Monday, 25 April 2011

Simnel Cakes Recipe - Easter Baking with the little ones :)

When I met @mydaddycooks on his Radio Show on BBC 3 Counties, he showed us his recipe for these Simnel Cakes, so I thought I'd give them a whirl with Jasper and Scarlett.

Having looked up the tradition, if you make a whole cake you are supposed to put 11 marzipan balls around the outside, to represent the disciples, with Judas having been removed.  Often Jesus is represented by a marzipan ball in the middle.   

These are similar but as individual muffins.  The recipe makes 10-12 Irrespective of the religious element of course, they are simply delicious, like a fruity spicy cake with an almond surprise :)

100g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
2 eggs
150g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg
250g Chopped Dried Mixed Fruit (I used tropical)
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
100g marzipan rolled into 12 large balls

Preheat Oven to 180C/350F
In a food mixer or bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest, until it is light and fluffy.
Add the two eggs.
Mix in the flour and spices.
Add the fruit.
Grease your muffin in if using, I used my silicone muffin cases, and spoon mixture in.
Sink a marzipan ball into each cake, making sure it is covered in mixture.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, but keep an eye that the cakes do not overcook on top!
Take the muffins out of the tin as soon as they come out of the oven.
Leave them to cool before eating (though mine simply couldn't wait of course)!


Enjoy, and thanks again to Nick Coffer for sharing :)

Annie x

Sunday, 24 April 2011

3 Counties Radio our local BBC Radio for Bed, Herts and Bucks

I was handed yet another fantastic experience via Twitter a few weeks ago, as I was invited to appear as a guest on 3 Counties Radio.  Having twittered with Nick Coffer, AKA @mydaddycooks the idea was muted, and yesterday it happened (23rd April).

Nick has the Midday to 2pm slot entitled Nick Coffer's Weekend Kitchen where he has a Chef, a wine expert and a homecook - which in this case was me.   We bring in food and wine to sample and it really is like a dinner party on air, with the cheeky Nick asking us questions, which sometimes put you on the spot but never made you feel uncomfortable!  My beloved QPR were playing a crucial game during the show, which was referred to, but only in the form that being an Arsenal fan Nick knew exactly how I was feelling!

If you would like to listen to our show, then here is the link

You can see from the site that I was privileged to be sat alongside Fergus Martin, the Head Chef in charge of the AA Rosette award winning  Fergus brought in the most beautiful 3 course meal, starting with a mouth-watering Grilled Asparagus with Goats Cheese, Parma Ham and mixed leaves, fantastic Beef Wellington, using braising steak wrapped in a chive pancake and puff pastry, and dessert was Elderflower Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberries Compote Fruits, not only was this just beautiful to eat, it looked fantastic topped with wacky sugar!

Stefanie Steil, Director of brought in some fabulous wines to go with the courses!  Most of you know that I am a simple girl when it comes to wine, and am rarely adventurous, but these wines were fantastic and priced the same as I would pay for my usual favourite!

I brought in my slowcook Jerk Chicken, which thankfully also went down well!

Next week they will have the winner of this years Masterchef, but they won't find out who it is until it is played out on TV next week.   It is a really fun show and I will be tuning in as a regular!  Also, if you are local and class as Chef, wine expert, or simply have a passion for cooking then I recommend having a go yourself!

I have just downloaded the fact sheet, which includes Nick's Mini Easter Simnel Cake recipe, why not have a sneaky peak and have a go yourselves, I will be :)

Annie x

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Cresta Run at The Snow Centre, not just for kids!!!!

We were invited to check out the Cresta Run at Hemel Snow Centre on Wednesday.  It was for mummybloggers and our little ones, though trust me its not just for kids!  We were all very excited!

Although most of the kit was to be provided (only boots for the 3yo weren't available), we got kitted out best we could anyway!  I stole my husbands Helly Hansen jacket, which I realised made me look more professional than my ability would prove, but willing to try and blag it!  Not seen the video yet but if my screaming is included will have to admit that said blagging was a failure ;)

And I now have the video, and it is as suspected haha :)

Of course my scarf, well there would be snow ;)

Don't tell his father about the hat!!!!!
I'd never been to The Snow Centre before and was amazed at the facility that has been under my nose, but out of my radar!  The Cafe Bar was fab too, and intend to go back for lunch sometime!  We were greeted by a welcome sign, and introduced to all the staff.  

When I looked out at the Cresta run it suddenly dawned on me what I was about to do.  I was going to put myself into a giant rubber ring and be pushed down a snowy slippery slope.  Not only that, I was going to subject my children to the same!!!! 

At first my children weren't too willing, so I had to mask my fear and prove what fun it was, and do you know what, it really was!!!!   I was kind of loving that the kids didn't want to come with me cos I was having so much fun going up and down, allbeit screaming like erm, well a girl, but trust me it was screams of delight!

I don't have many more pics as I was concerned for my iphone, so gave it to Sonny, one of the Slope Patrol, on top of the slope to look after.  The other slope patrollers were Lucy and Vicky.  It was a very professional operation as they ensured only one person on the slope at a time, despite my son just diving in as and when he wanted to from half way!   My daughter just stood and watched for a bit, but about half way in, I noticed that the girls were actually guiding Scarlett to smaller little zippers, and letting her have a go further down the bottom of the slope.  Scarlett got particularly attached to Vicky, and by the end of it was in the proper rubber ring and being guided down from the top.   The patience shown to my children was just so wonderful, which meant it was a really special and thrilling afternoon out for all!

No Papps - where'd she get that from?
Lastly, we were allowed to check out the Air Boards, following a safety chat!  I wouldn't have done it if @mediocre_mum hadn't done it first, but again it was thrilling to the end - even though I did chicken out and more or less attempt to brake from the top - which didn't help at all and I fell off, allbeit near the bottom.  My son was helpful though, asked if I'd done a poo, thanks for that Jasper!

I needn't have worried about being cold by the way, it was very warm under all the layers, and what with going up and down the slope, hair was soaking with sweat afterwards, nice :)

Post Cresta Run, sweaty head, nice :)
When we got home, the kids could not stop talking about it, and are desperate to go back and try the skiing!  When my husband got home, he was pinned in the hall for 20 minutes whilst they told him all about their afternoon, their little faces beaming!

Check out their website, its a fabulous way to spend an afternoon, and tire out the children too, win win in my book :)

It was brilliant, thanks so much to Fabiola, Ali, Chris, Elise and everyone else involved, trust me, we'll be back!

The Snow Centre

Annie x

Sunday, 10 April 2011

What do my apps say about me?

I was tagged in @mediocre_mum blog - asking me to do a meme about my iphone apps, and what it says about me.   After asking what exactly a meme was, here goes.

Firstly I'd observe about myself that I probably don't make enough use of the phone.  I still have everything in alphabetical order - which I only noticed after examining, and also that I guess it does reflect me in that it is a mixture of sports, kiddies stuff, and restaurant sites.

There are also apps on there that I have never used so maybe a little clean up required!

Would love to know your thoughts after looking at your own apps, particularly :






As @mediocre_mum says, "its also a way of finding more good apps :)
Annie x

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Advice for parents regarding children in our digital age

The Headmaster of our school sent this information out so felt compelled to share.   This gives information on children between 5 and 15 living in today's digital age.

The Google CEO's warning that young people may have to change their names in the future, to escape their online past, makes one sit up and think!

Please share with any other parents you know and lets try and keep these kids safe!

Annie x

The price of fish.........................

"All I said was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah" cool Python quote!

Yesterday I bought some halibut to try a new recipe, and was bleating about the price of fish all afternoon.  Was going to get 2 but it was £13, so settled on 1 piece for £6.  I grumbled all the way home, and then continued tweeting about it - miserable tightwad that I am.

HOWEVER!!!!!!!  My goodness it was beautiful, the texture was amazing, and even though I covered it with spices, the flavour combined with the texture was out of this world!

If you ever come into some money therefore, do feel free to try the following ;)

Serves 4, I easily halved!

4 halibut steaks
juice of a lemon
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 tbsp olive oil
Flour for dusting
300ml fish stock
2 red chillies seeded and finely chopped (remember wash hands straight away)
2 tbsp chopped coriander

Mix together the lemon juice, garlic, paprika, cumin and tarragon and spoon over the fish.  Cover loosely with cling film and marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Dust the fish with flour, then fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown all over.

Pour the fish stock around the fish, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until fish cooked through.

Add the chopped chillies and a tablespoon of coriander to the pan.  Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Transfer to plates and serve.  We had ours with a caesar salad, yummy!

Enjoy, and worry about the overdraft tomorrow ;)

Annie x

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Beef and Spinach Curry

I made this last night for the first time, I hardly ever cook with red meat, but this was delicious.  It takes around 45mins to cook, and I may at some point try it in the slowcooker, but for now 45 mins works for prepping before bath and bed time for the kids!

1 tbs butter or ghee (clarified butter)
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 large onion finely sliced
2 red chillies, thinly sliced (remember to wash your fingertips immediately afterwards)!
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
600g beef fillet, cubed
1 tsp salt
1/2 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 (400ml) tin coconut milk
200g spinach

You can put in the whole tin of tomatoes and coconut milk, is just as lovely, with obviously more sauce if you wanted to serve with naans, or bread?

Heat the butter/ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for around 5 mins until softening.  Add the chillies and cook for a further 3 mins.  Add the rest of the spices and cook for another 3 mins to release the flavours.

Stir in the beef and salt and cook for another 3 mins.  Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and spinach.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and cook for a further 10 mins, stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with whatever you fancy, last night we had it with couscous, but works well with rice or bread too!

Would love to hear if you enjoyed it?

Annie x

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mothers Day Gift Idea :) Photo Coasters!

It's probably a bit late for this year now, but thought I'd share with you what I have made for the mothers of my childminding children, and also my own mother!

I bought these photo coasters from a bookclub delivered to our local Childrens Centre, they were £4! 

I have shopped around however and you can get them from Amazon, amongst others!

I have done 1 coaster for each of my clients, but will do more so eventually they have a set of 4 at different ages and stages :)

Don't do what I did though and order 7x5 pics, cos they are only 7cmx5cm - not inches doh!

These are for my mother:)

When they have the 4 coaster set, they can have the stand to keep them in!

Would love to hear any ideas that you may have had now, or in the past? 

By the way, If you liked this blogpost could you retweet it or post a comment please, I'd appreciate it :)

Annie x