chocolate biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

As soon as Henry saw this recipe for Chocolate Biscotti, he decided we needed to bake for Christmas; and I have to say they were delicious!  So why not give everyone a taste of Italy with these delicious biscuits – perfect for baking with the kids, then dunking in hot chocolate!

Prep: 20 mins               Cook: 40 mins              Level: Easy

Ingredients

225g Plain Flour (extra for dusting)

1tsp Baking Powder

175g Caster Sugar

2 Eggs, beaten

150g whole Hazelnuts

75g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa at least) , chopped into small chunks

Chocolate Biscotti

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

henry baking

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the eggs and stir briefly, then use your hands to bring together the mixture, kneading till smooth.

3. Add the hazelnuts and dark chocolate and knead again.

biscotti ready to bake

4. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half and roll each half into a sausage shape, then flatten slightly.  Place both dough sausages on the lined baking sheet, leaving plenty space between the two.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden, then cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.

6. Turn down the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas Mark 1. Using a bread knife carefully cut the dough rolls diagonally into 1cm thick slices.  Lay flat on the same baking sheet.  Bake for another 15 mins, until dry and slightly golden.

7. Cool completely on a wire rack, they will harden as they cool.

 

Serve with the drink of your choice (hot chocolate or coffee are recommended!)

So easy and so very very tasty, these Chocolate Biscotti are a perfect introduction to baking for your kids.  Apart from a little extra kneading and transfer of ‘dough sausages’ to cool before cutting, Henry did the rest himself and he did a great job.

For more simple and fun recipes to cook with your kids, then check out my other recipes.

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P.S Henry’s fab grey kitten onesie is from the amazing @KiguCrew all the boys got one this year in their Christmas eve boxes.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, then get over there, they are awesome!


coding for kids

Coding for Kids

My boys have always been into computers and games, minecraft was a given along with school favourites such as Scratch.  So when I was approached by KidloLand to check out their new Coding for Kids app, I jumped at the chance.

Coding for Kids

Samuel has just turned 6 so was the perfect age to try this app.  I must admit it took a little persuasion, I had to use his big brothers to encourage him as I think he felt it was some kind of homework (purely my bad for how I introduced to him).  Once he saw the home screen, the bright colours and fun animation then he was only too happy to give the app a go!

kidloland

Initial Impressions

The home screen was really inviting for a small kid and Samuel really was spoilt for choice.  Initially he wasn’t quite sure what he had to do, but after a quick helping hand from his brothers, then he was on his way.

He choose ‘Smoothie Maker’ and it took him a few attempts to get to grips with how the game worked, but once he figured it out he was quick to move on.

Usage

This app is aimed at kids under 5 and I definitely think that pre-school kids could have some great fun, however there is still an element of reading and instruction that parents will need to go through with their children before they can play ‘solo’.

That said I feel that the app is really appealing to all ages from pre-school upwards.  Samuel enjoyed massively once we had gone through with him, and my older kids who ‘forced’ themselves to play (10 and 12 respectfully) really enjoyed too and were happy to move though the initial levels quickly to get to a level that tested them.

So…

All in all we have loved the app and Samuel is really enjoying.  It’s great fun but educational too, so I don’t have to feel like he is wasting time away watching inane videos on You Tube etc. (although he does love watching tractors so I can’t really complain!)

This is definitely one for keeping and I can’t wait to watch him progress.

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coding for kids

christmas gift ideas

Christmas is a coming - Gift Ideas

‘Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling’

Edna Ferber

So I’ve finally started my Christmas shopping.  Little bit late to the game but better late than never eh!  So what am I buying this year…

Well here are my best picks from my list:

Mummy

So the first purchase is a completely selfish purchase.  I’m a sucker for a Christmas jumper, but I also love a slogan tee, and what better than to combine both with this awesome tee from the masters that are Parent Apparel.

Daddy

I’m not sure about you guys but I always find it nigh on impossible to buy for my OH. Either he’s already got it or it’s way out of my price bracket. So Gift Wink is a brilliant new site that does the hard work for you.  Just type in who you are shopping for and they will do the rest…

For little peeps

Every year on Christmas Eve grandma always gives the boys new pj’s and we sit down to watch movies. So this year we decided to go for something a little special, from grandma and mummy! I have lusted after these Kigu Crew onesies for a long time, so many to choose from and the sizing means they will last them for years!

For the Family

I’ve only recently discovered this misting spray, but couldn’t be without it now.  It really does help all of us settle at night, especially after a busy day.  If you are quick there is 30% off over at Three Little Pandas, just quote BNWF30 and order before midnight tonight.  Otherwise use FAY10 for 10% OFF at any other time.

For the Home

I love christmas time and all the decs that go with it. Every year without fail we have to add something to the collection. This year I managed to bag some of these giant crackers from Sainsburys Home which I’m definitely not letting anyone pull (although the gifts look fab!) but haven’t quite decided where I’ll display yet.  They are approx. 2ft long and only £5 so excited to display them…

The other purchase I cannot do without at this time of the year (and a definite little luxury) is Molton Brown Christmas handwash. It’s for the downstairs WC only and I always feel the festive season is on the way when the hubby brings a bottle home.  Again if you are quick there is up to 25% OFF till midnight tonight.

Craft / D.I.Y

Last but not least is a FREE make which is gonna look beautiful around the home and such fun to make. Head over to Doodle Moo and check out their Christmas edition free printables. Can’t wait to give these a go this year! Not got access to a printer or some of the materials required, then keep an eye out for DIY kits to purchase, with everything you will need.  Coming soon…

So there we have it, just a couple of the things I’ll be buying/making this Christmas. How are you doing with your Christmas shopping?! Are you organised and start early, or are you like me and leave till the last minute and finish it by the skin of your teeth?

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Time to get s**t done

Time to get s**t done - For one week only!

So I have one week till the new job, one week till my baby turns 6 (when the frig did that happen!) and one week till I turn my house from hell hole to organised style, ready to get the Christmas shizzle up!  Time to get s**t done.  There are 2 out of 3 things that are definitely gonna happen, and one I’d like to, but hey ho we’ll see.

Time to get s**t done…

It’s a funny thing starting a new job, especially at this age; but who am I kidding for me it always was.  The not knowing simple things like where the toilet is, how to work the photocopier, when you can make tea, can you have a kettle in your office?  For me it goes even further, it’s that dread of the phone ringing and having to answer, what will they ask, will I know who it is, how do I transfer the call.  How do I find my way around the building, what if I get lost…

For people like me the anxiety never goes away, the self doubt is always there.  Is it admitting failure to ask how to work the photocopier, will people think I’m stupid if I get lost around the campus, how do I admit that I’m not quite sure.

Time to get s**t done

What’s changed…

I’m a lot better than I was when I was younger.  Age (and actually parenthood more so) gives you the confidence to be able to view things differently.  I am no longer afraid to admit when I’m not sure, it still burns like hell but I know that most of us go through it. I realise now that it’s actually a sign of strength to admit.

However there are still certain situations that I cannot control, situations that make me feel completely insecure and shove me right back to being that 10 year old girl that no one was talking to, and laughed at, and prodded, and fought with at any opportunity.  Even at 42, I can still be transported back to the classroom in a second. To that first moment of being picked out and made a target.  That feeling of everyone laughing at you; of going home knowing you have no friends, but have to return the very next day to do all over again.

Bullying and whispering school kids in uniform
Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws via Getty Images

Maturity…

The difference that parenthood and age has brought to me is suddenly being able to accept that just because it didn’t work out right, does not mean it was bad/wrong.  Just because I made a wrong step as a parent or in my career, does not mean I failed, it means I’m human. It means I learned something!

So I will welcome next week with gusto, I really am so excited to start working there.  My new surroundings and colleagues immediately filled me with welcome and comfort, I have to take this and accept it.  I am bloody good at my job and the inconsequentials will be forgotten about before I even know it.  I’m gonna try and welcome those new job faux pas’ as just part of life.  Everyone goes through it, I’m no different and actually I don’t think anyone cares?! Do they?…

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Healthy Sausage Stew

Family Friendly Sausage Stew

Healthy Sausage Stew 

Finding meals and recipes that are suitable for hungry teens and men, fussy kids, and Mums who are trying to shift a bit of weight is every Mum’s challenge. 

Nobody wants to be cooking three separate meals every night, but how do you cater for everyone’s individual tastes and nutritional needs can be tricky. 

Thankfully it can be made much simpler with one small trick; rather than altering family favourite recipes completely, just serve them up differently 

Healthy Sausage Stew

For weight loss, reducing calories is key, so one way to do this is to just have a much smaller portion. But that leaves you hungry, and hunger is never fun.  

That’s where protein and fibre (vegetables) come in – protein is the most filling food type, while vegetables are high in satisfying fibre while being very low in calories. Basing meals primarily around protein such as meat, fish, eggs or tofu plus lots of vegetables or salad is an easy way to make all of your meals and recipes lower calorie while being just as filling. 

Then for growing kids, active teens and hungry men you can add starchier foods to fulfil their higher energy needs, such as a side of potatoes, rice, bread or similar. That’s not to say you need to abstain from carbs, but cutting back to a couple of tablespoonful’s rather than a big pile is a very easy way to cut calories without having to learn or make completely new recipes. Win! 

This healthy sausage stew is a favourite with kids, because which kids don’t like sausages?! They could easily be swapped for Quorn sausages and the meat for firm tofu or Quorn pieces for vegetarians. And don’t feel tied down by the vegetables – if your family prefer, say, broccoli and courgettes then that’s fine with me! It freezes really well too, so make a batch and have some to hand for next time you’re in a hurry for a hearty meal. 

Ingredients

1 litres beef or chicken broth 

225g lean pork steak, cut into small chunks 

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped 

1 stick celery, coarsely chopped 

1 carrot, coarsely chopped 

1 leek, sliced 

225g sausages, cut into 1 inch pieces 

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 tbsp. rosemary 

1 tbsp. oregano 

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Potatoes or rice, to serve, for people with higher energy needs. 

Extra veg (just some extra carrots or leeks will do, or your choice of vegetables), to serve, to make the meal more weight loss friendly.  

Method

Chop and prep all your ingredients, you want everything roughly the same size. 

Some people like to seal the meat first – flash fry the chopped pork in a tsp. oil before adding to the slow cooker if you want to do this (it doesn’t have to be cooked through as it will cook with the rest of the ingredients). I generally don’t bother with this step! 

Add all the chopped ingredients to your slow cooker along with the stock. 

Turn on your slow cooker according to how long you’ll be leaving it for. If you’re putting it on first thing and will be eating it for your evening meal, a ‘low’ heat setting will be fine. If you’ve left it to mid afternoon or are serving it for lunch, you’ll need a higher heat setting.

Before eating cook your potatoes or rice – simple jacket potatoes go really well. It’s at this point I’ll bring in the nutritional recommendations. As a weight loss coach, for Mums wanting to lose weight the stew as it is, with plenty of (extra) veg dished up, is perfect; with lots of filling protein and high fibre vegetables. Growing kids, teenagers or hungry men will likely want some extra starch, which is where the potatoes and rice fill the tummy-gaps! 

Serve the stew alone in bowls or on a bed of rice or alongside a jacket potato or extra vegetables.  

Pollyanna Hale helps busy and tired Mums lose weight, tone up and have more energy without compromising family life, making separate meals to the family, or struggling with hunger and cravings. You can find out more and download a free Quickstart Fatloss Guide at http://www.thefitmumformula.com/ 


Forgetful Kids

What To Do With Forgetful Kids

I began writing about forgetful kids earlier in the day on my lunch break, but actually couldn’t bring myself to type it.  Not for any other reason than I really didn’t want to write about my boy, my H and how scatty he is.  I began to question why I’d want to do that to him, why would a parent write about their kid, especially at such a crucial stage (he’s turning 12 on Friday!).  I could embarrass the hell out of him.  Two things then came to me…

  1. I’m his mum, it’s my job to embarrass my kids.
  2. Actually his friends all know what he is like so it’s not like I’m giving away a major secret.

Then my lunch (half) hour was over, so I had to wait till tonight to finish.

Forgetful Kids

So for those of you who don’t already know, my eldest boy ‘H’ is a tad forgetful.  I’m not talking bits here or there, a letter from school, a sock out his PE Kit.  No I’m talking full bags of PE Kit, Jackets, Mobile Phones and probably his best yet a whole School Bag!

He started high school in September of this year and so far we have lost the following:

  • PE Kit x 3
  • CousCous x 1 – to be fair it was his first lesson, and maybe best #sorrynotsorry
  • Mobile Phone x 2
  • Jacket x 1
  • Bus Pass x 1
  • Letters from school – too many to count
  • School Bag x 1 incl. pencil case, school books, text books etc.
  • Homework Planner x 3

Am I To Blame?

I sometimes wonder if we apply too much pressure these days.  So much to remember at such a young age.  But I also have to admit that H is my boy, my baby, my preemie miracle, and I have treated him with kid gloves.  So am I to blame?  He’s the first born and as I say was 5 weeks premature.  I know fine well that I have done more for him than my other two.  The youngest, poor Samuel is left at the wayside with things in comparison with what I did for Henry.

But Samuel is one of the most independent little beings that you could ever know.  He certainly won’t be forgetting s**t at school (unless he deliberately choose too, which wouldn’t surprise me!).  And my middle boy Fred is just so cocksure that even if he did lose or forget something, he’d not hesitate to ensure he got it back.  Or at worst he’d manage to charm his way right out of it!

It’s so hard as a parent to admit that you’ve possibly/probably contributed to a particular trait in your own kids.  Have I let him down, will this be something he struggles with  forever?  But then I give myself a slap and tell myself I need to get a grip!  There are plenty of forgetful people in the world (me included – and actually that’s a point, all my boys contributed to my forgetfulness as I was never like this before kids! #quidproquo)

I can also console myself with this new paper by the journal Neuron which states that not only is forgetfulness normal but it actually makes us smarter!  So maybe H is a genius in the making.

For now I’ll take that.  Along with some tracking devices I can attached to his jacket, bag, books…

Any advice gratefully received!

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Samuels Gallery Wall Update

How I updated Samuel's wall for less than £10

Those of you who know me, know just how impatient I am.  It’s a couple of weeks till payday, and to finish Henry’s room a shopping trip is required.  So I’m getting styling withdrawal symptoms, and Samuels Gallery Wall Update is just what was needed.

gallery wall original

Samuels Gallery Wall Update

So this is how his wall looked originally, but the whole point was so I could change and update easily for him.  But it had sat like this for months and months.

To top this off I noticed that the washi tape was actually staining the wall very slightly having been there so long.  So it was time for a change.  But a change that would make it easier to update in the future…

doodle moo peg board

I had bought this gorgeous peg board from @DaisyMoo several months back for my own studio.  But actually I realised I didn’t really have anywhere for it, so it had sat unused.  I knew it would be perfect on Samuel’s wall, but lets see if he can look after it properly.

Samuels Gallery Wall Update

You might remember a while back I mentioned in one of my blogs about using clipboards to display art.  Well what better to introduce onto Samuel’s wall.  It also means we can easily change up his prints whenever we want!  These clipboards were only £2 each from Sainsbury’s Home.

Samuel's Room Update

With a little re-gig of what was displayed on his shelves and where, then essentially for less than £10 I was able to give his wall a fresh new look.  Did Samuel like? Well when I asked he said ‘I love you mama, you’re the best!’ #jobdone

What do you guys think?

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NB: I’ve listed all the wonderful small shops that are a part of this wall, along with a few high street favourites.

Name Garland – Mum Made

Lightbox – The Range

Tractor – Jones & Parker Toys

Rainbow, Bandit Peg Doll, Batman Plaque & Name Wedge – Three Little Tinkers

Star Canvas, Bean Bag, Toy Storage Bags – Henry, Fred & Felicity

Raven & Snow Peg Dolls (Large & Mini), Splatter Chair, Splatter Hands, Splatter House, Splatter Snowman & Tree – Tiny Jax

Cloud Wall Hanging – Crazy Little Crafts

Mini TV – Kids Boetiek

Hero Mask Wall Decals – V & C Designs

Felt Ball Garlands – The Bear & The Bird

Clipboards – Sainsburys Home

Prints – Bold Print Studio, Rainbo & Bear

Robot Boxes – Doodle Moo Printables

Personalised Peg Doll – Mono Me

Personalised Crayon Art – Mum Made It

Plush Guitar – Be Unique Kids

Teepee – Hobbycraft


Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

Baking with Henry - Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

So I have to say my first poll on Instagram was an absolute failure! LOL You guys all voting for us to bake all 5 cakes and then either invite you round or post to you wasn’t entirely helpful! Ha Ha so in the end I gave Henry the vote and he choose Chocolate Cornflake Cakes.

choc cornflake cake

A really simple and easy recipe, it’s perfect for an older child like Henry to essentially do on his own with little supervision.  Likewise it is also fun to get the little ones involved in whilst you bake.

Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

Ingredients

50g Butter

100g Chocolate

3 tblspoon Syrup

100g Cornflakes

ingredients

Directions

Step 1

Add the butter, chocolate and syrup to a microwaveable bowl.  Measure out the cornflakes into another bowl.  Put the wet ingredients in microwave for 10/20 secs at time, removing and stirring in between.

step 1
step 2
step 3

Step 2

Once fully melted then pour on top of your cornflakes and mix through with a wooden spoon.

step 4

Step 3

Now we made milk chocolate and dark chocolate batches and added choc to cornflakes, and cornflakes to choc.  The consensus from Henry is that adding choc to cornflakes is better/easier.

step 5

Step 4

Put the mixture into individual cases and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.  If you fancy you can add marshmallows, choc and/or glitter etc. for a little extra sparkle!

We found that as we used larger cases we got six from each batch.  Thanks to the original recipe from BBC Good Food.

choc cornflake cake

Henry totally approves!

So go on, have a go, think half of ours are gone already…

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