A Strong Coffee

Monday, 18 December 2017

Getting Ready For Christmas #MealPlanningMonday

And the countdown is now officially on. Christmas is next week! I have one more day at work and the boys finish school on Tuesday afternoon. We have loads planned and I am looking forward to having some time to do things. (I hope!)

We really wanted to finish decorating the lounge in time for Christmas and to be honest it was looking very unlikely. However, whilst we still need some side tables, we are nearly there as our mirror finally arrived this week. I am loving the new look of our lounge and will be sharing some more photos next year.

lounge decorated for Christmas

So on with the meal planning....

Monday: Scrambled egg and corizo bagels

Tuesday: Cottage Pie that I batch cooked a few weeks ago.

Wednesday: We are off to 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park so will eat there and maybe pasta when we come home.

Thursday: Salmon with potatoes and veg.

Friday: Baked potatoes and chili.

Saturday: It;s our university Christmas dinner so we wont need much at all.

Sunday: My sister has kindly offered to cook curry.

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Raspberry Cheesecake With Raspberry And Mint Coulis

With the festive season upon us it is easy to over indulge. However, with this raspberry cheesecake and thanks to SPLENDA®, you can enjoy the season of treats without the compromise.

Many people decide to wait until the New Year, to worry about reducing their sugar limit, but you don't need to avoid your favourite treats at Christmas. I adapted their chocolate swirl cheesecake recipe as I am rather partial to raspberries and I was really pleased with the results. There are a whole host of recipes you can use for inspiration.

Consulatant Dietician Helen Bond warns how you can easily pile on the pounds over the festive season with all the fat laden party food. Infact the average person gains between .5-2.5kg over the Christmas period. Luckily she has some top tips to help us all enjoy Christmas in a healthier way.

Helen Bond’s top 10 tips for negotiating festive feasting; from daily treats to New Year’s toast.
Top Tips:

Always start the day with a healthy breakfast. It’s easy to miss this important meal, or give in and indulge in fatty croissants to ease that Christmas party hangover. But eating a good breakfast will help kick-start your metabolism and keep you feeling full, making it easier to ignore the inevitable chocolates lying around. 

Get creative with your advent calendar. Even big kids love opening those little advent calendar doors – but, enjoying 25 days of chocolaty goodness will do your waistline no favours! A little chocolate Xmas character provides around 26 kcals, 1.5g fat, 2.8g sugar - even more if they are truffle or alcoholic filled – that’s an extra 650 kcals, 37.5g fat and 70g sugar over 25 days. Why not get creative with your countdown to Christmas, so you’ve got a daily treat, without the daily guilt. 

Love seasonal fruit and veg.With the abundance of festive food, it can be easy to forget the basics of eating healthily and achieving the (at least) 5-a-day recommendation. I like to pile the veg on my plate first, rather than last.

Make time for exercise. However well you plan, life is going to get hectic over the festive period, so schedule your 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise into your week now. Exercise is also a fabulous stress buster, as it releases endorphins, making you feel happier and calmer. 

Don’t skip mealsIf you’re going to the office party straight after work, or you’ve got a dinner date with friends, don’t ditch lunch for fear of overdoing your daily calorie intake. You’ll be famished and hungry people tend to make bad food decisions.

Try not to burn the candle at both ends. Burning the festive candle at both ends, with parties during the week and weekend hosting duties, can also affect your waistline. Too little sleep can reduce the level of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin and increase the hormone ghrelin, telling the brain you need to eat – and not always the right healthy food choices.

Rethink your tea breaks. Cut cutting down on the ‘white stuff’is a tall order, especially around Christmas. It appears in so many of the traditional festive favourites, that it’s near impossible to keep track of how much you’re eating.  An easy win is to rethink your tea breaks; instead of adding sugar to your tea, swap to a low-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA®. If you drink four cups of tea a day with two teaspoons (8g) of sugar in each cup - that adds up to 128 kcals. Your sweet tea also tots up to nearly one 1kg bag of sugar over the 25 days of December and 3,200 kcals! You, and your Xmas shopping could be a whole lot lighter for a simple sweet swap!

Treat sweets as treats. The constant supply of treats from guests and salty savoury snacks at work can be too tempting to avoid. Keep healthier seasonal snacks, like clementines, to hand; a medium clementine has just 25 kcals and will provide you 31% of your daily needs for immune boosting vitamin C and 1g of gut healthy fibre.

Wise-up to the buffet. Faced with a buffet, resist the temptation to start filling your plate at one end of the table and continuing to add to it until you reach the other. Before you pick up the plate (and always take the smallest one!), pause for a moment and then prioritise healthy choices; smoked salmon, slices of lean ham and vegetable crudités. Now, step away.

Keep in mind portion size. Most of us are over-generous with serving sizes at Christmas and it’s a fact that the bigger your tableware, the more you’ll fill it. Research shows that simply downsizing from a 12 to 10-inch plate could help you eat roughly 22% fewer calories, and you’ll not feel like you are missing out.

Raspberry Cheesecake With Raspberry And Mint Coulis

    For The Cheesecake
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil
  • 175g reduced fat disgestive biscuits
  • 3tbsp runny honey
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 200g low fat cream cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 level tbsp SPLENDA®
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g raspberries

  • For The Raspberry And Mint Coulis

  • 375g raspberries
  • 6 mint leaves finely chopped
  • 2tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp SPLENDA® granulated
  1. Pre heat the oven to 170℃
  2. Line the bottom of an 8 inch spring-form pan with baking parchment and brush the sides with oil.
  3. Crush the digestive biscuits using a thick plastic bag and rolling pin.
  4. Combine the crushed biscuits with the honey and press into the bottom of the spring-form pan. Place in the fridge whilst you prepare the cheesecake mixture.
  5. Beat the ricotta, cream cheese and eggs togther. 
  6. Stir in the grated lemon and 4tbsp of granulated SPLENDA®.
  7. Pour 3/4 of the mixture over the biscuit base.
  8. With the remaining mixture, crush the raspberries and mix together.
  9. Pour this into the middle of the cheesecake and use a knife to make swirls.
  10. Bake for around 45 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool.
  12. To make the coulis, heat the raspberries with the water and SPLENDA® until they break down. 
  13. Finely chop the mint leaves and stir this through. You could sieve the mixture if you wish but I quite like the seeds.
  14. Decorate the top of your cheesecake with a few fresh raspberries and mint. Serve with the coulis.

Now you can enjoy sweet life without the compromise this Christmas. Frozen raspberries would also work well for this recipe.

 Visit www.splenda.co.uk/recipes for more delicious recipe inspiration and baking tips!

Pin it for later:

This is an advertorial post

Hijacked By Twins

Tackling The 12 Stains Of Christmas: BISSELL Stain Eraser Review

Ah Christmas, a time for enjoying fun with the family..... 

Until that is, little cousin Johnny smears chocolate over the sofa and inebriated Great Aunt Vi tips half a bottle of red over your new living room carpet. Or is that just my family?

Luckily BISSELL are on hand with a range of carpet cleaning solutions.

BISSELL challenged me to put some Christmas stains to the test with their Stain Eraser.  This is a lightweight cordless spot and stain cleaner that is easy to use and clean. It's results were rather impressive. 

The stains I looked into were chocolate, gravy and wine. It is highly likely that wine and chocolate are will be split at sometime over the festive season in our house. I blotted them with kitchen towel, as I would if I had actually spilt them on the carpet accidentally. The advantage of practicing on a BISSELL carpet mat was that there was no swearing from me, as to whether the stain would come out and how on earth did the glass of wine get spilt in the first place!

The hardest part of using the stain eraser is working out how to take the chamber out to fill it with warm water and spot cleaner. And that wasn't that difficult. The Stain Eraser comes with trial sizes of the spot cleaner and boost (for harder stains and odour removal.) It looks as though it will last a few uses though.

The instruction manual is easy to understand and advises spraying the spot cleaner and leaving for minutes before sucking up the stain.There is a brush on the machine to rub the remover in. 

Again tougher stains might need a couple of goes. I was impressed that the chocolate and gravy stains disappeared almost immediately. The red wine was slightly more stubborn, but the stain eraser made light work of it. Personally I think it is a much better option that throwing white wine on it and hoping for the best!

The dirty water gets sucked through to the bottom of the machine. It is quite satisfying watching the difference in colour!

dirty water tank on the BISSELL stain earaser

I don't really have anything bad to say about the BISSELL Stain Eraser. It is lightweight, portable, easy to use and works. I don't like to be a sceptic (but I am) so I also tried it out on an off cut from our own carpet. Having just had a new one fitted in the lounge, I didn't really fancy using the Stain Eraser on there without having tested it first. I shouldn't have worried as it cleaned it and there was no bleaching.

So if you are having a large family gathering this Christmas, maybe the Stain Eraser should go on your Christmas list. From Eggnog to glitter and glue, the Stain Eraser will be there on hand to tackle those stains of Christmas.

Family Fever

I was given the BISSELL Stain Eraser in return for an honest review.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Willy Wonka And Father Christmas Number One

It has been another busy week this week with the boys school plays and drama shows in full swing. Little man took on the very important role of Santa No 1 in his school play and beamed from ear to ear as his bossed his elves and fairies around. Middle man impressed all of us with his portrayal of Willie Wonker. Mainly as we had no seen or heard him practice once! He had also missed the previous week to run a cross country race, so all in all we were extremely impressed with him. Equally impressive, is big man's ability to guess how many sweets were in the jar at the PTA Christmas fayre. He may be beaming from ear to ear but our dentist may not!

This week, it is Christmas parties galore, karate grading and I am taking 2 hours to myself to go and make a Christmas wreath. We still seem to have a lot of food left over from last week so I am hoping that this weeks shop will be slightly less that the last two which have both been over £100. I thought meal planning would help me save money!

So lets get to what we are having in this weeks meal plan:

Monday: Sausage and mash

Tuesday: Coronation chicken sandwich with the left over chicken from our roast.

Wednesday: Filled pasta and a tomato sauce

Thursday: Quiche and salad

Friday: Rogan Josh left over and frozen from this weeks spicery box

Saturday: Chicken Kiev

Sunday: Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings

Wish me luck with remembering everything I have to do this week!

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Spanish Persimon Chutney

One of the lovely things about being a blogger, is that you randomly get sent gifts through the post. This weeks gift was a box of Spanish persimon. Unfortunately, when I cut them open it appears that they may have been bumped around in delivery a bit, but it seemed a shame to waste them. I therefore thought I would make a chutney, perfect with cheese and biscuits and great for the forthcoming party season.

I decided to opt for a mixture of demerera and white sugar to give it more of a Christmas vibe. If you don't like your chutney too spicy, maybe add a little less chili.The persimon don't break down as much as mango would, so the smaller you chop them the better.

chutney and cheese board

Spanish Persimon Chutney

  • 4 large Spanish Persimon 
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1tsp cumin seeds

  1. Peel and chop the Spanish persimon into small chunks
  2. Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook until the persimon have softened and broken down, to a jam like consistency. 
  3. Allow to cool and serve with your favourite cheese and cold meats.
eating chutney

Pin it for later:

spanish persimon chutney recipe

Hijacked By Twins

Monday, 4 December 2017

Gaming Party And A Christmas Fayre: Meal Planning Monday

I currently feel like I am running towards Christmas and about to trip up. Christmas with children is a juggling act, and I am trying not to drop all of my balls. There are Christmas parties, Christingles, Chistmas jumpers and goodness knows what else I need to try and remember over the coming weeks.

This Saturday saw the school Christmas fayre and I had a winning moment. Yes, I managed to distract my kids so they didn't see the teddy tombola. Result! It is bad enough that little man has a giant Rudolph at the end of his bed at the moment (thanks to my sister) and we really don't need any more large soft animals.

giant rudolph soft toy

Saturday afternoon, saw big man's delayed Birthday celebrations. We had Pop Up Arcade visit for a gaming party at home. On the basis that I had booked them over the internet and knew no one that had used them, I was just pleased they turned up. The fact that the girl running the party was fantastic and the kids all enjoyed themselves made it an added bonus.

Big man opted for a nice and easy sweet filled cake which I will be sharing with you soon.

10th birthday cake

So this week, is slightly quieter. Woo hoo! But what are we eating?

Monday: My husband is away and we are visiting the dentist. On the basis that I still travel miles to the dentist in the hope that I may see Marti Pellow there again, we are stopping off at McDonalds on the way home.

Tuesday: Lasagne that I made and froze when I was batch cooking a few weeks back.

Wednesday: Chicken tray bake. I had a free sample of a Dolmio sauce in my online delivery a few weeks back so I give this a try.

Thursday: Pork and apple burgers with chips

Friday: My husband and I will have lamb rogan josh. My sister bought me a curry club subscription for my birthday and I love it. So far everything we have made has tasted fantastic. The boys can have something out of the freezer.

Saturday: Scrambled egg and chorizo for lunch. Pasta for tea for those that need it. (Little man has a party and I may be out.)

Sunday: Roast chicken

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Slow Cooker Fudge: An Easy Homemade Christmas Gift

I have been wanting to make slow cooker fudge for ages. I had mainly put off doing so as I feared I would scoff the lot. However, this week I finally gave it a go. It is good! My fear was not unfounded. I used this Kidspot recipe as a guide, along with it's helpful hints and tips.

Christmas fudge

To give it a Christmas twist, I decided to add crushed candy canes, as well as sugar snowflakes that I found in the supermarket baking aisle.

When I say that it is a slow cooked recipe, don't be fooled and think you can chuck it in the slow cooker, leave it for a couple of hours and hey presto you have fudge. It is more a means of cooking it slowly and you will need to stir it every 15 mins or so and keep the lid off.

Personally I think this would make a lovely gift for anyone with a sweet tooth.

slow cooker fudge

Slow Cooker Chocolate Fudge

  • 395g condensed milk
  • 2 x 375g of cooking chocolate
  • 55g butter
  • a couple of drops of caramel flavouring

To decorate:

  • 2 candy canes smashed with a rolling pin
  • sugar snowflake srpinkes
  • red sprinkles
  1. Turn your slow cooker onto low.
  2. Break up the chocolate and place it in the slow cooker with the butter, condensed milk and flavouring.
  3. Stir every 15 mins with a silicon spatula for 2 hours.
  4. Line a 7in square cake tin with grease proof paper.
  5. Pour in the fudge mixture.
  6. Add the candy cane and sprinkles over the top of the fudge. 
  7. Allow to cool and harden, before cutting into small chunks.

Pin it for later:

slow cooker Christmas fudge recipe: A perfect homemade christmas gift

Hijacked By Twins