edge of each cookie star. I then added some Dr Oetker gold pearls to the tip of each star while the icing was still soft.


Next I made up some thinner icing and used it to flood the inside of the cookies, and left them all to set.

The final step is to layer the cookies starting with the largest on the bottom; as you have two of each size, rotate one so that the points on the star are sticking out between the points of the cookie underneath.

I placed the final small star standing up on the top of the 'tree' though you could also add another decoration on top if you like.


The effect is really pretty and it is a little time consuming to bake this many cookies when you can't get them all in the oven at once but otherwise it's a very easy kit to use and something you could do with children. The cookies tasted really nice too - we tucked into them after helping my mother-in-law decorate her tree.

I'm sharing this with Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Hijacked by Twins.

Lunes, Disyembre 11, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 50

Biyernes, Disyembre 8, 2017

Forever Friends Decoupage Christmas Cards

Huwebes, Disyembre 7, 2017

Review: Novotel London Excel