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Winter Family Cooking

It’s turned much colder so I’ve been cooking some nice heart warming meals for my family. I have a husband who doesn’t eat vegetables and a daughter who doesn’t eat much meat and me with an ever increasing and decreasing waistline. It’s not easy to find recipes we all like.

My little girl is in nursery and school all day so I always like to have lots of meals in the freezer for her- one pot meals are best because I can hide vegetables in them and they freeze easily. I often have similar meals for my lunch in work although I was the butt of some ridicule when my colleagues spotted my tiny jacket potato, my spoonful of beans and my tiny pear. Maybe I have taken my lunches to the extreme-I can often been seen eating out of my girls plastic bowls and my favourite spoon is a pink plastic one!!!!!!!!

I love cooking but I don’t enjoy slave labour so you’ll find my ideas quick to make and fairly basic.

Hope you enjoy and try some of these ideas:

Macaroni cheese with ham and hidden vegetables:

No recipe-I just cooked some macaroni, added vegetables to the water. Drain and add cheese sauce and ham. Simple.

Soya Bolognese over a jacket potato.

Fry in olive oil some onions, carrots, garlic and herbs. Add a great big jar of pasatta. Add some soya mince which has been left in water to expand for a while. Add pepper and Worcester sauce and cook until the soya mince has absorbed the tomatoes and taken on their colour. This is great left in the fridge to have with pasta or a jacket potato. It’s surprisingly meaty!

Cauliflower and lentil curry.

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Found this great recipe today and will be trying it out this afternoon. I think the addition of coconut milk will make it really appealing for my daughter.

Warming soup.

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Whether you open a can, cook a ready made mix of fresh vegetables or make your own soup from scratch it doesn’t matter-soup rocks in winter and is a fantastic way of getting your family to eat their vegetables. I found these great soup mugs in a charity shop-I’ll be making some soup later today-ASDA do a brilliant soup mix which I just love! It costs just £1 and will serve me and my girl for 2 days. Bargain!

If you get change to go to a market stock up on vegetables and then find some recipes when you get home. I have found a great fresh vegetable stall locally and yesterday bought a punnet of grapes, raspberries, big bag of white potatoes-big enough for baking, a cauliflower, a curly kale cabbage, onion, carrots, pineapple and a swede for £10. It will feed my family for the whole week.

There are some great recipe sites I use too-just Google the item you want to cook with and you’ll get loads of suggestions.

My top five sites are:

All Recipes

BBC Good Food

Good To Know

UKTV

Jamie Oliver

Thanks for stopping by-ironically now I’m off out to Sunday lunch-well even mums deserve time off

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Jungle Boogie

Todays blog is one of the easiest to write because I’m going to give you some ideas on parties-love them or hate them they are an essential part of a child’s social life-where else are they going to learn to hide under a table eating a blancmange, have a fight in a bouncy castle or get their faces painted like spiders?

Today my daughter had a joint party with five of her friends-all celebrating their third birthdays.

We decided to share the party after all six of us mums met in a parent and toddler group in a local library. It was a turning point in my enjoyment of being a mum. Before this I was stuck at home, used to working, desperate to go back to work. When I met these girls for the first time I wanted my maternity leave to last forever. When you become a mum friendships like these are invaluable. Anyway-I digress! So we all met and we thought a shared birthday party would be great for those of us on a tight budget.

I thought I’d share my top ten best party ideas for you-based on our party today:

  1. Eyeball jellies-these really were the star of the show. A lychee set in jelly with a grape or blueberry in the centre. Simple and great fun for kids (great for Halloween too) Courtesy of Gillian Jackson DSCF1829
  2. Share the cost with friends-we had a two hour party complete with face painting, games, bouncy castles, food and hall for less than £40 each. It’s easy to spend close to £200 for this sort of party on your own.DSCF1839
  3. When you are having a party for younger children the less structure the better. Just let them play and have fun. We had no sit down buffet and the children could just come and go as they pleased.
  4. Set a really broad theme-we chose jungle because of the bouncy castle we hired- one friend made home-made bunting in animal fabric, another friend brought yellow cutlery, animal plates, another friend bought wrapping paper to cover the tables with in animal pattern and I brought in some soft animals to put on the buffet table. Another friend made palm leaves to put on the tables, It all tied in so well and more importantly it was easy for us all to buy items in different places.
  5. With food have a selection of foods so parents can choose whether they want to have a healthy meal or a plate of party nibbles or a bit of both. We had a good selection of fruit, vegetables sandwiches, crisps and of course cake.DSCF1837
  6. Party bags-our entertainment company Fizz Kids sold these at £1.90 each which was a really good price as you can go overboard as they can often look cheap. Our party cups were nicely wrapped, jungle themed-with a whistle inside, sweets colouring book and animal stickers. By the time you buy a few bits you can easily spend three or pounds per party bag so it’s worthwhile looking at buying them ready done.DSCF1827
  7. Keeping everyone happy in a party- it’s important for all parents to make sure they’re children are behaving as tempers can flare up with all the excitement. Keep a lookout for any situations which may ruin others’ enjoyment of the day
  8. Try and include parents who may have come to the party alone-parties are great events to make new friends-not just for the children!
  9. Birthday cake-shop bought or home made-don’t worry. Just don’t forget the candles as that is what makes a little persons day.
  10. Have fun and don’t stress. The only way you’ll be judged is by how much fun the children have had-not on how much you have spent.

Thank you to Fizz Kidz and all my mum friends for making this blog possible.

Have a good week all

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Halloween Fun Not Saved For The Weekend

You don’t have to save Halloween fun for the weekend just because it falls on a work night. It’s one of the easiest calendar events to have some fun with and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

I’ve decided this year to finish work early and while my daughter is in nursery I’m going to decorate my house with cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons and ghoulish footprints. I absolutely love Halloween and am so excited to celebrate it with her.

I’ve invited only two friends who live close-by because on a work night I don’t think I could be hostess for the mostess for loads of kiddies. Three is a small party and it should be fun.

The lead up to Halloween has also kept me and my girl busy today as we started making some crafty things for the party.

First of all the invites-we painted paper plates to look like pumpkins-on the back we are going to write details of the party and will hand deliver them.

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We also made pumpkins to hang from the lights-they we fairly simple. Strips of orange paper glued on to a toilet roll:

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For party games there are lots of ideas on the internet-I’ve chosen pass the pumpkins, find the bugs in the jelly and a scary treasure hunt.

Here are some more fab ideas-click  /www.mydeliciousambiguity.com/2010/10/halloween-games-for-groups-of-toddlers.html

Drop the Ghost: Give each child a tissue to make a ghost. Help the child pinch the centre of the unfolded tissue and twist it to make the head of the ghost. Once everyone’s ghost is made, let the kids drop their ghosts from the top of the stairs or throw them into the air. As the ghosts float down, the kids try to catch the ghosts.
Pass The Pumpkin: Sit in a circle. Provide a plastic pumpkin for children to pass while the teacher beats on a drum. Children pass the pumpkin to the tempo of the music. Alternate between slow and fast. When the music stops the child who has the pumpkin stands and takes a bow. Continue process.
Monster Freeze Dance: Play Halloween music and have the kids dance around like monsters! The Monster Mash is a great song for this game. 
When the music stops the kids freeze in their monster positions. 
The first kid to move is out, and the game continues until only one child is left.
Donut Chomp: Thread donuts on a long piece of string and make sure to leave space between each. Have the kids race to eat the donuts off of the string with their hands behind their backs.
Pumpkin Walk: This game is played like musical chairs. Place different colored pumpkins on the floor (made from construction paper) and the children walk around them to music. When the music stops the adult calls out a color and the children try to find a pumpkin of that color and stand on it.
Pin The Heart On The Skeleton: 
Buy or draw a skeleton on a big sheet of paper then tape a heart to the skeleton where a normal heart would be. Cut out hearts from red construction paper and put tape on the back of the hearts. Blindfold the children and have them put the heart on the skeleton
Trick For a Treat: Make up a bag with candy and a bag with slips of paper in it. The bag with slips of paper will have all ‘trick’ apart from one which will have ‘treat’. The number of slips of paper should equal the number of children.
All the kids who draw a ‘trick’ will have a specified trick that they will need to perform to get a piece of candy. One lucky child just wins a special ‘treat’. The tricks can be singing a song, doing jumping jacks while turning around, other fun things that are fairly easy for little ones.
Guess Which Paper Cup Has Candy Under It: The name of this game says it all. Have children turn their backs while you place five or six cups upside down on a table with candy under one. Tell them to turn around. Have one child at a time come to the table, guess until he guesses the correct cup. Give him a small prize “for being such a good guesser”.
Marshmallow Bobbing: This game is a variation on Apple Bobbing. 
Take a large tub with ice water in it and float full size marshmallows in it. 
Each child is given a straw cut in half (shorter straws are easier to suck and hold the marshmallow). They then have to race to see who can suck up a marshmallow the fastest. Once a child scores a marshmallow they can eat it, and sit out to let another child have a turn if they cannot all fit around the basin at one time. Keep rotating until all the kids have had one or two marshmallows.
Halloween Eye Spy Activity: Go for a walk outside with the kids and look for Halloween decorations around the neighbourhood. Take turns playing eye spy and describing things such as: scarecrows, black cats, witches, pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, monsters and vampires. Keep track of how many of each kind of decoration is seen on the walk.
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We will be lighting up our pumpkins (Making sure they are kept well out of reach of little fingers)
And I’ll be making a little buffet-there are tons of Halloween recipes online but as a working mum I will be making some of the easiest:
  • Halloween punch
  • Pizza witches fingers
  • Tomato eyeballs
  • Slimy ghouly jelly pots
  • Bat jam sandwiches
  • Gravestone cookies

Hey presto you have an easy toddler party.

I love being creative and the Autumn/Winter calendar events are the best-we are lucky to live in a country where the seasonal changes help create different memories.

My little girl will Trick Or Treat our house as I think at three she’s a bit young to go door knocking.

With her two little friends coming over this year I’ll get them to answer the door together so they can see the Trick Or Treaters without being frightened

I hope you have a lovely Spooky time with your family-

Have a great week

Amanda

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Rainbow Vegetables

I passed through a Welsh country village this weekend and did a stopover to visit a huge fruit and veg shop-somehow I managed to spend a fortune as I picked up every Autumn vegetable in sight-a beautiful array of rainbow colours. In my basket I had a butternut squash, sweet potatoes, marrow,beetroot, carrots, melon, cherries, leeks, avocado, tomatoes and onions. No idea what to cook with it all!

I thought I’d share with you some of the things I cooked using these ingredients-mostly with my toddler in mind but partly because I want to lose some weight before Christmas (And not just from my purse!)

Butternut squash and carrot soup

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Baked Stuffed Marrow

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Steamed Red Cabbage and apple in the slow cooker

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Boiled Beetroot (To put in a salad)

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I also put a big tray of potatoes in to bake-enough for the week

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Taking a bit of time to plan a healthy week ensures you start off on the right foot. It’s a little more time consuming to prepare fresh food but so much more tasty.

I hope you find some inspiration here

Have a good week

Amanda

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Fun With Food

I love having fun with food to encourage my toddler to try new foods-do you?

It doesn’t have to take any longer than the normal preparation of their meal as long as you have an idea in mind. It’s easy to make sandwiches and just use some cookie cutters to make them in to different shapes and it’s easy to make food in to pictures such as seascapes and faces. I thought I’d find some really cool ideas suitable for working mums.

Most are healthy but some are naughty-the odd treat is fine by me

Enjoy!

Fruit kebabs

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Healthy Caterpillar

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Funky Sandwiches

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Avacado Boats

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Eggs In Toast

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Sandwich Caterpillar

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Fishy Business

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Choccy bananas

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Cheesy Potato Boats

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Smiles At Breakfast

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Alphabet Soup

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Have a good week everyone

Hope you enjoyed these ideas

Amanda

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Say Your Peas And Thank You’s!

How do I get my toddler to eat their veggies? I asked my Mum friends what their secrets were and they didn’t disappoint with their healthy, creative and sometimes downright sneaky tips- here they are for you to read:

  • Let your little one grow their own vegetables so they can see where they come from and be proud that they grew something you can eat. Look at this fab ‘My First Ever Vegetable Garden’ Children’s Grow Kit by Canova available on Amazon
  • Let them help you prepare vegetables-toddlers like nothing more than sneaking something away when you’re cooking and they want to be just like Mum
  • Home made pizzas can include blended vegetables in the tomato base sauce-get them to decorate with peppers, sweet corn, mushrooms etc then sprinkle with cheese. Great tip from my friend thanks (I use muffins cut in half for the base-so quick and easy. Meal in minutes) Great recipe from Sainsbury’s for toddler muffin pizzasmuffin
  • Hidden vegetable pasta sauce- you can buy shop bought pasta sauces with vegetables inside or you can blend a variety of vegetables and mix them with passata. Bulk make this sauce as use as a pizza base, a Bolognese sauce or a chilli con carne base.
  • Heinz Baked Beans count as one of your five a day so don’t feel guilty for serving them up for lunch.
  • Cover it in gravy!
  • Introduce veggies as soon as they are old enough to chew and eat solids-carrots, sweet potato and parsnip work well and if you are trying baby led weaning methods sticks of vegetables like carrot batons, green beans and cucumber sticks are enticing for your little one
  • Home made soup-so many benefits, lots of different types to try, great way of serving vegetables without them looking like veggies, healthy, cheap, easy and freezable. When my little one was small I used to just buy a great big jar of passata, add to some garlic cooked in a little olive oil and sprinkle with fresh or dried basil. So easy. Other easy soups to make are vegetable, potato and leek, sweet potato, coriander and coconut, carrot and coriander and finally tomato and corned beef which dissolves to make a meaty soup.
  • Don’t give them a choice-serve at every meal from the start so it is the norm.
  • STAR TIP***** Blend everything you eat and feed to your toddler at the weaning stage. It saves double cooking and introduces your toddler to the same foods you eat.
  • I have to quote a friend here as I don’t want to take the credit for such ‘trickery’- My eldest wouldn’t touch any kind of veg until I told her that cabbage would make her boobs grow!” 🙂 I’ll be using that one for sure
  • Roll it in sugar! Hmmmmm. No fear mums this was said in joke

Some great ideas here-what I love it the honesty of them. We’re not boasting about feeding our kids asparagus tips served on bed of spinach. Although that does sound quite nice. It’s just good honest food served by mums who care.

Is it just my toddler that won’t eat veg? Rest easy-here’s some science from Edward Abramson, Ph.D on psychology today :

  • It may help to recognize that we’re born preferring sweet tastes
  • Hundreds of thousands of years ago our prehistoric ancestors who ate sour or bitter things were more likely to perish, those who ate only sweet things were more likely to survive
  • Liking sweet tastes was a survival mechanism that has been passed down to us

It’s NOT Just Baby Fat!: 10 Steps to Help Your Child to a Healthy Weight at Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/g9TAhX

Phew! We can all sigh with relief!

Thanks for the tips mums-keep them coming and thanks for sharing.

Next blog is going to be about making food fun!

Have a good week-photos of my puddings for just 25p will be added today

Amanda