Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Garlic mushrooms - Recommended Recipe!

Garlic mushrooms - serves 4 as a starter, preparation 10 minutes, cooking 20 minutes

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
30g butter
2 tsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of finely chopped parsely
450g baby button mushrooms
3 tbsp mascarpone cheese or double cream (optional)
To serve, crusty bread, rice or salad


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.  Put the garlic, butter, oil and parsely into a bowl and beat together.
  2. Trim the stalks off the mushrooms, cut the larger ones in half and scatter over a roasting dish.  Dot the garlic butter over and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mascarpone or cream, if using, and cook for another few minutes until the mascarpone starts to melt.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Serve with crusty bread, rice or salad.
Per serving - 145 kcal, 13.1g fat, 5.7g saturated fat, 0.8g sugar, 0.1g salt.

Source - The Co-operative instore magazine.

"Get Out, Call Us Out, Stay Out" - Brownie Meeting Plan

Welcome - introduce new members (if any). 

Badge Work - Fire Safety.

We are very lucky in our pack that we have contact with 2 fire fighters - one is a parent and the other is a parent and husband of one of our leaders.

One of the fire fighters came to one of our pack meeting and went through each point of the badge with the Brownies.

We followed the theory part of the badge by then designing a fire safety poster, using any part of the talk which the girls were able to interpret into a poster.

Quiet Game - The Queen's Jewels
The Brownies sit in a circle with one Brownie (blindfolded) on a chair in the centre of the circle - she is the Queen.  Place a string of beads, necklace or similar underneath the chair.
One Brownie (the thief) is chosen from the circle by the game leader (point, don't say their name) who then has to walk as quietly as they can around the edge of the circle until they get back to their place then enter the circle and steal the Queen's jewels.  The Brownie on the chair has to listen and point to where they hear a noise to catch the Jewel thief.  They get 3 attempts at catching the thief.

The successful thief, not being caught by the Queen, takes the place of the Queen and play continues.  If the Queen catches the thief, they get another go on the chair.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mushroom Burgers - Recommended Recipe!

Mushroom Burgers - serves 4, preparation 5 minutes, cooking 5 minutes

4 portobello mushrooms or flat mushrooms
10g butter
2 tsp olive oil
30g Gruyere cheese or Cheddar, grated
A little fresh watercress
4 wholemeal rolls, lightly toasted
Relish of your choice (chilli relish or sweet chilli dipping sauce are the best)


  1. Preheat the grill to high.  Put the mushrooms on a baking tray.  Dot each one with a little butter and a tiny drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle over the grated cheese and grill for 5 minutes until cooked.
  2. Scatter the watercress over the bottom halves of the bread rolls and top with the grilled mushrooms.  Dollop a little chilli or other relish of your choice on top.  Cover with the top halves of the rolls.
Per serving - 250 kcal, 9.3g fat, 3.9g saturated fat, 4.9g sugar, 1.0 salt.

Source - The Co-operative instore magazine.

Brownie (and life!) Skills - Brownie Meeting Plan

Welcome - introduce new members (if any).

Active Game - Fish, Chips & Peas!

The Brownies all stand in a line behind one in the centre of the room another facing the game leader.
 This line symbolises "peas". The right hand side of the room is the "fish" area and the left hand side of the room is the "chips" area.
The leader shouts out either "fish", "chips"or "peas" and the Brownies have to run to (or stay in!) the correct area of the room.  The last one in the correct area is out and play continues until there is 1 winner

Badge Work - Brownie Skills
The 5 tasks we chose were:-
  1. Show that you can address an envelope correctly.  Explain to the tester why postcodes are important.  The Brownies designed a postcard and addressed it to their home address, including the postcode.  We pointed out the importance of the house number/name and the postcode and that they only relate to the house intended.
  2. Help at an event where you have to collect money and give change.  We had a "mock shop" where the Brownies "sold" items to each other using toy money and notes, making sure the totals were correct and the change given (if any due!) was also correct.
  3. Show how to read a simple map.  We looked at a simple map of our town and found places of interest, for example, school, church, library, etc.  The Brownies worked out how to get there from our meeting place.
  4. Show how you would pack a bag for a weekend away from home.  Earlier in the year we had a Brownie sleepover and so discussed with the Brownies what they would need for a sleepover and why.
  5. Know how to keep yourself safe at home, in the town and in the country.  We discussed simple road safety, where to go in the town if you get lost, the importance of not going anywhere alone and kitchen safety in the home.
Active Game -Beans
Girls run around when you shout the name of a bean they carry out action, last to do so is out.

Baked bean - lie flat on floor
Broad bean - stand like a star fish
Runner bean - run on spot
Jelly bean - shake like jelly
Jumping bean - jump up and down
Butter bean - roll up like a ball on floor
French bean - can can
Dwaf bean - go on knees
Hello, my name is Joe

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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Warburtons Naan Chips Review

When you think of Warburtons, what pops into your head? Bread and crumpets are the first two things that I think of! But have you tried the new Naan Chips from Warburtons? They are fantastically crunchy and tasty- perfect as a snack or as an accompaniment to a curry or other savoury dish.  They come in 3 great flavours - Fiery Madras, Classic Tikka and Creamy Korma.

Monisha Bharadwaj has developed some delicious recipes in conjunction with Warburtons and so we gave some of them a try with the different Naan Chips.

The Murgh Mirch Chaat is a quick and easy substantial dip recipe using leftover cooked chicken... So after your roast on a Sunday, don't just stick the leftover meat in a one-pot curry or stew! Make this deliciously simple dip and keep it a secret that it's a thrifty way of using up your leftovers!

Murgh Mirch Chaat
Serves 4, Preparation time 10 minutes, Cooking time 30 minutes.

1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 grren chilli, finely diced
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
Few sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
300g cooked chicken, shredded
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Dry roast the 2 kinds of peppercorns in a small saucepan, and crush to a powder in a mortar and pestle.  Reserve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan.  Add the onions and fry on a medium heat until soft.  Stir in the chilli and ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute.
  3. Tip in the dill and allow to wilt for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the cooked chicken,season with salt, drizzle with lemon juice and heat through.
  5. Mix in the reserved crushed peppercorns and serve at room temperature.
Use Warburtons Baked Naan Chips, Classic Tikka and Fiery Madras flavours to scoop up and enjoy.

This recipe is matched with the spicy and medium-hot chips, but we tried it with all of the flavours and it worked well with each of them!  And we also used coriander rather than dill, as we couldn't get our hands on any in my home town!

The chips are also great as a snack on their own... A long drive to Kent via Bristol at the weekend was partly fuelled by Warburtons Naan Chips!

A bonus is that they are lower in fat than potato chips but still must be shared(!) as the bags are pretty big and generously filled, no half bags here!

All members of the family enjoyed the flavours - from the youngest aged 5 to the eldest aged .... !

They would be great as a starter with Indian dip "Nacho-style" or on a buffet. For those entertaining over the festive period, these would definitely be a great buy to have in stock to impress your guests!

So pick yourself up a pack or 2 from Morrisons supermarkets around the country - keep your eye on their Facebook page here for stockists updates!  And check out the Warburtons website here for lots more great tasting products!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Nutty apple crumble - Recommended Recipe!

Nutty apple crumble - serves 6, preparation 15 minutes, cooking 35 minutes

For the crumble topping (step 1 & 2)
160g plain flour
115g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
4 tbsp light soft brown sugar
For the apple base (step 3)
1kg cooking or eating apples (about 3-4 cooking apples or 7 eating apples)
Juice of 1 orange (about 80ml)
2 tbsp light soft brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.  Put the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub together to make fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the cinnamon, hazelnuts and sugar and mix together.
  3.  Peel, core and slice the apples and put into an ovenproof dish with the orange juice, sugar and flour and mix together.
  4. Spinkle the crumble over the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the fruit is cooked and the topping is golden.
Per serving - 430 kcal, 21.6g fat, 10.4g saturated fat, 32.5g sugar, trace salt.

Source - The Co-operative instore magazine.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Plum and almond pudding - Recommended Recipe!

Plum and almond pudding - serves 4, preparation 15 minutes, total cooking 40 minutes

4 tbsp baking margarine, plus a little for greasing the dish
80g light soft brown sugar, plus 2 tbsp and a little for sprinkling in the dish
8 ripe plums
3 free range eggs, beaten
75g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp almond essence
150ml single cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.  Lightly grease an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Halve the plums and remove their stones.  Melt 2 tbsp of the margarine and 2 tbsp of the sugar in a heavy based pan, add the plums and cook gently for 5-10 mins until the fruit is just starting to soften (how long they need to be cooked for depends on how ripe the fruit is).
  2. Put the rest of the margarine and sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy.  Add the remaining ingredients and quickly whisk together.
  3. Pour this mixture into the dish, top with the plums, cut-side facing upwards and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sponge is golden and set.
Per serving - 575 kcal, 34.9g fat, 11.2g saturated fat, 37.7g sugar, 0.4g salt.

Source - The Co-operative instore magazine.

Monday, 22 October 2012

"Dark Shadows" Triple Play DVD Giveaway!

Ready for Hallowe'en, Johnny Depp is back starring in a fabulous new comedy, from the fantastic director Tim Burton...

"Dark Shadows" is another example of a great Burton-Depp partnership - "Alice in Wonderland", "Edward Scissorands", "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" and "Sleepy Hollow" to name just a few.

Warner Bros. Pictures is proud to announce the release of Dark Shadows, out on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

From the incredible mind of Tim Burton comes the hit film Dark Shadows, based on the classic US television series!  Barnabas Collins (Depp) has been trapped for two centuries by an evil witch (Eva Green) who just happens to be an ex lover.  Barnabas now has to struggle with the ever changing 1970s and save his family’s business!  With an all star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and more, Dark Shadows will be sure to whet your appetite for fun.

To be in with a chance of winning a Triple Play (Bluray, DVD and Digital versions of the film), just take the "Are You Creepy Enough" quiz in the app below, complete the Rafflecopter and then post your results in the blog comments section.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! - don't forget to post your results below... I look forward to reading how "creepy" my readers are!

The competition closes on the 29th October 2012 - UK entries only please.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Dorset Cereals Granola & Porridge Review

This week we were sent some lovely cereals from Dorset Cereals.  And yes, they really come from Dorset!  We received a box of Cherry & Almond Granola, Strawberry & Redcurrant Granola and Proper Raspberry Porridge.

The packaging on all of the Dorset Cereals products is bright and vibrant and really stands out on the supermarket shelves... the cute annotations also make good reading at breakfast time too!

We used the cereals in their "traditional" uses, i.e. for breakfast(!) but we also tried each one in different recipes as an alternative use.

The Cherry & Almond Granola made a lovely granola flapjack.... the Bakewell Tart flavour was loved by all the family.  Here's how we made it:
  1. Melt 200g of unsalted butter in a pan with 200g of demerara sugar and 200g of honey (or 100g golden syrup and 100g honey).  Stir occassionally until the butter had melted and the sugar has dissolved.
  2.  Add 450g of granola to the pan and stir well.
  3. Transfer to a 20cm x 30cm greased baking tray and spread to about 2cm thick.  Place in a preheated oven (180C/Gas 4) for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden around the edge - the middle will be more soft.
  4. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares and serve.  This flapjack will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

We also used both granolas as a base for a quick and easy cheesecake... we topped them with a ready made vanilla dessert mousse, or you could top with yoghurt or mascarpone cheese mixed with lemon juice and icing sugar to taste, if you don't like it too tart!

The third recipe we tried was using the Proper Raspberry Porridge as part of the topping for Apple Crumble... here's the recipe...
  •  Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  • Wipe 1kg of apples and cut into quarters.  Remove the cores and slice each piece into 2.  Put into a pan, add a sprinkling of sugar and a tablespoon of apple juice (or water).  Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to soften.
  • Transfer the apples to an ovenproof dish.
  • Blend 100g of plain flour and 75g butter in a food processor for a few seconds, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  You can use the "rubbing-in-method" to do this by hand if you don't have a food processor.
  • Stir in 50g of Proper Raspberry Porridge oats and 100g demerara sugar and sprinkle over the cooked apples in the dish.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden-brown on top.
  • Serve warm with lots of custard!
Unfortunately, I did not get a photograph of this as it was devoured VERY quickly!

So, we had great fun reviewing and experimenting with the great flavours!  As a breakfast cereal (as intended!) the flavours work really well together.  The Cherry & Almond Granola really does smell and taste like Bakewell Tart.... but the tip on the box is right, make sure you give the box a shake as all the good bits can sink to the bottom!

The Strawberry & Redcurrant Granola is full of the flavour's of summer... Dorset Cereals do not scrimp on berries!  This one also tasted lovely sprinkled over the top of vanilla ice cream or mixed with natural yoghurt as a tasty healthy snack.

And last but not least, the Proper Raspberry Porridge tasted lovely!  My son asked why it is "Proper" porridge... so we tried it and he decided that it was really "Proper" porridge!  Hubby wasn't fussed on the addition of pumpkin seeds but I think they added a nice to crunch to it!

The porridge comes in handy sachets - a bonus for 2 reasons.... they are easily portioned to take to work and you can measure the milk in the pouch.... and the good bits don't sink to the bottom of the pack so everyone gets there equal share of goodies!

Keep your eye on the Dorset Cereals Facebook page here and the website here.  On the website there's loads of interesting info, competitions and an online shop for those of you who aren't lucky enough to have a shop nearby thats stocks these fantabulous cereals!  With loads of flavours to choose from - single packs and big boxes means that there will definitely be someting to suit your family size and taste buds!

So pop over and have a look... you'll be spoilt for choice!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Green pasta - Recommended Recipe!

Green pasta - serves 4, preparation 5 minutes, cooking 10 minutes

300g penne rigate
150g mangetout
200g broccoli
4 tbsp The Co-operative Italian green pesto
Large handful (about 15g) Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese, grated


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta following the pack instructions.  Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the mangetout and broccoli into small even-sized pieces and steam until just tender.  Add to the drained pasta.  Finally add the pesto and stir gently until everything is mixed together.  Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.
Per serving - 390 kcal, 10.7g fat, 3.7g saturated fat, 4.9g sugar, 0.8g salt.

Source - The Co-operative instore magazine.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Homemade baked beans - Recommended Recipe!

Homemade baked beans - serves 8, preparation 10 minutes, cooking 40 minutes

1 celery stick
2 carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Pinch chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard
400g tin The Co-operative cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
400g tin haricot beans, drained and rinsed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp treacle or light soft brown sugar


  1. Cut the celery stick lengthways into 3 and then finely chop.  Peel the carrots and cut each into 3 and then into thin strips.  Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, celery and carrots and cook gently until soft.  This will take about 10 mins.
  2. Add the garlic, chilli powder, if using, paprika and mustard and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the beans, tomatoes and treacle or sugar, stir and simmer gently for another 20 minutes.
Per serving - 110 kcal, 2.3g fat, 0.3g saturated fat, 7.4g sugar, 0.2g salt.

Source - The Co-Operative instore magazine.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fudgeridoo Homemade Fudge Review

There's just one word to sum up Fudgeridoo's Fudge... YUM!  We had the great opportunity to sample two flavours of their fabulous fudge... Raspberry Lemonade & Dime Bar Fudge.

Raspberry Lemonade Fudge
The Raspberry Lemonade flavour has a fantastic flavour with a bit of a fizz!  The tangy and sweet flavours perfectly compliment each other.  It's perfect just to eat but I also chilled it in the fridge and then cut into small chunks to sprinkle on top of butter-iced cupcakes.  Top with a single raspberry for a delicious snack!

Dime Bar Fudge

And as for the Dime Bar fudge... the clue is in the name - and who doesn't like Dime Bars!?!?   The fudge is delightfully creamy with chunks of Dime Bar... and not just one measley piece either!  Perfect to eat as a treat with a cup of coffe or hot chocolate on a cold Autumn evening... well, any evening really!

In total, Fudgeridoo have over 30 flavours of fudge, including but not limited to Vanilla, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Rocky Road, (breathe...) Caramel Rum and Raisin, Mint Crisp, Orange and Chocolate Swirl, Banana and Chocolate Swirl, Blue Banana, (breathe again...) Rolo, Dime Bar, Toblerone, Malteser Cheesecake, Maple, (another breath...) Walnut, Millionaires Fudge, Tutti Frutti, Candy Floss, Bara Brith, Baileys Cheesecake, Girls Night In, 50 shades of Grey Vanilla, Lemon Meringue, (nearly there...) Star Bar, Toffee Popcorn, Nutella, Raspberry Lemonade, Chocolate Junkyard, Welsh Gold Dust, Amaretto and Chocolate Swirl & Whiskey and Pecan Pie.  With such a selection, you'll be spoilt for choice - I know that I certainly am! 

The fudge is sold in 100g bars at £2.25 per bar... and the good news is that when you buy any 3 bars, you get a fourth one free!  So that's 4 great tasting treats for only £6.75!  For postage charges, please see the Facebook page or contact them direct by phone.

Keep your eye on Fudgeridoo's Facebook page here - there are 2 competitions currently running from the page, so keep liking and sharing the Fudgeridoo love!

You can buy the fudge instore, if you happen to be in my corner of Wales, or over the phone on 01341 280133.  They are currently developing their website (keep checking here) to make purchasing the fantastic fudge even easier!  However, until the website is up and running, it's just another excuse to plan a trip to the seaside!

Fudgeridoo also stock quirky and fun gifts including wooden signs, Kimmi products, Russian dolls and Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Again, keep an eye on the Facebook page for updated stock and special offers!

Anyway, I'm off to dream about more Fudgeridoo flavours...... night!

Spiced loaf with fresh pear - Recommended Recipe!

Spiced loaf with fresh pear - makes 12 slices, preparation 15 minutes, cooking 50-55 minutes

50g baking margarine, plus a little for rubbing over the tin
50g vegetable oil
95g light brown sugar
4 level tbsp (about 85g) black treacle
2 free range eggs, beaten
170g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
140ml semi-skimmed milk, warmed
To serve, fresh ripe pear


  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/fan 120C/Gas 1.  Rub a little margarine over a 900g loaf tin and line the base with greaseproof and baking paper or use a loaf tin liner.
  2. Put the margarine, oil, sugar and treacle into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until melted.
  3. Leave to cool slightly and then stir in the beaten eggs, flour, cinnamon and ginger.
  4. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the warmed milk and pour this straight over the ginger mix and stir well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes.  The top of the loaf should have a slight crust but if you insert a skewer it should come out clean.
Per serving - 185 kcal, 8.8g fat, 2.1g saturated fat, 13.1g sugar, 0.3g salt.

Source - The Co-Operative instore magazine.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Easy cheesy muffin scones - Recommended Recipe!

Easy cheesy muffin scones - makes 12, preparation 10 minutes, cooking 20-25 minutes

A little butter or oil, for greasing
7 sundried tomatoes (about 45g) or 7 cherry tomatoes
250g self raising flour
80g The Co-Operative lighter mature cheese, grated
Handful of fresh chopped herbs, optional
200ml The Co-Operative low fat natural yoghurt
1 large free range egg
3 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/Gas 5 and lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin with butter or oil.  Cut the tomatoes into small pieces.
  2. Put the flour into a bowl, add the tomatoes, cheese and herbs, if using.
  3. Put the yoghurt into a jug, add the egg and oil, and stir.  Add this to the flour mix and blend everything together.
  4. Spoon into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Per serving - 170 kcal, 7.9g fat, 1.7g saturated fat, 3.5g sugar, 0.5g salt.

Source - The Co-Operative instore magazine.

Toymaker Thursday - Brownie Meeting Plan

Welcome - introduce new members (if any).

Active Game - Hunt the Elephant (circle dodgeball)

You need one or two large soft footballs.  Half the girls make a large circle standing arms length from each other, the rest stand inside the circle. The ball must be thrown by the girls in the circle so that it hits the girls inside the circle below the knee. When a girl inside the circle is hit she is out and joins the circle in trying to get the rest out. 

Badge Work - Toymaker.

The three toys that we chose to make were:
  1. A board game or jigsaw to share with your Six - we used old greetings cards cut into jigsaw-shaped pieces.
  2. A toy that might help a younger child practise doing up buttons, using zips, tying bows and other skills - punch holes into a thick piece of card and attach coloured string or shoe laces to the card.  This can then be threaded through the holes and tied in a bow.  Also, attach buttons to the card - small pieces of fabric with slits cut into them can be buttoned onto the card.  
  3. Another toy of your choice - we made a mobile with cut out and coloured in circus animals as the dangly-down bits.  The top of the mobile was made out of funky foam in the style of a carousel-top.
Active Game - Sleeping Lions
Everyone spreads out around the room and then lies down on the floor. One girl has to make any of the "lions" move, laugh, or make any kind of sound WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM. Then the girl who has moved is out and she joins in and tries to wake the others up. The game then continues until everyone is awake or until the last sleeper is declared the winner. 

Alice The Camel (again!)
Baby Bumblebee

Pow Wow & Close

Friday, 12 October 2012

Salmon and butternut balti - Recommended Recipe!

Salmon and butternut balti - serves 4, preparation 10 minutes, cooking 20 minutes

2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp balti curry paste
250ml coconut cream
150g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 tbsp mango chutney
Salt and black pepper
400g salmon fillets, skinless
Fresh coriander, washed
Boiled rice, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until tender.  Add the butternut and curry paste, stir well, then add the cream and 150ml boiling water.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the beans and mango chutney and season to taste, then cut the salmon into chunks and add them to the pan.
  3. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the fish flakes easily.  Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with the rice.
We used skinless cod fillets rather than salmon and increased the time in step 2 by 2-3 minutes.

Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Smoked haddock kedgeree with poached eggs - Recommended Recipe!

Smoked haddock kedgeree with poached eggs - serves 6, preparation 5 minutes, cooking 20 minutes

150g long grain rice
50g butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, sliced
1 tsp mild korma curry powder
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
450g smoked haddock fillets
Small handful fresh coriander or parsley, washed and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 eggs, poached

  1. Cook the rice in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, fry the onion andleek over a low heat until tender, then add the curry powder and chilli (if using).  Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the cooked rice and lay the fish on top.  Cover with a lid and cook over a moderate heat for about 6-8 minutes, until the fish flakes easily.  Remove the skin from the fish, if preferred.
  3. Stir in the coriander or parsley and lemon juice.  Serve in bowls and top each with a poached egg.

Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Creamy coconut dahl - Recommended Recipe!

Creamy coconut dahl - serves 4, preparation 15 minutes, cooking 40 minutes

250g red lentils, rinsed
200ml reduced-fat coconut milk
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
5 tbsp oil
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp mustard or poppy seeds
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, washed
2 large naan bread, warmed, to serve

  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 400ml cold water.  Reserve 4 tbsp coconut milk and add the rest to the pan.  Season, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  If the mixture gets too thick, add a little boiling water.
  2. Fry the onion for 5-6 minutes in the oil.  Add ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric and mustard or poppy seeds and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add to the lentils with the coriander.  Spoon into bowls, drizzle with remaining coconut milk and serve with naan bread.
Per serving - 536 kcalories, sugar 6g, fat 17g, saturated fat 6g, salt 1.2g.

Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Pumpazing Game Review and Competition - Drumond Park

"Booooiinnngggg!!!"  "Uh-Oh!!!"  "Booooiinnngggg!!!"

Have we all gone mad in our house?  No, of course not, but the arrival of the great game "Pumpazing" from Drumond Park made us temporarily full of giggles and boings!

Meet Zingy, the crazy blue character who, when his arms are pumped, launches his little Zinger friends into outer space (well, OK, just across the room) whilst catching you out with the "Uh-Oh" every now and again.
We played this game one wet evening last week... we had a few of these(!), so plenty of opportunity for indoor fun.  Zingy is passed to each player who pumps his arms until a "boing" or "uh-oh" sounds.  Using the Zingy cards as "lives" or "chances", each "uh-oh" means you lose a card and plays continues until there's just one player with a card left - the winner!

The game is suitable for 2 or more players aged 4 and over.  My daughter is 8 and joined in for the first round but it didn't really appeal to her age group... however, my youngest aged 5 has played with it over and over again!  After school and after a quick snack, he usually disappears into the living room and has a "rest" and watches TV...but now I know exactly where he will be.... just follow the noise of "boing!" and "uh-oh!" and the giggles and sure enough, there he is!

I don't know what produces the most fun...the anticipation of the next Zinger launch or the running around looking for the little critters afterwards!  I can honestly say that I have never seen a game like this one before - totally unique.  Just make sure you remove those ornaments that have been in the family for a lifetime and also watch out for babies who might not appreciate an unexpected Zinger paying them a visit!  Lucy the dog didn't seem bothered by the Zinger's but then, she's not a "ball-chasing" dog anyway!

This would be perfect as an easy party game so Zingy will be making and appearance at our Hallowe'en Party over the half term break!

There was a bit of a sulk when, randomly, one of my children got the "uh-oh" 3 times on the run, but in a larger group this wouldn't happen, by law of probablility anyway!  And we had a couple of "boings" with no action but this just increased the giggles of surprise when the Zinger did pop!

Pumpazing retails for around £19.99 - for stockists visit Drumond Park's website here or call 01506 855577.

Courtesey of Drumond Park, I have one Pumpazing Game to give away to one of you lucky guys or gals... simply complete the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Garlic & rosemary roast vegetables - Recommended Recipe!

Garlic and rosemary roast vegetables - serves 8, preparation 15 minutes, cooking 50-60 minutes.

1kg Maris Piper potatoes
4 parsnips
4 carrots
4 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic
Few sprigs of rosemary, washed
Salt & pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes and parsnips and cut into quarters.  Halve the carrots.  Boil potatoes in salted water for 12 minutes, adding the parsnips to the pan for the last 3-4 minutes.  Drain the vegetables and shake them in the pan until fluffy.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a roasting tin on the hob with the oil and add potatoes, parsnips, carrots, unpeeled garlic cloves and rosemary.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast at 200C/Gas 6 for 45-50 minutes.
Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ribollita-style soup - Recommended Recipe!

Ribollita-style soup - serves 4, preparation 20 mins, cooking 40 mins

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, sliced
Pinch crushed dried chillies
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp thyme leaves, washed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, diced
250g savoy cabbage, shredded
1 litre vegetable stock
400g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 slices toasted country-style white bread and 1 peeled garlic clove, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Fry the onion over a low heat for 5-6 minutes.  Add the chillies and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato puree and thyme and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, carrots and cabbage.  Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Add the cannellini beans and simmer for 2 moreminutes.  rub the bread slices with garlic, drizzle with olive oil and put one in each bowl.  Pour over the soup and serve.
Per serving - 351 kcalories, sugar 12g, fat 14g, saturated fat 2g, salt 0.9g.

Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Keeping your child safe in the big wide world

I've been putting off writing this post in the hope of good news arriving in the past 7 days but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  Throughout the past week, we've been glued to the news channels on the TV and listening out for my husband's RNLI pager to go off, fearing the worst....

I'm not going to reiterate or re-report what has been in the press regarding the abduction of April Jones... I'm just going to write about how we dealt with it regarding our children.

My daughter is 8 years old and my son is 5 years old - the same age as April.  I have no doubt in my mind that neither of my children would go willingly with a stranger... but with someone they know?  Well, yes, the honest answer is that in a situation that they feel "safe" they would quite possibly get into a car or go with someone they know.

What really brought the abduction of April home to me is that we live within the 15 mile "search area" of the incident and the town we live in is very similar in style and size of community to the one where she lives.  It's the old cliche that "everyone knows everybody" but it's true...  Crime levels here are very low, for example, you think someone has stolen your wheelie bin but when you look properly, the binman has put it back outside the wrong house!

And, yes, my children play outside my house and I'm not watching them every minute - the phone may ring or I may nip to the loo...

We have always taught our children some simple things from a young age... i.e. from starting school full-time aged 4.  They both know our home phone number and their Nan's home phone number.  They know their address and (as we live in a small town as previously said) they know where to go if they were to lose me or my husband in the town centre... the library, the Police station or a shop where "such-and-such's Mum/Dad" works.

When I was at school we had school information videos like this....

 But things have changed with the fact that it's not always a stranger... and so we have had the "stranger" talk with my children again... but also making a point of saying that they shouldn't go ANYWHERE with ANYONE without telling me or their Dad where they are going and who with.  And my husband and I am committed to making sure our friends children stay safe... if one of them pops round to see if my child/ren wants to play out... the first question will always be, "does your Mum/Dad know you're here?"  And a quick phone call to check...!

As my children grow up, there will be many situations that we have to handle as parents but we live and learn and prepare ourselves and them (the children) with what to do as things occur.

So, stay safe everyone and pass the message on - communication is key, make sure your children know to tell you where, when, why and who....

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Sesame beef stir-fry - Recommended Recipe!

Sesame beef stir-fry - serves 4, preparation 20 minutes, cooking 10 minutes

450g sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
4 tbsp dry sherry
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2.5cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp sunflower oil
200g sugar snap peas
150g chestnut mushrooms, halved
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Egg noodles, to serve

  1. Put steak strips in a shallow, non-metallic dish.  Mix the soy sauce, sherry, garlic and ginger together and pour over the steak.  Mix them together, then cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or large frying pan and add the sugar snap peas and mushrooms.  Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes then remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Remove the beef from the marinade and add to the pan.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes then return the vegetables to the pan along with the marinade and the sliced spring onions.  Stir-fry for 1 minute.  Scatter with sesame seeds and serve with egg noodles.
Per serving - 533 kcalories, sugar 6g, fat 17g, saturated fat 3g, salt 1g.

Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tandoori chicken skewers - Recommended Recipe!

Tandoori chicken skewers - serves 4, preparation 10 mins plus marinating time, cooking 10-12 mins 

3 tbsp tandoori paste
225g Greek-style yoghurt
4 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
4 naan breads
Sliced cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander, shredded spring onions
Raita dip, to serve

    1. Mix the tandoori paste and yoghurt.  Stir in the chicken and leave to marinate for 10 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature, or put in the fridge if  marinating for longer.
    2. Preheat a barbeque or grill to a medium-high heat.  Thread the chicken onto 12 small skewers (soaked, if wooden) and cook on the barbeque or on a foil-lined grill pan for 10-12 mins, turning once, until golden and cooked through.
    3. Sprinkle the naan breads with a little water.  Put on the barbeque or under the grill and toast for 1 minute on each side.
    4. Serve the chicken skewers with the cucumber, tomato, coriander and spring onions in small bowls, with the warm naan bread and raita on the side.
    Per serving - 335 kcalories, carbohydrate 41g, fat 19g, saturated fat 13g.

    Source - Asda instore magazine.

    Thursday, 4 October 2012

    Count On Me... Brownie Meeting Plan

    Welcome - introduce new members (if any).

    Active Game - Shops

    Tell Brownies that each corner of the room is a shop, e.g. Butchers, Bakers, Greengrocers, Florist.  You call out items and the Brownies run to the correct shop.

    Start with easy items like sausages, potatoes, bread, etc... Then introduce things like artichokes, tripe, Eccles cakes - catch them all out. Between you, you will think of loads. Sixers/Young Leaders may need to help the younger Brownies.

    Badge Work - Number Fun.
    The 5 tasks we chose were:-
    1. Make a birthday or address book.  Use it to record at least 10 people's details.  Make or buy small notepads and decorate the front cover.  Interview other Brownies and add their details to the book.
    2. Plan a simple meal.  Work out how much it would cost to buy the ingredients.  We asked the Brownies to choose their favourite meal, wrote a shopping list and then took them to the local supermarket (only 5 minutes away on foot!) and found the prices of the items they would need to make the meal.
    3. Imagine you have £500 to redesign your bedroom. Find out what kind of things you could buy and make a list to show how you would use the money.  The Brownies are given a selection of catalogues (Argos, Ikea, etc.) and a large piece of paper.  They can cut out items from the catalogues and stick onto the paper, keeping track of how much they have "spent".  This could be done individually or working as a Six.
    4. Make up a number code. Use it to pass on a secret message.  We used the simple number code A=1, B=2, C=3, etc... to write secret messages from one six to another.
    5. Help at an event where you have to collect money and give change.  Some Brownies had already previously helped at fundraising events but we held a mock "stall" with items from the Brownie cupboard to cover this point for the other Brownies.
    Active Game - In the Pond, On the Bank
    Brownies stand around a large circle drawn with chalk.  When the leader of the game says "in the pond" the Brownies will jump inside the circle. When the leader says "on the bank", they have to jump out.  After repeating the same few times, the game leader will unexpectedly repeat "in the pond" or "on the bank" twice.  Or say "on the pond" or "in the bank".  The careless will be trapped and they go out.  The game goes on as long as you like!

    Alice The Camel
    Auntie Monica

    Pow Wow & Close

    Devilled pork chops - Recommended Recipe!

    Devilled pork chops - serves 4, preparation 5 mins, cooking 25-30 mins

    4 lean pork chops or steaks
    2 tsp English mustard
    2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    3 tbsp tomato sauce

    1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.  Place the pork chops or steaks in a roasting tin.  Mix the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce together and brush most of over the meat.
    2. Roast in the oven for 25-30 mins until cooked through, turning and brushing with the remaining sauce after 15 mins.
    3. Remove from the oven and serve with mashed potatoes, roasted peppers or potato wedges.  
    We grilled the pork steaks rather than cooking them in the oven - this just makes the the sauce a bit "burnt" on the edges and we think adds to the flavour :)

    Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

    Lemon sponge puddings with hot lemon sauce - Recommended Recipe!

    Lemon sponge puddings with hot lemon sauce - serves 6, takes 35 minutes

    For the puddings:
    100g self raising flour
    100g Anchor Lighter spread
    75g fruit sugar
    2 medium eggs
    Rind of 1 lemon

    For the sauce:
    Grated rind of 1 lemon and juice of 2 lemons
    4 tsp fruit sugar
    1 tsp cornflour

    1. Set oven at 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.  Lightly grease a 6-hole muffin tin.  
    2. Place all of the pudding ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Divide the mixture between the muffin holes and bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and golden brown on top.
    3. Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Place the lemon rind, juice and fruit sugar in a small pan with 75ml water.  Bring to the boil.
    4. Separately, mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp water, and add to the lemon mixture and bring back to the boil.
    5. Pour over the puddings just before serving.
    Per serving - 240 kcalories, 15g sugar, 11g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0.2g salt.

    Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

    Wednesday, 3 October 2012

    Guiding never changes....

    After a recent return to Guiding, I have been going through old boxes to find previous activity packs, songs, etc. to reuse and revamp for the girls of today!  But to be honest, I've found that I haven't had to make any changes to the activities!

    The old games and songs are still the best!  The only major updates have been to the badge work... these have been upgraded considerably with Designer and Healthy Heart to name just 2 new badges!  The old favourites are still there... Writer, Booklover, etc...

    Also, I came across a notepad with a passage of writing as the front cover... and all Guider's can relate to this, I'm sure!

    You know you are a Guider if....

    Most of your wardrobe is navy blue
    You wash and save yoghurt pots
    You cringe at a family picnic when someone "walks on the table"
    You forget and put your hand in the air to quieten everyone down at a non-Guiding event
    All your cupboards are full of craft stuff
    You save all your Christmas cards
    You spontaneously break into strange songs in public
    You have a collection of used candles
    You know how the Union Flag is made up
    You've heard the phrase, "it's only an hour a week!"

    I'm currently posting our weekly programmes on my blog to help keep track of what we have done and also as a resource for anyone else who wants to utilise the knowledge that I can share.

    Volunteers are needed and welcomed in all areas of the UK, so if you have a bit of spare time, register your interest here and join in the fun!

    I volunteer because I loved being a Brownie, Guide, Ranger and Young Leader and so now it's time that I can give something back to help the Association continue with it's good work!

    Bread & butter pudding - Recommended Recipe!

    Bread & butter pudding - serves 4, takes 40 minutes

    4 slices white bread
    25g Lurpak lighter spread
    50g seedless raisins
    2 tbsp fruit sugar
    300ml semi-skimmed milk
    2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
    1 or 2 drops vanilla essence
    Pinch of grated nutmeg

    1. Set oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.  Thinly butter the bread on both sides.  Cut into triangles and arrange in a shallow baking dish.
    2. Scatter over raisins. 
    3. Mix the fruit sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla essence together and pour over.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.
    4. Place the dish in a roasting tin and pour hot water in the tin to reach half way up.
    5. Bake for 30 minutes.

    Per serving - 242 kcalories, 12g sugar, 10g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0.6g salt.

    Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

    Tuesday, 2 October 2012

    Hot chocolate souffles with orange - Recommended Recipe!

    Hot chocolate souffles with orange - serves 4, takes 25 minutes.

    Sunflower oil for greasing
    50g caster sugar
    20g cocoa powder
    Pinch of cream of tartar
    3 medium egg whites
    Rind of one orange, grated

    1. Set the oven to 190C/170C Fan/ Gas 5.  Grease 4x100ml ramekin dishes or ovenproof teacups.
    2. Mix caster sugar, cocoa and cream of tartar together.  
    3. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Gradually whisk in the sugar, cream of tartar and cocoa mixture.  Stir in the orange rind.
    4. Divide the mixture between the dishes and place on a baking tray.
    5. Bake for 12 minutes until risen.  Serve immediately.
      Per serving - 75 kcalories, 12g sugar, 1g fat, 0.7g saturated fat, 0.2g salt.

      Source - Morrisons instore magazine.

      Monday, 1 October 2012

      Chicken with creamy bacon penne - Recommended Recipe!

      Chicken with creamy bacon penne - serves 2, easy, not suitable for home freezing.

      1 tbsp olive oil
      2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      100g/4oz smoked lardons (chopped bacon)
      4 tbsp dry white wine
      100g/4oz frozen petit pois
      5 tbsp double cream
      220g packet cooked penne (e.g. Dolmio Express)

      1. Heat the oil in a deep non-stick frying pan, then add the chicken breasts and scatter round the lardons.  Leave to cook over a high heat for 4 minutes while you gather the other ingredients together.
      2. Turn the chicken over in the pan, give the lardons a stir, then pour in the wine and let it bubble over a high heat until it has virtually evaporated.  Now add the petit pois, the cream and penne, season, then stirwell.  Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes more until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Serve straight away.
      Per serving - 639 kcalories, protein 48g, carbohydrate 24g, fat 38g, saturated fat 17g, fibre 3g, added sugar none, salt 1.86g.

      Source - Tesco instore magazine.

      Drumond Park Foooz Pro Match Giveaway!

      Following our review of the great Drumond Park game Foooz Pro Match, I'm proud to announce that the lovely guys and gals over at Drumond Park have given me the opportunity to run a competition for one lucky reader to win their own game too!

      A quick and easy Rafflecopter competition - enter below for upto 4 chances to win!

      Good luck!!!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Loquax Competitions

      Foooz Pro Match Set Game Review - Drumond Park

      Table football without the table!  This game's great for travel as it can be played anywhere!  Any reasonably flat surface can suffice as a football pitch - in fact the lumps and bumps of a duvet cover in bed can add to the skill and difficulty level!

      Foooz Pro Match Set from Drumond Park games is great for any football fan.  Living by the rules of  "no football in the house" this certainly breaks all the rules!   Grab your Foooz figure and with a single twist you can shoot it, bend it, chip it and blast the ball, just like your favourite footballers!

      With 2 players, 2 goals and 2 balls, this is the ideal game for a playdate or family game to keep the children entertained - my son and daughter enjoyed playing the game and loved the fact that it's fully transportable!  This will definitely be something to take along when visiting family from far and wide over the Christmas holidays.  Small and compact but lots of fun!

      You can play the game in various ways - as a traditional table-style football game, as a skills try-out using the template for winning points as the goals are scored or individual practice to perfect your game.  Even hubbie was impressed, even though he's not a big football fan.  They were able to design the kits for each player thanks to the choice of stickers in the pack.

      The inner cardboard insert provides a great background for the goal area (and helps to catch balls that run astray with any missed goals - less lost balls!)

      Once you have got to grips with the Foooz Pro Match Set (priced at £19.99), you can up your team numbers with a couple of Challenge Sets (£9.99), each of which contain another player with all the ‘trimmings’, and a goal.

      The game is suitable for ages 5 and up - I think that this is an accurate reflection of age suitability, my son is 5 years old and really enjoyed the game.  And, great news, there's no upper age limit so get Granny and Grandad involved in the action too!

      We were sent this product for free on the understanding I would write an honest review of what I thought about the product. I received no payment and the review is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the product and I retain full editorial control and integrity