Both Chris and I have worked this week so haven’t really done a lot of Christmassy stuff with Isabelle so I said that we would do some crafty things at home. The first on the list was to make some handmade Chocolate treats to give as gifts to family.
Chocolate Orange Christmas Puddings
I pinched this idea off a work colleague as I thought they looked really great and who doesn’t like a Chocolate Orange.
Here’s what you need:
Chocolate Oranges (as many for the number of people you want to make for)
A big bar of white chocolate for the topping. Again the amount will depend on how many you are making. We made 5 and used a large bar of milky bar
Either ready made holly cake toppers or red and green icing to make your own.
Cellophane wrapping/bags to put them in
Ribbon for tying
We unwrapped the chocolate oranges and put them in a bun tin so that they didn’t roll away.
If making the holly and berry toppers yourself, cut these out and set to the side for later.
Melt the white chocolate and put a spoonful on the top of the chocolate orange allowing it to drip down the sides.
Add the holly and berry toppers and put into the fridge until set.
Wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbon.
Perfect and simple to make.
Christmas Chocolate Block
I’ve seen these many times on pinterest so we decided to make our own version.
What you will need:
A square shaped tin lined with greaseproof paper. We lined ours with foil as we found the empty greaseproof paper box in the cupboard.
Lots and lots of chocolate – We opted for three large sized bars of Galaxy, one had rice crispy bits in and the two other were milk chocolate.
White chocolate for a bit of swirling on the top
Toppings – We opted for Cadbury’s Snow Balls, Maltezers reindeers, sprinkles, silver balls, pink sugar crystals and red edible flakey glittery type cake toppings
Melt the milk chocolate and pot into the tin making sure that it covers the bottom.
We then melted the white chocolate chocolate and swirled it through the milk chocolate.
Bash up the Chocolate snowballs and sprinkly willy nilly on top.
All other toppings just get added to the top – perfect for the kids to do.
Pop into the fridge and wait to set.
Once set you can break into pieces and add to a cellophane bag as a lovely chocolate gift, or you could do what we did and sit in front of the telly and scoff the lot!
Check your Meat and Veg – Check Testicular Cancer Campaign
Check Testicular Cancer Campaign – As a woman I think we get great support and coverage for female cancers such as breast cancer and cervical cancer, but there is still a long way to go where all cancers are concerned.
Men (most men) are ridiculous when it comes to going to the doctor when it comes to genuine medical concerns. They’re all ready to claim near death when it comes to a bout of man flu, but in general they tend to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to genuine concerns.
We’ve all heard of Movember where men grow all kinds of moustaches in support of Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and Mental Health in men.
The Check Campaign
Heck Sausages have changed their name to Check for the duration of November to support men who are affected with Testicular Cancer encouraging them to Check for lumps in their testicles, and for women to Check their partners too.
The Heck family have a personal story for their support, and want to break the silence of the men of this earth.
Jamie Keeble says, “I found a small lump, immediately went to my GP and received my diagnosis. Even though a lot of stigma surrounds going to the doctor for such an intimate area, it is key to be proactive if you find a lump.
“Our research shows that too many men would ignore it if they found something and that many are unsure how to correctly check themselves.”
“Too many men are dying young from ignorance and lack of quick action. This disease needs to be openly discussed so that more guys will check themselves and feel they can talk to someone if something doesn’t feel right.
“60% don’t even know what a cancerous lump would feel like. In this day and age this has to stop! People need to be educated so that we can start making a difference.”
Check Sausages are available to buy in ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose at £2.99 for a pack of six.
Did you know more than three quarters (76%) of women admitted they wouldn’t know what a cancerous lump would feel like on their partner’s testicles. Whereas almost half of men (46.6%) said they would know what a lump on their partner’s breast would feel like!
Hecks research revealed 82% of blokes are unwilling to talk to their doctor about any issues with their genitals.It seems that our men are too embarrassed to discuss their testicles with their GP, alarming new research has revealed.
A survey of 2,000 people has discovered the true extent of the taboo subject, with 82% of blokes unwilling to talk to their doctor about any issues with their genitals.The worrying results were commissioned by HECK – a Yorkshire-based sausage brand which is working alongside the world-leading men’s health charity The Movember Foundation.
Commenting on the poll findings, a spokesperson for The Movember Foundation said:
“Unfortunately this latest polling from HECK is accurate. Too many men are not checking themselves, not knowing what to look for and being too embarrassed to discuss the subject. Tackling these taboos head on, getting more men educated on the health risks they face, taking action when needed and talking when things get tough, is exactly why The Movember Foundation exists.”
The survey also showed that almost one in 10 (9.8%) of men between the ages of 18 and 24 would do nothing if they felt a lump on their testicle.
Testicular cancer is often described as a small pea-like lump on one testicle, but many men are unaware of this. Two thirds of men had no idea this was a sign of the deadly cancer.
One in five blokes (18.4%) of men incorrectly assumed that a cancerous lump feels ‘like a flat coin’.
The research also found that three-quarters of women (76%) would have no idea what a cancerous lump would feel like on their partner’s testicles.
In contrast, slightly less than half of men (46.6%) said they’d know when to be concerned about a lump on their partner’s breast.
The research was carried out by the brands founder, Jamie Keeble, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago. He said, “If men don’t know what testicular cancer might feel like, how can they possibly check themselves? Testicular cancer is on the rise and men can reduce their chances of dying simply by knowing what to feel for.”
Other results from the research include:
• The three UK cities where men are most likely to know what a cancerous lump feels like are: Warrington at 71%, Portsmouth at 61% and Sunderland at 57%
• More than one-quarter of men (26.7%) in Scotland say they’d wait a few days before doing anything if they discovered a lump on their testicle, compared to just 12% of men in the South-West
• Almost one in 10 (9.8%) of 18-24-year-old men say they’d do nothing if they felt a lump on a testicle; by contrast just 3% of women would do nothing if they felt a lump on a breast.
The facts speak for themselves really.
Come on Fella’s GET CHECKED! Better safe than sorry.
HECK is a family run business making farmers market quality sausages for Britain’s supermarkets. They have since increased their range to include burgers, meatballs, gluten-free and vegetarian sausages. All their products are made using ethical meat and ingredient choices to achieve award winning quality at affordable every day prices.
We were asked by HECK to produce a Meat and Two Veg Recipe in support of the Check Campaign.
Sausage, Bacon & Bean One Pot
2 Packs of Check Sausages (12 sausages)
1 Packet smoked Bacon
1 sliced red pepper
400g tin Butter Beans
200g tinned tomatoes (half a tin)
700g Jar passata
400g ton of beans
2 Teaspoons English Mustard
2 Teaspoons Barvarian Sweet mustard (can use wholegrain mustard)
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
A handful of parsley
A squirt of barbeque sauce
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
What to do:
Roughly chop the bacon and fry in a little bit of oil and set to one side.
Brown off the sausages and add in the rosemary.
Put in the beans and add the bacon back in.
Add all the remaining ingredients and leave on the hob on a low heat for 30 – 40 minutes.
Towards the end add in the fresh parsley.
We had ours with buttery mashed potatoes and broccoli.
We’re big fans of one pot meals, and both of our kids are fans of sausages. We were really impressed by the quality of the sausages with very little fat coming out during cooking. They stayed in tact as well which not all sausages do when added into a saucy one pot. The meal went down very well with all of us enjoying it, and as an added bonus there are plenty of leftovers to make another meal.
Our family has recently been hit by the reality of male cancer so we were more than happy to help promote the CHECK Campaign. We were sent two packets of sausages for the purpose of this post but all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Jam Heart Biscuit Recipe – Today the weather was so weird. One minute it was bright blue sky and the sun was shining so I put out the washing and was due to head out for a walk with the dog. I turned my back and the next thing it was bucketing down and I had to run like a crazy person to get all the washing back in. This occurred three times so I gave up and put the washing on the airer and we made the decision to bake. So here the recipe which is really easy to make.
What you need:
For the dough
300g/10oz Plain Flour
150g/5oz Caster Sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 tsp Salt
For the filling
90g/3oz Icing Sugar
A couple of drops of Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Water
How to make the dough:
Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together.
Add in the egg yolk and vanilla essence and mix until smooth.
Sift in the flour and salt and mix everything together to form a dough.
Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
To make the biscuits:
Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 (180ºC/350ºF)
Sprinkle the work surface with flour so that it doesn’t stick and then roll out the dough so that it is about 1/2cm thick.
Grease your baking trays (we used two).
Get your cookie cutter of choice (we went for a heart shape with a circle in the middle) and cut out your biscuits.
Once you have cut out the biscuits, count them. Put one half of the biscuits to the side and the other, cut out a smaller circle in the middle. These will be the tops.
Bake the cookies in the oven for approximately 12 minutes or until golden.
Whilst these are cooling you can prepare your filling.
For the filling:
Put the butter in a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds. This makes it so much easier to make butter icing.
Sift in the icing sugar and add the water and vanilla essence.
Mix together until you have a smooth consistency.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread a small amount on the bottom biscuits (without the hole) and then add a small blob of jam before popping the lid on.
I’ve been so slack on the cooking front this week and Chris hasn’t really done any either. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is a really lazy recipe which has a big effect. All of us love the kind of meal where you stick it all in the middle of the table and help yourself.
Even better is that you put it all in the slow cooker in the morning and hey presto it’s all done in time for dinner later on.
What you will need:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ)
3 medium red onions, grated
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
What to do:
Pop the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken.
Easter is upon us and everywhere you look there is chocolate to be seen.
I love chocolate with dark chocolate being my favourite and when I was given the opportunity to try some Japanese inspired Chocolate Truffle recipes I jumped at the chance. The flavours we’re going to make are:
Miso Caramel – think salted caramel with a twist
Shaoxing Rice Wine – a warm, boozy hit
Wasabi Furikake – milder than chilli with the added crunch of sesame
Pickled Sushi Ginger – chocolate & ginger with the surprising tang of pickle
Yuzu – a hint of citrus
I have to be honest when I received a box of ingredients I was hard-pushed to imagine them paired with chocolate but here goes.
This is the list of items needed to make the truffles:
Good quality Dark Chocolate
Shaoxing rice wine warmed
Yutaka Wasabi Furikake
Yutaka sushi ginger
Pink salt crystals
Quite an interesting list of items, but this is to make five different flavoured truffles and will make approximately 30 – 36.
Chocolate Easter Truffles Recipe
200g dark good quality chocolate
60ml double cream
80g unsalted butter
Method for all truffles
In a double saucepan (or a Pyrex bowl in a saucepan), place chocolate, butter and cream. Heat through slowly until smooth whilst whisking. Remove from heat and divide into 5 equal portions, adding the various flavourings to each individual portion as below. Place in the fridge to set – overnight if possible.
Remove the various truffle mixes from the fridge and, with a teaspoon, scoop out a goodly amount. Roll into a ball and place on a plate (remembering to keeping the various flavours separate) and continue until all the mixture has been used.
Yutaka Shaoxing rice wine flavouring
2 tbs Shaoxing rice wine warmed
Vermicelli for coating
Yutaka Wasabi Furikake flavouring
2 tbs Yutaka Wasabi Furikake
Drinking chocolate for coating
Yutaka Pickled Sushi Ginger flavouring
2 tbs chopped Yutaka sushi ginger
Cocoa for coating
Roll the ginger truffles in cocoa and place in truffle cases. Roll the Wasabi Furikake in drinking chocolate and the rice wine truffles in vermicelli and return to fridge.
Yutaka Yuzu flavouring
2 tsp Yutaka Yuzu
100g white chocolate – gently melted for coating
Using a double boiler (or Pyrex bowl in a saucepan) melt the white chocolate over a low heat and, when removed from the heat & cooled slightly, spoon over Yuzu truffles until coated. You can use a cocktail stick pushed carefully into a truffle to help you turn and coat with the chocolate. This needs patience! Leave them to set on a plate.
Miso caramel sauce filling
50ml double cream
1 tbs Yutaka Miso
100g dark chocolate – gently melted for coating
Pink salt crystals for sprinkling on the top
Miso caramel flavouring method
Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir and leave on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel in colour. Carefully add double cream (it will hiss a little) and whisk whilst off the heat, add miso paste and whisk thoroughly until smooth. Add 2 tbs of miso caramel sauce to the remaining truffle mixture. The remainder of the sauce saved and used over ice cream for a delicious dessert.
Melt the dark chocolate and coat the Miso caramel truffles using a cocktail stick pushed carefully into a truffle to help you turn and coat with the chocolate. Sprinkle a couple of pink salt crystals on the top.
We made up the five different flavours and left them in the fridge whilst we went out for the day. Three of them were fairly easy to mould into ball shapes, but the Shaoxing rice wine flavour and the Pickled Sushi Ginger were quite tacky still.
We thought it was quite fun smelling all of the ingredients and wondering how the truffles were going to taste. I thought that the Shaoxing rice wine smelt quite nice. We all agreed that the Wasabi Furikake smelt awful and Daddy and I had a taste of it neat which was a bit of an experience for the tastebuds.
These are our lovely looking truffles all ready to be tried.
Miso Caramel – We all agreed that it was quite salty, but not in a bad way so this one gets the thumbs up.
Shaoxing Rice Wine – This one was up there as one of our favourites.
Wasabi Furikake – We were all very nervous about this one. We gave it to Ryan without telling him what it was which he wasn’t impressed by. For me this felt like attempting a ‘Bush Tucker Trial’ so I only had a very little taste. Now that we’ve ticked this off our list of tried and tested I don’t think we would go for this one again. Daddy is very keen to use this in savoury cooking though.
Pickled Sushi Ginger – I wasn’t too sure that I would like this one as it seemed like a lot of ginger, but surprisingly it was a nice hit of ginger.
Yuzu – This was up there as our other favourite. I think the white chocolate made this the prettiest one as well.
This was definitely a taste experience for us all which we enjoyed.
*We were gifted the ingredients by Yutaka for the purpose of this review but all the opinions are our own.
These little pancakes are so cute. You can make a batch up and freeze, and then you can take a few out the night before for breakfast.
Pancake Kebab Recipe
Isabelle had her friend over to play today so it was the perfect time to test these out. Apologies for my none too professional maple syrup drizzle. I think I need a bit more practice!
To make the pancakes you will need:
135g Plain flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
130ml/ 4 1/2 fluid oz milk
1 large egg
2 Tbsp melted butter, plus extra for cooking
You will also need:
Short Wooden kebab sticks
2 Kiwi fruits
A few Blueberries
Approx 8 Strawberries
Maple Syrup to serve
Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and add the salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and melted butter.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients together then lightly whisk until well combined and lump free.
Make this mixture a little in advance as it works best if you put it into the fridge for a while.
Melt some butter in a frying pan and if you’re confident put a small amount of mixture in small blobs to make small bitesized pancakes. If not you can either use a squirty bottle or a round biscuit cutter to get the correct size.
Slice the fruit ready for construction.
Once all the pancakes are made you can make up the kebabs alternating pancakes and fruit or you could give them to the kids to make how they like.
Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup. The best bit of the cold weather are the scrummy soups, casseroles and home comfort food. I love a big bowl of soup, and it’s a great thing to make in advance, freeze and take out for work or a meal when you’re super busy.
What you will need:
600g Carrots, washed and grated
140g Split red lentils
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Litre hot vegetable stock
2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
Pinch of Chilli flakes
Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and start to smell yummy.
Add the oil, carrot, lentils, stock and milk to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have swollen and softened.
Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth, but can be left chunky if you prefer and serve with naan bread and a dollop of yoghurt.
Really easy to make and totally scrummy.
For all of our other tried and tested recipes, pop over to our Recipes Page.
What’s better than a recipe that you don’t have to cook. I’m pretty sure that I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like cheesecake or if I do they haven’t mentioned it. What’s not to like, Yummy creamy topping on an even yummier biscuity base (which if you’re the one serving you get to have extra – servers rights) and fruit. Fab combination!
For the base, put the biscuits in a freezer bag and using a rolling pin crush the biscuits. Add the crushed biscuits to the melted butter.
Put 12 cupcakes cases into a cupcake tray and add a spoonful of biscuit base to each case. Put into the fridge to chill whilst you prepare the topping.
Melt the white chocolate, butter and vanilla extract in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once all the ingredients are melted, take off the heat and stir to make a smooth mixture and set aside to cool.
In another bowl add the cream cheese, icing sugar (sifted) and cream until smooth.
Add the chocolate mixture to the cream cheese mixture.
Take about half the punnet of strawberries, wash and chop off the tops and cut into very small pieces before adding them to the cream cheese mixture.
Top the biscuit base cases with the cream cheese mixture and put in the fridge for approximately 4 hours. Top each cheesecake cup with a quartered strawberry and serve.
And there you have lovely little scrummy White Chocolate & Strawberry Cheesecake Cups.
It’s that time of the month when the big shop is due so all you’ve got left is odds and ends. This is the time when having a kitchen know-it-all comes in handy and makes a Breakfast Mash-up.
I look in the fridge and see nothing.
Chris looks in the fridge and then hey presto we’re eating something scrummy and he’s basking in his culinary expertise.
Looks pretty good doesn’t it!
This is what he used:
Chorizo cut into small pieces
4 New potatoes cut into small pieces
A pack of bacon lardons
1 Tin of Baked Beans
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic, chopped
4 Spring Onions (sliced, separating the white from the green)
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Cook the bacon lardons in a frying pan (no oil needed) and set to one side.
In the same pan cook the chorizo and then put to the side with the bacon lardons.
Add to the pan the cubed new potatoes, garlic with a sprinkle of thyme and salt and pepper. Once fried off remove from the pan with the rest of the cooked bits.
Put the white spring onion, tomatoes and the baked beans into the pan and heat through. Season to taste.
Add in the paprika, a squirt of barbeque sauce and a sprinkle of oregano.
Add in all the cooked items and keep on the hob for a few minutes, mixing through.
Put in a large oven proof dish and make some wells where you will crack in the eggs and add the green of the spring onion.
Crack the eggs and season again (I know).
Bake in the Oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the eggs are cooked.