Friday, 31 May 2013

Bakewell Baking Festival

Way back when I attended the Cake and Bake Show in Manchester I met the organisers of the Bakewell Baking Festival and I was lucky enough to be given a Bakewell Pudding to taste - it was delicious!  The festival is being held on 8th and 9th June and looks like a fantastic event.

I'd love to go just for another bakewell pudding!  Unfortunately Phil's working, and I'm devoting as much free time as I can to training for the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride so I won't be able to go.

There's a jam packed programme of events for both days, I'd definitely be going along to the raw baking and sugarcradft sessions on the Saturday.  Tickets are available via the shop.

On eating out

We haven't had that many meals out in restaurants so far this year.  I feel like I've "gone off" eating out.  It's just not appealing to me like it used to.  We had some tapas on bank holiday Monday in Leeds at La Tasca, and I was left feeling disappointed with the food and out of pocket.  I can't seem to justify the spend on eating out at the moment and feel like we wasted £30 and should have had a Boots sarnie instead!

Trying to eat out with a baby feels almost impossible, where will be big enough for us to take her pram, where will be quick enough so she isn't getting bored, where has decent baby changing....  I can't get enough of a quick coffee (and slice of cake) but to have the time to sit and eat a meal feels unachievable and stressful when she's with us.  I'm not getting any enjoyment from eating out.

Going out on an evening feels almost as impossible - it's either going out separately - which I then feel guilty about, or taking her to my parents so they can babysit which disrupts her routine.  Plus we're shattered and don't really feel like going out.

Then there's the Slimming World issue to consider.  Whenever I'm on a diet I go off food, eating out is hassle.  Going to a carvery for a roast, or a chain pub where I can have gammon, jacket potato and salad seems much easier than eating in a "proper" restaurant.

I am enjoying cooking but trying to stick to things that are SW friendly is stifling creativity in the kitchen.  I do use recipes from the SW website but struggle to find things we will all eat.  It feels very selfish to spend time in the kitchen on something only I will like.  Food is very much just fuel at the moment and not an enjoyable experience.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Sponsored post - How to produce the perfect meal plan

How to Produce the Perfect Meal Plan

We are constantly seeking new ways to lose weight or eat healthier, reduce the amount of out of date food we are throwing away or make our weekly food budget go just a little bit further. The ideal way and perhaps the only way to do all four simultaneously is to create weekly meal plans around your existing schedule. Sound like hard work? Actually it is easier than you might think.

Firstly, it may serve you well to separate your meals into those which are essential for the supply of energy and nutrition your body requires, such as weekday lunches/dinners, when there is a minimal amount of time available for the 'making/preparing' process and then everything else such as Sunday lunch when you may have plenty of time to create a sumptuous feast.

Don't wait until you are hungry to plan your meal

As a general rule, if you leave it until you are hungry to prepare a meal then you are much more likely to reach for convenience foods or even order in a pizza or some other take-away junk, rather than spend time preparing a nutritious meal. This is often where a diet will fall down as hunger and convenience take over.

Meal planning may take a while but it will save so much during the rest of the week, when you need it most and it will allow you to stock the necessary foods and better control cupboard staples which can so often go out of date.

Five Steps to Perfect Meal Planning

1.      Fix a weekly time (ideally a Saturday morning) to sit down with cookbooks and flick through to find the recipes you want to use in the week ahead, marking them with post-it notes.
2.      Create a weekly worksheet of mealtimes and go through it to cross out any meals which will be eaten out, such as dinner with friends or a work social.
3.      With the marked recipes from the cookbooks, match each to an open mealtime on the schedule, being sure to make notes of anything that needs advance preparation in a 'Prep for Tomorrow' section.
4.      It is also helpful to list at least two snacks on the sheet to guarantee healthy snack options for the week.
5.      While matching recipes to meals, make a note of any ingredients within the shopping list section, it is no good planning meals then not having the ingredients to make them. A midweek mini-shop may be required to restock fresh produce, in which case one main and one supplementary shopping list can be created.

A little investment in time at the weekend will pay dividends during the week

Once established you will be able to reuse your favourite recipes, negating the need for so much time spent leafing through cookbooks. An ideal meal plan may seem like hard work initially but it is guaranteed to save you time, not to mention stress, during the week, it can help you eliminate junk food entirely, allowing you to eat healthier, waste less and ultimately save money.

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Syn Free Coriander and Mint Chicken

I adapted a slimming world recipe, adding more veg and substituting fromage frais for low fat natural yoghurt.

2 chicken breasts
bunch coriander
dried mint
200ml chicken stock
4 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
medium onion
2 carrots
green beans

Chop the vegetables and dice the chicken.

Using fry lite stir fry the onions and chicken with a small amount of garlic for a couple of minutes until the chicken has coloured.

Add the rest of the vegetables and stock and cook until the chicken is done and the veg is tender.

Add the herbs, I roughly chopped the coriander and used dried mint because I didn't have fresh available.

Take the pan off the heat and then add the yoghurt.  Taking the pan off the heat will stop the yoghurt curdling.  I served mine with rice.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Gingerbread Buns

 I had a hankering for making buns a couple of weeks ago, and really wanted to use the little gingerbread man decorations I got at the Cake and Bake show.


100g SR flour
100g light demerera sugar
100g Stork
2 eggs
2 tsp ground ginger
chopped stem ginger

For the icing:
150g icing sugar
60g stork
generous glug of  stem ginger syrup

Oven on to 180, pop bun cases in your bun tin.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time with some flour with each.  Add the ground ginger and stem ginger.

Spoon equal measures of the mixture into each bun case then pop in the oven for around 20 mins, until firm and golden.

For the icing, cream the icing sugar and butter, pour in some ginger syrup.  Fill a piping bag and pipe out your icing onto your buns.

I added the gingerbread men as an extra touch of gingery cuteness.