How to make a Moana face cake…

I always pride myself on making the girls’ birthday cakes myself every year, and no cake is too big a challenge!

For Olivia’s birthday, in keeping with her Moana themed party, I had to attempt a Moana birthday cake…

Here’s how you can do this one from the comfort of your own kitchen!

What you’ll need for the cake:
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • vanilla essence
  • 2x 8 inch cake tins
  • greaseproof paper
  • mixing bowl
  • an oven also tends to help 😉
What you’ll need for the filling:
 
  • 3oz butter
  • 6oz icing sugar
  • strawberry jam
 
What you’ll need for the decoration:
 
  • pink fondant icing
  • orange fondant icing
  • white fondant icing
  • brown fondant icing
  • black icing pen
  • 4oz butter
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • cocktail sticks
  • rolling pin
So, you’ve got all of your bits, time to get down to the cake business!
For Olivia’s birthday, I baked the cake the night before, and then decorated it the morning of her birthday, giving the cake time to cool in the fridge and be easier to work with. You can decorate the cake the same day, but just make sure it’s cooled enough not to wreck the icing!

The Prep…

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees C.
2. Grease your tins with some greaseproof paper, spreading the butter all around the inside of the tins.

The Cake…

1. Put 8oz of butter into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add 8oz of caster sugar and mix well until the butter and sugar cream together.
3. Add the 4 eggs and mix these in.
4. Slowly pour in the 8oz of flour using a sieve, mixing it in stages until there is none left to pour in!
5. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and mix it again.
6. Pour the mixture equally into the two cake tins, spreading it as evenly as possible.
7. Pop the tins into the oven, on the same shelf (and if they don’t fit, you’ll have to do them one at a time as they can’t go on top of each other in the oven!), and check back in about 25/30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the cake has risen nicely, and you can stick a knife in the middle of the sponge and it comes out clean!
8. Lick the bowl 😉
9. Once cooked, place the halves onto a cooling rack.
10. Once cooled, take a long knife and even the tops of the cake-halves.

The Filling…

1. Make a buttercream using the butter and icing sugar. You may need more or less depending on how  much you want inside the cake, but you’ll be using it for the outside of the cake too. Always make sure you have twice as much sugar as butter to get the right taste and texture.
2. Spread the buttercream onto one half of the cake.
3. Spread the jam onto the other half of the cake, and gently place the buttercream half on top of the jammy half!
4. Leave this in the fridge for a little while to cool and set the buttercream.

The Decoration…

While the cake is cooling, you can prepare some of the features of Moana’s face – her eyes, the flower in her hair, her lips, and even her hair!
Eyes:
 
1. Prep your work surface by sprinkling some icing sugar down to work with.
2. Make two balls (the size of a Brussels sprout each) of white fondant by rolling them in your hands.
3. Roll the balls out on the surface until they are about half a cm thick, keeping them in the shape of how you want Moana’s eyes to look.
4. Repeat with brown icing to get her irises, then fix these on top of the white icing shapes with a bit of buttercream.
5. Use the black icing pen to draw on Moana’s pupils.
6. Pop them on a small plate and put them in the fridge for the black icing to set – you don’t want the pupils to run into the white fondant!
Flower:
 
1. Make 5 flower petals by rolling small balls (again the size of a Brussels sprout each!) of the pink fondant icing in your hands.
2. Roll the fondant out on the surface until it’s about half a cm thick again, and, using a small knife or cake tool, make petal shapes out of the fondant. Repeat this until you have 5 petals.
3. Prop the petals up on a plate, curving the petals if you want to, and pop them in the fridge to set.
4. For the centre, roll a small ball of orange icing in your hands, flatten the top, and insert a cocktail stick through the bottom, so that it almost looks like a drinks umbrella!
5. When you’re ready to attach the flower to the cake, affix the petals first using small amounts of buttercream, then place the cocktail stick through the cake in the centre of the petals.
Lips:

1. Roll a small ball of brown icing out onto the surface and cut out a lip shape.
2. Indent a lip line in the middle of the shape – you don’t want two separate lips to fiddle about with!
Hair:
 
1. Take larger chunks of brown icing and roll them into sausages that will fit around Moana’s face.
2. Roll these into a mixture of sizes to use for her fringe, tufty bits and the rest of her hair. You will need quite a few to layer these up.
3. Leave these ones out of the fridge! You need the hair to stay soft and easy to mould.
Putting it all together:
 
1. Spread buttercream evenly over the entire surface of the cake.
2. Roll out brown and white icing – you will need a fair amount.
3. Mix the white icing in with the brown icing to lighten the colour of Moana’s skin. Knead the colours together and add as much or as little as you want.
4. Once you have the perfect colour, roll the icing out onto surface. You will need to lift the icing up and turn it to prevent it sticking. Use more icing sugar on the surface if necessary!
5. Make sure the icing will cover the whole cake – you can pick it up and test it by holding it over the cake. Once you have enough, lay it gently on top of the cake and flatten the sides down with your hands, cutting away any excess.
6. Gently rub the top of the cake in a circular motion to flatten any air bubbles.
7. First, add the eyes and lips. Use a small amount of buttercream to fix them to the top of the cake.
8. Add the hair next, using little drops of water on the hair to fix them to the cake. The can be moulded around the cake fairly easily, layering them up and creating her fringe. This works best if the hair strands are not put into the fridge as they need to be easily pliable.
9. Fix the petals on top of the hair, using water to make them stick. Then put the cocktail stick with the orange top through the centre and into the cake (remember it’s there when it comes to cutting slices!)
10. Use a black icing pen to draw on the nose, eyelashes and any other features!
VOILA!
You’ve done it! Successfully made a cake like Moana’s face!
Share your pictures below!

Traditional Boozy Make and Mature Christmas Cake

Let me start by saying this: if you don’t want your Christmas cake to pack a serious boozy punch then this is not the cake for you. This is for grown ups only.

You may also be wondering why I’m talking Christmas cake so early… well, the clue is in the title. This cake takes some serious maturing. So this recipe will be broken down into a rough schedule to help you pack the biggest boozy punch into your Christmas cake.  I have written this recipe so it’s easy to make half, the written recipe is for a large family sized cake.

September

Soak 1kg of mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried peel – the works) in 200ml of whichever booze you choose. I start soaking in early September in a clip sealed lunchbox and give it a good shake once or twice a week, whenever I remember really. This just makes sure all the fruit gets a good soak and not just the bits at the bottom.

This year I am using Honey Jack Daniels, last year I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and the year before I used cheap supermarket own Brandy. It all works and it’s all preference.

If you skip this stage you can just soak for an hour before you bake but I prefer a good mature soak.

October

Time to  bake!

At some point in the first week of October you need to bake your cake. Don’t worry about it going stale or going bad, you’re going to spend the next two and a half months feeding it more alcohol.

Here’s what you need:

Equipment:
LARGE saucepan
LARGE mixing bowl
LARGE tall sided cake tin.
Baking parchment or bake-o-glide

Ingredients:

Your pre-soaked fruit plus another 50ml of your chosen alcohol
250g Butter (because of allergies, we use dairy free spread or baking blocks and they work very well)
200g Soft Brown Sugar (light or dark)
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange

1tbsp Ground Mixed Spice
1tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

200g Plain White Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Baking powder
4 Large Eggs

Method:
1. Put the fruit, booze, sugar, butter, spices, vanilla, zest, and juice into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for at least half an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your baking tin. A circle at the bottom as usual but the paper around the edge needs to be around twice the depth of the tin and sticking out the top. It’s a good idea to check your oven shelf is the right height to accommodate this before the oven gets hot.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the eggs until last and beat well.

5. Transfer the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 2 hours. If you end up with too much mix you can bake whatever you have left in a loaf tin or muffin tin and enjoy them before Christmas! (Smaller cakes will need less time in the oven so check regularly once the first hour has passed)

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before poking a generous number of holes into the top of the cake with a skewer, fork or spoon handle and feeding it 25ml of your chosen alcohol.

October, November and December

You can store your cake in the baking parchment it was cooked in, wrapped in a cloth or tea towel or wrapped in cling film if you have nothing else. It’s best to then keep it inside a tub or a tin as well.

Feed it 10ml weekly or 20ml every two weeks until two weeks before the date you would like to ice it. If you feed it too close to icing it, it will be too wet to ice.

Icing

Traditionally, I ice my cake on Christmas eve, possibly because no one can be trusted not to eat it once it’s iced. I will hold my hands up to this: I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing. It’s partly a skill thing, partly a cost thing, partly a time thing. The end result is the same so I won’t lose sleep over it. You can also leave the cake naked if you prefer.

1. Roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the entire cake
2. Brush the cake with some warmed up marmalade or citrus jam. One year I used ginger preserve which was delightful.
3. Lay the marzipan over the now sticky cake and smooth down the edges
4. Trim off the excess marzipan and save it for later
5. Repeat the above steps with the icing but substitute marmalade for vodka of you have it or whichever alcohol you have been feeding your cake.
6. Add any embellishments to your cake that you would like and try not to eat it straight away.

The leftover marzipan and icing

I make it into sweets. It’s the best.

1. Roll the icing into a long flat strip  and inch or two wide
2. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape the same length
3. Moisten the  icing with a dab of water (child friendly)
4. Roll the icing around the marzipan nice and tight
5. Cut the roll at 1/4 inch intervals to make small festive treats

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

20 of the best Moana birthday party ideas on Pinterest!

With a toddler who adores Moana and a 2nd birthday party to plan, I have, of course, been scrolling through Moana party ideas on Pinterest for weeks now! The trouble is that there are so many amazing things that I want to try, so here is my list of the top 20 Moana party ideas on Pinterest!

1. Heart of Te Fiti cookies

Moana Party Treats - Heart of Te Fiti Cookies Recipe from Paging SupermomMoana birthday party ideas - heart of the fiti sugar cookies
These are a simple, yet effective, Moana birthday party idea! Everyone loves cookies, and whichever design you go for, it looks like they’d be pretty difficult to get wrong! The design on the left reminds me of a jam roly poly, so you could possibly even make one of those in the Heart of Te Fiti shape and colour!
If you love the look of these cookies, have a look here at our recipe for Heart of Te Fiti cookies that are 100% vegan!

2. Kakamora coconut cups

Moana Party Favor Ideas. Complete your Moana Birthday Party with this Kokamora Cups, use the Free Printable Moana Kokamora Faces. This is a great addition to a Luau Party or Hawaiin Party as well. www.anytots.com for more Moana Party Ideas.
These are so cool! You can buy pre-made coconut cups (not real coconuts, I might add), and download the free printables to either get kids to make their own, or to choose a cup that you’ve already stuck a face onto!

3. Moana themed balloons

DIY Balloon and Fronds Tropical Party Table Centerpiece Garland - learn to make this easy table decor for your birthday table, party photo booths or summer party decorations!We made these palm tree balloon columns to fit a pirate theme
This is another simple, yet effective, Moana decoration you can easily make at home! You can switch up the colours of the balloons in the garland, and there’s even a tutorial on Pinterest to make your own balloon arch! Failing that you can use the garland as a table decoration, and have the balloon palm trees placed around the garden to make it feel like you’re on Motunui!

4. Flower garlands for kids

Want to learn how to make this beautiful JAM DIY tissue paper flower garland? Click the pin to find 5 easy steps!
You can either have these pre-made for when your party guests to wear when they arrive, or as a party favour for the kids to take home, or as another activity for them to do at the party – the possibilities are endless! Personally, I think I’d use them for when the kids arrive so that everyone can get into the Polynesian spirit and celebrate the Moana party in style!

6. Coconut bowling

Add a fun twist to summer games with the kiddos -- go coconut bowling!  A simple, fun outside game that'll have the kids giggling the whole time.
Using the Kakamora printables above, you can easily make these bowling balls into “murdering little pirates” and use them to bowl down pineapples, water bottles, or even mini palm trees.

7. Pin the nose on Pua

MOANA PARTY GAME Pua Pin My Nose 11x17 inches and 18x24 new
A classic party game is pin the tail on the donkey, so why not modify it with a Moana twist and pin the nose on Pua? You could choose any character, really! Pin the Heart on Te Fiti/Te Ka, or pin the tail on Hei Hei! All it requires is a printer, some cutting out and some blindfolds for the kids to take part! And, of course, adult supervision when they’re all blindfolded and spinning around in circles…

8. Moana sail boat hot dog trays

Moana Birthday Party Printable Sail Boat Hot Dog Tray
Even though we are vegetarians in our house, we could easily adapt this to use veggie sausages/hot dogs, or we could simply prepare these for our meat-eating guests! Either way, it’s a fun twist on a classic hot dog and the Moana sail boat is just too cute not to try!

9. Sand pudding parfaits

Sand Pudding Parfaits - a delicious Golden Oreo dessert with layers of pudding cream between.
This amazing recipe uses golden Oreos and cream to make a delicious beach-like pudding in a cup! Not only are these super tasty but they’re also no-bake, meaning less washing up and that’s always a win!

10. Personalised Polynesian Luau party favours

Kids Personalized Luau Party Favors Flower Lei by stargazinglily, $4.25
These are available to buy on Etsy, but it would be a much better idea to have the kids make their own to pop into their party favour bags! All you need is the right beads and some elasticated string!

11. Find the Heart of Te Fiti

Moana Heart of Tafiti Party Favors!  Glass gems - $1 @ Dollar Tree Lime paint pen - $4 @ Michael's
These are so quick and easy to make, and if you make enough for each child they can have a scavenger hunt to find the Heart of Te Fiti, doubling up as an additional party favour.
 

12. Themed character foods

Looking for some awesome Moana party food ideas? Look no further!

You can try out Hei Hei chicken nuggets, coconut Kakamora kebabs – all you have to do is get little themed place cards to pop next to the food… You can even DIY them by using cocktail sticks and printing it out yourself!

13. Moana doughnut boats

This is a super easy Moana party food idea! Download our free printable sails and use cocktail sticks to stick each one into a doughnut to make boats just like Moana's!
These are such a cute and fun idea for a sweet treat at your Moana party!
 

14. Tamatoa croissants

These are amazing! All you need is some googly eyes, cocktail sticks, croissants and fillings! You could even add something “shiny” to his back!

15. A hula skirt table

Luau party
If your party guests aren’t already adorned in Moana-themed costumes, get them into the Polynesian party mood with some tropical hula skirts and the flower garlands that you made yourself or bought pre-made from the shop! And if you don’t want to hang onto these after the party, pop them in the party bags for the kids to take home!

16. Moana inspired face paint

Moana inspired face painting
I mean, you probably couldn’t do this yourself unless you’re a super talented artist, but this Moana inspired face paint is just incredible!

17. Sailboat cupcakes

Wrapper e toppers para mini Cupcake. Barco Moana. Festa Moana.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these! The wave pattern around the cupcake case just makes this look really awesome, and who doesn’t love cupcakes? The mast is just a clear straw, and then you have the classic Te Fiti spiral on the flag.

18. Heart of Te Fiti cupcakes

Perfect cupcakes for the best Moana party ever!
These are a simple yet effective design utilising simple food colouring and icing penmanship! And you can style them up with cute little place cards too!

19. Beach jelly pots

Love all of these Under the Sea party ideas!  These little jello sail boats are so cute!
These are technically an “under the sea” theme, but they would work just as well for your Moana themed party!

20. The CAKE

Well, I have seen some pretty AMAZING Moana inspired cakes… Take a look at some of these:
Handmade Moana face cake! Pretty good resemblance and amazing flower in the hair!      Moana Cake

Girl's 'Baby Moana' Birthday Cake     Pastel-para-fiesta-de-moana (15) - Decoracion de Fiestas Cumpleaños Bodas, Baby shower, Bautizo, Despedidas

Moana Cake by Simona Volpe‎     Moana cake

And as hard as it is to pick a favourite… It’s got to be this one:

Te fiti of Moana cake

I mean, it’s just incredible! I wish I could make a cake this awesome!

So that is it! I hope you’ve loved this Moana party ideas round up from Pinterest – let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of them or if you’ve come across any more amazing Moana inspired party ideas on Pinterest!
 
And remember everyone…
 
WE KNOW THE WAAAYYYYYY…. I AM MOANAAAAAAA

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How to make VEGAN Heart of Te Fiti cookies

I was writing my upcoming blogpost about the best Moana party ideas on Pinterest (subscribe to see it when it goes live), and as I was doing so my daughter was just too excited by the pictures of Heart of Te Fiti cookies… So, of course, I had to make some, and we did them vegan style!

What you will need (this will make 20-25 small cookies depending on individual sizes):

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g Vitalite dairy free margarine (Flora also have a dairy free range)
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp/a splash of soya milk (we used Tesco own brand)
  • A green icing pen

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C and place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray ready

2. Place the flour, margarine and sugar into a bowl and mix it with your hands until it is mixed well and forms a breadcrumb texture

3. Add the vanilla essence and enough soya milk to make the mixture sticky – you can mix this in with a spoon to save your hands getting even messier!

4. Roll a small ball of dough in your hands and flatten it out into a thick oval shape, repeat until there is no mixture left

5. Place the cookies into the oven for 20-30 minutes, checking them periodically until they’re a light golden brown colour

6. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool

7. Once they have cooled down, grab your green icing pen and decorate them! It’s easier to do the swirl in one smooth motion and enough pressure to make sure the icing sticks to the cookie

8. You can eat them right away, but if you want the icing to set a little then pop them in the fridge for an hour or so first!

Let me know if you’ve tried them! I plan on doing these again for my daughter’s birthday party at the end of the month so would love to know if you’ve found any more Moana inspired party foods!

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Trying SimplyCook

Before I start, I should probably say, this isn’t sponsored by SimplyCook. I’m just a mumma who loves food and discounted/free thigs!

As the main cook in my household, I hate dinner time, because I try and make something new but always end up going back to the same old meals we usually have, which is what drew me to SimplyCook. As a lot of ‘post box’ brands do, SimplyCook had a ‘first box for £3’ offer going and I’m never one to turn down discounted things so I got one and eagerly awaited the post for my box.

In your box you get 4 mini boxes containing herbs, spices etc. Everything you’’ll need to add to your food to make it taste amazing.

Meal 1- Santa Fe Chicken Salad


Included in the box – 
Cilantro Salsa Blend
Grilled Pepper Mix
Ancho Chilli Rub

Ingredients to buy
Chicken
Peppers
Red Onion
Tomatoes
Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
I’m a little bit on the fence with this one. The chicken had such an intense, moreish flavour to it and really brought the salad to life and the same with peppers but unfortunately the same can’t be said about the Cilantro Salsa Blend. It had a very intense lemon flavour that was hard to swallow and just didn’t go well with the chicken. It was the only thing left on our plates at the end of the meal, which was a shame because I LOVE salsa so was looking forward to trying it on a salad. It just didn’t match the great tastes of the chicken. At  approximately 410 Calories per serving, which isn’t bad, I just don’t think its worth trying again just because of that.

Overall I’d give this meal a 6/10, sadly let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend. My partner sadly gave it a 4, again let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend.

Meal 2 – Hungarian Goulash Soup


Included in the box
Sweet Paprika
Goulash Spice Blend
Beef Stock

Ingredients to buy
Pork Sausages
Onion
Carrot
Red and Green Peppers
Tomato Puree

The Verdict.
This meal was delicious! It was warming, comforting and just everything you want for a cold, miserable day. I will say, I chose to have it with crusty bread rather than the 2nd option of mashed potatoes, but I wish I had gone for the potatoes as it is more of a casserole consistency and would have made the meal even better. I can’t fault this meal at all, it wasn’t perfect but it was very very yummy! It is approximately 500 Calories per serving which is amazing from something so hearty!

Overall I’d give this meal an 8/10, simply because it was more of a casserole than a soup but still tasted amazing!

Meal 3 – Shakshouka


Included in the box
Cumin & Caraway Mix
Spricy Tomato Paste
Shakshouka Spices

Ingredients to buy
Eggs
Tomatoes
Onion
Red and Yellow Peppers
Bread

The Verdict.
WOW. We had this for brunch after date night and it may not look like much but it was amazing. It was such a welcomed change to our breakfast routine and it was just perfect. The spices and flavours in this meal just blended so perfectly together with the eggs and it really got me and my partner excited to try it again. At only 375 Calories per serving, it would be rude not have it again! Definitely the best meal from these boxes so far!

Overall I’d give this meal a 10/10. It was such a lovely change from our usual breakfast choices and we are already planning on having it again!

Meal 4 – BBQ Tandoori Chicken


Included in the box
Smoked Chilli Blend
Sweet Potato Seasoning
Tandoori Paste

Ingredients to buy
Chicken Thighs
Natural Yogurt
A Lemon
Sweet Potatoes
A Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
This meal was pretty good, not too spicy but not lacking in flavour also. Even my daughter tried it, which at the moment is saying something because she is ill and really fussy. The meal made me and my partner nicely full and kept us full for a longer period of time (although, I did have room for a sneaky piece of banana cake whilst I wrote this… oops!) This one is a nice altenative to buying food from a takeaway and a lot healthier at approximately only 500 Calories per serving!

Overall, I’d give this meal an 8/10. It was a lovely meal and I will definitely try it again, it just can’t have a 10 because it was nowhere near as good as the Shakshouka.

So! Would I buy this again…?
Absolutely! Not only did it help with the buying side of things, it also gave me more ideas for dinner time. We would never have tried most of the things in this box but we do definitely be eating them again. (Especially the Shakshouka!)

I would absolutely recommend SimplyCook to anyone who is stuck for dinner ideas, wanting to try something new or anyone who just loves amazing food!

Mummy and Baby bears’ porridge

There’s been frost on the cars in the morning and a chill in the air, I can’t wait for the warmth of Spring. But there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy snuggling up in the mornings with a nice warming bowl of porridge, that both mumma and baby bear can enjoy, away from the thieving clutches of Goldilocks.

I wanted to make a hearty porridge that I like and that my toddler would enjoy, which is sweet enough without adding sugar.

I make this amount and there’s enough for my toddler and myself as you can see from the picture.

For this simple, tasty breakfast you will need:

  • 50g of porridge oats,
  • 150ml water,
  • 150ml milk,
  • 1 pot of strawberry fromage frais yoghurt,
  • 1 banana chopped into small pieces

Measure the water and milk and mix. Add the porridge oats and the banana pieces and mix. It’s best to use a deep microwave safe bowl for this.

Cook for 2 minutes in 900 watt microwave or 2.5 minutes in an 800 watt microwave and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes

Stir in the yoghurt when the porridge has cooled down to a warm temperature and serve into your bowls.

Enjoy!

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Leek and potato soup in 10 easy steps

Hello mummies, daddies and anyone else reading!

Are you looking for a quick and easy, winter warmer recipe? This is just that (with a few little nudges along the way for you to take some time out for yourself)…

What you will need:

  • A large saucepan
  • Chopping board
  • Hand blender/food processor
  • Someone to do the washing up

Ingredients:

1 x onion
2 x leeks
6 x large potatoes
200ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1litre vegetable stock
Basil (no need for it to be fresh, though if you’re feeling extra posh you could throw a few fresh leaves in there)
Salt
Pepper
Bread and butter

Method:

1. Pour yourself a glass of wine, you’re probably tired and could do with it
2. Put the oil into the saucepan and set the hob to a medium heat
3. Chop the onion and the leeks – it doesn’t matter if they’re not fine, you’re going to blend it all anyway! – and pop them into the pan
4. Stir for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to go clear – don’t let the onion go brown or it will make the soup look really unappetising!!!
5. Pour in the vegetable stock and turn the heat down
6. Peel and chop the potatoes and put them into the pan, then add the seasoning
7. Turn the heat back up and monitor for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes go soft enough to blend
8. Take the pan off the heat and get the blender out! Blend it until it’s mostly smooth and quite thick in consistency
9. Add the crème fraîche and stir it in
10. Place the pan back on the heat to warm the soup through, and at the same time butter your bread and prepare to serve!

You should all have yourselves an incredibly delicious soup!

This recipe can easily serve four people, so if there aren’t four of you there to eat it then you can absolutely freeze whatever is left and keep it for another time – we all need our precious time so save some by batch cooking!

I’m fairly certain you could create this dish just as easily using a slow cooker, but as I haven’t yet tried it I won’t recommend it – let me know if you have! PLEASE share your pictures in the comments or on our social media pages 🙂

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How to entertain a toddler without spending a penny.

I am so excited about Christmas. The tree has gone up early, I seem to have bought pretty much everything. I’ve planned some Christmas activities for my little one for the month of December. But what do you do when you don’t want to give your toddler any new things to play with, because their toys are waiting in a cupboard to be wrapped, and you’re living off a budget because your money has either been spent, or is going towards all the food and other bits and pieces your money disappears on at this time of year? The weather is also not enticing me to spend much time outside, even with layers on!

I’ve been coming up with some free activities to do at home with my toddler who is a bit bored of her usual toys. She had fun, so I wanted to share these activities with you. Let me know if you try any of them and please share your ideas with us, as we can give them a go before Christmas!

Music time.
Ok, I get it, you’re probably thinking, why Charlotte, why would you want to add to the noise levels you’re already experiencing as a parent?! Well we quite enjoy trying to play some rhythms to songs. I put on some nursery rhymes and we’ll play some instruments, which I’ve separated from the rest of my daughter’s toys, for ‘music time’. If you don’t have any, get the ol pots and pans out with the wooden spoons and have a little sing song. You’re not in front of a judging panel, so who cares if you’re not Mariah Carey? We filled some empty plastic bottles with dry pasta, corn kernels, rice and buttons and used them as shakers. For extra safety you can put some tape round the lids. You could even do this to Christmas songs!

A teddy bear’s picnic.
If you go down to the woods today… Nope, no way… Not in this weather. So what better way to bring a bit of sunshine into your home than to lay out a blanket, sit the teddies round and enjoy a bit of make believe fun. This is when you realise just how vast your toddler’s soft toy collection is getting! My daughter doesn’t have a toy tea set or anything like that yet. It’s something I want to get when she’s a bit older, so what we used instead were some of her plastic bowls, plates and spoons. We even got some empty milk bottles she’s not really used. I put on some music and we had a lot of fun feeding the teddies at the picnic.

If you’re interested, this is the play list we used. I picked some old time classic children’s tunes:

Teddy Bear’s picnic- Bing Crosby
Fuzzy Wuzzy (wuz a bear) – Andrea McArdle
The Bee Song – Arthur Askey
Nellie the Elephant – Mandy Miller
Run rabbit run- Flanagan and Allen
The Sun Has Got His Hat On – Ambrose and his orchestra
How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? – Patti Page
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah – James Baskett

Play dough.
I knew my mum used to make this with me as a child, but I didn’t realise just how easy it is to make and from things that I had in my kitchen cupboard. If I did this again I would add the food colouring to the water, but we still had fun and what we got was more of a marble effect. It wasn’t deliberate but it didn’t bother us, we still had fun. With the amount of salt in the recipe, I kept an eye on my daughter to make sure she wasn’t eating it.

2 cups of plain flour,
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil,
1/2 a cup of salt,
2 teaspoons of cream of tartar,1 and a half cups of boiling water
And food colouring.

Mix the salt, flour and cream of tartar together in a bowl. Add the water, the food colouring and oil into the mixture and stir.

That’s it!

Road car mat.
This was probably the most time consuming activity for me to prepare. I used a piece of board I had lying around the house, but you could use a piece of cardboard. What I did was got out our permanent marker pens and drew some roads, a roundabout and some buildings onto the board. If you were arty, you might like to paint this on, use your imagination! A lot of people will have car mats already for their toddlers, but even if you have, your toddler might enjoy having a different place to drive their toy cars. You could put your house on there and ask your toddler to drive the car home. Now we have this ‘mat’, I’m able to re use it in the run up to Christmas.

These were the free activities I did with my toddler in a week. If you are looking for some fun, free activities to do and you didn’t have the pennies right now, I hope these give you some ideas. Christmas is always a time where we are made to feel as parents that we need to get our children lots of things, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to spoil your children. What I’m saying is that your toddler will be enjoying spending the time with you and won’t be worrying about the price tag.

Like I said, please share your ideas, we’d love to see and hear about them!

15 Minute Vegetable Rice

The beauty of this is that you can make it suit you and your family. You can add or take away bits depending on what you have in your cupboards and what you like to eat. We regularly eat it as a whole meal but it can be a tasty side dish (or just make  it to save some pennies on take away rice when your order a curry).

Before we get to the nitty gritty let me just say this; I HATE recipes. They always have some obscure thing that isn’t sat in your cupboards or one ingredient that’s crazy expensive and occasionally require you to have a very large piece of equipment that can only be used to do one very specific task. So, this isn’t a recipe as such – it’s an idea. A beautiful, lazy dinner idea that you can feel great about. 
 
 
You will need:
  • A chopping board
  • A knife
  • A saucepan with a lid
  • A hob
  • Running water 
  • Maybe a cheese grater
  • A measuring jug (and yes, you can use a baby bottle to measure, no judgement)
  • Kitchen scales or cup measures
  • Sieve or muslin
  • Rice (I recommend basmati but long grain is fine)
  • Assorted vegetables 
  • Herbs and spices of your choosing
  • Stock cube 
 
 
You can put any vegetables you like in this, if they have a longer cooking time like most root veg then grate them and if they’re fast cooking then chopping is fine. I like to buy onions, cabbage and carrots, prep them and freeze them so they can just be grabbed from the freezer and thrown into dishes like this. 
The only bit of measuring you need to do is with the rice – 70-80g per person and then twice as much water (140ml – 160ml). Brown rice or long grain rice may need a little extra so check your packet or just add about a quarter again. If you don’t have scales you can do it by volume using the 1:2 ratio. 
 
  1. Bring your water to the boil with your stock, herbs and spices and a handful of each of your chosen veg – we like turmeric, mixed herbs, veggie stock, onion, carrot, cabbage and peas. Love the lid on so you don’t lose too much water.
  2. Rinse your rice! This stops it going stodgy and clumpy. Pop it in the sieve or a muslin and run cold water through it until it’s basically clear.
  3. Add your rice to the boiling water and veg and STIR ONCE. Don’t be tempted to keep stirring.
  4. Pop the lid on and bring it to the boil again.
  5. Once it’s boiling turn it down to a simmer and stand back for 12 minutes. Just leave it. Don’t take the lid off, don’t stir it.  
  6. Once your 12 minutes are up take it off the heat, get a fork and  shift a bit of rice to the side. If you still have water in there pop the lid on and  simmer it in one minute intervals until the water is gone.  You probably won’t need to unless you’re making rice for 6 people though. 
  7. Fluff it up with a fork and serve! 
 
The beauty of this is that you can make it suit you and your family. You can add or take away bits depending on what you have in your cupboards and what you like to eat. We regularly eat it as a whole meal but it can be a tasty side dish (or just make  it to save some pennies on take away rice when your order a curry). Sometime we fry up some cooking bacon with courgette and have that with it and some times we fry the rice up with eggs.  I love having this versatile dish under my belt and best of all? It looks like I’ve made an effort when I reeeeally haven’t. 

Pictured:  curried vegetable rice with tortilla chips – beef stock, curry powder, mixed herbs, onion and carrot

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Vegan/Veggie curry recipe

As a mummy who was given a huge kick up the bum by her partner to finally go vegan as I’ve been threatening for years, I thought I would share my favourite vegan recipe for any other undecided people out there.
This one is fab, because you can get so many vegetables into it, and it’s even a hit with my little 15 month old (today) Olivia.
INGREDIENTS
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Vegetable stock
Tomato puree
1x brown onion
1x butternut squash
A tin of chickpeas
Oil
Basil
Mild vegan curry paste
A handful of spinach
Enough brown rice for whoever is eating
RICE METHOD
1. Add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of cold water and put the pan on a low heat. Do not let the rice boil, and keep it moving to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. Rice takes a while to cook, so keep checking back with it. When it’s ready, drain it and cover over with a teatowel to absorb the excess moisture.
CURRY METHOD
1. Pour roughly a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan and set the pan on a medium heat
2. Core, peel and dice the onion and the butternut squash and put both into the pan
3. Stir regularly for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften and turn clear, then add 3 tablespoons of curry paste (if you’re not vegan, don’t worry about making sure it doesn’t contain milk or eggs, but if you are, you may need to find a vegan subsitute).
4. Mix the curry paste in well, making sure to cover all of the squash and the onion, keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
5. Add 300ml of vegetable stock and make sure there are no lumps of curry paste. Keep stirring and add the tomatoes. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it start to boil!
6. Add in some tomato puree. You can add as much as you like depending on how thick you want your curry sauce. Then add in some black pepper and basil for seasoning.
7. Drain the chickpeas and add them into the mixture. Let the pan simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
8. Tear up a few handfuls of spinach sprinkle into the mixture. Remember, spinach reduces when it’s cooked, so add in slightly more than you think you need. Keep the curry simmering for a couple of minutes to heat it through.
9. Plate up the rice when it’s ready, and then pour the curry on top! If you’re still waiting for the rice to cook, keep the curry on a low heat until it’s ready.
I hope you enjoy trying this one out. You could also add in carrots and peas to get all of your 5 a day in one meal, but this is healthy enough already, and ridiculously tasty!
Please share pictures of your dishes if you attempt the recipe! Here’s mine…

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