A Strong Coffee

Monday, 19 March 2018

Weekley Meal Plan 19th March

Well I don't know about you, but I wasn't banking on building a snowman this weekend. It was a poor effort, but little man was happy.

This week see'e the boys doing their karate grading so they will have an extra lesson on Monday nights so an easy meal is needed there. To be honest, easy meals all week are on the plan. I seem to be exhausted at the moment and the last thing I want to do after a day at work is spend hours cooking so, simplicity is the key this week.

Monday: Homemade quiche with wrap base

Tuesday: Courgette and feta frittas. This is a Nigella recipe that I haven't made for ages but tastes great.

Wednesday: Parsnip soup

parsnip soup

Thursday: Sausage pasta

Friday: Lamb curry

Saturday: Some kind of salmon. I got a side of it this week and half is in the freezer.

Sunday: Roast chicken.

Hijacked By Twins

Monday, 12 March 2018

A Marmalade Sandwich Fit For Paddington #Paddington2DVD

With Paddington 2 available on DVD from today, I have been challenged to make a marmalade sandwich that would live up to Paddington's high expectations.

If you didn't manage to catch Paddington 2 at the cinema, then I would really recommend the DVD. It is not often that you can say a sequel is even better than the original, but in this case it is. I am not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes at the most beautiful ending.

The film sees Paddington saving to buy a special book for his Aunt Lucy's  100th Birthday. However, the book is stolen and Paddington ends up in prison. It is down to Paddington and The Brown's to unmask the thief. There is a cast full of stars and it is refreshing to see Hugh Grant take on a different kind of role.

So what better way to celebrate the release of Paddington 2 on DVD than by enjoying it with a marmalade sandwich. I asked the boys opinion on how we should do this and it was agreed that we one make one like the star of the film himself, Paddington.

I was keen to use margarine on the bread, however, my eldest said that Paddington would not do this so we left it out. We used a bear shape cutter and then added detail using a slice of banana and some raisins. The perfect snack for when you are watching the film!

Paddington 2 is out now for you to buy on DVD, Bluray and digital download.

Have you seen the film? What did you think?

Disclosure: We received a Paddington 2 Goody bag with the DVD in exchange for this post.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Mother's Day Menu And New Spring Additions At ASK Italian

I have been celebrating Mother's Day early with a delicious meal at ASK Italian this evening. They invited us to review their Monther's Day menu which is available this weekend. At only £19.95 for a three course meal and a glass of Prosecco, this is a treat that your Mother will love and it wont break the bank.

My boys love pizza and pasta so were more than happy when I said we would be eating at ASK Italian. On arrival we were treated to a little taster of their cloudy lemonade. Middle man liked it so much that he ordered this as his drink.

Butterfly prawns ASK Italian

For starter, I opted for the butterfly prawns with garlic and rosemary. It was a simple and delicious dish. For main course I ordered Penne Al Pollo Della Cassa. I love mushrooms, but as I am the only one in the family that does, I don't often eat them at home. The pasta sauce was seasoned with black pepper which complimented the mushrooms really well.

For dessert, I opted for a new spring addition that was on the menu, lemon tart with blood orange drizzle. I love a good lemon tart and this was the perfect end to the meal. Sharp yet sweet. A real treat.

As it was a Mother's Day treat, though, it was made by being with these lovlies. The children's meals went down rather well with Middle man claiming his pizza as one of the best ever. With such a claim, and for review purposes *cough cough*, I had to have a taste. He was right - it was full of flavour on a crisp base and was one of the best I have eaten in a long time.

So, if you are stuck for somewhere to take your Mum for Mother's Day this weekend, then I can recommend ASK Italian. It is so nice to have a night off cooking with the ones that you love.

What have you got planned for Mother's Day?

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

White Chocolate Slow Cooker Fudge For Easter

After the success of my slow cooker fudge at Christmas, I decided I would try and make an Easter version. As my preferred Easter treat is a MaltEaster bunny, I decided to opt for a white chocolate fudge this time.

As much as I would like to eat a massive block of fudge with a whole bunny on, I decided that my calorie intake would be huge so I opted to cut the rabbits in half so that you would get either a bunny butt or head on. I also smashed up some Cadbury's mini eggs mainly to add some colour. I felt that having whole eggs would be a bit too hard so crushed them.

White Chocolate Slow Cooker Fudge

  • 200g condensed milk
  • 375g of white cooking chocolate
  • 25g butter
  • a few grinds of vanilla or drops of vanilla essence

To decorate:

  • 1-2 packets of MaltEaster Bunnies Minis cut in half
  • Cadbury's mini eggs, smashed up
  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 MaltEaster bunnies and mini eggs.
  7. Allow to cool and harden, before cutting into small chunks.
Pin it for later:

Personally, I like the slow cooker method for making fudge as it means I can do other things whilst cooking. Nothing exciting - just washing up and cleaning. However, when I was writing up I saw that the lovely Grace at Eats Amazing has a similar Easter fudge recipe, but uses a microwave instead. Worth a try if you fancy fudge but are short on time.

Need some more Easter recipe ideas? How about these Malteaser flavoured MaltEaster Cupcakes?

Malteaser Cupcakes

Or a Bunny Butt Cake using a Tunnocks Tea cake and mini eggs to decorate.

Bunny Butt cake

Or some fried egg cookies?

Monday, 5 March 2018

Meal Planning Monday 5th March

Well last week went slightly off plan with some unexpected snow days and the boys off school. My husband went to Tesco and bought some emergency pasta!


This week, Daddy is off celebrating his 40th with his university friends so the boys are excited to be having a Dominoes on Saturday. I am happy as it means I don't have to cook! But what about the rest of the week?

Monday: Cheese and onion pork chops
Tuesday: Carrot and butternut squash soup
Wednesday: Salmon and lentils which we didn't have last week (I have some Jamie Oliver microwave lentils)
Thursday: Ham egg and chips
Friday: Chicken and ham pie
Saturday: Dominoes pizza
Sunday: Roast beef (as it is Mother's day, the boys can help Daddy cook it and I can have a glass of red wine!)

What is on your meal plan this week?

Hijacked By Twins

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Feeding A White Bengal Tiger At Paradise Wildlife Park

I will openly admit that feeding a tiger was not on my bucket list. I have only just managed (at the age of 41) to stroke my friends cocker spaniel! My husband on the other hand loves animals, so when Paradise Wildlife Park asked if he would like to review the feed a big cat experience for his 40th Birthday, I lept at the chance. Infact I was excited to be taking part too. I mean the tiger is behind a metal fence, how scary could it be?

White Bengal Tiger at Paradise Wildlife Park

We headed to the park nice and early and reported to the discovery centre. They stamped our hands and let us go into the park for a quick look around. We headed back to the discovery centre 10 mins before our feeding slot and had a hot chocolate and biscuit whilst we signed our waiver.

We then met Ian who was our guide for the experience. I was expecting to be told which big cats we were feeding, but he advised we could choose. Obviously our chosen cat may not be in the mood and if so we would then need to move to another. So now came a big decision. For me it was between the lions or white tiger. The keeper had explained that the other tigers were mourning the loss of their male a few weeks previously, so we felt we would leave to grieve in peace.

Having been and enjoyed tea with a tiger with Red Letter Days, I already had a soft spot for the white tiger. My husband was happy and we opted for this. On the walk over, Ian told us all about Baikal. He had come from a zoo in France when he was young. They had tried to put another white tiger who had been rescued from a circus with him, but being solitary animals they didn't get on.The other tiger is at their sister site in Kent. Ian explained that they would not breed Baikal as that would be irresponsible. White Bengal Tigers are genetically inferior due to inbreeding and can't survive in the wild. He therefore said that he felt the park was the best place for Baikal.

We arrived at the enclose and Ian went through how to hold the meat and present it to Baikal. As we were a couple, we both had 5 pieces of meat to feed Baikal.. If you do the experience by yourself you will have 8 pieces. Ian advised that if we got licked it would feel like sandpaper. Was I scared? Not at all.

My husband went first. His face lit up when he fed the tiger.

After a couple of low down feeds, Ian advised to raise his arm so that we could see him in all his beauty. I chucked when my husband exclaimed he was a big cat. Of course he was! Was I scared? Not at all.

Feeding A White Tiger At Paradise Wildlife Park

Feeding A White Tiger At Paradise Wildlife Park

Feeding A White Tiger At Paradise Wildlife Park

Then it was my go. I calmly walked to to the fence. My husband was right, he was big! Ian placed the meat in my hand. I went to put my hand against the fence. Baikal opened his mouth. Was I scared? No,  I was terrified! I pulled away and couldn't do it! This is when Ian was fantastic. He didn't make me feel stupid. He asked if I wanted help. I accepted. He put his hand over mine to give me assurance. It is amazing how being a few feet nearer makes something more scary. It is only this close up that you really appreciate the shear size of a tiger.

Feeding A White Tiger At Paradise Wildlife Park

The long slightly curved and sharp teeth, The mouth opened so wide. His massive claws which would knock you down with one blow. My imagination ran wild, but he  really was the most gentle of giants. Whilst absolutely terrified I managed to feed him by myself. He carefully took his chunk of meat and swallowed it whole.

It was, without doubt, one of the best experiences I have ever had.

Maybe it was because I wasn't expecting it to be scary. Maybe it was because it was something I wouldn't normally choose to do. Maybe it was because it really is a special thing, being able to feed such a beautiful and powerful animal.

I had wanted my husband to have a 40th he would remember and with an experience like this my wish was delivered. If you want to see us both in action, then I have made a short video. Complete with my cackles of relief!

As part of the experience, you can spend the rest of the day in the park (which deserves its own post very soon) and a goody bag that has a certificate and magnet in.

If you are looking for a present for the person that has everything then I can guarantee this is a day that they will remember forever. A massive thank you to Paradise Wildlife Park for such an amazing day.

Family Fever

Monday, 26 February 2018

Meal Planning Feb 26th

How on earth is it only a week since half term? I think the past week may have been the longest week ever. It started rather well with my husbands 40th and a trip to the Hinds Head in Bray. We have been a couple of times before and it is always good. It isn't out there like The Fat Duck. Just really good food. Best of all was the lunch menu was only £25 for 3 courses. Not bad for somewhere with a Michelin star is it? I love that when you go to a good restaurant, you eat food that you would never have tried otherwise and it tastes delicious. I am now thinking we should try and go more often!

This coming week my husband is away for a couple of nights so I will try and make a few easy dinners. I feel like I am being pulled in 20 different directions at the moment so sometimes the easy option needs to win. I still haven't worked out what the boys will wear for World Book Day!

Last week's meal plan went well and the boys loved my homemade quiche. Will have to share a recipe for that soon.

So back to our meal plan for this week:

Monday: Sausage casserole

Tuesday: Cheesy egg and bacon muffins

Wednesday: Wrap based pizzas

Thursday: Salmon and lentils

Friday: Curry - something I have frozen.

Saturday: Duck pancakes and prawn toast

homemade prawn toast

Sunday:Beef casserole with puff pastry.

What have you got on your meal plan this week?

Hijacked By Twins