Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Random Likings

Monster High dolls - for the tweenie Goth in training

 Feather and faux fur merkins
I wish I was joking

Somebody that I used to Know covered by Walk Off The Earth
a great cover of one of my favourite songs at the moment

 Maybelline EyeStudio Color Tattoo eyeshadow
Unfortunately not yet in the UK

Schwartz Recipe Inspirations
Perfect for someone who wants to try something new without having to buy a cupboard full of ingredients. I think it's a great idea for new or nervous cooks.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 30 January 2012

I am really looking forward to this week's menu. I'm even organised enough to get it posted on time and with links to the recipes I am using- go me. They are all new recipes for me this week, except the sausages and mushrooms on toast. I may have to give the husband some eggs with his. I do love breakfast as dinner every now and then.
Salisbury Steak with Caramelised Onion Gravy
Coconut chicken with apricot sauce
Asian turkey meatballs with lime dipping sauce
Sausage, mushroom & onion on sourdough
Baked Fried Chicken
Taco Pie

Baking (possibly both, depending on how the week goes)
Cinnamon-Sugar Crusted Coffee Cake Muffins
Cinnamon Roll Cake

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's linky for more Meal Planning Monday inspiration

Friday, 27 January 2012

Ah, Nostalgia... a favourite way to procrastinate

I love a bit of nostalgia. We all know I'm prone to being easily distracted and there's nothing like reminiscing about times gone past as a pleasant way to waste a bit of time. One of nostalgia's finest qualities is being able to experience it with both experience and rose tinted glasses.

Take Mr Squiggle for example. Any Australian child born in the 1970s and with access to a telly will recognise the man from the moon. I loved Mr Squiggle second only to Play School. And possibly Humphrey B. Bear, but given that they were virtually the only 3 programs on TV for kids at that time, they didn't face much competition. I was surprised to see Humphrey is still on TV. Nice to know there's a place for him with today's toddlers.

As I watch the above clip I am once again filled with the wonder that not only could Mr Squiggle create a drawing out of well, squiggles, but that he did it upside down. As an adult, I now admire Miss Jane's ability to constantly sound interested in his nonsensical jibberish (a skill I use every day with my own children... and husband); and how the programmers made such an engaging show out of so little. It really is pretty basic and I bet Miss Jane sorted her own wardrobe.

I am not at all sure it will impress my 4 year old with the access he has to today's massive range of children's programmes. I will show him a clip when he gets home from school and hope he will be as impressed as I once was.

What makes you feel nostalgic?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cupcake Heaven

This recipe combines 2 of my favourite things: sweetened condensed milk and cake. Well, strictly speaking the  condensed milk is combined with a couple of other things to get the cake, but it's CAKE so let's not be picky about the whys and wherefores.

Condensed Milk Cupcakes
(makes 12)

125g self raising flour (or 125g plain flour with 1.5tsp baking powder)
250g sweetened condensed milk
85g margarine or soft butter
1 egg
0.5tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with electric mixer (unless you have arms like Popeye) for 2-3 mins until fluffy. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake 180C / Gas Mark 4 for 15-18 mins. 

Allow to cool, then ice. I was feeling a little experimental tonight so I made my icing with icing sugar, leftover condensed milk, half a packet of raspberry jelly crystals and some red food colouring. 

I tried taking a photo to show you how soft and pale and fluffy the insides of these cakes are, but my crappy photography skills wouldn't allow it. Just trust me when I say that it is definitely worth giving these a go.

This recipe is well worth sharing so if you like it, be sure to make yourself really popular by passing it on.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Slow cooker teriyaki beef

This is a quick and very tasty dinner, and one which can be made with beef, chicken or pork. You can even use frozen chicken breasts if you want to. I started with this Six Sisters' recipe, but have gradually adapted it and now cook it differently ever time, depending on what I have to hand.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Beef - serves 4
Put 400g of pork or beef strips, or 4 chicken breast halves in the slow cooker. The chicken can go in frozen if the breasts are separate, but I don't recommend the strips to be frozen as they will cook in  a nasty lump.

Add 1 jar/sachet of teriyaki sauce. If using marinade, use half a jar and dilute it

A slug of soy sauce

A tin of pineapple chunks and juice (make sure it's not the sort in syrup. If it is, drain the syrup and rinse the fruit)

a good handful of chopped pepper. I use frozen ones as they are cheaper and more convenient than fresh

Cook on high for around 4 hours, or low for 6 ish. Make sure the chicken is properly cooked, particularly if it was frozen when going in.

When it's done, remove a little of the liquid and add 1-2 tsp of cornflour and stir until smooth, then stir back in with the rest of the sauce to thicken it up if necessary.

Serve with rice, a sprinkling of raw cashews if you like a bit of crunch, or some chili flakes if you like it  hot.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I Can't Get No Sleep

 Deep in the bosom of the gentle night
Is when I search for the light
Pick up my pen and start to write
I struggle, fight dark forces
In the clear moon light
Without fear... insomnia
I can't get no sleep
(Faithless "Insomnia")

Thankfully the closest I normally get to Insomnia is with Faithless in my ears when I'm running (highly recommended, by the way) but tonight I woke up at 1am and ... and... and... I am still awake 3 hours later. Lucky you to be the beneficiary of these night time hours I have unexpectedly been given.

So far it's not been too bad. I have done a load of washing, quite a bit of work, all my ironing, and made school lunches. It's also nice to listen to Radio 4 without the politicians' bickering that drives me up the wall on the Today programme. I would, however, quite like to go to sleep now but my mind has other ideas and I just can't quieten it. I have also run out of tea bags, so can't even have a cuppa.

At what point do you write off the night as a bad job and just stay up?

Meal Planning Monday - 23 January 2012

Hello! Sorry, late again this week. I promise not to make a habit of it. Here is what is on the menu this week:

beef pot roast (slow cooker) with mushrooms
Pulled pork (from freezer)
creamy chicken and vegetable pie
gammon and potatoes au gratin
chicken fajita wraps
Quorn vegetable stir fry

We had the gammon and potato gratin the other night and it was gorgeous. I had some left over chicken breast so I used that in it as well.
I had a go at the salted caramel cupcakes last week and they were too sweet for me, though others in my household loved them, judging by the speed in which they went. My oven door has been causing me problems with my baking (it needed slamming to close, which is not great for cakes!) but hopefully it's now fixed so I might give these another go and get some more photogenic cakes this time. Instead of making  deluche de leche I just used Nestle Caramel.

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's linky for more meal planning Monday ideas.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Stylish People

Whilst looking for something totally unrelated (as you do), I found this wedding picture of John F. Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette dating from 1996. It's 16 years old and looks as if it could have been taken yesterday or in the 1930s and still have looked as good. There's nothing about it that looks dated and I thought that it epitomised true classic style.

It set me wondering who else has truly classic style. I don't mean those who have been styled to look classic, but rather those who have a personal style that may not be on the runways but which will never look out of place.

This is who I came up with. Feel free to disagree or let me know who you would put on your list.

  1. Kate Middleton, aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Excluding that sheer skirt/dress monstrosity she "modelled" in university, Kate has refined her style over the past few years. She always looks comfortable in what she is wearing. She wears the hats - they don't wear her. It can't be easy having every item you wear in public endlessly scrutinised but she never looks like she regrets anything she has chosen.

2. Dame Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren looks fantastic on and off the red carpet. Again, she wears the clothes, they don't wear her. You would look at this picture and think "she looks great" not "that's a great dress".  She knows what suits her and sticks to it without looking boring.

3. Bill Nighy
I love Bill Nighy. He always wears a suit, and he wears it well. He never looks hugely comfortable on the red carpet, but I suspect that is more due to being in the public glare than due to what he's wearing.

Then there are the ones who just missed out being on my stylish list:

1. Kanye West
  I like a bit of shiny-shiny as much as the next person, unless the next person is Kanye West.

2. Lil' Kim
 ...or Lil' Kim (she hopefully won't be wearing this "style" in 40 or 50 years)

3. Katie Price
well, I couldn't exclude her.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 16 Jan 2012

Welcome to my Meal Planning Monday on Wednesday post. I don't really have an excuse for being late since I have already got my menu planned as part of my money saving January. It's kind of going out the window a little bit as I have hit my annual slump and am fighting off a severe case of the blahs.

Last week's £60 goal was not a success, and I have probably spent about £80 with both the regular shop and a top up for milk and bread. It's ironic since the supermarket shop was the largest since before Christmas, but my children seem to have developed the appetite of teenagers with a tapeworm.

Just to demonstrate how lazy I have been this week:

Monday: coq au vin in slow cooker with 3 ingredients - frozen chicken thighs and drumsticks; packet of coq au vin casserole mix I found in the pantry, and a can of lager. No other added liquid. Once the chicken was cooked I took the skin and bones out and served it with rice and veg. It was gorgeous.
Tuesday - chips and gravy from the chippy, with added cheese, peas and sweetcorn at home. The kids had sausages (and a battered sausage). Nutritional value? Severely limited.

The rest of the week's plan is:
fridge fried rice as I have some bits to use
pulled pork with pasta and baguette (in freezer) with zucchini
shepherd's pie with butternut squash and mash topping, with zucchini (I have a lot to use)
chicken curry (in freezer) cauliflower and naan
Quorn stir fry, veg and rice noodles

I made a batch of brownies yesterday. I have seen these gorgeous cupcakes on Wraggamuffins' Facebook page and may give them a whirl this week. I have a good recipe for caramel mud cake, but will have to find one for caramel sponge. How luscious do these look!
Wraggamuffins' Facebook page

Be sure to check out other Meal Planning Monday posts on At Home With Mrs M.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Random Likings

Mug Hug flexible silicone lid 

For your favourite annoying colleague

Shoe Porn - Miu Miu Knot Front Suede Pump

 Lego Series 6 Minifigures
you can't over estimate the excitement a new seies of Lego Minifigures brings in this house

The return of good trashy telly: Got to Dance & America's Next Top Model

Rizzle Kicks - Mama Do The Hump 


 Poseidon Undersea resort in Fiji

Monday, 9 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 9Jan 2012

Last week's menu went well. I didn't make the beer chicken as my 9 year old wanted to make dinner and since he can only cook stir fry, I swapped it with the Quorn stir fry from this week's menu.

My shopping this week was £58.24. Again, it was higher than I expected due to the size of the pork joint being much bigger than I ordered. Asda still haven't got back to me about that. Honestly, if you can't order a specific size of something, why allow it to be ordered ? Grrr... Still, the pork and beef from last week will get used so it should help to keep Feburary's meal costs down.

Fridge frittata
beef and mushroom pie
chicken curry
chilli & rice
cranberry pork (leftover cranberry sauce from Christmas)
Quorn & noodle veg stir fry

Chocolate chip muffins (ashamed to say these were eaten in 24 hours)
Chocolate cake (husband's birthday)
Anzac biscuits

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's linky for more Meal Planning Monday.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Winter warmers

There is a warming theme to the post today as winter has finally arrived and I am freezing.

Le Chemeau wool lined Chasseur Fourée wellies. 

and some nice long cashmere socks to go with them

Donna Karan reversible shearling coat

Cashmere hot water bottle cover

Cosy bedroom with fireplace

Hot chocolate

 Antonio Banderas


Monday, 2 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 2 Jan 2012

Welcome to 2012! I am trying to muster up enthusiasm as this time of year generally leaves me feeling a little flat. Following on from my get a grip in January post, here is this week's meal plan. I am cross with Asda as what should have cost £57.24, actually cost £64.44 as they delivered a piece of beef more than twice as large as ordered. It's put me over budget for the week so I will try and claw that back at some point.
  • BBQ Chicken fajita layer (only uses half a pack of wraps if I make it like lasagne)
  • beef pot roast (using up leftover roasties and Yorkshire puds from freezer)
  • meatloaf (using turkey mince as it's cheapest, and left over packet of stuffing)
  • sausage casserole
  • egg, beans and chips
  • beer chicken
  • ham and potato casserole (using left over gammon from freezer)
Don't forget to check out the linky on Mrs M's blog for more menu ideas.