• Valentine’s Day with Organix


    Valentine’s Day with Organix

    Yes, I may be currently spooning Chase from Paw Patrol but it does not mean I can’t spread the love. Especially via the stomach.

    Organix have provided me with some Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day recipes for you to do with your little ones. They are seriously cute, easy and a sure way to make your partner erm allow you to have a peaceful Lush bath.

    Or eat them all for your self. Hey am a massive believer in self love first.

    I have shared three recipes for you to peruse. Hope you enjoy them.

    Valentines day with organix

    Organix ‘Hearty’ Valentine’s Breakfast

    A tasty breakfast made with love for Valentine’s Day, why not get your little ones to help make this for a loved one.

    There are lots more tasty family recipes at www.organix.com

    Serves 2 little loved ones!

    Not suitable for freezing

    Suitable from 12mths+

    Prep time: 20-30mins

    Ingredients

    • 2 eggs

    • 2 slices of wholemeal bread

    • A little unsalted butter to serve

    • 4 baby plum tomatoes

    • A couple of pieces of strong card

    • A few elastic bands

    • 2 wooden spoons or sturdy wooden skewers

    Method

    Egg hearts:

    * Hard boil the eggs in a saucepan covered with water for 10 minutes.

    * Run each egg under a cold tap quickly so they are just cool enough to handle, then carefully crack the shell and remove.

    * Whilst the eggs are still warm and flexible, place in the middle of a folded piece of card. Use the handle of a wooden spoon or a sturdy wooden skewer to very carefully create an indent along the long side of the egg, then carefully wrap elastic bands around each end of the cardboard to hold in place on the egg. This should create a heart shaped egg. Little ones can help with this if guided. Leave for 10 minutes to take shape.

    * Use a sharp knife to cut the heart shaped egg into slices 1cm deep, from the top of the heart to the bottom.

    Toast hearts:

    * Whilst the eggs are shaping, use a small heart shaped cutter to cut out the middle of your slices of bread. You can get creative and cut several hearts if you like. Then toast and butter your bread.

    Tomato hearts:

    * Cut the top third off a plum tomato on a sharp angle, then repeat on all 4 tomatoes. Pair the larger pieces up together to form two heart shaped tomatoes.

    * Cut each piece of tomato in half sideways to give a flat side, so that 2 heart shapes can be assembled from each pair of tomato pieces (rounded side up, cut side down).

    To assemble:

    Place a heart slice of egg in the heart shaped hole in the centre of the toast.

    Decorate with the heart tomatoes, heart shaped bread cut outs and remaining egg hearts around the plate.

     

    valentines day with organix

    Organix Secret Strawberry Heart Muffins

    These wholesome muffins are filled with a hidden strawberry heart centre. “The beauty is finding a surprise strawberry heart in the centre of these lovely muffins – they are filled with love! Try serving with dollop of yoghurt.” Organix recipe team. Organix tip “These muffins are a great wholesome snack. For a sweeter treat, you could use lighter-weight white flour and replace the oats with more flour.”

    Makes 12 muffins

    Suitable for freezing

    Suitable from 10 months

    Dry ingredients • 100g oats • 300g sprouted whole grain spelt flour (or standard whole wheat or plain white flour if you prefer) • 3 tsps baking powder (or use self raising flour instead) • 50g desiccated coconut Wet ingredients • 2 large eggs • 20 small strawberries, hulled • 1 ripe banana • Juice and zest of 1 orange • 60mls melted coconut oil, melted butter or vegetable oil (whichever you prefer) • 60mls maple syrup • 1 tsp vanilla extract Secret heart centre • 12 small whole strawberries, hulled • An extra sprinkle of desiccated coconut for each muffin

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cases.

    2. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

    3. Blitz together all the wet ingredients in a blender until smooth.

    4. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredient mixture. Mix together lightly with a fork to keep in as much air as possible. Chop the additional 20 strawberries and then lightly stir through the mixture.

    5. Place a spoonful of mixture into the bottom of each case, then place one of the 12 whole strawberries, point end up, into each case, then cover with more mixture so that the strawberry is covered. Finally sprinkle with a little desiccated coconut.

    6. Bake for approx. 30 minutes until golden and the base of the muffin sounds hollow when tapped.

     

    valentines day with organix

    Organix Love Heart Biscuits

    You and your little one will certainly win some hearts with these delicious valentine biscuits.

    Organix Top tip

    Cooking with your little one is a great way to help your baby to learn to love good food. Give your little one some of the biscuit dough and let them cook to their heart’s content. They will love to squeeze it and squash it, and most of all they will love to bake biscuits with you that they can share with you! There are lots more tasty family and baby recipes on the Organix website. www.organix.com

    Makes approx. 35 biscuits depending on the size of the cutter

    Suitable for freezing

    Suitable from 10 months

    Ingredients

    • 300g ground almonds • 50g dried sour cherries • 100g coconut oil (or butter if you prefer and happy to include dairy) • 60mls maple syrup • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    Method

    1. Preheat oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, Gas Mark 6, then combine the ground almonds and sour cherries in a large bowl.

    2. Gently melt the coconut oil over a low heat in a pan. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup and vanilla extract, stirring together. Then pour this liquid over the ground almonds and stir thoroughly to form a soft dough.

    3. Divide the dough into two balls. Place each ball onto a sheet of parchment paper, press down, then place a second piece of parchment over the top. Roll the dough out between the sheets of parchment to about 5mm thickness. Place onto a flat baking tray, then pop into the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. (N.B. The parchment paper prevents the dough sticking to the rolling pin and makes this super easy. The freezer makes the dough firmer and easier to cut. Don’t miss these steps!)

    4. Remove from the freezer and use heart shaped cutters to cut out biscuits. Use a spatula to carefully lift the biscuits onto another lined baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the tray, then transfer to a cooling rack.

    5. Roll up the left over dough and repeat the process, rolling out between sheets of parchment and freezing for 10 minutes before cutting out. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

    Biscuits can be tied with ribbon or placed in a beautiful tin to give to a loved one. Or little ones can simply give them out to their ‘bestest friends’. The dough can be frozen in a ball in a freezer bag, defrosted in a couple of hours and rolled out. Or the baked biscuits can be frozen in a tub, and defrosted in less than an hour. If dairy isn’t a problem butter can be used instead. If nuts are a problem you can replace the ground almonds with plain flour or gluten free flour. As flour is drier than almonds you may need a little extra oil to bring the dough together.

     

    Hope these recipes give you some inspiration for the special person or friend in your life. I will be baking with Phoebe and eating them all up. As I mentioned before. Love thy self!

    Head over to www.organix.com for more ideas and to see what’s in store.

  • Organix Goodies Crispy Bars


    Organix Goodies

    Organix sent me some new crispy bars to try with Phoebe. It was like they knew I was on the search for some new things to feed my snack gobbling toddler.

    Two new types of snack bars arrived. Cocoa & Orange Crispy Bars and Berry Crispy Bars.

    Now Phoebe has entered the snack phase in her life where she pretty much wants everything I am eating, apart of course from healthy vegetables. Her interest in soft puffed hoop type snacks has diminished and she has started to ask for things that I am not always that willing to let her eat.

    She wants to eat like the big kids. I want to still feed her things less full of junk and more full of fruit and veg.

    These new Organix Goodie bars slot nicely into the grown up looking treat but without the nasties. This is pretty much perfect.

    The question is, did Phoebe fall for it?

    organix goodies

    There is no test like a toddler test

    A no junk promise, Always organic, nothing unnecessary. Organix have been feeding Phoebe since she began to wean. We have tried pretty much everything they have to offer.

    I have also seen Phoebe fling a lot of snacks I have offered her since becoming a toddler and her being very aware of what is on offer.

    So I showed her the boxes of Organix Goodies Crispy Bars. We opened them together and she chose which one she was going to try first. The cocoa and orange one.

    Well this story ends well because she loved it, the crispyness of it adding another dimension of new textures for her went well. She ate it all as I pretended to not watch her.

    Then when we went shopping and the “Mummmmmmmmm snack please’ question arose, I gave her the Berry one to try.

    Again she ate it all up. Result. She has also continued to eat them through out the week.

    This may just look like a snack bar, but to any parents out there who find meal times and snack attacks as often laborious as I do, you will understand why it is great when you find something that makes it just a little bit easier.

    Head on over to the Organix website for a full list of ingredients and to peruse what else is on offer.

    They are also on Instagram as organixfood

     

     

  • Halloween cake decorating


    Halloween cake decorating:

    I have always really enjoyed halloween baking, you can be silly, you can be a bit gross, you can be extremely childish.

    Though I have plenty of ideas and am not too shabby knocking up a cake, my buttercream skills are not the best. Working with a tremor too means I am often taking slightly different routes to ensure I am comfortable when doing something.

    I wanted to practice and develop my skills and with Halloween fast approaching, now felt like the perfect time.

    Halloween cake decorating

     

    Rebecca’s Cakes:

    I was fortunate enough to have Rebecca from http://www.rebeccas-cakes.co.uk come over to my house to teach me some tricks.

    Rebecca has been providing us with the most delicious cupcakes, biscuits etc for over ten years. She has provided goodies for most of the significant events/parties I have had. She is a cake wizard, a buttercream genius. Her goodies will leave your hips hating you but your hearts begging for more. Having her come to my house was the best Monday ever.

    Arriving with an array of spooky decorations, sprinkles, edible decorations, spiders, coloured fondant, liquorice and ghost mallows. Rebecca was well prepared for a Halloween explosion.

    Rebecca advised me that Tk Maxx are great for themed decorations as well as pound shops, eBay and local cake stores where she stocks up.

    halloween cake decorating

     

    Practising:

    I quickly learnt that one of the reasons why I struggle is that I am too careful and cautious when handling the cake and buttercream. As well as the fact that Rebecca’s buttercream knocked mine to pieces and was not fearful of being slathered and scraped. (Recipe below)

    Rebecca brought a practice cake, where I learnt about crumb coating, how to fill in the cracks (I think I could be a plasterer now) how to manipulate the cake using the right tools and to not worry. Crumb coats are basically like wearing Spanx pants, it keeps it all in and it does not matter how it looks as no one can see it anyway.

    We then had a play with piping. This will not be my thing. My hands are not a fan of it and after a while they hurt from the way you hold the bag.

    It was fun though to have a play with it and my skills were not the worst.

    After a crumb coat applying the outer layer of buttercream was a dream. Any mistakes could be scraped off and gently re applied.

     

     

    Halloween cake decorating

     

    Halloween drips:

    I love a drip cake, I love the way it looks, I love that is the perfect cover up for any “imperfections”.

    Drips can be made out of an assortment of things, salted caramel, icing sugar, candy melts, chocolate, ganache.

    As I was Halloween cake decorating, I wanted to work with ganache so to make the drips I used a sauce bottle to squeeze and drip. This was really easy and a lot less messier than when I had previously used a spoon.

    The drips depend on the consistency of the ganache. (Recipe below) I was not too fussed about them reaching the bottom.

    Halloween cake decorating

     

    Halloween cake decorating:

    Well this bit was fun, I called out for my inner child who quite frankly is never too far to be seen. We sprinkled, used the liquorice skulls, Marshmallow ghouls, fondant bats, spiders and lastly the sugar figures from Tkmaxx.

    The different ways I could have decorated were endless due to a  good stash of decorations.

    I think if you are looking to decorate a Halloween cake but on a budget then I really advise investing some time to head over to the places I mentioned above. Then it becomes so much more fun when you, and if you have any little helpers, can just have fun with it.

    I really picked  up some new techniques from the fabulous Rebecca and I learnt that though I have to respect the cake, it needs to know who the boss is.

    My tummy definitely appreciated it and I am really in the mood for some more spooky baking and practising my Halloween cake decorating.

    Recipes:

    Buttercream:

    300g unsalted butter, 700g icing sugar, drop of vanilla or whatever flavour you fancy and a few tablespoons of water and mix in a mixer. Add more water if needing to soften more.

    Colouring as you wish, though be aware that Wilton colourings I think slightly alter the taste. I prefer Sugar Flair (which usually needs just a pin drop added)

    Ganache:

    Equal amounts of double cream and dark or white chocolate. Whatever type of chocolate you fancy, need not be expensive as mixing with cream.

    Can be either melted in the microwave on short bursts and then whisked, or in a bowl over boiling water.

     

    Head over to http://www.rebeccas-cakes.co.uk if you are looking for cakes, goodies or catering.

    She is also on Instagram as http://www.instagram.com/cakerebecca

     

  • Hello Kitty at Cutter & Squidge


    Hello Kitty Afternoon Tea

    I am an afternoon tea geek, I love them. They are a treat, a feast, a reason to celebrate.

    Imagine the excitement when I found out Cutter & Squidge had created a Hello Kitty afternoon tea pop up at their bakery in Soho.

    Entering the bakery, with the array of beautiful cakes and biskies on display was certainly enough to make my tummy do flips. Going downstairs to their Hello Kitty garden was like being a child again and wearing your mum’s shoes.

    It was small but enchanting and you certainly felt like you were about to embark on a Hello Kitty journey.

    Now I always think that when indulging in a whimsical/themed afternoon tea, it is best to join in and let yourself get immersed in it. The experience then is always something a little more special.
    Happy, smiley staff brought us Mimmy’s pink lemonade in sweet bowed bottles. A selection of teas were offered and I had the apple pie tea which was surprisingly refreshing and not as sweet as I imagined it to be.

    Hello Kitty afternoon tea

    Hello Kitty Delights on offer at Cutter & Squidge

    Food was then presented and explained to us in a stack of bamboo steamer boxes.

    The savoury box, consisting of things like savoury scones with red pepper and cream cheese toppings, was divine. I wanted to take some home and recreate the recipe. Also the sandwiches and a coronation cracker were light and flavoursome.

    Now let’s be honest. It’s always about the sweet things. I think I speak for many a sweet toothed person when I say, this is the main race. The last hurdle before you leave and waddle home. You want it to be good and for your mouth to go out with a bang.

    It did not disappoint.

    It was Mimmy shaped jelly, marshmallows, apple pie mousse with a biscuit to dunk, Hello Kitty’s chocolate mud pie, cake truffles, strawberry milkshake Biskie (which by the way is a special Biskie created by Cutter & Squidge). I am sure I am missing things but by golly gosh it was a feast. A sugary heavenly feast at that.

    I almost feel ashamed to admit that I had to take some of it home. There was so much. Don’t worry though, I carried on the Hello Kitty party when I recovered at home.

    What made this tea just that extra bit special was all the extra attention to details, the attentive and warm staff, the decorations, the fact that they gave you Hello Kitty stickers in your bag when you left.

    Cutter & Squidge wanted you to feel special and they succeeded.

    Hello Kitty at Cutter & Squidge is on till the 31st of August so if you are a fan of Hello Kitty and afternoon teas, then I strongly advise you to book/go. It is also very child friendly and they do a smaller version of the menu for children.

    Head over to www.cutterandsquidge.com for all the details. They are also on Instagram as the same name.

  • Cook healthy, Cook happy


    collage

    Cook Healthy, Cook Happy.

    Last week I dipped my hands into the world of healthy vegetarian and vegan cooking. Quite literally, there is a lot of hand rolling involved.
    Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to bake/cook. I do it when I am stressed, relaxing, for peoples birthdays. Hell I do it whenever I can use the excuse to whip my trusty old mixer out.
    Sadly, with great cake comes great calories and my hips certainly do not lie anymore.
    Enter Fearne Cotton and her new cookbook “Cook Happy, Cook Healthy”. Now we all love and respect a mama that can cook and bake whilst fending off a child or two, screaming “mama where are my raisins” or “I did a poo, see?”
    This is exactly what she has done. A cookbook filled with recipes that are realistic, easy (so far) and mostly child friendly.
    Oh did I mention, they are healthy. I mean like roll me in coconut oil, because me and my truffle shuffle are about to rediscover my 20 year old waistline, healthy.
    Coconut oil, Coconut Palm sugar, Chia seeds, nut butter. These are all ingredients I had heard of but assumed were covered in cobwebs in the back of a health store whilst Chris Martin wept over the organic soy beans.
    Coconut oil, Coconut Palm sugar, Chia seeds, nut butter. Let me tell you, I am fluent in them now, not only do they taste good but I am sprinkling seeds on my porridge, squeezing juice out of nuts like a student after a freshers disco and rubbing coconut oil pretty much everywhere.
    Happy happy healthy me.
    Back to fearne’s recipes. like an excited child I was eager to try as many recipes as I could. I made Almond butter, Spiced chickpeas, Quesadilla, Lentil, haricot and veg soup and her cashew and apricot biscuits. All of these went down a treat, most of these were shared by my toddler.

    I am going to share her Cashew and Apricot Biscuits recipe and the rest, well I think for £9.99 from amazon you would be silly not to see for yourself. A big thumbs up from me.

    CASHEW AND APRICOT BISCUITS:

    Makes 12-14 Biscuits

    60g Coconut Palm Sugar
    60g Coconut Oil
    50g Raw unsalted cashew nuts, finely chopped
    50g unsulphered dried apricots, finely chopped
    100g white spelt flour, sifted
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
    Pinch of sea salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    METHOD:

    Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan350f/gas mark 4 and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

    Place the coconut palm sugar and coconut oil in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until very well incorporated and creamy.
    Put the chopped cashews and apricots into a separate bowl checking there aren’t any large chunks and combine with the flour, baking powder, chia seeds and salt.

    Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and thoroughly combine. Once everything is incorporated, drizzle over the vanilla extract and use your hands to form the mixture into a ball. It may seem a little dry at first, but keep on kneading and compressing the dough with your hands until it all comes together, add 1-2 drops of water and continue kneading. Don’t be tempted to add the water too early though, as the flour needs time to absorb the moisture as you knead.

    Take a heaped teaspoon of the doll and roll it into a ball. Place on a baking tray and flatten out gently into a neat 3/4cm thick round biscuit shape. Continue with the remaining dough, leaving a 2-3cm gap between each biscuit. Place both trays in the oven for 8-9 minutes until the biscuits are a shade darker and rough textured on top. They burn easily so be sure to time them. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for about 10 minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. They will be soft at first, but will become crunchy as they cool.

    Do let me know if you make them, I have made four batches now and imagine many more in the pipeline.
    I am sure Fearne would like to know too.

    igfearnecotton
    OffcialFearnecotton.com

  • Turning One


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    To my darling daughter,

    We did it. We survived.

    This beautiful year. A never ending marathon.

    And what a year it has been.

    I never imagined I would be typing this post so soon. It seemed a second ago you were a skinny legged newborn sleeping on my chest. A second ago that I was experiencing colic and spending most of my day bouncing you up and down like a 90s rapper.

    You grew, you learnt to eat, move, chatter.

    I gave you more Calpol  than I imagined I would and months 9 – 11 were a teething haze.

    You taught me patience but we have had lots of times when I would cry because I was so desperate for you to go to sleep and you would just want to hang with me like a drunken friend who doesn’t know when to leave a party.

    We spent our days playing and being silly, buying you more clothes than you need. Exploring everything that is new to your eyes and both behaving as silly as each other.

    You gave me eye bags that have eye bags, that carried extra eye bags incase the other ones ran out. You have ruined my back from bending over the cot and patting you repeatedly before I crept out of your room like a rookie burglar.

    You made me realise who and what was important to me and to let the silly things go.

    I taught you words and you mimicked me with the eagerness of a puppy.

    Most importantly, you taught me love like I never knew before and for that I am eternally grateful to you.

    Happy Birthday Phoebe Cecily Violet, Here’s to the next year,

     

    Mama Ali xxx

     

  • Survival


    How to survive motherhood:

    Drink wine.
    Laugh at the stressful days.
    Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
    Drink wine.
    Don’t expect every day to be the same.
    Pat yourself on the back occasionally.
    Drink wine.
    If you need a cry when tired, do it.
    See your friends when you can.
    Drink wine.
    Know that you are not alone.
    Have some you time when possible.
    If there is no wine, drink that dodgy christmas liquor in the cupboard.

  • 9 Months


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    9 Months.
    This milestone hit me hard. The last haul before turning one. Buying 9-12 months sized clothes stung and I have found myself longing for the tiny Phoebe days. Just longing mind you, wouldn’t want to go back to the zombie hormone days.
    Phoebe has become quite the performer, she knows how to make you laugh and pulls questionable but cute faces.
    Words have started with weeeee, hi,mama,baa baa, hiya, ola (dog) and daddad (grandad)
    She is my child so her being a chatter box was a given.
    She has got the moves like Jagger, if Jagger was a drunken one legged horse. Bum shuffling everywhere, crawling when she has to and manoevering like Stig from Top Gear in her walker.
    Every day a new thing develops and it is amazing watching her change.
    Though on the 9 month of still not sleeping through, I could occasionally put her in the kennels for the night.
    That’s it now. The final countdown.

    Ali x

  • 8 Months


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    Hello 8 Months,

    You crept up like my unwanted belly wobble.

    My little chubster is on the move. She has learnt to bum shuffle, backwards crawl and roll to all the places she is not meant to go.

    She tries to pull herself up and has discovered that my ‘handles’ make good well handles.

    Her vocal cords have developed and the noises she loves to scream are starting to make sense.

    Her exorcist imitating has slowed down thankfully. I may owe that to a church visit where she went full blown Regan. It may have left the building. (Fingers crossed)

    My baby seems not a little baby anymore. It’s making me broody….. pah ha ha *puts down the mum juice*

    But she has turned into a proper little person, my wingman.

    Not ready for the next four months, the final count down. I may have to invest in time travel.

    Ali x

     

     

     

     

     

  • Weaning club


    IMG-20150820-WA0003-1IMG_20150806_183543

     

    The first rule of weaning club is we don’t talk about weaning club….. wait wait wrong life.

    I am a mum. All we talk about is weaning.

    But there are 6 rules to this messy, disgusting club.

    1) wear appropriate attire. I always like to dress like I am going to Alton Towers or making meth. I do not like to have pasta lobbed in my face and red handprints attacking my clean dress. (See above photo for recommended attire)

    2) Remove all your carpets. Babies sense nice carpets and food mark them like a cat marking its territory. Just take them away and burn them. Either that or you will be covering your carpets with little rugs to hide the red sauce stains. (Ahh remember the great lasagna lobbing of 2012).

    3) Don’t bother fighting your baby to have control of the spoon. You have more chance of getting your pre baby boobs back. Do use two spoons, that way you can trick them and feed them inbetween them gagging themselves with the wrong end of the spoon.

    4) The healthier the food the more it stains. Tomato based foods become your enemy. You will have an oompa loompa of a baby after a nutritious meal. Just feed them yoghurts. It blends with the paleness of their skin. *yeah but don’t*

    5) Don’t use baby wipes to clean them up, unless you are happy using a whole pack. Just stick them outside and powerhose them. That or a nice warm bath.

    6) Buy a dog. Best kind of hoover out there.

    If you stick to these rules, well it is still gross but at least you won’t end every meal wanting to crawl into the dog basket and weep,

    Ali x