Christmas Preparations – Week 1 – Yorkshire Puddings

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too early to start preparing for feasts that are coming our way. This week we’ve started with Yorkshire Puddings – my family go crazy over these – I’ve made a few batches and they are now in the freezer. On Christmas Day, I’ll pop them onto a tray and they’ll go straight into a hot oven for 4 minutes. This is such a time hack and removes unnecessary stress when preparing your Christmas meal.

I have tried numerous Yorkshire recipes over the years and this is my tried and tested, fail safe method.

Ingredients:

4oz plain flour

2 medium eggs

300ml milk

1/2 tsp salt

Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan) has Mark 7 and pour enough oil into the Yorkshire pudding tins to cover the bottoms. When the oven is ready, pop the Yorkshire tin in to heat up the oil (usually takes about 7-8 minutes).

Measure out the flour and place into a large mixing bowl. Mix in 150ml milk and beat in the 2 eggs until smooth. Season well and add the remaining milk. Transfer to a large jug.

Remove the tray from the oven and place over a medium heat on the stove. Evenly pour the batter mix into the tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen, golden and crisp. Leave in tins for a couple of minutes and then place on a wire rack. If freezing, leave to completely cool before bagging up and placing into the freezer.

Enjoy!

Wow! Who Knew About This Egg Hack?

Everyone loves a hack, right? We were super excited to find out about this cool tip for separating eggs. We’ve tried it ourselves and it really works. Take a look!!

Hope it makes your life just that teeny bit easier!

Focaccia Stuffed With Pesto & Tomatoes

If you are looking for a food project this weekend, look no further as this is it. We’ve upped the ante by adding juicy cherry tomatoes and by slapping red pesto into a traditional Focaccia.

Ingredients:

500g Strong plain Flour

7g Sachet Yeast

1tsp Salt

3tbsp Red Pesto (see link https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/red-pesto-sauce/ for one of our recipes or shop bought is absolutely fine)

100ml Olive Oil & extra to drizzle (I used my herb & chilli infused olive oil https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/homemade-herb-chilli-infused-olive-oil/ for an extra twist)

5 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary, leaves picked

200g Cherry Tomatoes

Sea Salt flakes to garnish

300ml Lukewarm water

Method:

Pour 300ml into a jug and add the sachet of yeast, stir. Leave for a couple of minutes until it starts to froth.

In a large bowl, tip in the flour and add the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and then add 75ml Olive oil. Use a knife to stir the mixture, until a rough dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If necessary, sprinkle extra flour on the dough to prevent it sticking.

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, cover and leave for 40 mins – 1hr to prove. Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it onto a clean, floured surface and knead for a couple of seconds to knock the air out of it.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and roll out to roughly 20 x 10inches. Mix together the red pesto and sprigs of rosemary and smear over one half of the dough.

Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and pinch together to seal it.

Now put the bread into a roasting tin (lined with baking paper) and cover with cling film. Place somewhere warm for an hour to prove further. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan 200C, Gas mark 7.

When the bread is ready for the oven, drizzle over 2tbls of Olive oil and rub it in gently. Gently press the Cherry tomatoes into the dough and use your fingers to gently dent the rest of the dough. Pop in some sprigs of Rosemary. Scatter over the sea salt flakes. Cover with cling film and leave to prove for a further 20 minutes.

Place the bread into the oven, bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 200C, fan 180C, Gas mark 6 and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the bread has risen and looks golden. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool.

Cut into slices or chunks and enjoy with your main of choice (we had steaks and a nice crispy salad!!

Bon appetite lovely people! X

James’ Granola Squares

Fancy a sweet treat? James has cooked up the ultimate granola squares to give you that sweet fix (with only some of the guilt).

Maple Granola Bars

Now, I hear you ask…are these granola bars healthy? Well, they are mostly oats which help regulate blood sugar by slowly releasing energy. Almonds & Cranberries are high in vitamins, so yes we will all agree they are!

They make a perfect rushing out the door breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.

Ingredients

  • 60g whole almonds 
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 80g butter
  • 125ml maple syrup
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g dried cranberries 
  • 50g chocolate chips
  • extra 2 tsp choc chips

Method

  1. Before you start, take a 20cm square baking pan and line it with tin foil. Then using some oil and kitchen roll, lightly grease it.
  2. Start by roughly chopping the almonds, they don’t have to be perfect just a rough chop. Combine them with the oats and pop in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes. Half way through give them a little stir so they cook evenly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the butter, maple syrup and the sugar along with the vanilla and salt in a saucepan and gently heat until it has all melted together into a sugary, buttery, syrupy liquid which smells divine (and is definitely the unhealthier part)!
  4. Once the oats and almonds are cooked put them in a glass bowl and then add the liquid. Mix well and leave for about 10 minutes to cool.
  5. Finally add the chocolate and the cranberries again mix well.
  6. Now pour the oat mix into the foiled pan and pack down really well. Go on – really push that mix into the corners using a fish slice or something similar, and really pack it down. Add a sprinkling of chocolate chips and pack down again.
  7. Cover tightly with more foil and then pop in the fridge for at least 3 hours (but preferably overnight if you can wait that long).

Bit of troubleshooting here, but if anything makes them fall apart a bit it’s usually either not packing down enough, or not refrigerating for long enough, so try and be patient!

Once they have hardened, they will unwrap from the foil easily and can be cut into about 12 pieces (or less if you want bigger bars!)

Any crumbs left over from cutting can be saved and makes an excellent topping for vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy! James.

You Deserve Butter!

James’ Spiced Fruit Loaf

We did warn you that James is a serial bread maker didn’t we? Here’s his debut bread recipe for his divine fruit loaf. Definitely something for the weekend.

Packed with fruit and has a good hit of cinnamon this tea time treat is delicious with thickly spread butter.

Ingredients

  • 400g Strong white bread flour
  • 10g Salt
  • 40g Butter
  • 40g Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g raisins
  • 75g dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml water

 

Bread Machine

This recipe works for both making by hand and in a machine. Obviously a bread machine is far easier but there is nothing quite like doing it yourself!

Depending on your bread machine either add the dry or wet ingredients first as they do differ. But either add all the dry ingredients then add the water and milk on top or the other way round. Make sure that you keep the salt and the yeast separated. Use either a sweet bread setting or if you are not sure then the standard medium sized loaf will do.

Press start and in a few hours……….ta-dah!

 

Made by Hand

Ok this is the longer, but ultimately more satisfying method!

In a food processor add the flour salt and yeast, add the yeast and salt to opposite side of the bowl. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, milk and half the water.

Mix at a slow speed for a few minutes until it comes together and is nice and elastic. Add the fruit and spice and mix again until combined.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place (I have a nice warm cupboard with pipes in!) leave for 1 1/2 hours.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead it until all the air has been knocked out of it. Cut the dough in half and shape them into ball by tucking the dough underneath itself.

Place each loaf on a lined baking tray inside a plastic bag and leave to prove for a hour.

Once risen bake at 210°C for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy! James

Do You Budget For Your Meals? What’s Your Weekly Planning Secret..?

I’d love to hear what people do when it comes to their household shop. Don’t be shy. Please share what works. Are you the type of person who flies by the seat of your pants and wings it every day? Buying food on a whim , depending on what your taste buds are calling for? Are you a strict planner, who knows exactly what your weekly menu will be and you don’t spend a penny over your list? Or, are you like me? Someone who does a large weekly shop based on what I think I may cook, plus a bit extra on the side that takes my fancy. And then a little bit extra on top of that for the spare freezer (just in case!). Someone who then pops out to the shops to buy some extra bananas & accidentally spends £32.47? I decided to take a deeper look at where my money is spent. The usual bills, kids clubs, gym membership etc but I was absolutely gobsmacked by the billions of times I pop into various supermarkets on a weekly basis, in addition to my weekly food shop!!! I must seriously love a supermarket! The odd £23 here, £3.42 there, then another £17 here and oops, another £6.75 here….it goes on. crazy!!! Am I alone? Do you go out for milk and return home with a hedge strimmer (minus the milk!)?

I therefore thought it might be a good idea to start planning my weekly shopping a bit better (everyone raves on about it, after all!). In doing so, I’ve found a nifty online tool which compares the supermarkets (uk – but must have similar in other countries) & offers the option of swaps and switches to reduce the cost of your shopping basket. I decided to go for it.

http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/?banner=35311&utm_medium=email&utm_source=affiliate&utm_campaign=MoneySavingExpert&utm_content=MoneySavingExpert

On average, our weekly shopping bill ranges from £97 – £134. Plus all the extras my husband and I buy in addition to this. Of course, it does differ & we need wiggle room. Is it the type of week where all the detergents need purchasing, do we have guests over, what’s the wine store looking like etc? Based on a good look through my cupboards and Fridge Freezer before I sat down to write my list, I’ve decided to be strict on myself and go for an £80 budget this week. I’m slightly scared. My shopping pattern does vary, especially if I’m a bit hungry whilst zooming around the aisles! And don’t even mention kids! If they come with me, it really does sky rocket with my little ones in tow!

As you may know from previous posts, we had a bit of an adventure with our youngest when it came to trying new food. See the posts here:

https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/synopsis-of-a-5-day-healthy-eating-plan-for-kids/

I really do try to engage the whole family when it comes to meal times, it works for us and has really given my youngest a little voice when it comes to dinner.

We therefore roughly decided on a menu (personally I find it helpful with my youngest. If it’s been agreed, then it’s much easier for me to negotiate when said dinner appears and the reaction is like I’ve dished up dogs doo doo!) . We’re still trying to try new meals (as you may know, I LOVE food and quite frankly dinner times were becoming tedious!). Here’s the menu for the week:

Now, I’m quite a conscious shopper. I always try to buy local where possible and to support farmers. I also care about recycling. Let’s see how I get on.

Now time to shop! I did the online comparison, and whilst all comparisons weren’t available, it became clear that the shop of the week for my needs was Aldi. This was ok, because I didn’t need all my other preferred brands (laundry powder, dishwasher tablets, shampoos etc) that Aldi doesn’t stock. Phew!

Off I went on my merry way. I got most of what I needed (and a few extras – I just can’t help it!) but wasn’t able to buy Sesame seed oil or Sesame seeds. I also swapped Sea Bream to Sea Bass. That’ll mean a trip to Tesco then (because it’s the nearest to me). Also, I didn’t buy any alcoholic beverages. I was so shocked when the time came to pay – £75.95!!

I was pretty pleased, I didn’t even compromise on my cuts of meats. For example, it would’ve been cheaper to buy less lean mince, but I stuck to my guns and bought the normal 5% Fat lean mince I always buy. I was able to buy a lot of British food, so that was fab. What I did notice, was the amount of packaging that the fruit & veg came in. Understandable when it’s travelling so far, but is it necessary? But this is for another blog.

I will probably need more fruit & milk as the week goes on, get through it faster than the click of a finger!!

Here are my fares:

I was pretty pleased with myself. Not a hedge strimmer in sight! Go me.

The food, ingredients and methods will be posted as I go along. Wish me luck with the Sea bass and fingers crossed it all gets enjoyed, I’m not a fan of waste 🤞🏻

PS: If you are shopping in Aldi for the first time…TIP: at the tills you bundle everything back into the trolley as soon as it’s scanned and pack afterwards once you’ve paid 👍🏻

Summer Berry Pavlova

Remember last weekend when it was summer? (temporarily) We had a lovely bbq over at our fab friends’ house – they were ‘doing’ the meat, so we said we’d bring something lovely for pudding.

What screams summer bbq more than pavlova? Loads of beautiful seasonal strawbs and raspberries loaded on a fluffy meringue base. Happy days!

My Middle Little loves a bit of baking, and so asked to make this for me. Why not? Love having a helper! It was so simple, the only job Middle needed help with was separating the egg whites from the yolks. Bonus was that measuring and weighing was also part of this week’s homework – serious mum points!!

We used this recipe from Jamie Oliver and as always made a few tweaks to suit the store cupboard. I’m a bit sloppy when it comes to presentation so it doesn’t look quite as polished!!

Ingredients

  • 6 large free-range egg whites 
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 400 g fresh strawberries and raspberries 
  • 200 ml double cream 
  • 200 ml fat-free natural yoghurt 
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar 
  • 1 vanilla pod

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2. Clean your mixing bowl with lemon juice and wipe away the residue. (This helps your egg whites to fluff up!). Put your egg whites in your mixing bowl and whisk them at a medium speed until they start to form nice firm peaks. (Mines 6/7 on the Kitchenaid).
  2. With your mixer still running, gradually add the sugar, spoon by spoon. Turn the mixer up to the highest setting and whisk for 7 to 8 minutes more until the meringue is white, glossy and smooth. If it feels grainy, whisk for a little bit longer, being careful not to let the meringue collapse. 
  3. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Plop most of the mixture on one sheet and smooth roughly to about 20cm in diameter. Use the other sheet and dollop tea spoons of the remaining mixture to create meringue drops for the top of the pavlova.
  4. Put both trays into the oven and bake for about 1 hour until the meringues look slightly golden and are fluffy in the middle. When they’re ready, open the oven door and leave in the oven to cool for an hour or so.
  5. Halve or quarter the large strawberries and leave the smaller ones whole. Mix them with the raspberries. 
  6. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
  7. Spoon the cream mixture on top of one of the meringue halves and roughly smooth it out. Place the other meringues on top and press down gently to stick them together. Sprinkle half of your berries evenly around the cream mixture.
  8. Spread the remaining cream mixture over the top layer and sprinkle the remaining berries on top. Enjoy!

Happy bbq-ing lovely people!

Tahlia x

Rhubarb & Summer Berry Crumble With Ice Cream & Custard

Here at Mums In Real Life, we love a good pudding. Cue Rhubarb coming into season and for us, this equates to happy days!

This Rhubarb & Berry Crumble hits all the right notes. It is also ridiculously easy to make!

Ingredients:

500g Rhubarb, cut into chunky cubes

Handful of frozen summer berries

2oz Demerara sugar

1tsp cinnamon

2oz chilled butter, cubed

3oz self raising flour

To serve:

Vanilla ice cream

Custard

Basil leaves to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160•C fan, gas mark 4. Place the rhubarb into a saucepan and cover with water. Add the sugar & cinnamon and stew on the hob for 15-20 minutes.

Once stewed, add in the berries. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Next, make the crumble mixture. Place the butter & flour into a processor and pulse until you get done breadcrumbs.

Once cooled, transfer the stewed fruit into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle the crumble on top.

Cook for 35-40 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool slightly and serve with a scoop of ice cream and custard. Garnish with basil.

Quick 10 minute Rainy Day Cookies

School pick up is imminent and the weather here is miserable! Here is a fantastic rainy day cookie recipe to keep the kids occupied when they can’t get outside to play.

Ingredients:

125g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

75g soft brown sugar

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

2tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Chocolate bar of choice, chopped up

1tbsp peanut butter (optional)

Sprinkle (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 140•C.

Melt the butter and chuck all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Give it all a good stir.

Use a large spoon to dollop blobs of cookie dough onto a large baking tray (lightly greased or top tray with baking paper).

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until golden.

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!