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December 27, 2011

Chicken Pie

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
olive oil and/or butter
4 spring onions
150g / 5oz of button mushrooms
1 heaped tablespoon plain / all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche (or substitute cream or sour cream)
300ml (approx. 1 cup) chicken stock
Fresh thyme
Nutmeg
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg

Directions:
1.  Turn the oven on to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2.  Cut the chicken breasts into small strips.
3.  Add olive oil and/or butter into a large, wide pan.  Heat and add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes.
4.  Trim the spring onions and clean the mushrooms.  Cut into slices.
5.  Add to the chicken with 1 heaped tablespoon of flour and stir.
6.  Add 2 teaspoons of mustard, 1 heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche and the chicken stock and stir well.
7.  Pick the thyme leaves (to taste - approx. 2 sprigs) and add to the pan.
8.  Grate nutmeg (to taste - approx. 1/3 of a nutmeg) into the pan.
9.  Season and leave to simmer.
10.  Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pastry.
11.  Use a small knife to lightly score in a crisscross pattern.
12.  Take the pan of chicken off the heat and pour contents into an ovenproof baking dish (approx. 30 x 25 cm / 10 x 12 inches).
13.  Cover the filling with the pastry sheet, tucking it in at the edges.
14.  Beat the egg, then brush it over the top of the pie.
15.  Put into the oven and cook for around 15 - 20 minutes, until golden.



Recipe from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals

December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

I was browsing some of my favourite websites looking for inspiration for classmate gifts for Miss S. when I came across these cookies from the wonderful Bakerella.  Miss S. and I decided to make the snowman gingerbread cookies.  
Then we packaged them up ready to go.

We had leftover dough, so we decided to make some Christmas shapes.  We had gingerbread men, candy canes, holly, Christmas trees and circles for more snowmen.  

The girls had great fun decorating and eating their cookies!

December 18, 2011

Chai Spice Tea Mix

A good friend of mine is a huge chai tea lover.  I wanted to make her a special Christmas gift and thought that homemade chai tea mix would be perfect.  

Spice Mix
1 orange
1/2 cup cardamom pods
12 cinnamon sticks, crushed
2 tbsp. whole cloves
2 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tbsp. allspice berries
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1/4 cup whole star anise
1/2 cup loose Darjeeling tea

Dry the orange.  Preheat oven to 200F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the orange into 1/8" thick rounds and place on the sheet.  Bake, turning occasionally, until dry.  Approximately two to three hours.  

Make spice mix.  Combine the dried orange and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine.  Store the spice mix and Darjeeling tea in separate airtight containers for up to six months.

Chai Tea
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. chai spice mix
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. Darjeeling tea

Make Chai tea.  Simmer 2 tbsp. of the chai spice mix with milk, water and sugar for 25 minutes.  Add Darjeeling tea and steep for 3 minutes.  Strain and serve immediately.   

December 12, 2011

Almond Tarts

Almond Tarts

12 shortcrust pastry cases
1 egg
100g (4 oz / approx. 1 cup) Ground Almonds
100g (4 oz / approx. 1/2 cup) Butter (at room temperature)
90g (3 1/4 oz / approx. 1/2 cup) Golden Caster Sugar
1 orange
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Raspberry jam

1.  Preheat your oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.

2.  Put the pastry cases on a baking tray.

2.  Crack the egg into a mixing bowl.  Add almonds, butter and golden caster sugar to the egg.  Grate over the zest of 1/2 an orange and add the vanilla extract.  Use a spoon to mix everything together.

3.  Spoon a teaspoon of jam into each pastry case.  Top with a heaped teaspoon of frangipane mixture. Put the tray into the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 18 - 20 minutes until golden.

Enjoy!

December 11, 2011

Snow Fun

The girls had great fun in the snow today.


When they had finished playing, we came inside and enjoyed hot chocolate and marshmallows.

December 03, 2011

What's Your Address?

I was putting Miss S to bed and as part of our goodnight talk she asked me "What's your address?".  I told her our address and she said "that's the same as mine"!

She made me giggle!

November 30, 2011

Mum Song

I found this song on YouTube and wanted to share with all the other mums out there.  Enjoy!

November 25, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yesterday was my birthday. I received the above CD as a gift. What a lovely voice he has!

DH and I took Miss C to the mall Christmas shopping while Miss S was at school. We managed to find everything that we needed from our list and I was also treated to lunch at Chili's. Yum!

I spent some time crafting in the afternoon. I have been enjoying creating these exploding photo albums.

In the evening DH and I watched While You Were Sleeping (with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman) while munching chocolates. One of my favourite movies with one of my favourite treats!

I even had a couple of sales in my Etsy shop.

All in all a lovely day.

November 16, 2011

Thinking


Where do you do your best thinking?  

I always have great ideas that pop up when I'm in the shower.  It's the one place where I have no distractions (the littles are out of the room!).  I make sure to keep a notebook by the side of my bed so that I can actually write down all the great ideas I have and they don't disappear as I go about my day.  

What about you?  Where do you think best and how do you capture those ideas?

November 11, 2011

Wet Oatmeal Kisses

I came across this poem recently and wanted to share with all the mothers out there. 

Motherhood is a tough job, but this poem reminds you to keep all the exasperating, frustrating days that children bring in perspective. 

It’s the best job you will ever do. 

Wet Oatmeal Kisses

A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome -- that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you.''

Okay. One of these days you'll explode and shout to the kids, "Why don't you grow up and act your age?"
......and they will.

Or "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do. And don't slam the door!"
......and they don't.

You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy -- bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way.''
.......and it will.

You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company.''
.....and you'll eat it alone.

You'll say: "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?''
.....and you'll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.

No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.

No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.

No more clothespins under the sofa.

No more playpens to arrange a room around.

No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.

No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.

No more iron-on-patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it.

No babysitter for New Year's Eve.

Washing only once a week.

Seeing a steak that isn't ground.

Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.

No PTA meetings.

No car pools.

No blaring radios.

No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night.

Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

No more dandelion bouquets.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.

No more sloppy oatmeal kisses.

No more tooth fairy.

No giggles in the dark.

No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?'' and the silence echoing,

"I did."

by Erma Bombeck

November 04, 2011

Quick and Easy Pizza

Pizza is a hit in our house.  It's a great quick dinner at the end of a busy day and is something that Miss S likes to help make.  This is a pre-made base, but I am experimenting with finding a great made from scratch dough that everyone likes (I'll let you know how that goes!).  This is a great way of using up bits and pieces of meat and veggies that are in your fridge.

Spoon pizza sauce on to your pizza base.
Add veggie toppings of your choice. The girls enjoy mushrooms. DH and I also add peppers to ours.
Add your meat. We have honey ham on ours.
Add cheese. This varies depending on what we need to use up. We use regular cheddar (old and medium), marble cheddar and mozzarella.
This pizza cooks at 375F for about 20 minutes. 
Enjoy!
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November 02, 2011

Halloween Night

Pooh Bear
Dinosaur
Bat Pumpkin
Scary House 1

Scary House 2
The girls had a great night.  

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October 24, 2011

My Scrapbooking Haul

Michaels had a 25% sale this weekend, so I had to visit!

This is what I found:


I'm excited to start using these items on my Christmas cards and gifts.

October 19, 2011

Christmas Craft Fair

It's one month until my Christmas craft fair.  This year I'll be attending the Blessed Cardinal Newman 18th Annual Christmas Market on Saturday, November 19th from 10 am - 4 pm.  

If you're on Facebook, you can check out the event page here.  

Please mark this date on your calendar if you're in the local area.  There will be lots of vendors and it's a great opportunity to start on your Christmas gift lists.  

Hope to see you there!

October 17, 2011

Modern Child

Source of photo:  freestockphotos.biz

DH was looking at a new record he had just received in the mail.  Miss S came up to him to see what he was looking at.  She looked at it in surprise and said "that's the biggest DVD I've ever seen!!".

So funny.

October 13, 2011

Fun At The Corn Maze

We had a fun Thanksgiving weekend. We took the girls to the local corn maze.
Entrance to the 20 acre corn maze
Bouncing on the Jumping Pillows
We took a tractor ride through the corn maze
Visited the petting zoo




Lastly, we visited the pumpkin patch to choose a pumpkin for each girl to carve for Halloween.  We had a fun day out.  
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October 07, 2011

Devil's Food Cake



I really enjoy baking.  I try a lot of different chocolate cake recipes, trying to find the perfect one for birthdays.  It must be chocolatey, moist, but firm enough for shaping for the children's birthday cakes.  This recipe was the one I used for the dinosaur cake.  It was delicious!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup non-alkalized (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup milk

Directions:

1.  Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F (180C).  Lightly oil and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.

2.  In a medium sized bowl whisk or sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Combine the water and milk in a saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Remove from the heat.

4.  In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth (approximately 2 minutes).  Increase the mixer speed to medium high and slowly add the sugar.  Continue beating until light and smooth (approximately 4 minutes).  Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and beat for another minute.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  

5.  With the mixer at low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture, about a 1/4 cup at a time.  Carefully pour the hot liquid into the batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula and combine the batter until smooth.  Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans.  

6.  Put the pans on the middle rack in the oven.  Bake approximately 30 to 35 minutes.  The cakes will be done when they begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and the centre springs back when lightly touched.  

7.  Cool the cakes, in the pans, on a rack for 10 minutes.  Turn the cake layers out of the pans and cool on the rack.  

8.  Make your favourite icing / buttercream.  Assemble the cake and enjoy eating!!     

This cake should be stored under a cake dome, at room temperature, for up to two days.  If you plan on using the cake later, wrap the cake well and freeze for up to two months.  

October 06, 2011

Dinosaur Party

Miss S has been interested in dinosaurs for a few years, but has really shown a serious interest over the last six months or so.  She requested a dinosaur party which I was very happy to do for her.  

Here are a few highlights from our day.

Dinosaur Decor

Games included Volcano (pictured on the table above),
Pin the Plate on the Stegosaurus, Dinosaur Ring Toss,
Build Your Own Dinosaur and Dinosuar Bowling

Party Crowns, Party Goodies and Classmate Gift Bags
Stegosaurus Cake
We had a lovely day.