A Strong Coffee

Monday, 18 September 2017

Cottage Loaf

Last week saw bread week on Great British Bake Off. As I managed to buy the ingredients for making fortune cookies but never got round to making them, I decided I better go for the easy option! Cottage loaf it is then.

I suppose I should start by saying that despite my initial worry that Channel 4 would ruin Bake Off, I am once again enjoying it. I really didn't get why they chose Noel Fielding, but he does the job well. I am converted. (Sorry Mel, Sue and Mary! I will always love you too.) I do find that watching it slightly delayed so I can fast forward the ads helps.

So as I said, I decided that cottage loaf was the most achievable bake for me this week. I'm pleased to say it was a winner. Now I have a food mixer, I was able to use the dough hook rather than spending forever kneading.

It was a totally winner with my boys. Exclamations included "It's like bread from the bakery Mummy" and "I just love it." Now that is a win.

Cottage Loaf

  • 500g Strong white flour
  • 1 sachet of easy bake yeast
  • 1 1/2tsp caster sugar
  • 1 1/2tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 300ml warm water
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients into a boel and rub in the butter.
  2. Add the water to make a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Place in a greased bowl and leave to rise so that it doubles in size.
  4. Knock out the air by kneading a few times and shape into one large ball and one small one. Place the small ball on the large and using a floured finger, push through the centre down to the bottom so that the balls stick together.
  5. Cover with a tea towel and allow to double in size again.
  6. Pre heat the oven to 200C
  7. Bake the bread for around 30 mins. Tap the bottom and if it sounds hollow it is done. Allow to cool and enjoy. Eating it slightly warm is just the best.

Pin it for later:

easy to bake homemade cottage loaf recipe

Next week is caramel week. A seriously bad week for my healthy eating plan. But I have a great millionaires shortbread recipe on its way! Keep a look out!

What do you think of the new Bake Off?

Mummy Mishaps

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Awesome Little Green Men Review

When I was offered to review Awesome Little Green Men, I thought they would be perfect for middle man. He likes little collectibles. He still plays with his Moshi Monsters and World of Warriors. He often sets up battles in his castle so I thought it would be just the thing.

Awesome Little Green Men

I will be completely honest and say I was a little disappointed when the package turned up. We were sent the Awesome Little Green Battle Pack retailing at a whopping £24.99 and a couple of Blind Boxes at a more affordable £3.99. My disappointment was mainly regarding the size. They were much bigger than I was expecting. Now don't get me wrong, they are still small but each stand a couple of inches tall,. I had thought they would be smaller. I was initially concerned as to whether they would break, but on getting them out of the box, it was clear they were well made.

Middle and little man did not share any of my concerns and were excited to get them out of the box. The Battle Deluxe Pack comes with eight soldiers (three in a vehicle), eight dog-tags, a new recruits poster and game guide. My boys were mainly excited about the soldiers and what they were wearing and /or driving. They weren't really interested in the dog tags at all. When it came to the game it was a bit over their heads. They were happy setting up their own battle and doing their own thing.

Awesome Little Green Men Battle

They loved the Blind Boxes as there is the suspense as to which character you might get. They were keen to identify them on their guide and were really excited to have a super rare figure.

Only time will tell as to whether this becomes something they play with a lot or is a bit of a fad. If you have a child that likes role playing battles then this is probably something they would enjoy.
Awesome Little Green Men are available to buy in Tesco, Smyths and Toys R Us. To find out more information about Awesome Little Green Men and The Battle Game, visit their website.

Family Fever

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A Lego Themed Room With Mayka Toy Block Tape

Middle man loves Lego, so there was no surprise when he asked that his new bedroom would have a Lego theme. It is currently a work in progress but has been helped greatly by my latest review which is that of the Mayka 4 stud 2m toy block tape.

Mayka toy block tape

I feel that I should start this review by telling you that I am a Lego snob. In my opinion there are no other toy blocks that compare to the quality of Lego. I would not usually even consider buying anything that says Lego compatible. If it isn't Lego branded then I am not interested.

However, when it comes to decorating a room with a Lego theme I am less fussy. I was keen to try out the tape to see whether it looked good. I also wanted middle man to be able to stick Lego pieces onto it if he wished.

The tape we were given was the 4 stud variety but you can purchase it in 2 stud. The reel it comes in makes it look like there is more than there is. At each 50cm you can see a slight join so that may be worth keeping in mind for any projects you have in mind.

I decided that we would use the tape to jazz up the old ikea storage units that middle man keeps his Lego bricks in. It was simple to cut to size (although using scissors can be hard to get straight.)  It is also great as the adhesive is removable so if you stick it in the wrong place you can easily adjust it.

Toy block tape on ikea storage

I also edged a shelf under his midsleeper as well as making up a picture frame with the remaining pieces.

Toy block tape

I have to say I am really impressed. If I was going to put it on the wall (which I am thinking of doing) I would probably buy a couple of rolls. The fact that it doesn't mark the surface it sticks to and can be removed easily is a big thumbs up from me.

But the all important question is what does middle man think?

Well he has been lining up his Lego men in an imaginary queue to use the toilet. There is also a famous you tuber in the line! Sometimes it is best not to know what middle man thinks, but as he has been playing with it, I take that as a big thumbs up too.

toy block tape with Lego on

The Toy Block Tape comes in a variety of colours and is currently retailing at £14.99 in Argos. For some more ideas of using the tape check out Helpful Mum's review.  You can also visit the Makya World website to find out more.

Family Fever

Home Etc

Monday, 11 September 2017

Soulful Baker Review And Giveaway

It wont come as a surprise to regular readers, that I love baking. So when I was offered to review Soulful Baker I jumped at the chance.  I hadn't actually heard of Julie Jones, but taking a look at her instagram, you can see what beautiful bakes she makes.

Baking became a form of therapy for Julie Jones when her mother, who taught her to cook, was diagnosed with dementia. They both gained comfort from baking together in the earlier stages of her condition which inspired Julie to create an Instagram record of this precious time, and in turn produce the stunning Soulful Baker

The bakes in the book are absolutely stunning. Some look too good to eat. I actually have lots of cutters that I use for fondant icing which would be perfect for decorating pies. Watch this space!

pastry decoration techniques

The recipes are varied and suitable for beginners and seasoned bakers. Some of the tips are ingenious. I would never have thought of using a doily and cocoa powder to decorate a chocolate tart before. It is these finishing touches that make such a difference.

I always like to try out a recipe if I am reviewing a book and for this I tried the crumpet one. They are something that I would not have considered baking before. The recipe was easy and whilst my crumpets didn't look as pretty as those which Julie makes, they tasted good. Possibly a little salty for my tastes but that is easily fixed.

Soulful Baker is out on 21st September and whilst I hate to mention the C word so early, it really would make a fantastic present for anyone with an interest in baking. Can't wait that long? Then you can pre order a copy from Amazon. 

I am excited to be able to offer 2 of my readers the chance to win a copy for themselves. Just complete the Gleam entry below. Good Luck!

Soulful Baker Recipe Book

Listed on Prizefinder

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Gorgonzola And Caramelized Onion Croissants

OK, I have to confess the idea of pairing Gorgonzola and caramelized onion is not mine. It is that of Prezzo. Or at least that is where my husband had it on some garlic bread and we both loved it.

Gorgonzola And Caramelized Onion Croissants

The Gorgonzola balances the sweetness of the onions. If you like Gorgonzola then this is really good.
I was thinking of making some kind of tart with these ingredients, however, I looked in the fridge and found a tin of croissant dough. I asked my husband what he thought of my idea. His answer? "They sound like some seriously sexy croissants!"

Of course this would also work well with ready cooked croissants. Just cut them in half, fill and heat though. Whilst I am usually a croissant and jam kind of girl, these savoury croissants were the best lunch I have made in a long time.

Gorgonzola And Caramelized Onion Croissants

  • 1 tube of croissant dough
  • caramlized onion chutney
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 egg
  • onion seeds
  1. Unroll the croissant dough and tear into triangles
  2. Spread onion chutney over the dough leaving a cm around the edges
  3. Crumble Gorgonzola over the chutney and roll into crab shape.
  4. Wash with egg and sprinkle onion seeds on top
  5. Cook at 180C for 10-15 minutes

Pin it for later:

croissants filled with gorgonzola and caramilsed onion chutney. Topped with onion seeds

Link up your recipe of the week

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Smarties Anti Gravity Cupcakes

These Smarties anti gravity cupcakes are easy to make if you are a fan of illusion cakes. Tonight sees GBBO back on our screens. Hurrah! I hope! I was not happy that channel 4 took over the show and Mary is no longer in it, but I will give it a go and see if I can still love it. Once again I am planning on baking along with some other lovely bloggers and Jenny from Mummy Mishaps will be hosting a weekly linky so you can see what we all get up to.

When it comes to procrastination I am a queen. I am supposed to be packing to go on holiday. Instead I am baking cupcakes. When I saw that illusion cakes was on the list for tonights show, I had to have a quick go.

Smarties Anti Gravity Cupcakes

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am a fan of anti gravity cakes. Why? They look impressive but are relatively simple to make. One of my favourties is my anti gravity Prosecco cake.

As time is not on my side to do anything too fancy this week, I thought I would make some Smarties anti gravity cupcakes in a hope that is what is meant by an illusion cake. (Sometimes they can be quite cryptic with the challenges so I often bake after the show. This also helps as I get some tips on what to do.)

I made 10 cupcakes using a standard cupcake recipe of 4oz butter, 4oz self raising flour, 4oz caster sugar and 2 eggs.

Smarties Anti Gravity Cupcakes

  • 10 cupcakes
  • 5oz butter
  • 9 oz icing sugar
  • 1oz cocoa powder
  • 10 small paper cake pop sticks
  • 1 bag of Smarties minis
  • a small bar of chocolate
  1. Once your cupcakes have cooled, you need to add chocolate buttercream to the tops. Mix the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together with a splash of water. Ice the cakes so that the frosting is flat and level with the top of the cupcake case.
  2. Melt a few squares of chocolate.
  3. Dip the cake pop stick in the chocolate and then in the centre of the cupcake. Add some mini Smarties around the bottom of the base. Gently press smarties into the frosting and when full place in the fridge.
  4. Finally you need to "glue" Smarties up the cake pop stick with some melted chocolate. I used a paintbrush to apply the chocolate. The key is not to rush and to put the cake in the fridge if the Smarties start to slip so that the chocolate sets. It takes one box to do the bottom and then some extra smarties to go up the stick.
  5. Finally add the box to the top of the stick.

Pin it for later:

easy to make smarties anti gravity cupcakes, illusion cakes, pouring cakes

Thursday, 24 August 2017

StikBot Pirate Movie Set Review #Stikbot

There has been excitement in our house this week, as the boys received the StikBot Pirate Movie set to review. Perfect to keep them entertained in the British summer! The set is for aged 4+ and contains everything you need to make a stop animation except a phone or tablet.

StikBot Pirate Movie Set

Inside the box is one StikBot with accessories and 1 sheet of stick on clothes. As it is our first set, we didn't have another StikBot which is a shame. However, to get to grips with the idea of stop animation one is fine. Additional StikBots can be bought at a reasonable price.

The scenery board is double sided and can be used as a beach or cliff scene. The rest of the set can be made by popping out the parts from the foam board. This is simple and the pieces fit together easily and are numbered. Children will need help with this and I found myself doing it for mine.

The StikBot itself is a person with suction cups on its hands and feet. This enables you to move them and hold things. It takes a little bit of practice to get them moving without pulling them off the board. If this happens, having it set so you have ghost image helps as it shows you where the StikBot was in the last shot.

Once we had made the set up, the final thing we needed to do was download the Zing StikBot Studio app. My 9 year old immediately got to grips with how to work it. The app contains voice over recording, sound effects and music. The only thing we can't work out is how to delete a shot. Sometimes my boy was a little snap happy and pressed the photo button before moving his hand out of the way. We found it frustrating that we couldn't delete a frame. (If there is a way and you know, let us know!)

Update: You can delete a frame by going into the movie, moving the highlighter to the frame you want to delete and holding down until the option to delete comes up. Phew! This will be helpful.

filming using StikBot Pirate Movie Set

When it comes to storing the set, simple pieces like the trees and sharks could be easily dismantled. However, after putting it together, I don't want to dismantle the ship and boats so we will have to find a large box for it.

My 7 and particularly my 9 year old like this set. I can see the request for another StikBot coming very soon. It is something they can do together and they love making little films so I can see it being used quite regularly.

Here is a short video showing us putting the set together and our stop animation attempts. Big man's first and last attempts over a day are there and you can already see an improvement.

Have you got any of the StikBot sets? Which would you recommend?