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Spanish Influenced Fish Stew – The Quick And Easy Way

We all need a dish every so often that steers us away from the everyday norm and takes us back to happy, holiday times.

This is the dish that does it for me and I really want to share it. It’s obscenely easy to make and tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

12oz peeled potatoes – chopped

6oz Chirizo Sausage

350g jar roasted peppers – oil kept

2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

2 small onions chopped into chunks

175ml dry white wine

300g passata

25g pitted black olives – halved

250g Cod fillets – cut into cubes

Salt and pepper to season

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170•C (150•C Fan), gas Mark 3.

Put all of the ingredients, except for the cod, into a large casserole dish. Tip in 2tbsp of oil from the jar of roasted peppers. Stir and place into the oven for 45 minutes.

Check on it a couple a times and loosen with water if the sauce becomes too thick.

After 45 minutes, add the cod and olives and place back into the oven.

Once cod is opaque and completely cooked through, remove from oven and plate up. I added chopped up fresh coriander on top of mine.

This is so tasty – here at Mums in Real Life, we are always after helpful tips? What’s your fish stew secret? Please do share 👍🏻

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Dreamy Creamy Mash with Mustard and Chives – The Home Made Way

So here’s the truth. When I left home many years ago, I could barely cook a thing. We all still howl with laughter when we reminisce over university days and the time I was asked to make boiled carrots at a dinner party. You’d think the name was obvious enough? Nope. I didn’t have a clue!

I’m happy to say, 22 years on and that’s no longer the case (phew!). I could make mash, though 👍🏻 For all of you out there who were like me, this is for you.

Here at Mums In Real Life, we love a good mashed potato.

As my children’s taste buds are developing, so is the mash potato I serve up at home. The only thing I still don’t add is salt, but that’s not a bad thing. Right?

This mash went down a treat when I served it alongside a honey and mustard gammon joint.

Ingredients:

6 good sized potatoes

2 tsp Mustard

2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

Knob of butter

Milk

Pepper

Freshly chopped Chives

Method:

Start by peeling the potatoes, cutting into chunks and boiling for 25 minutes (or until soft).

Take off the heat and drain. Place the potatoes back into the saucepan, add a generous knob of butter, the sour cream and a few twists of pepper.

Give it all a good mash, adding splashes of milk until it’s creamy and fluffy. Now add the mustard. Mash again.

Finely chop some fresh chives. Place Mash into a serving bowl and sprinkle the chives on top.

Do you have any mash recommendations? We’d love to hear your stories!

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Honey & Mustard Infused Gravy

I love using the juices from the meats I cook to make the perfect gravy.

This gravy is one I made up using the juices of the honey and mustard coated Gammon I recently cooked. It’s so easy and is the perfect accompaniment for a ham based dish.

Ingredients:

5 tsp Bisto gravy powder (not instant)

300ml juices of Gammon (see previous blog)

100ml Water

Method:

Place 5 tsps of gravy powder into a saucepan. Add a good splash of water to make a thick paste. Stir well.

Place the saucepan onto a low heat, stirring constantly. Place a sieve over the saucepan and tip in the juices. The sieve will catch the bay leaves and peppercorns.

Stir the gravy constantly, until it comes up to boil, thickens and starts sticking to the spoon.

Add in a splash more water, stirring continuously.

Voila! Deliciousness poured onto a plate.

What gravy tips do you have? What’s your perfect flavour? Please share your tips – here at http://www.mumsinreallife.co.uk we are always to keen to hear helpful hints 👍🏻

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Honey & Mustard Glazed Gammon

This gammon joint was a rare treat. It’s just not a joint I often think of cooking, but having spotted it on Pinterest, I thought I’d recreate it my way. I hope you enjoy it – it was delicious and so easy to make! Not to mention cheap – which wasn’t the aim – but always an added bonus.

Ingredients:

Gammon Joint

2 – 3 tbsp Dijon Mustard

2 – 3 tbsp honey

300ml water

Cloves

Bay leaves

Peppercorns

Apple & Cider vinegar

Firstly, preheat a fan oven to 170•c.

Stud one side and the top of the gammon with cloves. In total I used 17 cloves.

Place the gammon into a baking dish with 300ml water, the vinegar, 4 bay leaves and some peppercorns.

Next, smear the mustard over the joint and drizzle the honey on top (save a drizzle for a bit later).

Loosely place tin foil over the gammon, pop into the oven for 2 hours. Baste frequently. After 1 hr 30 mins, remove foil and drizzle some more honey on top of gammon. Once cooked, remove from oven and rest.

I then used the juices from the gammon to make a gravy – it was the stuff of gravy dreams and really took the gammon to another level.

Hope you like it – let us know how you cook your gammon. Tips are always welcome 👍🏻

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Wrap Platter For A Hungry Gathering Of Mini Eaters

This platter of mini wraps is the perfect solution when you have lots of mouths to feed at lunch time, it always receives a cheer of approval from the kids! Based on their favourite sandwich fillings, ingredients included:

To feed 5 children:

*3 Wholemeal and 5 white Wraps

*Tuna & cucumber

*Ham

*Cheese

*Baby Tomatoes

*Rocket to dress

Simply spread your ingredients onto flat wraps, roll and cut into equal portions. Place onto serving dish and decorate with rocket, baby tomatoes and some cucumber.

This lunch platter will be making an appearance again over the weekend, that’s for sure!

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Easter = Family Feast Time

I absolutely love Easter time! Hands up, I’m not really religious, but for me Easter is all about family. Being together, eating together – one big, loud, crazy family weekend. To top it off, the sun is shining! It’s going to be a fabulous weekend.

Today has not disappointed. My little has had the sick bug this week, and so we’ve not been up to much. He’s feeling better now, but still a bit wobbly so we’ve had a quiet couple of days at home. This also meant a luxurious trip to Saino’s sans children yesterday, so today has been all about cooking!

The schedule for the weekend includes Easter egg Hunting at my sister in-law’s tomorrow (complete with newborn lambs!), followed by a family lunch, followed by Sunday lunch at home with Mum and Dad and a Bank Holiday BBQ with my lovely running buddy – perfect!

So, to the menu:

Saturday lunch: Mum’s Lasagne, Sis-in-Law’s Chilli con Carne and for the children, Home made pizza with Milano salami (and my secret veggie pizza sauce) followed by Lemon Drizzle Cheesecake and Chocolate Easter Nest Cake.

Sunday Brunch: Fluffy pancakes with crispy bacon and Maple Syrup

Sunday Lunch: Spring Roast Lamb with rosemary roast potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower cheese and carrots. For desert: Marmalade Treacle Tart and Chai custard and Creme Egg Brownies (sorry, had to be done!!)

I’ll add and share my pics over the weekend as I make them – I hope you have an amazing weekend, whatever you’re doing. Happy Easter, lovely people!

Tahlia x

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Throw Back Thursday – British Spring Lamb

With Easter upon us, I thought I’d re-share this delicious Roast Lamb recipe for our ‘Throw back Thursday’ feature. So Easy to make, oh so delicious!

With the smell of Spring in the air, what better way to round off the week with a Lamb Roast. Accompanied by Desiree Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Cauliflower & Peas. Sunday’s don’t get much better than this!

*Recipe available under ‘recipes’ section* http://www.mumsinreallife.co.uk

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Super Slick Strawberry & Oats Breakfast Smoothie

Looking to lighten your load in the morning? Fancy a quick, no fuss breakfast that’s going to boost your energy levels & put a spring in your step?

This Strawberry porridge smoothie is delicious. It takes a couple of minutes to prep, make and pour. Making breakfast doesn’t get simpler than this!

Whizz 2 roughly chopped strawberries, 20g porridge oats, a dollop of honey, 200ml milk & a couple of ice cubes in a blender.

Pour out and enjoy your breakfast. Yes. It really is that simple. I dressed mine with Basil leaves and a plump strawberry.

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Smokin’ BBQ Sauce – The Homemade Way

The weather forecast for this weekend where I live in the UK is predicted to hit highs of 20•c.

Typically, for a Brit that means screaming with euphoria, flip flops, vest tops, beer and sunnies! For me it means BBQ! More specifically, sauces and marinades.

Here is a poky BBQ sauce recipe I’ve used for ages, tweaked over the years. It’s fabulous smeared over Chicken, as part of a burger or simply as a relish on the side. Oh and I’ve forgotten to mention just how quick and easy it is.

Ingredients:

400g Tin toms

125ml Apple Cider Vinegar

1tsp Ground Cumin

1tsp Paprika

1tsp Maple Syrup

50g Brown sugar

Handful of raisins (optional)

Pinch of Cinnamon, salt and pepper

Method:

Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan over a gentle heat and slowly bring up to boil.

Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, until vinegar has burnt off and sauce has reduced. All done!

Decent and leave to cool – hope you enjoy it.

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I ran an actual Marathon yesterday!!

So, I only went and did it! I ran a Marathon! 26.2 agonising, exhilarating miles. The last two days have been hard work emotionally too- a rollercoaster of huge overwhelm, a massive sense of pride and accomplishment (and rather achy knees – I’m writing this with an ice pack on each one).

YESTERDAY WAS A BLUR

After a pretty rubbish night’s sleep (cue dreams about being locked in a cupboard/not being able to make the start line/Paul Weller?!) we awoke at 6.40am. In a bit of a haze we walked the 25 minutes to the start line and found a lovely lady, who was also running her first Marathon. I must check her race number to see how she did (I think she was ready to smash it).

We put our bags in and joined the everlasting line for one last wee before the race started. It was a bit nippy (about 8 degrees and quite cloudy) so we ambled over to the start in a bit of a trance and waited for the start.

We got off to a great start. Keeping pace well and we navigated the hills and ran well against the almighty wind coming off the sea. We kept it up until mile 13, where we found our lovely families cheering us on (seeing my littles faces was such an emotional experience, I will never forget it.)

The next few miles towards and round Hove were ok – we slowed our pace slightly and kept plodding. At this point, my running buddy had a wobble. My stoic, inspirational, fit as anything, amazonian of a running buddy. I was a bit floored. I ran and then found myself losing her, so waited and ran until we were side by side, and continued to do so for the next few miles around Hove.

Then came the dreaded ‘Power Station’ run. I stopped to wait for my running bud, but she just wasn’t there – she had literally been swallowed in a sea of runners (which is hard given that she is 6ft!). At that point, the reality hit me that I was alone.

With about 10 miles to go, it hit me like a brick in the face. 10 solitary miles. And I’m not going to lie – it was awful. Really tough. I had to dig deep. Running up to Shoreham Power Station is actually soul-destroying. It was grey, and the wind was bitter. And to add to things, I just never seemed to get there. Forever.

At this point, something a friend had sent me that morning came to my mind. She’d said “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. A lot.” So that’s exactly what I did. I ran, counting one – two, one-two, one-two. I’m not sure how many miles it was for, but I’d guess about 3.

Running back along the same stretch after looping the power station wasn’t much better, I’ll be honest. But at the bottom of the hill, where the road meets the coastal path I saw something which gave me hope. It read “20 miles”. 20 miles!! I’d just run 20 bloody miles – I was so bolstered by this fact that I shouted to a couple running past “We’ve done 20, we can do f*ing 26!!” And it turns out we could.

The lovely pair I’d shouted a profanity at then took me under their wings, talking to me, and looking over their shoulders every now and again to make sure I was there. I honestly was (and still am) so touched by this act of kindness. Kind man, and Mel from South Kent Harriers, you got me to 26 miles. THANK YOU.

At that point, I spotted my running buddy’s lovely hubby and son and shouted “I’ve lost her. Is she ok?” and he smiled and said “She’s fine, she’s behind you.” The sense of relief I felt that she was ok was overwhelming – as overwhelming as dealing with the fact we weren’t running our last miles together. Honestly, I will always feel terrible that I lost her. I didn’t want her to feel I’d abandoned her, left her behind. She’s an incredible friend, partner and running bud who means the world to me.

I ran on feeling energised for the last mile or so, and then, at mile 26, I saw that face in the crowd. My girl, my beautiful sunshine girl, the recognition on her face, turning to absolute joy when she realised it was me. And then my gorgeous boys – all lined up smiling and waiting for a kiss. It honestly was one of the most brilliant moments in my life. Writing it down makes me emotional beyond words. Best. Moment. Ever

That was it, I could see the finish line – I was ready to do this. To finish what I’d set out to do. A familiar face in the crowd caught my attention, and it was my beautiful sister. Then my Niece, Nephew and Brother-in-Law (I wasn’t expecting them to come). At this point I was an emotional wreck but it was the home stretch. I actually said to myself “Sod it. Let’s do this, Tahlia” and that’s what I did. I sailed down the last 0.2 miles, I posed for the cameras, smiled, laughed and let myself enjoy the final rush of what I was about to achieve. I’d just run 26.2 miles. Done.

After then, it was a bit of a blur – collecting my medal and bag. I do remember wincing as I bent down to put my bag on the floor and then just chucking myself down beside it whilst I pulled it together a bit.

What did I learn on Sunday? That I CAN run a Marathon. That people can be so kind, and the smallest kindnesses mean the most. That I’m tough, both mentally and physically. And that my knees don’t like running 26.2 miles. Pass the ice…

Happy Monday lovely people.

Tahlia x


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Cod Bites – The Mummy Yummy Way

These little Cod bites are gorgeous, easy to make and are without fail, a real winner at dinner time.

These are a little bit special, not only are they free from any nasties, the breadcrumbs contain Cornflakes too!! That definitely gets the thumbs up from my kids!

Being super easy to make, they only take 12 minutes to bake. Dinner times don’t get easier than this.

Start off by preheating the oven to 200•C (fan).

Roughly break up 1 slice of brown bread (or white, if you prefer) and pop into a blender. Add a generous sprinkling of Thyme, Oregano and pepper. Blitz for a few seconds. Add a handful of cornflakes and blitz again for a couple more seconds. Done.

Next up, cut your Cod (I had 250g Fresh Fillets) into chunks and get organised. The cod, a plate of plain flour, a plate with one beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Lightly roll one cod chunk into the flour.

Next roll the cod into the egg.

The lastly into the breadcrumbs, covering evenly.

Place onto a baking dish. Repeat until you’ve used up your cod.

Spray each cod bite with sunflower oil (I used a low calorie version) and place into the oven for 12 minutes.

These taste so nice and go down incredibly well at home. The cornflakes give it that extra crunch – perfect!

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Marathon Countdown: Day 6

The day is almost here!! This afternoon my running buddy and I will be jumping in her Mini and making our way to Brighton to pick up our race packs.

We’re staying in a hotel tonight, which means we can be up early and focussed for our big run. It also means we get a peaceful evening to contemplate what’s coming and to have a wonder around Brighton sans children!!

As I write, me and the hubby are sitting in bed figuring out the best route for them to spectate. Our dear hubbies are coming up en masse tomorrow in our car (affectionately known as the tank) with the 5 children in tow. (That’ll be interesting!!)

My lovely mum and sister are also coming to cheer us on, so we’ll have a gang of supporters (note to self: must not cry when I see my children/family).

I’ll send you an update when we’ve arrived (and will share my race number with you too).

One more sleep (or maybe not so much sleep – more lying in bed watching the ceiling, waiting for it to be morning).

Saturday’s carb loading menu looks like this:

  • Breakfast: Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and banana
  • Lunch: Leftover Quorn bolognaise and pasta
  • Dinner: Open sandwich on Rye bread with avocado, smoked salmon and egg
  • Snacks: sure I’ll squeeze in a Turkish Delight!!

Have a fab Saturday lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Friday Fodder – Lamb Rogan Josh – The Home Cooked Way

If you’re looking for a gorgeous, red, warm curry today then you’ve come to the right place!

I thought I’d lost this Jamie Oliver recipe, scribbled down on a sheet of A4 paper many moons ago! Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, to get it just right for me. I’m thrilled to have found it at the bottom of a dusty box, packed up when we moved a few years ago.

Ingredients: Serves 4

3 inch piece of ginger

8 cloves of garlic

1kg cubed Lamb

1tsp turmeric

5 tbsp Fat free yogurt

4 medium onions

2 red chillies

1 red pepper

50g butter

2 tbsp garam masala

4 tsp Paprika

1 tin Tomatoes

1 heaped tsp crushed black peppercorns

Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Method:

Start off by chopping the garlic and ginger and place into a bowl along with the lamb, turmeric, yogurt and black pepper. Marinade for at least an hour in the fridge. The longer, the better.

Halve two of the onions and the pepper, whizz in a food processor along with the chilli (or chillies). Thinly slice the remaining onions.

Use an oven proof casserole and after warming up the base on a moderate heat, add the butter, sliced onion and garam masala.

Fry gently until the onions soften.

Now add the whizzed paste (onions, pepper and chilli) and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the lamb, tomatoes and half a pint of cold water – give it all a good stir.

Season well with salt. Once the curry comes up to boil, put a lid on the casserole and pop into a preheated oven at 170•C. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Once cooked, remove from oven and leave to rest on the side while you boil up some rice. Whilst the rice is boiling/steaming (what’s your method? – I go with 5 minutes boiling on a moderate heat then turn the heat off and let it steam) cook some Nanns.

Now you are ready to plate up! Serve with some side of Mango Chutney. Enjoy! Please let us know your Curry recipes – we love a curry here at MumsInRealLife 👍🏻

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It’s the final countdown: two days and I’ll be at the start line!

Three months of training, and we’re almost there. I had my last training run with the lovely N last night, so now its prep and packing for the big day.

My running buddy and I have opted to stay in Brighton on Saturday night for minimal stress, so the husbands and kids and family supporters are coming up en masse on Sunday morning. My daughter has put the finishing touches to her banner, I just hope I can hold it together at mile 19 when I see her cheering me on from the sidelines (sob).

Today, there’s a last minute bit of prep (ironing on my name to my running vest – please cheer us on if you spot us! Packing my bag and double checking I have everything).

I’m also going to do some yoga to stretch out my muscles – my favourite is Yoga for runners with Adrienne

Also on the list is to hydrate properly, so I’ll be carrying my water bottle with me everywhere today.

Today’s carb loading menu looks like this:

  • Breakfast: Wholegrain toast, peanut butter and banana
  • Snack: Bounce Ball
  • Lunch: Crispy chicken salad with seeds
  • Dinner: Quorn Spaghetti Bolognaise with garlic bread
  • Snack: probably Turkish Delight 😆

I know to should be bootcamp today, but I’m giving myself a well-earned rest day. I’ll ask our friend Craig if he’ll share the exercises with us anyway (I’m sure he will).

Happy Friday lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Struggling with Holiday Activities For Kids – Make This Cool Erupting Volcano

Day 4 of the Easter school holidays has drawn to a close. This morning we went to a beautiful park, the children had a fabulous play and we all enjoyed a wonderful walk.

Crazily, I’d left the bottles of water and fruit in the car and by then we were too far gone. One decaf coffee, two soft drinks and two cupcakes later I’d managed to spend £15! It’s so easy to go off piste if you aren’t careful. Now, I’m no angel. I’m trying to change my ways. I was once told by a friend that I’m the only person they’ve ever met who sets up a tab at soft play. That says quite a lot about me. Like I said, I’m trying to improve!  I know it’s unnecessary.

So, after the park we carried out a few Scientific experiments! They were so cool!

The first experiment we did, was an erupting Volcano.

Here’s what we used:

A small plastic bottle

Tray

Water

Measuring jug

Food dye

Washing up liquid

Tin foil

Funnel

Bicarbonate of soda

Vinegar

We folded the foil in half and cut a small hole in it (big enough for the bottle neck) the we wrapped the bottle up and placed a few dinosaurs around, oh and some moss. Just for effect!

Next up, we filled the jug with 300ml of warm water and then added two heaped table spoons of bicarbonate Soda. We gave it a good stir.

We then added a spoonful of dye and a spoonful of washing up liquid.

We again stirred it well and then poured it into the foil wrapped bottle. About two thirds full.

Next, we added 100ml of vinegar…and stood back…

The eruption took place!

After much cooing, my two wanted to do it again. So we did, but changed the set up slightly so we could appreciate the colours more.

Not a bad way to teach your children a few scientific facts (we talked through the why!).

We had so much fun!! We also made clouds and a Tornado in a glass – but we were far too absorbed to take pictures!!  I’ll post the details, though, if you are interested!

Give it a go guys – lovely (free) fun 👍🏻

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Free Easter Holiday Activities For All Of The Family To Enjoy

School holidays, whilst fun, can be financially stressful for many people. I myself have squandered away a small fortune so far this week at the cinema, soft play, lunch out etc. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is for my little family, whilst we all love a fantastic experience, we just want to be doing stuff together.

Now my kids love playing. Love it. They love baking (so do I), they love cooking (me too!), they love arts and crafts (another similarity!) they are complete and utter bookworms (oh! Snap!). But with 2 weeks off, sometimes we need a bit more.

I have this fantastic little book and when my own imagination is running a bit dry, I often flick through to get some ideas. The title is a bit misleading, many of the activities can be done indoors. Which is fantastic because let’s be honest, the weather right now isn’t great.

So many things to do! From Geocaching to building insect hotels. Building log pile houses to making your own barometer. The options are endless!

My two picked a Limbo contest and painting flower pots. Gazing out at the trees swaying madly in the wind, the sun was still shining so we gave Limbo a go!

So we got stuck in and the kids gathered bamboo canes from the garden. We used garden wire to make some hooks on two of the canes and then pressed them firmly into the ground.

At this point, I blasted out some traditional Caribbean music, put the Limbo stick in place and let the competition commence.

Cue the biggest blast of wind, much giggling and about half an hour of fun. Despite our best efforts, we decided to ditch the Limbo and wait for less windy weather.

Next up we decided to paint some pots. We rummaged about in the shed, prepped the table and the kids started on their creations.

They did a lovely job and we’ll fill them with compost and seeds as the week goes on. I’m sure the recipient will be thrilled when they receive these at Easter!

Not content to sit still for 5 minutes, with all of the wind howling about outside, my eldest thought it would be a fab idea to make a kite! Hmmmm. I referred to my little book. Hmmmm. A bit technical for me without a bit of Pre planning.

Then I remembered the plastic bag kite. This was a bit of a stretch as I only have the big reusable bags nowadays, but I managed to find an old thin plastic bag right at the bottom of one of my bag of bags (everyone has these bags, right?!).

What an easy activity. A bag, some string. Bingo! No time to decorate. They were far too keen to get outside.

Yup! If anyone saw/heard 2 kids running around gleefully singing “let’s go fly a kite” repeatedly (for hours!) along with a very wind swept Mummy, that was us!

We’ve had the best day! They are already fast asleep and do you know what? I didn’t spend a single penny. Result 👍🏻

Give it a go. Have fun and share any ideas you have.

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The Lean Mean Fighting Machine – Leftover Lentils – The Making Of A Supreme Soup

So, following on from the success of our MIRL Saturday night takeaway, I had loads of left over brown lentils (which I’d soaked in water for 12 hours Prior to cooking, so they couldn’t go to waste) to do something with. The so called humble lentil is a must in my cupboard. I love lentils! Due to their complex carbohydrates, they boost the metabolism and help the body to burn fat. To boot, they are full of fibre and a great source of magnesium, protein and essential vitamins. So what’s not to love?!

I decided to knock up a soup for our humble tea time meal. It didn’t disappoint.

I roughly chopped up 4 potatoes (skin on), 1 onion, 2 carrots (skin on), 2 cloves of garlic and added a quarter of the butternut squash I had left over. I added a generous amount of seasoning, several stalks of fresh Rosemary and left it all to simmer for about an hour.

I like to have my soup chunky, so I pulsed it a couple of times with the blender and that was it. Job done. Upon serving it up, I added a spoonful of Creme Fraiche and then some rolled Parma ham on top (leave out the ham if you want to go veggie & ditch the Creme if you don’t fancy it) and some fresh basil leaves. Nom nom.

I find it hard to make lentils look good, but the proof is in the flavours and this was soooooo tasty!! My children even love it. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts 👍🏻

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Marathon Countdown: Day 2

It’s been a warm and fuzzy kind of Tuesday

Well, what a day it’s been today. I plucked my sleeping beauties out of bed this morning at 7.45am to plop them in the car and drive to the Chiropractor, where the lovely Charlotte clicked, manipulated and stretched my poor body back in to some recognisable form. Note> Charlotte is the most amazing Chiropractor and also the loveliest. She happily welcomes my three into the treatment room (and has done since they were teeny – and actually since there was only one of them, my big little). Today was no exception – Charlotte welcomed Stitch, Pikachu and Poppy from Trolls in with her usual beaming smile and disarming manner. Pretty great start to the day.

We arrived home to get stuck in to breakfast (oh – that reminds me, I’m meant to be talking about Marathon nutrition here. Have you realised yet that my mind is some kind of pinball game. Will get on to that in a bit – promise!).

Here’s what popped through the door next…these incredible flowers from Bloom & Wild.

I was so thrilled to get these from a lovely friend who has a lot more on her mind than sending me flowers. If you’re reading, thank you – you made my day.

Then I popped on over to Mum’s and dropped the Littles off and scooted over to see another lovely lady who does sports massage & remedial therapy for an hour of Neal’s Yard scented bliss – my aching muscles were rubbed and stretched and massaged until I felt almost normal. In fact, I left feeling a million dollars and all psyched up for the Marathon on Sunday. Looks like we will be smashing it, after all!

Right, sorry. Will stop blathering now (nearly). To top the day off, we also reached the milestone of 500 fab followers on Instagram, and launched our Facebook page, which is growing as we speak. I just wanted to say thank you to all the lovely people who are in my life – you make each day so much brighter.

Right – here’s today’s Marathon fodder!

  • Breakfast: Porridge with grated apple, mixed seeds and almond milk
  • Lunch: Wholegrain toast with poached eggs, topped with mixed rocket/watercress
  • Afternoon snack: Bakewell tart Naked Bar
  • Dinner: Salmon & Mediterranean Veggies
  • Evening snack: Creme Egg (result – found one I’d hidden that nobody scavenged!! I’m going to miss my extra Marathon chocolate next week!)

Happy Tuesday, lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Fab and Easy Easter Tree

For as long as I can remember, I’ve meant to make an Easter tree. They are so pretty, and I’ve been desperate to make one, but things (aka work) always get in the way. Well not this year! It’s such a great activity to do with the children – the most fun bit is collecting up your items to make it with.

I cannot believe how easy it was to make, and best of all – it only cost me a few quid to buy the eggs to hang. Everything else was free or up-cycled.

I love my Mum and Dad’s house, it’s like an Aladdin’s cave. Cue an afternoon at Mum and Dad’s scavenging for bits and pieces to make my (sorry – OUR) Easter tree and we had all the things we needed:

Things you’ll need

  • One large jug or vase) mine belonged to my Great Aunt Cissy and had been languishing in my Mum and Dad’s garden for a lot of years. It was a bit rusty (and holy) but a good wash and it was absolutely perfect for the job.
  • Cuttings from trees (I cut the pretty Apple Blossom from the apple trees in the orchard and they look beautiful and smell so fragrant too). You can use any branch and if you don’t want to scavenge you can find synthetic versions at your local craft shop.
  • Easter eggs on Ribbon. Mine came ready-made from Flying Tiger Copenhagen and cost me about £5 for 18.
  • Ribbon to decorate (if you want to)

Instructions

  • Trim the branches to sit neatly in your Easter Tree. As a general rule, I like mine to be about 2x the height of your vase/jug but you can make them smaller if space is limited.
  • If you are using blossom, I recommend you place a container of water inside your jug to help keep them fresh and beautiful. I used a medium sized glass.
  • Add you eggs to the branches, trying to ensure they are evenly covered and that you distribute the colours evenly too.
  • Add a ribbon to the vase/jug if you want to.
  • Ta -dah, you have a beautiful Easter Tree!

Have fun lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Banana & Kiwi Breakfast Smoothie

Do you want to start your day on a high? Kick it off with this breakfast smoothie. I found the recipe on Pinterest and altered it slightly to fit in with what I had in the fridge.

Try this super simple breakfast smoothie – it’s so easy to make, full of flavour and very filling.

Ingredients:

200ml Milk (your Choice which one. I used Semi Skimmed)

1 table spoon of porridge oats

Half a banana

1 Kiwi

Whizz in a blender for a couple of seconds. Top with blueberries and enjoy!

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The Results Are In…Saturday Night Curry

Carly settled on Saturday night takeaway theme for our MIRL dinner, perfect for a night in with friends. In true Carly style, she made it ALL herself. If you’ve never tried making your own Indian dishes then you really should – they are amazing! Fragrant, warm, spicy and unbelievably fresh. No trace of any nasties.

I think it’s fair to say that Carly knows how to throw a brilliant dinner. Cue 8 adults, 10 children and two kittens – it all made for a lovely (noisy) night in with friends.

For the children, she made her classic Pepperoni Pizza which always goes down a storm with the children. For adults she made a warm and spicy Lamb Balti, tasty Chicken Tandoori and a gorgeous Vegetable Curry with aubergine and lentils. I ate a lot of the Vegetable Curry, it was perfection (thanks to our friends at Lennards of Covent Garden for the amazing veg box).

And, as with all good dinner parties – the guests all contributed too. Naan, Poppadum (freshly made at dinner by the newly crowned ‘Poppadum King’), Mango Chutney, Cucumber Raita and Kachumber Salad. Delish!

Spiced Vegetable Curry with lentils and aubergine Poppadum courtesy of the newly acclaimed ‘Poppadum Man’

Watch this space for the recipe cards, they’ll be here really soon!

Tahlia x

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Marathon Training: FINAL Week!

Wow, the last 16 weeks has been a blur of running, running and more running (with a lot of stretching, aches and very tight muscles).

I think it’s fair to say that the last week has been disastrous. On Tuesday, the class germs finally got the better of me, Friday saw the sick bug arriving and Saturday a seized vertebrae and trapped nerve in my back. Cue stretching, rolling and plenty of icing (not the fun type) and a shed load of Ibuprofen.

In desperation, my dear hubby agreed to pick me up and gently sway back and forward to help the aforementioned bone back into place – success! it worked, but am still a bit hobbly with just 6 days to go until I face the biggest challenge yet.

My amazing Chiropractor is going to sort everything out tomorrow, followed with a Sports Massage to help these aching muscles. Will it be enough? I can only keep everything crossed. Am going to try a very gentle run out tonight with my running buddies to test the water.

In the meantime, I’m not going to dwell. I’m going to keep myself busy with thoughts of food and hydration for the week.

Pre-marathon nutrition

Well, Carb-loading here we come…

I’ve done lots of reading up on the subject and advice seems to vary. From carb loading the whole week, to two three days prior to the big day. I think I’m going to go for the first three days of the week high in protein and fibre (and shed load of vitamins to help bolster my poor battered immune system) and then focus on higher card meals on Thursday/Friday/Saturday.

I’m going to plan out my meals every day to ensure I’m hitting the right Macros, and also monitoring my fluid intake more closely to ensure I remain hydrated all week. I’m feeling adventurous this week, so am going to try a few new recipes to help me stay on track.

One of the most interesting pieces of advice I came across was to eat a small meal on Saturday evening, like a sandwich or similar, to give my body time to digest the meal properly and to avoid being bloated and stuffed on Sunday morning. Breakfast will be 6am porridge, peanut butter and banana and I’m aiming to have an energy bar at about 8.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Protein Pancakes with Banana, Strawberry and Peanut Butter
  • Lunch: Open Malt Sandwich with Tuna and Olives
  • Dinner: Salmon with Ratatouille
  • Snacks: Fresh Smoothie with Almond Milk, Homemade Energy Bar

I’ll post the recipes and Macros a little later today. It’s day 1 of the Easter Hols, so the children are getting fed up of me being at the laptop.

Have a fab Monday, lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Celebration Cake – Fail Safe Baking Method

Baking in the past was always a bit hit or miss for me. I have made some shocking looking cakes, cakes that are embedded in our family history and have generated hours and hours of laughter (it’s a very good thing I’m not overly sensitive!). Soooo, when on my very first Mother’s Day as a first time Mummy, I received my first Mary Berry baking book, there was no going back. I stepped up to Mary Berry’s plate and I haven’t looked back. If you are looking for a recipe that will guarantee a rise, look no further. This is 100% fail safe and won’t let you down when you need a good sponge. I’ve added cream and chocolate but you don’t need to.

Ingredients for sponges:

8oz Self raising flour

8oz Softened butter

8oz caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp baking powder

2 8inch cake tins

Ingredients for filling:

Jam of choice

Extra thick whipping cream

Ingredients for topping:

2 large bars of milk chocolate

Smarties for decorating

Preheat the oven to 160•c (fan) and grease/line your baking tins.

Mix all of the cake ingredients together, whipping into a smooth mixture.

Divide the cake mixture evenly into the cake tins.

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from oven and after a couple of minutes, turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the sponges are cooling, beat the cream into a thick mixture.

Now break up the chocolate into chunks and place into a heatproof bowl. Pour some water into a saucepan and place the bowl of chocolate on top. Heat until the chocolate melts.

when the sponges are completely cool, spread a generous layer of jam over one of the sponges.

  • Spread your whipped cream on top of the jam.
  • Place the other sponge evenly on top.
  • Now pour the melted chocolate on top – Start at the centre of the cake and swirl it neatly around. Use a palette knife to spread it evenly. Pop on your decorations before the chocolate hardens.
  • Place into the fridge. Once the chocolate has hardened, place into an airtight container and pop back into the fridge (for up to 3 days). When you need it, remove from fridge and let it rest up to room temperature. Enjoy – my little 5 year old loved it!
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Quick and easy Spanish Omelette

This is perfect when you have one of those days when meal times just need to be easy. The fact it’s so delicious is another added bonus!

Beat 6 eggs and add a generous amount of your seasoning of choice.

Next up, peel and finely chop 5 good sized potatoes. Partly boil.

Once cooked, allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Heat a frying pan and then cover the base with sunflower oil. Once hot, add the egg and potato mixture.

Use a spatula to loosen the edges. Cook for 10 minutes until the base is golden. Place the pan under a moderate preheated grill until the top is cooked and remove from the heat.

Carefully turn out the omelette onto a plate (so the base is sunny side up). Leave to cool.

Serve with a nice crisp salad and enjoy.

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Indian Saturday Night Takeaway – Home Made Style

So, we must be mad as this evening we have 6 friends joining us for dinner – between us we have 10 children so it will be crazy but fun!

The kids are sorted, we will be making our home made Pizzas (see our website for the recipe: http://www.mumsinreallife.co.uk) which are always a hit.

It’s been a busy day couple of days in the kitchen. The main dishes I’ve decided on are as follows:

  1. Lamb Balti
  1. Chicken Tandoori
  1. Vegetable Curry

Of course, they’ll be served with plenty of rice and a couple of side dishes.

Yesterday I was prepping and marinading the meat, I always find the longer you marinade, the better the end result.

I started off with the lamb and the fragrances wafting around my kitchen have been incredible!

I used 1kg of diced lamb, Natural yogurt, ground coriander, ground ginger, chilli powder and turmeric. I mixed it all up in large Pyrex dish and then covered.

This is now waiting in the fridge until I need it.

Next up I made a start on the Chicken. I used a mixture of Chicken Thighs and drumsticks. After much deliberation, I decided on skin off.

Making a start on the marinade, I whizzed a large onion and a couple of garlic cloves. I added these to low fat yogurt, along with fresh root ginger, garam masala, cayenne pepper, finely chopped coriander. I then seasoned well.

I really toyed with the next step. I added an organic red food dye. Anyway, the smell of this marinade sent my senses into overdrive. I hope it’s as good cooked 🤞🏻It’s now marinading the chicken nicely and is waiting in the fridge.

Now on to the Cucumber Yogurt sauce. This is so easy, my 5 year old did most of it.

I put chopped up cucumber and a big handful of mint leaves into 300ml low fat yogurt and then blitzed it. Done!

I’ll put up the rest of the food and the final results on Sunday – hopefully it’ll all be a hit.

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Mini Egg Cookies – keeping the kids busy this Easter

These delicious cookies made by my children are a must try & have been the perfect way to kick off the Easter holidays. They are so easy to make and we had a lot of fun baking together.

Ingredients:

1 medium egg

100g Butter (softened)

200g Self Raising Flour

100g Caster sugar

Bag of mini eggs

Start by preheating the oven to 180•c and then line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, making up into a dough. Leave to one side.

Place the mini eggs in a freezer bag and gently smash them up with a rolling pin.

Form the dough into a large Pattie and divide into 8 equal pieces.

Mix some smashed mini eggs into each ball and shape into biscuits.

Place onto a baking sheet and repeat until all of the cookies are made.

Pop them in the oven for 7-10 minutes until golden.

Once baked, remove and place on a wire rack to cool down.

Once cooled, enjoy!! These are a real tasty treat and definitely got the thumbs up!

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Lasagne & baguette with homemade garlic butter

This lasagne was made with lots of love and some trepidation…basically, it’s been off our menu for a few years as it was a no go. It very much needed to be my comeback kid!

Browning off some mince meat, I added a tin of tomatoes, a squirt of tomato purée, a finely chopped clove of garlic, a generous smattering of mixed herbs and a dash of Worcester sauce. Because I just can’t help myself, I then added some chopped up yellow pepper. I was prepared for a potential tantrum.

Whilst this was simmering away, I made up a basic white sauce.

I mixed some plain flour with a small amount of milk and whisked into a nice smooth paste. I then added some softened butter. Putting the pan on to a medium heat, I then slowly added more milk and let the sauce slowly come to boil. Stirring continuously. Once thickened, I took off the heat.

Next up, I used a large oven proof dish and covered the bottom of the dish with a layer of mince sauce. I then added a layer of lasagne pasta, then another layer of mince sauce.

I repeated until the dish was full, then covered the top layer with the white sauce. I added grated cheddar on top and placed in a preheated oven at fan 160•c for 40 mins.

Once cooked, I left it on the side to cool down for 5 minutes whilst I made up some garlic butter for the baguette.

Using parsley cubes I had in the freezer (from last years crop), I mixed with some butter and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic.

I sliced the baguette, cooked one side and then spread the garlic butter onto the uncooked side. I grilled for a minute or so.

I sliced Mini portions of the lasagne and placed into some mini baking trays I have. Along with a nice crisp salad and the garlic baguette slices, dinner was ready.

This may not be a big deal for lots of people, but for me is was massive. The anticipated tantrum didn’t happen and my lovely little people ate every last bit of their dinner…my youngest even had seconds!

So whilst this lasagne wasn’t the juiciest one I’ve ever made, the fact it’s made it back onto the table is a start!!!

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Exercise cards are coming soon!

So, I’ve been busy working with our mate Craig at Keeling Fitness to bring you some beginners workout cards, to help you get started with circuits, and help with technique (and to make sure you’re using the right muscles!).

I’ve been a bit hampered by the sick bug from school this week, but wanted to share with you the pics we’ve been taking of the workouts ready to create the cards for you. I’m excited!

Carly and I are talking about a six week challenge to kickstart our summer bodies and to reset some of the naughty habits that have set in over the Winter (goodbye 4 o’clock Mars Bars, it’s been fun.)

Keep watching for more news, and I’ll post the cards as soon as they’re ready!

Hope your Wednesday has been a good one lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Fuss Free Mini Fish Cakes For Little Tummies

These mini fish cakes are the perfect cod bite size for hungry little tummies. Devoid of any process nasties, these are super healthy without compromising on flavour.

Using a couple of slices of slightly stale brown bread, some fresh coriander and pepper make up some bread crumbs and place to one side.

Next up, whizz 500g of fresh cod fillets in a blender until you have a flaky mash.

Roll the cod mash into a pattie, roll in flour, dip into a beaten egg and then roll into the breadcrumbs.

Repeat until you have used all of the ingredients (500g of cod made 4 mini fish cakes, and 2 large fish cakes).

When ready, cook at 180•C for 30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

These were a big hit with the kids!

What is your secret to getting a beautiful golden crumb topping? Any suggestions or helpful tips would be much appreciated 👍🏻

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Monday Motivation! Here’s your beginners circuits card…

Happy Monday lovely people. The sun is shining, time to get your gear on and work out! (Actually, it’s Monday, I needed a caffeine injection to get my butt out of bed, and I have a cold.) Luckily my gorgeous running buddy is feeling more motivated and is dragging me out to get the miles in tonight (its’ 13 days until the M word). So, for the sake of putting my money where my mouth is, I’m going out in the garden to have a quick circuit.

As promised, our mate Craig from Keeling Fitness has put together a simple beginners circuit for you lovely people, so now’s the time to get the lycra out and the trainers on…

This is a beginners circuit and is designed to ease you in to circuit training/bootcamp type activities. You can do it at home, ideally with a mat and a small weight but similarly a towel and a can of beans will do for starters! Try doing 4/5 repetitions, work through the list three/four times to start with – see how you get on!

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Press Ups (on your knees)
  • Side Steps
  • Leg Raises (try one leg at a time if both together is too much)
  • Mountain Climbers (Hands on a box)
  • Shoulder Press with weight (or beans!)
  • Plank (on knees) for 15 seconds

For more detailed instructions, you can download the workout card here. I’ll also be creating some cards to demo the moves for you – so keep an eye out!

Who’s in? Have fun and keep fit. See you tomorrow lovely people.

Tahlia x

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High Protein High Fibre Post Op Meal Plan

This menu has been devised for my Mum. She is super happy with it and can’t wait to get started!! The meals compliment her recovery, with lots of protein and whole foods. The only after thought is that Rainbow Chard isn’t in season, so Spinach will substitute it.

My Dad and Sister will be cooking most of the meals, Mum will cook some if she can make it downstairs. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures 🤞🏻

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Parma Ham Chicken stuffed with Mozzarella & Pesto

Whilst at the supermarket, my trolley of food was complimented by the friendly cashier. We got chatting and she told me of her quick go to recipe. This is it. I’ve had this loads of times, minus the mozzarella. This is for you lovely lady – love the fact that anywhere around the world people share their love of food & recipes!

first off, lay some Palma ham underneath each Chicken breast and then simply slice the top of chicken breast fillets (skin off) 3 times.

Stuff each pocket with green pesto and then add in some mozzarella. Lay some fresh Thyme across the chicken and then wrap with the ham.

Pop into a preheated oven (170•C) for about 35 minutes, until the chicken fillets are cooked through.

Whilst cooking, make up some mashed potato, add a couple of spoonfuls of mustard and plate up. Serve with your vegetable or salad of choice 👍🏻

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Spice Up Your Life – Stuffed Peppers with Rice, Bacon and Chillies

These delicious stuffed peppers served with Kale from Lennards of Covent, are a super tasty way to ensure you get your greens, without compromising on taste.

Halve the peppers, brush with olive oil (or use low calorie spray if you want to) and season well.

Pop into a preheated oven (180•C) for 20 minutes.

Whilst these are cooking, put some rice on to boil (I used a cupful of rice, 2 cups of water) as per packet instructions.

Next up, fry up some chopped up bacon (fat off) or leave this step out if you want a veggie option.

Drain off the rice, and add to the frying pan which still has the bacon in it. Add a generous handful of peas, Caribbean seasoning and 2 spoonfuls of Creme Fraiche.

Remove the peppers from the oven and spoon in the rice mixture. Add some Cheddar on top and then place in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the cheese has bubbled and is slightly hard.

Next up, boil some finely chopped Kale (approx 6 minutes) and drain.

Plate up and enjoy!

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Want to get fit? Today is the day!

I’ve spoken to a few lovely friends over the last couple of weeks, who have been following the blog (hello, and thank you!). They’ve spoken to me about wanting to get back in to fitness, but perhaps they’re are a bit rusty when it comes to exercise, have had an injury, or just want to work on their fitness levels a little before they launch themselves wholeheartedly into Bootcamp or other associated group exercise sessions.

Thinking back on what got my fitness mojo going, there is a combination of things that have helped me to get fit (fitter at 39 than at 19!) and to remain motivated to keep pushing myself. I actually think that when you can find the right exercise, the right crew and the right attitude then you can be fit for life.

My top tips to start your fitness journey

Turn up – commit yourself to every session. Turn up consistently and keep going. The results will happen, but don’t expect them to be overnight. It’s taken me nearly 5 years of regular training and exercise to get to the fitness level I’m at now, and I’m not about to stop!

Change your mindset. “I just can’t lose weight”, “I’m not fit enough to try this”, “I am too old/unhealthy/my knees are weak”. Basically, you’re just setting yourself up to fail. To get fit for life you have to shift your negative mindset and focus on what you can achieve. You’ll be amazed.

On the “I can’t lose weight” front, do not confuse exercise and weight loss. To lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit (which you can contribute to with exercise) but simply relying on exercise alone will not show you results if you’re looking to lose a few pounds or so. My favourite PT statement on this matter is “It’s what you put in your mouth that counts”

Cut out the crap. If you eat processed foods you will feel bloated and even if you are slim you could still be “Skinny Fat”. Stick to natural and unprocessed foods and ditch the carb-heavy alternatives like bread, pasta, biscuits etc. I’m not saying you have to deny yourself but be honest about your eating and track your calories using an app like My Fitness Pal daily – you might be surprised about what you’re eating on a daily basis.

Keep pushing yourself to achieve – set clear and realistic goals for your training e.g “I want to run 10k” or “I want to strengthen my arms”. Then WORK towards these goals. It is hard work, but it’s worth it!

Find your crew. I always bang on about this, but my fitness family are the best. They pick me up when I fall down (literally) and motivate me to train on days I’m just not feeling it. On other days I help to motivate them. We genuinely look out for each other and keep each other going. (Seriously, I love you all.)

In conclusion, I really hope this doesn’t sound sanctimonious – I’m sharing the honest conversations I have in my head every day (particularly when it comes to diet). If you are really committed to getting fit and staying fit then today is the day, let’s go!

After the Brighton Marathon I’m going to refocus on strength training, and am going to build myself a 6 week plan which I hope you’ll follow along with me. We’ll create recipes, training plans and help to motivate each other to succeed in our goals. We’re in this together!

I’ve also spoken to our mate Craig the PT, and he’s come up with a simple circuit for you to follow at home. It takes 10 minutes, needs only an exercise mat and some weights.

We’ll be taking some pics at training on Monday to help you with the moves and I will post the training card then too. Watch this space.

Work hard, have fun and let’s do this! Happy Friday lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Something For The Weekend

If you are looking for something to cook this weekend, look no further.

This rustic, veggie pizza is simply delicious and perfect for that quick and easy meal time.

Using the pizza base mix in our recipes sections, make up the dough. Leave to prove.

Make up the passata sauce using a tin of tomatoes, some finely chopped onion, clove of garlic and some mixed herbs. Add in a splash of red wine vinegar. Leave to simmer and reduce.

When the pizza dough has proved, knead for a couple of minutes to knock out any air. Roll out your bases on a well floured surface. Flour a pizza tray and place the pizza base into the tray.

Spread the Passata evenly and generously over the base. Then add toppings of your choice – I used spinach, black olives, mushrooms, mozzarella and Cheddar. Season well. Pop into a preheated oven at 190•C for 13-15 minutes.

Enjoy

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High Protein, High Fibre Healthy Eating Plan

I have been asked by my Mum to put together a healthy eating plan for her. Whilst not an expert on nutrition, I do know a thing or two about whole and super foods.

Currently recovering from an intrusive operation – the Consultants and Nurses in the NHS have worked their magic – she is, understandably, feeling quite tender and lethargic.

I’m therefore looking at and devising recipes that are high in Protein, Fibre & that are simple to make. Meals that will boost energy levels & make you feel great. Meals that you look at and can’t wait to eat. Meals that are healthy but don’t compromise on flavour. I’m looking at easy. All of this and at the same time, meals that make you feel like you’ve had a bit of hug.

Have you had any experience here? I’ll share the recipe cards as soon as I’ve come up with my plan.

🤞🏻

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Mediterranean Chicken with Chorizo & Black Olives

This Mediterranean inspired dish is super tasty, full of flavour and so easy to make. With Chirizo, sun dried tomatoes, black olives, garlic, basil and Paprika thrown in to the mix, it really does pack a punch.

Brown off the chicken, and then sprinkle a generous amount of Paprika over the top. Season well.

Next up, add a tin of plum tomatoes a couple of wedges of lemon, sun dried tomatoes and 2 bulbs of finely chopped garlic. Add a good splash of Red wine vinegar. When everything is bubbling away and the sauce has reduced down a bit, reduce the heat, add some black olives and basil leaves. Once the Chicken is starting to fall off the bone, serve.

I served this with Potatas Bravis, which went down a storm. Give it a go and let me know how it goes 👍🏻

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HOW TO HANDLE LONG RUNS

SO, let’s start with the good news…we did it! We nailed our long run last week, running a thigh-aching 29 kilometres (that’s about 18 miles). I feel like we might be ready for this marathon. My knees ache, my Achilles insists on clicking after every long run and I have a proud collection of beautiful sweat spots.

I’m going to be honest – 29k felt like a bloody long way. It felt like we were running for days on end (it was more like three hours). We took Percy Pigs and electrolytes to help with energy levels (and run into Burger King, drive-by style to grab an apple juice at kilometre 25, startling shocked lunchtime burger-eaters and the young boy behind the counter).

Anyway, despite looking like loony running maniacs, it got me thinking. This marathon lark is so complex – running is just the start of it. Just one element. You need to gear yourself up so emotionally, build your body up physically with training, and also understand your physiology to work out how much water, gels, carbs etc you need to keep going.

So, I started looking in to the science of taking on board water during a marathon. Should I just grab a cup at every water point (and risk of taking on board too much water) or should I put in place a strategy to drink a certain amount for each mile I run? It’s fair to say I’m pretty confused by the recommendations…

Well, research varies quite a lot! There doesn’t seem to be one particular method which is the best – if you take too much you’re risking your health, if you don’t take enough you’re also risking your health. Results can also be improved with the optimum hydration, but do you take in a measured amount, or just drink as you go? For runs totalling more than an hour, it’s a good idea to hydrate before and after according to an article from Runner’s World

However when it comes to longer runs, there is differing advice: some camps say you should work out how much you dehydrate on a run by measuring your before and after weight, and work out how much fluid to replace when racing – others, like this article I found from the London Marathon suggests you will need 400-800ml of fluid per hour (and also has a few good tips for maintaining fluid levels). The main takeaway is you must be hydrated properly at the start of your marathon – that doesn’t mean gulping down water immediately beforehand, but ensuring your water intake is sufficient in the week, days and hours leading up to the big day.

Ensuring you’re sufficiently hydrated is also key to great performance, and some articles also suggest that being insufficiently hydrated is as detrimental as not putting in the hours running beforehand.

Having sufficient Glycogen levels on race day is also important (Glycogen is a form of sugar that can be easily stored by our muscles and liver) and I found another article from Runner’s World which helped me to understand how best to approach this beforehand and on the day.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you’ll have started to realise that I’m the slummy one in MIRL! I’m also not an athlete or a runner, I’m just a mum who set herself a challenge, and I’m not one to shy away from that. What I’m also not is a sports scientist, specialist or expert. So, I was pleased to find another article by Runner’s World called ‘The World’s Simplest Hydration Plan’, which says I can just go with my thirst. Grab a drink at the stations, and give myself 10 seconds at each water station. Being one for a simple life – I’m going with that option!

I’m always keen to hear your thoughts, so if you have any tips for hydration before or during the marathon, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Happy Wednesday lovely people.

Tahlia x

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Tapas Inspired Quick & Easy Meal time

This lovely board of Spanish inspired food is a perfect & quick mid week time hack that the whole family can enjoy.

Still on my mission to encourage a broader range of food ingredients to my youngest, this was a hit! The Olives were even nibbled and given the thumbs up!

I simply laid out some Sorrano ham & Chirizo Regio together with some black olives, a plate of delicious ripened big fat Tomatoes with Basil and added a small dish of grilled peppers antipasti. I had some left over Asparagus and Spinach mini omelettes (see previous blog), so added these for good measure!

All served with a side salad, supplied by Lennards of Covent Garden.

traditional Spanish music – give it a go! It was delicious!

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UK to US Cooking Conversion

I love Googling for recipes, or fishing around on Pinterest (did you know we’re on Pinterest too?) and I also have a collection of recipes from my Step-Grandmother, Julie who was from the USA, but I find it really hard to find a conversion chart to translate quantities from UK to US. I’ve tried so many times, and failed miserably at a recipe because I just couldn’t get the quantity conversions right.

I’m not one to just moan about things, I like to get stuff done. So – I’ve found what I think is a comprehensive and reliable conversion chart which accounts for most ingredients. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and it seems to work well for me.

Anyway, you can download the UK/UK (or vice-versa if you’re in the USA) now and give it a go. We love to hear from you, so if you’ve tried it please do post your comments. Happy cooking lovely people!

Tahlia x

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Asparagus & Spinach Mini Omelettes

These gorgeous mini omelettes are perfect when time is of the essence & you want a quick go to recipe that’s tasty, healthy and full of flavour.

Last week we received a generous delivery from Lennards of Covent Garden, who supply and deliver the tastiest Fruit and Vegetables. We used their Asparagus, Spinach and Tomatoes in this recipe and the flavours certainly packed a punch.

See our recipes section for the full ingredients and method, which will be available soon. Give them a go – we all devoured them!

👍🏻

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How to keep your kids motivated to eat well

Recipes coming soon 👍🏻

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Dopiaza Date Night

If you are looking for a curry to make this weekend, check this out. Full of fragrance and very simple to make, this gets the thumbs up!

For the main Dopiaza dish, I gently fried 500g of cubed lamb, 2 onions (quartered), a baby leaf, Cinnamon and green cardamom in 2 tbsp of oil and 20g of butter.

I turned the heat up high, for about 15 mins until the onions were really brown, soft and sticky.

Next up, I whizzed a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic and 1tbsp of fresh ginger in a blender along with some cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, green cardamom, black pepper and some cloves into a smooth (ish) paste.

I added this to the lamb and cooked for 5-7 mins until the water had evaporated.

Finally, I added 200ml of cold water, put a lid on the pan and simmered for about 40 minutes.

Whilst the curry was simmering away, I then made up the Riata dip. So simple! So tasty and very easy.

I blended mint leaves, a huge chunk of coriander, some green chilli, half of a lemon juice in with some yogurt. Done ✅

As a side dish I made Bombay potatoes. I part boiled some quartered potatoes, then gently fried them in oil with onions, cherry tomatoes, cumin, turmeric and chillies. I added a few splashes of water and then added spinach.

Now time for the Chapatis. I used Plain flour, olive oil and water and formed into a smooth dough. I left the dough mixture on the side for 5 minutes to prove and then divided into 8 pieces.

Then I rolled them into balls and flattened.

When I was ready, I heated a frying pan and lightly greased it. I cooked the Chapatis for 30 seconds on each side and then served everything up, garnishing with Coriander and some fresh chillies.

I’ll put the recipe card up as soon as I can. Give it a go 👍🏻

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Synopsis of a 5 day healthy eating plan (for kids)

Soooooo, what an interesting few days in terms of the healthy eating plan we put in place and trialled throughout the week. As you may recall (or if you are new, welcome and all will make sense soon), we’ve been trying to encourage a couple of our fussy little eaters to try more food ingredients. Hail the red kidney bean!!! Hoorah for Mexican music! I salute you cod fillets rolled in breadcrumbs! You are forever in my heart, Avocado!

Looking through books, discussing what food we love & why, what food they REALLY dislike (and why – some untasted) we put together a menu. One that was simple, achievable but with a few dishes ordinarily a couple of kiddie winks ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT EAT at this stage in their little life.

Quite frankly, meal times were starting to get quite tedious. I’ve mentioned before, it was like Ground Hog Day.

See our previous blogs for some of the results. The one I was most dreading, was our Mexican theme night. I’ve tried this before. Loads of times. However, at some point this week all of the cogs fell into place.

I made up a quick mince dish today – it was so easy. For the purpose of this menu I left out Chillies, but I did add Cumin, Ginger, Paprika and Garlic.

I whizzed a (very) ripe Avocado in the blender with a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream and some lime juices. It took about 30 seconds and then I twisted in some pepper.

That was it. Done. As I went to pick my kids up, I mentioned to Tahlia that I really wasn’t sure how dinner time would go down. I genuinely felt quite torn about it.

I shouldn’t have worried. Like I say, some cogs had fallen into place for my youngest. I do confess at this stage to playing traditional Mexican music this morning, us all dancing around, really ‘bigging up’ tonight’s meal.

Here are the results: Yes, they even ate the kidney beans 👍🏻

So a good week. I will go to bed tonight knowing that I’ve been well and truly played. The fact is, there isn’t much my ‘fussy’ little doesn’t like. Apart from a bit of control. But before I head off to bed, I’m going to add some jalapeño peppers to the mince and enjoy my feast (Mexican music and all).

Give it a whirl 👍🏻

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Cheeky Chicken strips cooked in garlic & honey

Day three is here and the food plan has exceeded expectations, despite a bit of a rocky start yesterday dinner time with this Chicken Dish!

As per the menu, I laid some chicken strips onto a baking tray and sprinkled over some finely chopped garlic (2 cloves). I then added 200ml of cold water and drizzled on the honey & added a few twists of pepper. I then squeezed some fresh lemon on top!

I braised the chicken strips in the oven for 20 minutes until tender and cooked through . Basting frequently. Meanwhile, I boiled some rice and cooked the green beans & carrots.

At this stage, I decided to forget the Thyme as my youngest was crying for cheese on toast instead of chicken. After drying away the tears and lots of reassurance, I then plated up and tried to make it look as pretty as possible (to make up for the tears 😢).

I drizzled the juices over the food & called out “dinner time!”…..the verdict? Two happy little tummies & two rounds of seconds. Woo hoo! Phew! Woo hoo! Happy, healthy tummies equals happy Mummy.

recipe cards available under the ‘recipes’ tab

Featured

Tuesday is Bootcamp Day!

Ok, so I’m going to level with you here. Tuesday morning is Bootcamp day. Ordinarily. Today, I wasn’t feeling it. Legs achy, gale-force wind and rain – so I opted for fruit tea instead. (FYI I was sprung by Craig in Costa afterwards – Bootcamp Karma)

So I’ve sucked it up tonight and I’ve done a home workout based on Craig’s famous tonne up sheets. This is a good one as you can do it once, or if you’re feeling really hardcore you can work your way back up again when you get to the end. Who’s with me?

PS: Thanks to Craig at keeling fitness.com for letting me share. Watch this space for more!!

Top Tips For Sleeping In A Heatwave

As we brace ourselves here in the UK for a hot days, we are getting the paddling pool prepared, water squirters are at the ready, drinks are in the freezer, sun cream is applied….let the fun commence!!

We don’t often experience heatwaves here, but when we do it can really change our sleeping patterns. We for one had an uncomfortable game of musical beds last night, our youngest really struggled to settle in the heat.

So during all of these moments of fun, it’s worth considering prepping the home for this evenings sleep!

As featured in an article on the BBC, here are some top tips for sleeping better in a heatwave as suggested by Prof Kevin Morgan, former director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University, and Lisa Artis of the Sleep Council.

Tip 1

During the daytime, draw all of your blinds and close the curtains to keep the sun out. Keep the hot air out of your home by closing the windows on the sunny side of your house. Once the sun has gone down, open all of the windows to let in a breeze.

Tip 2

During this weather it’s often tempting to wave goodbye to any routines you may have. It’s advisable not to change your little ones bedtime hour too much as this can really disrupt sleep.

Tip 3

Stay hydrated! Drink loads of water, but not too much just before bedtime.

Tip 4

Replace your duvet cover with thin sheets as they will absorb the heat. Keep your duvet handy though in case you wake up cold!

Tip 5

Use a fan!! If you don’t have one, fill up a water bottle with icy cold water.

I hope you find these tips useful!! Read the full article here for further suggestions: http:// https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49072212

Have fun in the sun, everyone!

Carly

Tortilla Mini Pizza

Are you looking for a dinner time hack this weekend? If so, you’re in the right place!

These Tortilla mini Pizzas are yummy and perfect as a quick meal time solution – for both kids and adults.

Ingredients:

Pack of mini Tortillas

Tin of tomatoes – blitzed in the mixture

Cheese

Toppings of choice (I used Spinach, chorizo and Parma ham)

Dried mixed herbs

Pepper

Olive oil or low fat cooking spray

Method:

Quite simple grill one side of the tortillas and spread over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese, add your topping of choice. Season well and add the herbs. Drizzle over some oil and grill for a couple of minutes! Serve with a side salad and enjoy X

Beetroot Houmous

Just looking at this beetroot Houmous makes me feel insanely happy. The colour is so vibrant, it’s hard not to break into a smile just looking at it. It also tastes as good it looks and is so easy to whiz up.

Ingredients:

Half a tin of cooked chick peas (plus half of the juice it’s in)

150g pre cooked beetroot

1tbsp Olive oil

1tbsp Tahini paste

Juice of half a lemon

2 cloves of garlic

Seasoning as required

Method:

Quite simply pop everything into the blender and pulse for a few seconds. Add a bit more lemon if required and season to taste.

Bon appetite!

Lip-Smacking Lockdown Lemonade

So, during these worrying of times, we’re back with a lip-smacking bang to keep the kids thirst kept at bay. This really is a treat in our house, not for the every day but a recipe the children love to make on sunny days.

Inspired by Allegra McEvedy who has written a cookbook inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton, why not give the kids a lesson on the art of making Lemonade? It really is so simple and I can promise the results are totally worth it! My kids delight in reading out and copying down the ingredients and method, the measuring and weighing and the jolly good shaking!!! Most of all, they love the outcome and it certainly quenched our thirst during these warm days in the Uk. Let’s get going!

Ingredients;

3 lemons

2 limes

100g caster sugar

Method;

Start off by quartering the fruits and then let the kids squeeze out the juices into a jug. You should end up with about 150-200ml of juice. Place the skins to one side.

Next up, place the juice into a jar, add the sugar and 250ml water. Place the lid on top and get the kids to give it all a good old shake until the sugar dissolves.

Add 1 litre of cold water and the squeezed out lemon and lime skins. Give it all a jolly good stir!! Add ice and Enjoy!!!

Prosecco Teriyaki Sauce

Do you have Prosecco left in the fridge? Give this easy Teriyaki sauce a go! It marries beautifully with Salmon.

Ingredients;

350ml Water

75ml Soy sauce

2tbsp Prosecco

4cm piece of Ginger, peeled and grated

80g Light brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

1tbsp plain flour, mixed with a small amount of water into a paste

Method;

Measure out and prepare all of your ingredients, then grab yourself a small saucepan. Place onto a low heat and add the sugar, water, ginger and garlic. Bring up to a simmer and leave to gently cook for about 5 minutes. Add the flour paste and bring to the boil, continuously whisking. Once you have a silky sauce, give it a quick blend with a hand held mixer (optional) and then mix in the Prosecco. Remove from the heat. If not using straightaway, once cold this can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!!!

Shake It Off – January Breakfast Smoothie And Exercise Plan

Are you looking to push the reset button and get back in the driving seat of your fitness plan? Here at Mums In Real Life, that’s precisely our intention from this point onwards!

We’ve got loads in store for the week, HIIT, boot camp, Zumba, running and some regular gym sessions in between! We can’t wait to shimmy and sweat away our week with exercise!! Want to join us? Head on over to our website to see the exercise sheets available – more will be available soon: http://www.mumsinreallife.co.uk

What better to way to kick off the day with this super tasty oat, kiwi, banana & honey breakfast smoothie. Made with 150ml Almond milk and 250ml skimmed milk. This is what we’ll be making tomorrow morning to get us going (usually I’d only use 350ml Milk & 20g Oats but I have keen little kiddies who like to try some too).

Ingredients:

150ml Almond Milk (optional)

250ml Skimmed Milk (or 400ml if not using Almond Milk)

1 banana – peeled and roughly chopped

2 kiwi fruits – peeled and roughly sliced

40g Porridge Oats

1 Ice cube

1tbsp honey

Method:

Blitz all of the ingredients together for a few pulses and serve.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on!

Not sure what to cook? Try this simple quiche made from leftovers

Fed up with cold turkey? Try this super-easy quiche made from Christmas leftovers to solve the post-Christmas quandary of what to eat next.

Hello lovely people. Hope you had a fab Christmas, and I’m guessing like me you’re stuck in that strange time-warp between Christmas and New Year. Still scoffing Baileys and chocolate for breakfast? (Perfectly acceptable).

If however, much like me your jeans are at bursting-point and you’ve actually forgotten how to cook, help is at hand with this super-easy left-over quiche recipe. You can draw upon any leftover cheese board dregs and also use up that pancetta you forgot to fry with the sprouts on Christmas Day (ok just me then).

To accompany this, you can also whip up a lovely red cabbage coleslaw with your leftover cabbage and carrots to make a refreshingly light dinner (with no sign of butter or even a hint of chocolate).

Ingredients

For your pastry base:

Either make your own shortcrust (see Carly’s recipe here) or if you’re more like me – dig some ready-made out of the fridge.

For your quiche:

  • Grated cheddar cheese (about 75g/a grater full)
  • 6 eggs whisked
  • Splash of cream
  • Leftover Christmas stuff (I used a packet of pancetta, some broccoli, and a bit of Stilton
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • tbsp Dijon mustard (or similar)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 160° and grease a quiche tin (I like Pyrex) with a little butter or spray oil. Roll out your pastry and push in to the dish. Pop in the fridge to chill for a few mins whilst you prep the filling.

Fry the pancetta in a little oil until lightly browned. Whilst this is cooking, mix your egg and cream with about 3/4 of the cheddar and season to taste. Set to one side.

Break off the broccoli in to small florets and pop in a microwave bowl with a splash of water and microwave to soften for a minute or so (it should just be nicely steamed but still crunchy).

Line your pastry case with baking beans and blind bake for 10-15 mins. Remove from the oven and remove your baking beans and let cool for a few minutes.

Spread the Dijon mustard around the inside of the pastry case and sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top. Push the cheddar lightly into the pastry.

Pour your egg mixture on top, and sprinkle over the Stilton and broccoli and fried pancetta pieces evenly, then bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned and risen. The quiche should feel firm to the touch and have sprung up beautifully.

To create a coleslaw to accompany your quiche, you can chop some red cabbage, grate a carrot and finely chop half an onion (if you like your coleslaw with a bite). Mix together with a tsp of Dijon mustard and a couple of large tablespoons of natural yoghurt and some salt and pepper. Beautiful.

Enjoy! Merry twixtmas lovely people. Tahlia x

Cranberry Sauce – The Easy Way

So, we are 4 sleeps away until the big man arrives. We are all quite chilled here, the kids have been helping me out in the kitchen this afternoon. We’re having so much fun. Today we’ve made Cranberry sauce – it’s so easy, the kids actually did most of it. Of course, pick up a jar if you don’t have time to make up fresh. We don’t judge, whatever works for you! However, if you do have 8-10 mins then give it a go.

Ingredients;

350g Fresh Cranberries

200ml Fresh Orange hioce

150g Light Muscovado sugar

Method;

Place the sugar and orange juice into a saucepan and gently bring up to boiling point, stirring occasionally. Add the cranberries and reduce to a simmer.

Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until most of the cranberries have split. Remove from the heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Merry Christmas everyone, we hope your preparations are going well xxx

Rudolph the Red Nosed Cupcake

We absolutely loved making these cute little reindeer, so much so that I barely did anything – my little Miss did pretty much ALL the work!

When I posted the pics, so many of you asked for the recipe…so, here it is. They are super-simple to make, and they taste absolutely delicious. You can also switch the nose or antlers for other things, depending on how fussy your eaters are.

The cupcake recipe is an old favourite from my trusty Cupcake Magic book by Kate Shirazi, which has been my go-to for cupcakes since I bought it in 2008, and it’s helped me emerge from a baking disaster-zone, to a much improved baker who is now able to teach my little Miss how to bake up a storm (she’s fabulous).

Ingredients (Makes 12)

Cupcakes
110g Self Raising Flour (sifted)
110g Caster Sugar
110g Unsalted Butter or Margarine (Marg will stop your cakes rising into a little peak)
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Free Range Eggs

Chocolate Butter Cream
3tbsp Cocoa Powder
Splash of hot water
225g Icing Sugar
100g Softened Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Decorations
One pack edible Googly-eyes (or you can use icing)
Glace Cherries (or you could use red Smarties)
One pack of Matchmakers (we used Salted Caramel, yum) or you can also use Pretzels for the antlers.

Method
Pre-heat your oven to 160 and line a 12 hole baking tin with cupcake cases (you can use festive cases, or grab whatever you have in the cupboard – guess which one we chose!).

Pop all the ingredients in a mixer (or if you don’t have one, pop them in a large bowl and put in some serious elbow-grease) and mix until all the ingredients are combined, and your mix is smooth and shiny (hint: don’t over mix here as your cupcakes will be more rubbery than light and fluffy!).

Grab a teaspoon and plop spoonfuls of your lovely fluffy cake mix into the cases, being careful not to slop any over the sides of your cake cases. Bake them in your oven for about 20 mins (keep an eye on them, my oven is fierce and usually cooks them in about 15). When they are ready they’ll be golden, firm and springy.

Pop them out of the cake tin, and leave them to cool completely before you attempt to ice them!

Beat your icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract together (it’s a bit messy!) and if it’s still a bit heavy, you can pop a tsp of hot water in to help. Then, mix your cocoa powder with the hot water until you have a thick, gloopy paste (we like to mix ours in a large mug) and pour into your buttercream mixture and mix well until smooth and glossy.

Using a teaspoon, spread your buttercream onto the cupcakes and tidy the edges with the back of a table knife. Pop your googly eyes and cherry noses on (we like to start with the nose in the centre) and then break your matchsticks in half and then break the remaining halves again, so there is a long piece, and one shorter piece to make your antlers.

Enjoy! These little beauties lasted for approximately two minutes in our house. If you can manage to display them before they’re all scoffed, pop them on a festive plate and smile at those cute little reindeer faces peering back at you.

Merry Christmas, lovely people.
X

Christmas Tree Mini Pizzas

Ho Ho Ho….we had some neighbours round recently for Cheese and Mulled wine & the kids made these festive mini pizzas for their friends. They used cookie cutters for the bases. How cute do they look? Check out the link below for the quick no proving required pizza base:

https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/?s=Scone+base

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas xx