Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Want a main meal that’s quick, cheap and delicious?

I’ve just got the kids home from school, so this is a quick post on the dinner I’m currently cooking up! 

A firm favourite in our home is my special sausage casserole. This is a rough guide to what you can include, but I change it a little every time and add whatever vegetables I might have in the fridge. You could also try it with meatballs, or add some chorizo – depending on how fussy your little monkeys are!

sausage casserole

You need...

1 pack of sausages
1 bag of sweet potatoes, or squash
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can of beans – try mixed, cannellini, kidney beans, or even lentils
1 can of sweet corn
1 onion

  • Fry off the sausages initially, cut into bite-size chunks. Meanwhile, your peeled and chopped sweet potatoes can be par- boiling, and onion frying.
  • Next, add the sweet potato par-boiled to your onions and chopped tomatoes. Simmer away for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the sweetcorn, beans and the cooked sausages for the last couple of minutes.
  • Serve in bowls, with a little crusty bread perhaps. 

This is a brilliant meal for a family on a budget, coming in at just under £5. Give me your feedback if you give it a go yourself!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Creme Egg Brownies!

Creme egg brownies

Recipes for creme egg brownies are everywhere online at the moment, so at the weekend me and Lucy thought we'd give it a go, and couldn't believe how easy it was! 

Basically, the recipe is for a simple chocolate brownie, with pieces of creme egg pushed in half way through the cooking process. I have adapted the recipe slightly from various ones I've seen recently.

This is a really fun Easter recipe and we will probably make another batch on Easter weekend itself.

You will need:
20cm baking tin
3 eggs
100g dark chocolate
270g caster sugar
185g unsalted butter
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
6 Cadbury’s Crème eggs cut in halves or thirds.
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

1. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a 20 cm square baking tin.
2.Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a bowl over boiling water.
3. Break 3 eggs into a bowl and tip in 270g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick,creamy, pale and doubles in size.
4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, and then gently fold together with the vanilla essence.
5. Sieve the cocoa and flour over the top of the bowl and gently fold in to the mixture.
6. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15 minutes then take out of the over and gently press the cadburys crème egg halves into the mix, spacing them apart evenly. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.
7. When cooled your brownies are ready to eat!

Creme egg brownie

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Easter with the Kids

Easter is a lovely time to enjoy our family and bond together. Lucy is still young enough to believe in the Easter bunny, so I love to make the most of this and enjoy her wonder and excitement.

Jack is of course at an age when he wants to be spending time with his mates, not enjoying Easter with his mom and little sister, but we get him involved with the chocolate eating!

Easter Egg Hunt

At Easter I like hiding chocolate eggs around the garden for Jack and Lucy to find – as well as being fun it helps them blow off a bit of steam and stay occupied! You could try making a map with the egg’s locations marked on it, or making up a series of questions with clues leading to the eggs can be fun.

Decorating Eggs

Jack is a little old for this now, but it’s something fun for me and Lucy to do together. 

Try either boiling an egg, or if you want it to last longer blowing out the contents. You can do this by piercing both ends with a sharp knife, then twirl to widen open end more. Straighten a paper clip, and poke it through the larger hole to pierce and stir the yolk. Hold the egg larger hole down over a bowl, and blow out its contents with a rubber ear syringe.

Afterwards, you can decorate the egg in any way you like. Try decoupage with some pretty pictures from magazines, painting, adding glitter, or whatever else you have to hand! It’s a chance to get creative.
If you want to try something a bit trickier, you could gild the eggs with sheets of gold leaf, or dye them with food colouring.

Pop-up Easter Cards

Making your own pop-up cards is really fun for kids, and a cute personal touch when you send them to your family and friends. 

It might look complicated, but there is actually a pretty simple method you can use:

Sturdy, coloured card
Paper glue

1.      Use two pieces of card of the same size and fold them in half
2.       Cut parallel lines in pairs of the same length into the middle fold of one piece of card (you may need to help smaller children) to create ‘ledges’ of varying length, spread out equally.
3.       Draw or cut out some fun Easter images with your kids, small enough to fit neatly inside the card
4.       Stick the pictures onto the front of the folded out flaps. When you close the card it will lie flat, and ‘pop out’ as it’s opened. Glue the second piece of card around the first to cover the parts where the cuts show.
5.       The Inside of your card is now finished, and your kids can decorate the cover as they wish!

How do you celebrate Easter with your children? I’d love to know any fun craft ideas or family traditions you might have.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tasty and Quick Freezer Biscuits

Baking with Lucy is a lovely time for us to bond and create something yummy for Jack and Tim to enjoy. 

I like to control the ingredients going into the food I give my kids, as I know supermarket biscuits aren’t good for them. These biscuits might not contain perfectly healthy ingredients, but at least I know what’s going into them, and the ingredient list is a whole lot shorter than shop-bought alternatives.

The cost of baking can really take its toll on your monthly food budget if you aren’t careful. Here is an easy and cheap recipe for biscuits you can make in bulk and freeze for later.

Rachael’s freezer biscuits:

20oz of flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

20oz of butter

14fl oz milk

  • Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and mix until you get a crumbly texture – using a food processor to speed things up. Add the milk and mix to form a ball.

  • Roll out evenly on a flower surface, and cut with some fun-shaped cookie cutters.

  • To freeze: Freeze the raw cookies initially for two hours on a baking tray, then remove and put in an airtight freezer bag.

  • When you are ready to eat them, take the amount you want from the freezer and leave to thaw for 30 minutes to an hour. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 – 12 minutes.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hi, this is Rachael. Welcome to my blog!

This is going to be my honest account of an average family's life in Birmingham UK - take a look at my blog for craft ideas, recipe inspiration, and musings on the ups and downs of being a wife and mother.

Tim and I looking out to sea