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).
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)
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
Not only could it save you money, but it could also help to save the environment.
A letter popped through our front door last week. It was from our lovely next door neighbour, asking my children to help save the environment and to help her join in and spread the message to her friends, and to be more environmentally conscious with their decisions.
Although it was a school initiative, my neighbour is an environmental activist at heart – she picks up other people’s litter, has pledged to help reduce plastic waste, and reduce the amount of water she uses. I think it’s a great approach, and it reminds me of when I was at school and we were trying to encourage people to recycle (it didn’t routinely happen then!).
It’s heartening to see that my neighbour is part of a wave of children actively looking to make a real difference to climate change. With recent protests showing that our children want to be taken seriously on the environmental issues which will affect their generation, we can feel quietly confident that the world will be in safer hands with their input.
But what can we do?
Firstly, we can remind ourselves of the fundamentals – turn off the taps when we’re cleaning our teeth, reduce single-use plastic when we shop and look for more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways to heat and light our home.
The other thing we can do is to reduce the amount of things we buy. Only buy products when we actually need them, and make an effort to buy eco-friendly. Simple switches from things like cling-film to waxed paper (which is reusable) or plastic cotton buds for bamboo (you won’t know the difference). This is so important at Christmas, when it’s really easy to get swept up in the festivities – but does it need to be at the expense of the planet?
There’s a fab visual going round from Just Little Changes to help give you some ideas of gifts which won’t cost the earth.
A recent campaign I also saw from 1millionwomen also suggests that by buying your next item of clothing second hand, it could save a staggering 6 million kg of carbon pollution from entering the environment. If we all make a pledge to buy second had, just think of that enormous impact.
This also ties in with a campaign run by our lovely friends at Demelza Hospice Care for Children. They are not only encouraging recycling of items through their network of shops, and at the Demelza Superstore in Maidstone, but they are also trying to reduce the level of plastic they’re using, looking at solar energy and other ways to reduce their impact on the environment. You can find out more about their campaign, Dotty’s Green Spot here>>
We love a good bargain-hunt, and we regularly pop down to our local Demelza Hospice Care for Children shop. Our personal favourites are the fabulous shop in Rochester High Street, which has a wonderful boutique vibe (be warned – you’ll need a good hour to browse!) and also the Maidstone Superstore which is choc-full of furniture and other household treasures!
You can also find out more about your local Demelza Hospice Care for Children shop here too. Pop down, and help our pledge to buy your next piece of clothing second hand!
Happy shopping thrifty people. x
(We just want to make clear that this isn’t an advert, we’re not paid for our relationship with Demelza Hospice Care for Children, but we’re proud and priviledged to be able to support them in their work). x
So I’m sure you know I hurt my back in July, I’ve been bleating about it the whole summer.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself (ok, as well as) I’ve been seeing the wonderful Anna the Osteopath, and she’s taught me a few important things about exercise.
Think about these next time you’re working out – are all you muscles working, not just the larger ones? Are you creaking and clunking? It might be that you’re not using all your muscles to perform the exercises. So, next time you’re in the gym, or at bootcamp or doing your Davina DVD at home, think about your form.
It’s also important to mix up your exercise – my marathon earlier this year meant my muscles were doing a lot of forward-motion movements, but not many side-to-side moves (which can be lots of reps of small moves) but that are also really important. Things were looking (and feeling) pretty manky…
It’s only since suffering an injury that I’ve started thinking a lot more about strengthening my smaller muscles which support the more major muscles (and how some muscles can take over, leaving the others struggling to work in the way they should.) It’s pretty much the reason my back did what it did. (Was that the record for the most mention of muscles in one paragraph, I wonder?)
Modify, don’t just keep plodding on
Don’t worry, your exercise regime isn’t over. It might need to change for a while, but it’s important not to keep doing the thing which is causing the injury/pain. That’s not to say you can stop exercising BTW!
What’s helped me is seeing the rather fantastic Osteopath Anna who has worked on my body manually to manipulate and guide things back in to the right places. She has also referred me to another, equally brilliant wonder-woman of a Pilates instructor, Ellie from City Way Health Clinic, who is helping me with my movement and flexibility with Reformer Pilates (the one using machines). You can read more about the health benefits of Osteopathy and Reformer Pilates on their website here>>
Personally, this combined with some killer glute exercises, and I can already see the changes happening (both physically and cosmetically) and I can see real improvement in my back pain. I’ve been working on my Spin technique to keep up the Cardio, whilst working on some smaller stretches, Pilates and Resistance Band work. I feel like I might be winning, and that I’ll be running again in January (hooray!).
Want some inspo?
There are a few other sources of inspiration for me. I’ve been using Arena Resistance Bands & exercise cards to help me work on my Glutes, and they have been incredible. Great quality product and also work out cards (as well as a free membership area too). Just so you know, we earn a small commission from any links to Amazon that we share, so by clicking on the product links and buying, you are helping to feed the family 🙂
There is also my personal fave online trainer, Cori from Redefining Strength. I’m currently working through her Glute Burner programme which is exactly what it says it is. It burns. It hurts. It works.
Remember to always ask a qualified professional before undertaking any remedial action, but don’t suffer in silence, you can take positive action to help alleviate pain and rebuild your strength. If you’re local, you might even want to pop over and make an appointment at City Way Health Clinic.
Happy Autumnal Thursday lovely people. After sharing the snap of my a scrummy chicken stew dinner on Monday night a few of you have asked for the recipe, so here it is.
(Those of you who know me well will know I’m a chuck-it in kind of girl, so the measurements are down to your individual cooking style!).
Cooked chicken carcass (from your roast – mine was stuffed with lemons and garlic so leave any stuffing in for flavour and I also like to pour over any left over gravy for flavour too)
Stock pots (one chicken one vegetable)
Left over veggies (if you have roasties chop them up small they’re a great thickener)
Green lentils (mine were tinned) or Pearl Barley
Sweetcorn (canned or frozen is fine)
Salt & Pepper and a bay leaf to season
Put your chicken carcass and any gravy in a large pot. Boil the kettle and pour over enough water to mostly cover the carcass (it’s ok if some isn’t covered, they’re tricky shaped, those chickens)
Add any chopped left over potatoes, parsnips or sweet potatoes at this point as they will dissolve and help to thicken the stew. Also chop the celery finely and add now too.
Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf and simmer on a low heat for about two hours or until the chicken comes away from the bones easily.
Leave to cool (just enough so you don’t burn the skin of your fingers) and pick out all the chicken bones and assorted bits you don’t want to eat. I like to do this with a large slotted spoon and have a big bowl ready for all the discarded bits and pieces. Make sure you check really thoroughly for small bits of bone in the stock.
When you’ve been through the pot and are pretty sure that everything is edible, then you can add your stock cubes and I also add the sweet potato here so it completely disappears in to the stew (mostly to avoid the accusatory “What’s that, Mum?” from the eldest bundle of joy). If your tiny humans are a bit less fussy then pop this in at the end with the carrots.
Cook for about 45 mins until the offending sweet potato has pretty much disappeared from sight and then add the potato and cook for 5-10 minutes and then add your carrots and sweet potato here. Cook for about 20 mins until almost cooked through. If at any point it’s running a little dry, add a few splashes of boiling water.
Pop in your canned lentils and sweetcorn to cook. Season to taste. I also popped some chopped parsley on mine which adds a lovely freshness.
Serve with a lovely wedge of buttered bread and enjoy that lovely warm hug in a bowl.
A note of caution – trying to serve this two days in a row did not go down well with fussy eldest bundle of joy. “Why do we have to eat the same thing two days in a row? It’s not fair”). Fortunately the other two happily scoffed the rest so my eldest joy didn’t have to put up with it three days in a row. Shame.
Hello lovely people here. I’ve recently learnt a few things about the way my body works, and I want to share it with you – I suspect a few of you may also recognise my story.
I like to stay fit, and exercise four or five times a week – a mix of bootcamp, running, yoga, pilates. It keeps a smile on my face, and helps make allowances for the wine and chocolate in my life. I’d consider myself to be quite a fit person generally, but over the last few years I’ve had nagging back and hip pain which comes and goes, but more recently has been coming more than it’s going.
Last night an Osteopath saved my life…
Ok, so that’s a bit dramatic for a headline but it made me sing ‘last night a DJ saved my life’ so that’s lovely. In truth though, my visit to see the lovely Anna has been a revelation. She asked me so many questions, looked at the ‘whole me’ by talking about my underachieve thyroid and the impact it has on my life and body, and genuinely wanted to delve into the ‘why’.
Turns out I’m a bit wonky (from birth, apparently) but also that I have an underactive left glute too. A marathon runner with glutes that don’t work = sore back and hips!
So, before I jump headfirst in to getting my miles up for the London Marathon next year, I need to work on some core muscles first. Glutes and abs. As well as helping me avoid injury, it should also help me run faster (and maybe give me a figure like Beyonce?). Perhaps the last wish is a step too far, but the first two are definitely achievable.
The good news
It’s do-able – I can build my core and abs, but with smaller and much more intense moves than my usual bootcamp repertoire. So, I’m going back to exercise school and am using a circuit of pilates and pilates-type moves to build things up. Here’s what I’m doing…
Bent Knee Side Plank
Hip thrusters (with band)
Single leg hip thrusters
Give them a go, and see if they make a difference! You might need to build up from small reps e.g. 4/5 like I did!
I’ve also bought myself some resistance bands to stabilise my exercises, which I’ve been using every day. I’ll share the bands I bought from Amazon below. They aren’t the cheapest available, but they do come with free training videos and recipes too, as well as a practical exercise card book to help you follow the training.
I’ve also booked on to Spin to keep up the cardio, and to help keep the lbs down 🙂
Disneyland Paris, now we’ve established that we’re massive fans here, but when it comes to booking and planning, some things are a bit mind-boggling. The website has so many options, so many meal plans, so many restaurants – but how can you book them, and where are they? Let’s see if we can help demystify some of the booking process for you!
Firstly (and this section is an add-in thanks to a reminder from a lovely reader) download the Disneyland Paris app. It has a brilliant interactive map, which gives you live queuing times for the rides and can highlight facilities (came in handy when we were rushing about Fantasy Land desperately trying to find the loos). It’s a must for planning and also when you’re there.
Disneyland Paris Meal Plans
Basically, you have two options when booking your Disneyland Paris Meal Plan; Full Board or Half Board options.
Full Board allows you to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Half Board gives you breakfast, with the option of lunch OR dinner. (Nb: It’s worth checking with your booking, as some hotels include breakfast in the package).
All packages give you buffet breakfast in your hotel (which is a brilliant selection, and will help you to fill up the family before your day in the park). From cooked options, to continental selections, to fruit, pancakes and pastries. You name it, it was on offer in our hotel.
We also opted for a Princess Breakfast which was fantastic (see pic below). The food, the service and the experience itself. Any princess fans amongst you, it will save you having to queue for an hour to meet a princess – during our breakfast we met three princesses. You also get entry to the park at 8am, which means you can bag a picture of you and the family in front of the Castle with no visitors around you! (Plus being at the front of the queue for the popular rides). We’d definitely do this again, well worth the money.
Now, there are three types of meal plan:
Standard will give you a buffet meal in your hotel restaurant. The website says you can eat at a buffet in the Disney Village, but be aware they have odd opening hours, so we struggled to get booked in to these. The include:
King Ludwig’s Castle
Restaurant Agrabah Cafe
Annette’s Diner (this is a turn up and wait Diner, so you can’t book in advance, but your voucher value can be deducted from the cost of the meal.)
Plus (this is the option we chose for Half Board) gives you the choice of the restaurants above as well as table service restaurants in the hotels too.
Premium if you’re looking for the full Disneyland Paris experience, then this is the one for you. This option includes all Character Dining experiences:
Auberge de Cendrillon (Princess experience)
Bistro Remy (Ratatouille)
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show & Dinner (ONLY Friday to Tuesday)
Something to note before you book, is that the restaurants get booked up SUPER EARLY, so you might want to check availability before you decide on your meal package to avoid disappointment.
How to Book
You can book via phone, but without any hint of availability this can be quite a painful process. I did however, find this handy website called Salon Mickey which has booking links direct to the restaurants. Although I was a bit cynical, they actually worked and our tables were there when we turned up for our bookings (they also send you an email reminder on the day of your booking which is handy!).
THESE LINKS ONLY WORK IF YOU CUT AND PASTE THEM IN TO YOUR BROWSER! IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK THEY TAKE YOU TO A GENERIC HOLDING PAGE. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
We hope this helps make the whole process a little easier for first time Disneyland Paris visitors, but need to be clear this blog is in no way endorsed by Disneyland Paris and that opening times and packages will vary depending on the season. We’d love you to share your experiences with us too, so please post any tips and hints in the comments.
Hello lovely people, it’s me again. I’ve been AWOL from blog writing for a while now, but I’m back…and I have (London Marathon) news!
A some of you might recall, I ran the Brighton Marathon back in April this year. Now, despite vowing never ever EVER to run another, it appears that I’ve only gone and got myself a place in the 2020 Virgin London Marathon ballot. What are the chances?! (Actually, I know for a fact that they are around 4%, which are ridiculous odds.An incredible 457,861 people entered the ballot!)
So, that puts me back to training – back on the wagon, and (no pressure) with a burning desire to improve on my beginner’s time from Brighton.
Here’s my public declaration of the grand plan…
Between now and December I am going to work on my health and fitness generally. Eating to fuel and nourish (probably with the odd G&T thrown in) and strength training to get my body in the shape it needs to be, ahead of the training regime. Just thinking out loud, my body is almost certainly NEVER going to be in the shape it needs to be, but let’s give it a go!
I’ve been visiting the lovely Anna, who is helping to put my back back where it should actually be, as opposed to where it’s been for the last few years. She’s also helped me identify that I have the most pitiful left glute, which is probably the culprit for my back problems in recent years, along with my ‘mum-tum core’ which we are also working on with gentle exercise and Pilates. When I say gentle, what I actually mean is excruciatingly hard, tiny little movements which make my body scream *WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO ME??*
Anyway, that’s the plan. I’m hoping that once again you’ll be there to spur me on with your comments and support, and that my old blogging friend OMIL will be on hand to provide his much-needed wisdom and motivation during my London Marathon training period.
It’s great to be back lovely people. Happy Thursday to you all,
Oh, we just love the Summer. Sunny (sometimes) long and balmy evenings, endless barbecues, summer drinks and ice cream. Only there’s a problem. My jeans are screaming out, “For the love of lycra woman, eat a salad. Please!”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I train. I train four or five times a week, I work hard to stay fit. I’m boot camping, running, yoga-ing and doing pilates like my life depends on it (suppose it does when you think about it). You can find out more about our workouts here>>
But here’s the thing. Exercise won’t get you the results you need alone – it’s what we put into our bodies which makes the biggest difference.
Now, I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad. I’m writing this as a reality check to myself. Summer is amazing, but why oh why can’t I get through without piling on the Pimms pounds. So, here it is – my public declaration that it’s time to push the September reset button.
TODAY = DAY ONE!
What I also need is accountability, so I’ll be writing down my fitness goals and will share my journey with you over the next six weeks. Feel free to join me in my mission to look and feel fabulous at 40 (have we told you, we’re off to Ibiza on Thursday?!).
I’ve been having some real problems with my back over the last two months, and have just been diagnosed with something called Spondylosis, which as far as I understand is basically a sticky out vertebra. The reason behind this is that two major muscles are weak in my body: my glutes (yes, I have Mum-bum) and one side of my lower abs (caused by those pesky babies) which makes me majorly wonky.
Here’s my focus for the next 6 weeks:
Healthy eating plan to get me in my best shape and banish the summer wobble
Ever put the washing out in glorious sunshine and an hour later it’s chucking it down? Go to work and come home to soaked washing falling off the line? You and me both. Isn’t it the most annoying thing in the world. EVER. Well, this is a really simple hack and it works.
You know those plastic backed picnic blankets? Well, get yourself the biggest you can find. And when you put the washing out, then put the blanket upside down on top of the line. Peg the corners and – voila!
Any little showers, and your washing is protected whilst it dries, snug as a bug under a rug!
Just make sure that the blanket overhang is clear of your washing, so it doesn’t drip!