Foos, Food, & Family

Five things for today.

1)In the kitchen – made a Herby butternut squash & chickpea soup, and Butternut Squash, orange & sultana muffins with leftover squash. Recipe on previous post.

The two small boys helped me too!

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2) Foo Fighters

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Put Sylvie in her brother’s old Foo Fighters vest! Loved seeing it being worn again!

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3) Merangos
Had a sweet treat after dinner of meringue, Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream & berries. Yum! Albie calls them Rangos so we renamed them “Merangos”!

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4) Texts – had a text from a friend who is very close to having her second baby & hoping for a home birth! Really excited for her & hope she gets a dream labour and delivery. I’d have loved a home birth but it wasn’t meant to be, but I think they are wonderful! Looking forward to an announcement!

5) Brothers – they drive each other spare a lot of the time & I’m always refereeing squabbles… But they really do love each other. This pair below in particular have a good bond, but clash too! I love watching my children interact (on a good day!) – it makes having a large family all the more worth it.

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Butternut squash, Orange & Sultana muffins

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Made a soup today and had a pile of extra butternut squash left over, so thought I’d try make some muffins with it! I didn’t do very accurate measuring & veer between ounces & grams I’m afraid as I tend to wing it…however they worked a treat! So here goes…

Ingredients

Approx. 12oz butternut squash peeled & chopped
400g (ish!) self raising white & wholemeal flour
300g (ish!) light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
150ml approx. ricebran oil
Zest & juice of a small orange
Pinch salt
Handful of sultanas
Sprinkle of golden caster sugar.

Preheat oven to 180°c.

Place chopped butternut squash in pan of cold water (enough to cover), bring to boil for around 20 minutes until tender. Drain.

I used a food processor for the remainder of recipe, but you could do it manually.

Add squash to food processor and blend until smooth.
Add sugar, eggs, oil & blend until just mixed.
Add orange zest & juice.
Add flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Blend until mixed.

My mixture was a little runny so I sprinkled a bit more flour into mix.

Stir in handful of sultanas.

Spoon mixture into cases. Sprinkle golden caster sugar on each muffin.

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Bake for around 20/25 minutes.

Leave to cool on rack. Eat!

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This mixture was enough to do 12-16 large muffins I reckon. I made 12 large & 16 mini muffin bites.

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Wholemeal dark cherry and almond muffins

Tried adapting my smashing strawberry muffin recipe and I am pleased with the results! Hope you enjoy the recipe!
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Ingredients
3/4 large mug of dark cherries (I used frozen & defrosted)
10oz wholemeal self-raising flour
2oz ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
2tsp almond essence
7tbsp oil – I used ricebran oil
2 medium eggs
Splash of milk
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180°c.

Squash & mash the cherries in a large bowl.

Add oil, sugar & eggs to cherries – mix well. Add almond essence. Mix.
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Add sifted flour, ground almonds, baking power, salt – mix well. Add splash of milk if mixture appears a little dry. I used approximately a tablespoon.

Line muffin trays with cases & spoon mixture in 3/4 full. Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar if desired.

Bake for 20/25 minutes or until risen & golden brown.

Leave to cool on a rack. Or eat warm & enjoy with a nice cuppa!

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Smashing Strawberry muffins

Made some muffins today & added fresh blackberries too! Delicious!!

I can see the trees

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I love baking muffins as you can probably tell by now if you read this blog! So, today I baked two batches, some Italian Courgette cakes with added blueberries & these Smashing Strawberry muffins. I’m hoping these will be good for packed lunches & might try freezing one to see how they fare so I can batch bake them.

I didn’t have fresh strawberries but did have frozen which I thawed.

I used a large Cath Kidson sized mug for my measuring by the way! Sorry my quantities are a little haphazard!

Ingredients

1 & half mugs of self-raising flour
1 mug of strawberries (I used thawed frozen ones)
Just under 3/4 mug of caster sugar
1/3 mug vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (mine is a fan oven)

Smash the strawberries up with a fork or masher…

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Frocks galore & Project Pampering

Not posted for a few days so a little positivity catch up…

1) Support Been a pretty up & down few days, but I’ve had hugs & company from my Mama, & chats with lovely friends. I appreciate it so much.

2) 16 weeks Sylvie turned 16 weeks yesterday. She’s been a little off colour but seems to be turning the corner now. We went out wedding attire shopping yesterday with my Mama & she now has more changes of outfit “just in case” for the wedding day than your average celebrity! Yesterday, got a Baker girl frock & a playsuit in the blue cross sale at Debenhams. This having a daughter thing is still a novelty… So many pretty things! 😉

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3) Dens – little Stickle hasn’t been very well, and is very whingy & upset a lot recently. Coupled with his frustration at not being able to communicate well, it’s led to a few meltdowns. Very draining for us all. However, we had a lovely moment yesterday, building a sofa den & it really cheered him up!

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4)Hugs – My four year old kept randomly hugging me and telling me how much he loved me & how pretty & beautiful I was!! This boy will go far!! 😉

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5)New tricks Sylvie was sat in her bouncer last night and learnt how to trigger the blue lights to come on using her feet & hands!

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And a bonus 6) Frocks! – managed to get a couple of dresses yesterday in the sale, for my nephews wedding! I’ve not lost any weight as I’d planned to for the wedding as my priority has been breastfeeding (& cake eating!) but even though I’m overweight, I still felt kinda pretty in new dresses! It’s made me realise how I’d like to start making more effort to defrump myself, wear nicer clothes (instead of my usual crap maternity jeans & baggy tops) & feel happier in my own skin… So project pampering will commence shortly!

Smashing Strawberry muffins

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I love baking muffins as you can probably tell by now if you read this blog! So, today I baked two batches, some Italian Courgette cakes with added blueberries & these Smashing Strawberry muffins. I’m hoping these will be good for packed lunches & might try freezing one to see how they fare so I can batch bake them.

I didn’t have fresh strawberries but did have frozen which I thawed.

I used a large Cath Kidson sized mug for my measuring by the way! Sorry my quantities are a little haphazard!

Ingredients

1 & half mugs of self-raising flour
1 mug of strawberries (I used thawed frozen ones)
Just under 3/4 mug of caster sugar
1/3 mug vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (mine is a fan oven)

Smash the strawberries up with a fork or masher in a large mixing bowl. Feeling grumpy or down? Smash them REALLY hard! It helps!

Add oil, eggs, & sugar to smashed up strawberries. Mix well.

Add flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon (sieve it in) – mix until combined.

Line a muffin tray with cases, I slightly sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in my paper cases as it seems to help stop sticking.

Spoon in the mixture approx 3/4 full. Should make around 10/12 muffins this way. Bake for around 20 minutes until risen & golden brown.

I don’t know what they’d be like with fresh strawberries but the frozen worked a treat! They turned out much better than I expected! Really pleased! Let me know if you try them!

Edited 3/5/13 – we made some Smashing Strawberry & Blackberry muffins today! We added a handful of fresh blackberries and smashed these up too along with the strawberries. These were delicious too!

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Eieio & Sewing Bee

Hard to think of many positives when 4 out of 5 children are not feeling well (and neither am I!) but let’s give it a shot!

1) Giggles – Sylvie really giggled at me tonight when I was singing Old Mc Donald to her! Was it my poor ability at holding a note? Or was she genuinely laughing who knows?! I know my singing voice isn’t up to scratch….(Unless I’ve sunk a few glasses of wine and handed a mic, then I like to think I’m a warbling mix of Patsy Cline and Eva Cassidy!)

2) 3 weeks tomorrow since leaving my old Facebook account, I’ve still managed to keep in touch with a few. I still need to reactivate to pass on some contacts, and copy a document and download my data… Then I’m closing it properly. Some people have said they miss me on Facebook, but I’m still here, I’m still contactable if people want to talk to me or email – and truthfully I feel a happier person for making this change. Not many have asked how this decision has affected me, but it’s made a real improvement to how I go about my day and spend my time. I didn’t want to make a big “hey look at me! I’m leaving Facebook!” gesture, nor actively encourage others to follow suit, but I’ve since seen or heard of a few others leaving, including my chap, and most people I have spoken with seem to have a renewed sense of purpose and positivity. Check out these links here and here… I found them quite good reads.

3) Phones I sent back my latest upgrade. I had switched from an iPhone 4 to a Sony Xperia Z but it was too big and clumsy for me after a weekend of trying to get used to it. Great phone but not worth it. In fact, it got me thinking about how I want to simplify my life, so I’m now considering going on a payg account and cutting my bills down.

4) Sewing Bee Watched the final of the Great British Sewing Bee tonight and was pleased with the result! I am itching to start sewing & learning how to make things. I need to lose the fear of making mistakes though… Which reminds me of a great quote by Sir Ken Robinson. (I love him!!)

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

5) Dandelions My four year old handed me a dandelion this afternoon and told me “I picked you a bootiful flower mummy!” 😀 what a lovely way to put a smile on my face.

Raspberry & Blueberry muffins

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Got a poorly household today, and cake baking urge was strong! Needed berry muffins after seeing a link here yesterday.

I am never very sure of cup measurements so I just kind of winged it! These had a lovely sharp tang from the raspberries. Even my blueberry hating eldest enjoyed them! I loved that they weren’t too sweet…

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… and they were perfect with a cup of tea!

Picnic & friendships

1)Picnic with friends
My friend Mia came today with her three children for a walk and picnic! It was lovely even though it didn’t quite go as expected! Came home & had a nice cuppa & chat too.

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2) Sleepy girls

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Our two little ones sparked out after the picnic! Sylvie complete with grassy knees! Was lovely to see! I really am looking forward to watching them develop a friendship as they grow!

3) Muffins

Made some Italian courgette muffins for our picnic with a little help from the children. Recipe was from Abel & Cole They were yummy!

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4) Warm weather Was lovely & sunny, and we managed to eat a lovely mackerel pasta outside this evening.

5) New phone Changed from an iPhone to Sony XperiaZ yesterday with a free upgrade. Phone is huge & it’s taking some getting used to but I like it. It’s positives outweigh the negatives so far. Exercising my thumb too! 😉

Rustic chunky chicken, chickpea & vegetable soup

20130417-132252.jpgWoke up this morning craving a bowl of vegetable soup, so whilst the baby slept after the school run I made one! Remembered I had roast chicken so added that too! Although without the chicken it was very yummy too.

I don’t tend to follow recipes when making a quick soup, just chuck in what I have to hand.

Today’s soup ingredients:
1 large brown onion chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
Couple of organic carrots unpeeled & chopped
Courgette – chopped
Tin chopped tomatoes
Handful of dried small pasta – I used organic tricolour Simpsons shapes!!
Handful of fresh baby spinach
Tin of chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
Squeeze of Tomato purée
Veg/chicken stock or bouillon
Seasoning
Dried chilli flakes
Lemon
Olive oil
Parsley
Oregano
Roast chicken leftovers (pref. free range)

Heat oil in large pan, add onion, & celery, gently soften for a few minutes, add garlic, chilli flakes, tomato purée.

Add tinned chopped tomatoes, stock (I added water & organic bouillon and mixed mine in), carrot, courgette, chickpeas, pasta. Black pepper & herbs.

Gently simmer until veg is tender & pasta/chickpeas cooked. Add roast chicken & simmer until heated through. I added my baby spinach at the end, stirring it through & putting lid on pan as it wilted, and I also tested it, adding a touch of sea salt & a squeeze of fresh lemon.

You can of course, add any variety of veg, I think I’d like to make a tomato-free one next time!

My fussy four year old wont eat soup like this often but he would eat it blitzed up and served in his favourite mug! Youngest son liked dunking bread in his! This reminded me it might also be good blitzed up and served with little rice cakes for babies from six months. I used to do this for my younger boys who I did baby-led weaning with. Just omit the salt or look for reduced salt stock or bouillon if not making your own.

I had my soup for a late breakfast! This was quite a big pan and would easily feed my large family with a little leftover, or feed at least a couple of us for a 2/3 days if stored in the refrigerator.