A Strong Coffee

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Rubik's 2x2 Review And Giveaway

We are big fans of Rubik's puzzles in this house and have just had a new addition to the family: A Rubik's 2x2.

rubiks 2x2

Having tried out the Rubik's Junior and finally finding a Rubik's puzzle I can complete without cheating, I was excited by the Rubik's 2x2. I mean it is only small, it must be easy right? Louise, read the sticker on the box! No it is not easy. It is small, but with 3764160 combinations, I have yet to manage to complete it.

Instead I have left it to big man to solve. He is now a whizz at the regular Rubik's cube.

"It's all to do with algorithms Mummy."

"Ummmm ok" I say whilst googling what algorithm means. It took him 3 weeks to be taught by his friend and you tube on how to solve a Rubik's cube no matter how it has been muddled.

He has managed to solve the 2x2 but hasn't yet worked out how to do it reliably. However, I am sure he will work it out soon. I am hoping he will them teach me so that I can finally say I have completed a Rubik's cube.

I did think that the boys may not be as interested in this cube as they have the bigger one, but that is not the case. Big man sees it as a new challenge and little man lives in hope that he might be able to solve this smaller version.

I am excited to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win a Rubik's 2x2 cube for themselves. Just complete the gleam entry below. Good Luck!

Rubik's 2x2

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A Super Mario Cake For Middle Man's Gaming Party

This weekend saw the start of middle man's 8th Birthday celebrations. He had a fantastic gaming party from Pop Up Arcade so I decided to make him a Mario cake.

I am sure he would have liked a Minecraft one, but I have already made a surprise inside one for big man as well as a Minecraft birthday cake one. I was originally cursing myself for throwing out an old Happy Meal Mario figure, but then I found a Mario Pez dispenser and had an idea. As I just had the head, I decided I would stick it into the middle of the cake and it would look like he was coming out of one of those green drain pipes.

Time is scarce these days so I made the cake as easily as possible. I made a basic sponge using 8oz self raising flour, 8oz caster sugar, 8oz butter and 4 eggs. I split this between 3 round cake tins and added greaseproof paper to the top as well as bottom so they would rise evenly.

Once cooled, Betty Crocker came to the rescue with her chocolate fudge frosting. I sandwiches the layers together and spread frosting around the sides and top. This then went into the fridge to cool so that I could smooth it and add blue icing over the cake.

To make all the details of the cake, I used coloured icing pre prepared with CMC. To make the drainpipe stand up I used an ice cream cone to attach the icing to.

Finally I added some chocolate gold coins to the back of the cake using toothpicks.

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super mario birthday cake using a Pez dispenser

Monday, 5 February 2018

Meal Planning Monday: Feb 4th 2018

I can hardly believe that it is half term for us next week. I am pleased it is though. This rubbish weather and dark afternoons has been tough going and I am looking for a more relaxed week.

This weekend saw middle man's gaming party. It was a huge hit and he was buzzing all evening. I have decided that you can't win with party teas and there are always kids that don't like what you feed them. I have spent hours making sandwiches before and been left with thousands. This time it was pizzas and nuggets and they still didn't seem to eat much. It could be the case though that not all children eat as much as my boys do. We also now have loads of ice cream to eat as the party over ran and we ended up just giving them cake.

super mario birthday cake

I have run out of ideas and energy this week when it comes to meal planning and am mainly going for easy dinners.

Monday: Scrambled egg an chorizo bagel

Tuesday: Pork and apple burgers

Wednesday: Prawn, garlic and lemon ciabatta

Thursday: Filled pasta and sauce

Friday: Microwave curries

Saturday: Steak and wedges. (I will be going to Lidl to get the steaks as they are so much better than Tesco.)

Sunday: Eating out

What do you have planned to eat this week?

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

A Private Chef At Home: La Belle Assiette Review

Last week we were lucky enough to experience a dinner party at home with the lovely chef Libby May from La Belle Assiette. 

The company are UK wide and source a chef to come and cook for you in your own home, or venue of your choosing. Think hen night weekend in a cottage or a surprise for your parents at their house. Menus start at £39 per person for 6 people for a temptation menu and go up to a Michelin star experience for £89 per person. Our menu would have been priced at £59 per person.

butternut squash shots

This was Libby's first "validation" meal for La Belle Assiette but she has a wealth of experience and was classically trained at Tante Marie Culinary academy. On booking, Libby called and we had a chat about the menu. When I say chat, I mainly said I haven't got a clue about this sort of thing. Libby was totally professional and suggested a couple of ideas and advised I should check with my guests about whether they liked seafood and if they had any allergies. I did this and then over e mail she came up with a delightful menu.

On the day of the dinner party, Libby arrived early with everything she needed to make our menu. Until a few days before, I hadn't really considered how it may be awkward having someone come into my house to cook. What if I didn't like them? Or my cooker wasn't good enough? I needn't have worried. Libby was friendly and professional and everything was like clockwork.

dinner party at home

On the evening we had an issue with our friends babysitter not turning up. Libby took it in her stride and made the canapes for the rest of us whilst we were waiting and when our friend arrived later, another set on canapes arrived. They all tasted fantastic and the butternut squash soup shot was a favourite of mine.

Our starter was goats cheese and the roasted beetroot was delicious.

Before the party, big man joked that we were having duck two ways. He started reciting the Fawlty Towers duck surprise sketch. Luckily there was nothing Basil Fawlty like about this meal.

Finally to finish we had orange blossom posset. It was a perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Whilst we chatted and enjoyed dessert, Libby packed away and cleaned up. Amazing!

Libby was a fantastic chef and it was a delight to have her cook for us. I would certainly recommend La Belle Assiette to people who are looking for a special meal for a special occasion.

All photos are courtesy of La Belle Assiette.

Family Fever

Monday, 29 January 2018

Meal Planning Monday: Jan 29th

I can't quite believe that we are entering February this week. However, I am being constantly reminded as middle man has an early birthday party this coming weekend. He is very excited to be having a gaming party like his brother with Pop Up Arcade. I am happy that this time there are some girls added to the mix as this usually calms things down a bit.

I have rather stupidly offered to make a Mario cake using an old Pez dispenser. If it all goes wrong then there is always Colin the caterpillar!

But what are we eating inbetween me making a cake?

Monday: Lasagne - I may also batch cook this and a shepherds pie.

Tuesday: Sausage and mash

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Garlic Pork in Black Bean Sauce.

Friday: Pasta. It needs to be quick as I am likely to be spending most of the evening making middle mans birthday cake.

Saturday: Party food - pizzas etc

Sunday: I can't think that far ahead at the moment!

What do you have planned for this week?

Hijacked By Twins

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Manic Weekends Call For A Quick To Make Lunch

This post is an entry for BritMums Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge, sponsored by Rustlers

Regular readers will know that since starting back at work part time, I am always looking out for some quick and easy mid week meals.  But with three boys who have a much better social life than me or my husband, weekends aren't any better.That is why I was keen to take part in the BritMums and Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge. Quick are great when I am acting as a glorified taxi driver, taking my boys to their various weekend activities and friends Birthday parties.

I have to admit that I wouldn't have really considered buying microwave burgers for a quick meal for the family before. But when the children are eating at different times due to their hectic schedules, it does make sense. I have certainly had their pork rib sandwich for myself before when I am in a rush.

So how did I hack our Rustlers southern fried chicken burgers? Well I started my research by eating one just as it was. The lightly peppered mayo in the packet is really good so I didn't feel the need to change that. I decided that a cheese slice would always add something to a burger. I just love the melted texture. I also like some fresh lettuce and tomato. As for the bun, if you have those extra minutes, it really does make a difference if you toast the bun rather than microwave it.

eating a rustlers

As for what to serve with the burgers, well that needs to be quick too. I mean there is no point taking 90s to cook your southern fried chicken burger and then waiting 30 mins for some wedges to bake in the oven. Here I opted for a simple tomato salsa and sweetcorn with buttered paprika.

The salsa is so simple to make. For each person, chop up one tomato finely. Add a slice of red onion finely chopped and a couple of basil leaves. Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. Hey presto one really easy and tasty salsa.

The sweetcorn is even easier. Here I used tinned sweetcorn, that I heated in the microwave. Once warm I added a knob of butter and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

The boys thought that the chicken burgers were great and the only thing that little man changed was swopping the mayo for some ketchup.

Rustler's Southern Fried Chicken Burgers can be bought in a single or twin pack from Tesco. How would you hack yours?

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Chicken Chow Mein: Easy Mid Week Meals

Since starting back at work part time, I am more in need of quick, easy and tasty midweek meals than ever before. This chicken chow mein ticks all these boxes. Having received the Jamie Oliver 5 ingredients book for Christmas, it has made me reaslise that I don't have to cook everything from scratch all the time. Sometimes some help is needed to make like that little bit more manageable.

The key to this dish is to coat your chicken. You can leave it marinading or just coat it a few minutes before you eat. Either way, it really makes a difference and you will never cook just plain chicken in a stir fry again.

As I have 3 boys that will leave their vegetables given the opportunity, I mix the stir fry vegetables into the dish rather than serve them to the side.

Chicken Chow Mein

Chicken Chow Mein

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 1tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1tbsp rice wine (or sherry)
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 1 bag of stir fry vegetables
  • 2 packets of straight to wok noodles
  • 1 packet of chow mein sauce
  • cashew nuts to top.
  1. Slice the chicken into strips.
  2. Mix the seasame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and cornflour together. Coat the chicken with this.
  3. Stir fry the chicken until golden brown on the outside. Leave to one side and stir fry the vegetables until slightly soft.
  4. Add the chicken back in with the vegetables, as well as the straight to wok noodles. Mix together so that the noodles separate.
  5. Add the chow mein sauce and warm through.
  6. Serve with some cashew nuts sprinkled on top.

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Hijacked By Twins