A Strong Coffee

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Cinnamon and Cocoa Bars

These cinnamon and cocoa bars are perfect with a cup of coffee. I was sent the original recipe along with some goodies from Three Sixty Coffee earlier this year and have only just got around to making them. Now I have tasted them, I am going to have to try some more variations soon!



I was also treated to Three Sixty Guatemala Antigua coffee and Organic Peru coffee. Both tasted smooth and full of flavour. It was nice to try some different flavours, rather than stick to my regular coffee. Three Sixty Coffee is stocked in Waitrose.


These cinnamon and cocoa bars are delicious. I had to vary the recipe from the original, as it turned out my baking cupboard wasn't as stocked up as I thought. However, that is the beauty of these bars. You can swap ingredients about to make them taste as you want. Maybe swap he cocoa nibs for dried fruits. Or half the quantity and add nuts. You can make them tastes as you want.

Cinnamon and Cocoa Bars


  • 175g porridge oats
  • 5g cinnamon
  • 15g cacao nibs
  • 75g butter
  • 50g muscavado sugar
  • 35g golden syrup
  1. Warm the cocoa nibs in an oven at 130C for 10 mins.
  2. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan.
  3. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including the roasted cocoa nibs.
  4. Line a small loaf tin with baking parchment and add the mixture and press down.
  5. Bake at 150C for 20 minutes
  6. Allow to cool and cut into slices.
  7. Enjoy with your favourite Three Sixty Coffee.
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Cinnamon and cocoa oat bars. Easy to make and go well with coffee

Monday, 27 February 2017

Our Top 10 Travel Must Haves For A Ski Holiday With Kids

It is that time of year when Mark Warner are on the look out for their brand ambassadors and have challenged bloggers to create a mood board of their top 10 travel must haves. Yes that is right, just 10. It was only a couple of years ago that I stopped asking my husband if I could pack the kitchen sink!

Now the boys are older I would love to take them on a skiing holiday. Both my husband and I were keen skiers pre children and our day trip to Lapland last year has helped us realise what is important for a ski holiday.

The Mark Warner team said they like creativity in the winning posts, but I am sorry the glitter fairy isn't visiting here! Instead we have created our mood board, Art Attack style. (Please note that whilst they make it look very easy on Art Attack, I shall not be applying to be a presenter. It is a lot harder than they make it look,which I think my video successfully shows.)



Ok, so I feel I should explain a little bit more about our 10 choices

Our Family

Yes that is right, I want my family there. The five of us. You might be mistaken in thinking that this would be obvious in booking a holiday. However, a large number of travel companies aren't quite there yet. Holidays for families of 4. Tick. For a family of 5, now that can be tricky. I have lost count of the number of times that we have been told that we can have 2 rooms but we can't guarentee that they will be interconnecting. The most important thing I must have on any holiday is my family. All 5 of us.

Passports

An obvious one for a holiday abroad?

Well you would think.

I kid you not, not one but two of my friends have had to cancel their holidays last minute in recent years as a few days before departure they have realised that one of their children's passports has run out. Holiday's are such a special time together and this would be devastating. I am now slightly obsessive about checking that our passports are in date.

The right scarf

Ok, quiz time.

Spot the difference in these two pictures of middle man below (other than he has changed into a snow suit.)


The picture on the right is how he was dressed the majority of the time we were in Lapland. Yes, he decided that his scarf wasn't right and he took a liking to my pink snood type scarf instead. And do you know what? He was right! My scarf was the best. You don't want the bulkiness of a normal scarf when you are skiing (or visiting Father Christmas.) The right scarf is the way to go.

Cameras

Whether you are going on a sun or a ski holiday you will want to take your camera to take pictures of the stunning views and your precious family memories.

Manuel Antonio Beach Costa Rica


When your legs are tired in a cloud forest, you can play rock, paper, scissors.
One of the best things about skiing is the views. They are simply breath taking. It would be the boy's first skiing trip. I would want to capture those precious memories on camera. I am also a bit of a Go Pro junkie. We bought the Go Pro for our trip to Lapland. The only problem was that by the time we arrived it was dark! I would love to capture our ski adventures on this.

Layers

Layers, layers, layers. They are the way to go on a ski holiday. Best to have too many layers and take them off, than too little and be cold.

The Right Attitude

I have found that a lot of people put barriers in the way of travelling with their children. It is too expensive, too much hassle, they wont appreciate it. I guess to some extent you can agree with this, but I feel it is all down to your attitude. We just ask the boys to try what we put before them and see if they like it. So far our travels have been better than we could have imagined. Just have fun.

Sun Cream

Yes it is cold, yes there is snow. but yes you can get sun burnt. We would be slapping on the sun cream if we were lucky enough to be chosen.

Children's Medicine

Having three children, it is peace of mind having some medicine to hand if you need it. Whilst you may still need to find a pharmacy or go to the doctors on a trip, having some children's medicine to hand might help you for a couple of hours.

Snacks

When you become a parent, you find that you carry a lot of snacks about your person. All Mums have at least 3 stray raisins in their handbag. Fact. Children are always hungry. This starts from arriving at an airport check in and happens every-time they have to wait for more than 30 seconds. Snacks are important at all times, but especially when travelling.

Childcare

One of the areas Mark Warner pride themselves on is childcare. As a family we have only used childcare on holiday once. Yes, my husband spent 45 minutes of his life colouring in a octopus because big man wouldn't let him leave. I was left at the side of the pool with a 2 year old and a 6 month old baby as they were too little to be in kids club. Let's just say it was not relaxing! Mark Warner appear to have everything covered though. Their childcare runs from 4 months to 12 years at the ski resorts. Our boys would all fit into the Junior club and would be encouraged to enjoy the snow. Leaving me to relax by pointing my skis down a red run. (Ok maybe after 11 years I should go for an easy blue!)

Our Top 10 Travel Must Haves For A Ski Holiday With Kids Mood Board

So there you have it my top 10 travel must haves for a ski holiday. Do you agree? What would you change? Have you tried Mark Warner yourself, are they as good as they sound? So with that I will sit back, relax and cross everything. In a hope that we could be skiing down a snowy mountain later this year, with Mark Warner.





This is part of my application to be a #MarkWarnerMum 2017.

Friday, 24 February 2017

How To Make A Pokeball Cake: Middle Man Turns 7

A Pokeball cake was top of middle man's list when it came to planning his 7th Birthday. Middle man loves Pokemon go, and as it gets him out of the house and walking around we are fine in indulging him in it every now and then.


It seems that turning 7 is very exciting. We have literally been on a countdown to it from Boxing Day. His Birthday list was full of Lego and he has spent most of his half term assembling his sets. Every now and then he calls me up to find a missing piece and show me a special feature. It makes my heart melt.

We celebrated his Birthday with a family swim, followed by Pizza Hut. He had asked if we could do MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut in one day, just like the song. We felt that was a little excessive!

For his party, he chose a gynmastics centre and had his friends over. He beamed from ear to ear.


Luckily, his choice of cake wasn't too hard. As half term was sandwiched inbetween his Birthday and his party, I didn't have much time to make it.  This picture shows you how I leveled the icing up, which I think is the easiest way of attempting a pokeball cake.


Pokeball Cake Tutorial


Serves 20+ Children

For the cake
  • 10 oz butter
  • 10 oz caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 12 oz self raising flour
For the decoration
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • 4oz butter
  • strawberry jam
  • 750g ready to roll white icing
  • 500g ready to roll red icing
  • 250g ready to roll black icing
  • CMC to prepare the black icing is optional (1/4 tablespoon of CMC to every 100g.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  2. Mix all the cake ingredients together. I find that it is easier if the butter is melted in the microwave first.
  3. Divide the mixture between two 20cm spring form tins that have been greased and lined with baking parchment.
  4. Bake until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool before adding the frosting.
  5. To make the  frosting mix the icing sugar and butter together using an electric whisk. 
  6. Sandwich the cakes together with a layer of buttercream and jam in the middle.
  7. Spread butter cream over the top of the cake and sides. Scrape off any excess so that the sides are smooth and flat. Place in the fridge for 30mins to harden.
  8. Roll out the white icing so it is large enough to cover your cake. Place on top and smooth out.
  9. Roll out the red icing so that it will cover half of your cake. Cut a straight line and place it over half of your cake.
  10. Use white icing to level the cake where the black middle and centre will go.
  11. Cut out a circle of black icing and cut a smaller circle in the centre. Replace this with a white circle of the same size.
  12. Roll out a long black strip. Cut the end with the large circle cutter so it fits to the circle in the centre. 
  13. Add ribbon around the bottom of the cake if desired.

I am pleased to say I now have a break from baking birthday cakes for a while! 

What do your children ask for, for their Birthday cakes?


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Easy to make pokeball cake tutorial for a pokemon go fan


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

3 Ingredient Plum Tarts

These 3 ingredient plum tarts are delicious hot or cold and are so simple to make. One of the things I love about blogging is that sometimes you get a surprise package. As the delivery driver turned up on Valentine's Day, I was wondering what I had been sent. I was pretty sure that it wasn't anything from my husband as we had agreed we would have a takeaway to declare our love for each other! A smile came to my face when it was some plums from SA Stonefruit. 


I love plums, but it is one of those fruits I don't buy very often. After this delivery, I am not sure why.
I decided to make some simple tarts. They are delicious warm with some vanilla ice cream, but equally as tasty when cold. More like a danish pasty then.


3 Ingredient Plum Tarts


  • Ready rolled puff pastry
  • Marzipan
  • Plums (each tart uses half a plum.)
  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut out some puff pasty circles.
  2. Roll out a thin layer of marzipan and use a smaller cutter to cut out a circle.
  3. Place this on top of the puff pastry.
  4. Cut each plum in half and then into 4 or 5 slices.
  5. Place one slice on the marzipan and then arrange the remaining ones in a fan shape.
  6. Cook as per puff pastry guidelines. (I baked mine at 220C for around 18 minutes.)
  7. Enjoy warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or cold with a nice cup of tea.
3 ingredient plum tarts. So easy to make using plums, puff pastry and marzipan.

For more recipe inspiration, check out these recipes.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Hans Solo World Book Day Costume and A Star Wars Giveaway!

The hardest thing about making this Hans Solo costume for World Book Day was keeping little man still. With a water gun in his hands he just wanted to leap around shooting baddies!


Egmont have challenged myself along with some other bloggers to come up with some Star Wars outfits for World Book Day. My boys love Star Wars, but I was a bit stumped with an easy to make outfit. So I went on a hunt around the house to see what we had that I could use. When I found a suit that little man had worn for my sisters wedding in his wardrobe, Hans Solo sprung to mind.


I grabbed a pair of Wellington boots, skinny jeans, white shirt, an old belt and a Quixels gun and started assembling the outfit. You can see exactly what I did in this short video:



As you can see from the photos, little man is one happy Hans Solo! If you don't have black wellies, maybe you have some girls boots that could be used instead. No white shirt? Maybe a karate top. Having a good look around your house can really put ideas into your head.

In celebration of World Book day Egmont Publishing have offered me a set of the Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space Books to giveaway to one of my readers.

Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space books

Big man has just started the series by reading The Snare. The first page sets the scene explaining that the Clone Wars have ended and the Jedi order has been destroyed. The evil Emperor Palpatine is the unopposed leader of the galaxy. The book focuses on Milo and Lina who are the children of the captured Imperial Captain Korda. Milo and Lina set out in their starship Whisper Bird to rescue their parents. But with the Imperial forces lying in wait, can they escape the snare.

The Nest: Still looking for their parents, Milo and Lina Graf need some help. They trace their latest clue to the jungle, where a terrifying adventure unfolds.

The Steal: Still on the hunt to find their kidnapped parents, Milo and Lina have something special stolen from them and have to embark on their most dangerous mission yet.

The Dark: In this story Milo and Lina are adrift on a starship that is spiraling towards disaster. Not to mention the fact that there is a criminal on the loose and the Empire are closing in. But something deadlier awaits them - the dark.

The books are aimed at confident readers from around aged 8 upwards. Big man struggled at first with the concept of the books as they focus on different characters from the films he has seen. However, a Star Wars fan sure to be won over by these new adventures in wild space. The books can be purchased from Amazon.

               



             


And there is a new title that you can pre order to receive in March: The Cold. Still looking for their kidnapped parents, Milo and Lina are left them stranded on a desolate ice planet after an ambush. With an old enemy out for revenge, can they survive THE COLD?



To win a set of  Star Wars Wild In Space Adventures, just complete the Gleam entry below. Good Luck!


Star Wars Wild In Space Adventures

If you are, or know a Star Wars fan, then Egmont Publishing really do have a book for everyone. From fact files to adult colouring you can see their full range here.

Need some more inspiration? Here Eileen has made R2D2 and Angela will be showing you how to make Yoda.


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky







This is a commissioned post

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Fried Sage And Anchovies

I first tried deep fried sage and anchovies when I attended a Red Letter Days Cookery Class at Caldessi Cookery School in London last year. It was a Tuscan Cookery Class. To be brutally honest, I was a little disappointed it was on the menu. I don't mind anchovies, on a pizza. But who eats them at a dinner party? Tuscan people do! And do you know why? Because they are absolutely delicious! 

Whilst I didn't have any 00 flour, which is recommended, plain flour can be used and the results are good. My eldest son had been asking to try some anchovies as he had seen some in the cupboard that I had reviewed recently. I thought this was the perfect chance to recreate the dish that I had eaten at Caldessi.



Fried Sage And Anchovies


  • 2 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt and pepper
  • large sage leaves
  • 1 jar of delicius anchovies
  1. Mix the egg and flour together and then whisk in the milk. I used a cup of semi skimmed milk. The batter is quite light, you don't want it too think and heavy.
  2. Add a little salt and pepper.
  3. Add some oil to a pan and heat it up. (Grape seed oil is recommended but I used vegetable oil.) Add a drop of batter to check that the oil is hot enough.
  4. Take the anchovies out of the jar and make sure they are dried on some kitchen towel. Depending on the size of your sage leaves you may want to cut the anchovies in half.
  5. Sandwich an anchovy between two sage leaves and then dip it in the batter.
  6. Fry until a light golden brown.
  7. Allow to rest on some kitchen towel to get rid of excess fat.
  8. Enjoy whilst warm.

I was pleased to say that my 9 year old loved these as much as I did. I am hoping that we may see them on our trip to Italy later this year.

What is your favourite Tuscan food?

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deep fried sage and anchovies from a tuscan dinner party menu


Monday, 13 February 2017

Courgetti With Pesto And Manchego

I devised this courgetti recipe after AO.com challenged me to make a healthy but exciting dish using the Kenwood Electric Spiralizer. My husband isn't a fan of having a meat free dish, and when I told him that it would also be pasta free he was even less pleased! He was worried that courgetti just wouldn't cut it. Luckily, by using some of his favourite flavours, I soon changed his mind.


I am still getting to grips with my Kenwood electric spiraliser. You can see it in action here:



The biggest tip I have for using the  machine is to make sure your vegetables are fresh and as straight as possible. Results aren't great if the vegetables have been sitting around for a while. The spiralizer is easy to clean with the detachable parts being dishwasher safe.


Courgettes have been hard to come by in recent weeks, but I was pleased to be able to get some last weekend. I used the linguine blade to make the courgette ribbons and was pleased with the results,


Courgetti With Pesto And Manchego


Serves 2
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 tsps reduced fat red pesto
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • A handful of olives, sliced
  • 3 sundried tomatoes chopped
  • 50g manchego cheese cubed
  • Chilli flakes
  1. Spiralize the courgettes. 
  2. Steam in the microwave for 2-3minutes.
  3. Add the pesto and garlic to a frying pan and heat through. 
  4. Add the Olives and sundried tomatoes.
  5. Add the courgetti and make sure that it is coasted in the pesto.
  6. Add the small cubes of manchego cheese.
  7. Divide between 2 bowls and top with some chilli flakes.

This meal was delicious and both my husband and I are looking forward to trying some more healthy meals with it.

Do you have a spiralizer? What recipes do you recommend?

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Courgetti With Pesto And Manchego, a tasty healthy meal


Family Fever

Hijacked By Twins