Recipe – Salted caramel & chocolate tart (#GreatBloggersBakeOff2014)

As we only returned from holiday on Friday and I didn’t have anything ready for this week’s bake beforehand, I’ve only had a couple of days to get something together before the linky closed (I could have just left it this week and nearly did, but thought I’d join in). I’m not happy with my bake this week – I had a soggy bottom (well, sides – because I didn’t roll to an even thickness) with not enough time to make another pastry case, and my ganache didn’t go too well either. I also didn’t have the right size tart tin! I’m not much of a pastry person to be honest; when I have a pie or a quiche etc. I usually leave half of the pastry, and I’ve only made ganache a couple of times before but that was for truffles so I had more time and the right chocolate. Anyway I’m rabbiting on a bit now, so here goes!

(This is a take on the old favourite of millionaire’s shortbread).

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • 200 g plain flour
  • 110 g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp water
Salted caramel
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 100 g light muscovado sugar
  • 30 g salted butter
  • sea salt
Chocolate ganache
  • 200 g chocolate, broken into chunks (dark is best, I only had milk)
  • 100 ml double cream
  • In a large bowl (or food processor [on the pulse setting] if you want to cheat like me), mix together your flour and butter until they resemble fine breadcrumbs, then add the salt. 
  • Slowly add the water to bind together into a ball.
  • Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and refrigerate for around 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 6/400F/200C.
  • Lightly grease a 7 or 8 inch tart tin (with a removable bottom).
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge, unwrap, and lightly flour a rolling pin.
  • Roll out the pastry turning a quarter turn after each roll to stop it sticking. Roll to 4/5 inches bigger than your tin.
  • Once rolled, pick up with your rolling pin and place on top of your tin, then lightly press around the edges and sides. Leave the excess on to allow for shrinking.
  • Place some baking paper on top of the pastry then add your beans or rice.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5 minutes, until golden.
  • Leave to cool then trim the edges with a sharp knife.
  • To make the salted caramel, heat the cream, sugar & butter in a small pan over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer for a couple of minutes until it begins to thicken. Add a little salt to taste.
  • Pour into the pastry case and then put in the fridge to cool. It will harden a little but will still be soft to the touch.
  • To make the ganache, heat the cream gently until it starts to bubble. 
  • Add the chocolate and stir constantly as it melts.
  • When you have a thick smooth mixture, pour over the caramel and put in the fridge to set. 
  • Enjoy!

This is my entry to the #GreatBloggersBakeOff2014, theme of pies & tarts – linking up with Mummy Mishaps (not holding out for star baker this week either!).

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Tasty Tuesdays on

Project 365 – Weeks 35-36 (days 236 – 249)

I have a double whammy catch up this week as I’ve been on holiday so didn’t get chance to post last week.
Day 236 / August 24th
My view. Love these little slippers, they were J’s. I love N’s chunky legs too.

Day 237 / August 25th
Rubbish photo day so I only have this from a review I was writing up.

Day 238 / August 26th
I love J’s curls. I get told all of the time that he needs a hair cut, but truth be told, I don’t want to cut them, so not yet!

Day 239 / August 27th
Sorry about the quality of this one but it was another rubbish photo day and I took this on hubby’s phone. Went to say my usual goodnight to J and found him on the floor like this.

Day 240 / August 28th
The day before we went on holiday I decided to try the boys sun suits on. N’s was a bit snug even though it’s 6-9 months and he’s only just 6 months!

Day 241 / August 29th
The first day of our holiday and J was exploring the boat and pointing at the water.

Day 242 / August 30th
Today we passed some men fixing a windmill sail. Rather them than me!

Day 243 / August 31st
A little walk in the woods led us to this bird house that had taken a tumble.

Day 244 / September 1st
6 months old and N’s first taste of ice cream – he did love it!

Day 245 / September 2nd
We had swans & cygnets come to see us when we had moored up.

Day 246 / September 3rd
The donkeys were following me when I was getting back onto the boat, as I had food!

Day 247 / September 4th
N fell asleep in Daddy’s arms. I love this photo.

Day 248 / September 5th
Much needed on the way home from holiday after an early start.

Day 249 / September 6th
I fancied a change of nails – I love the crackle nail polish for an easy nail art effect.
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Recipe – Chicken & mushroom fried rice

This recipe makes a quick easy midweek meal for the whole family. It can be eaten as a main course or as a smaller side dish. I used whatever veg we had in but you can change it to suit you.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main dish)

  • 2 bags of boil in bag rice (the cheats option)
  • 1 tbsp oil (or you can use spray oil. none is needed if you use a ceramic or stone pan)
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • 4 large spring onions
  • 100 g garden peas (tinned or frozen)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 10 g butter
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce (I use reduced salt)
  • Cook the rice according to packet instructions.
  • Preheat a large frying pan or wok and cook the chicken until golden.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the spring onions and the peas and continue cooking on a lower heat.
  • In the meantime in a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the eggs and cook until scrambled. 
  • Add the egg to the pan with the chicken and vegetables.
  • Add the cooked rice to the pan and then toss everything with the soy sauce.
  • Enjoy!

{Guest post} Sarah – Surviving with two under two

Today’s guest post comes from a fellow blogger who I ‘met’ on Twitter.

Sarah is mum to Daniel and Emma – both are under two years old (a 16 month age gap). She blogs at Let them be small about life with two under two and shares some of the activities they do. She can also be found on twitter – @MsSBurns

Surviving with two under two….

Having two children is challenging, no matter the age gap, but having two under two presents its own challenges. There’s 16 months between Daniel and Emma, and it’s hard sometimes to remember that Daniel is still a baby really too, and still very much needs my input into his play. Whilst he happily plays alone, he is inquisitive and wants (and needs) me to explain the things he sees to help him understand the world around him.

I thought I would share my top five tips for coping with two under two.

1 Accept that, sometimes, one of your children will be crying
I found this really hard to accept. It goes against all my instincts to leave one of my children crying. But the reality is, you cannot meet both their needs all of the time. Both Emma and Daniel go through clingy stages when they want me to hold them constantly. It’s not possible so sometimes I need to put them down whilst I change a nappy, sort a bottle or do lunch. The best way I have found to cope is with Emma, to give her a toy to play with. Now she is reaching for things this is so much easier as she will settle a bit easier with a few toys – rotate them so there is something new to catch her eye. I will keep talking as I leave the room, reassuring her I’m not too far away.

With Daniel I try to include him, so if I am sorting a nappy change out I ask him to choose which of the cloth nappies we will put on Emma, or I will ask him to choose a toy or book for us to look at when I come back.

2 – Fresh air helps
With one baby it can be hard work leaving the house but with two, it can sometimes seem impossible! I have had days where as I have strapped one into the pushchair the other has needed a nappy change. Get that sorted and them Emma is sick. Get that sorted then something else happens. It once took me four attempts to get out of the house. Some 90 minutes later I finally managed it. I was stressed, frustrated and annoyed, BUT, the walk to the greengrocers was great. Emma fell asleep, Daniel was happy as he could go to the park on the way home and I had a bit of adult conversation in the greengrocers. As hard as it is some days, getting out of the house is key. I try to get out each day, usually to buy fresh fruit and veg for the evening’s meal. Have a reason to go out and you will do. It also helps to have changing bags ready packed the evening before, so you can just grab it and go without having to check for spare clothes, nappies, wipes etc.

3 – Include your older child as much as you can
Now that Emma is almost six months old, she is so much more aware of the world around her, and adores Daniel, especially when he shares his toys. In the morning after breakfast, I like to sort out the washing and tidy the breakfast dishes away. I ask Daniel to show Emma some toys, so for example ‘Can you get Emma the owl?’ Can you tell Emma what noise the owl makes? It’s good for Daniel’s development and it builds into the daily routine the idea of sharing his things with Emma. She loves it reaching out for the different toys.

I also include him in nappy changes as mentioned above and he also helps when I am cooking by putting the veg peelings into the food recycling bin or taking some of the cutlery to the dining room.

4 – Books are brilliant
Books are my life saver. Daniel is super engaged in books – so I can read a story to them both and extend it in some instances for Daniel. We are big fans of Room on the Broom and Gruffalo here. So whilst we are reading I will ask him which animal is next, what the witch says and ask him to show Emma where things are. Emma gets loads of stimulation from the pictures and listening to the words and Daniel is extending his vocabulary too. I have also printed off colouring sheets for a lot of the books we read so after we have read them Daniel will happily do a bit of colouring and I can read another book to Emma.

5 – Cherish the moments you have alone with your youngest
When Daniel was small I used to enjoy lazy mornings. He would wake, feed and invariably go to sleep snuggled against me in bed. I could then read a book, catch up on the news etc. I don’t have this luxury with Emma, as Daniel wants to get up, have breakfast and get on with the day.

If Daniel was feeling under the weather then we could have lazy snuggles on the sofa or head back to bed in the afternoon for his nap, him snuggled warm against me. Again, Emma doesn’t have this luxury. To promote the closeness I had with Daniel I like to use my rose & rebellion carrier when travelling, so Emma is close to me. But on the occasions when Daniel is napping and Emma is awake then I give her a lot of input. Be that singing nursery rhymes, playing with the sensory basket or a bit of messy play.

Breastfeeding Made Easy | Book review & giveaway (CLOSED)

I know it’s a little odd me writing about this book as I’m not breastfeeding any more, but I received the Breastfeeding Made Easy book just as I was switching to the bottle – it would have been so handy for me beforehand but I thought it would still be great to review it as I could maybe help someone in the future, even if only on something small, and I could recommend it to people in the future too. Obviously it’s also taken me a long time to get through it, as it is a long book; but in turn that means it’s very informative.

Anything that can help you find out more about breastfeeding is great; whether that be friends, peers on social media, peer supporters, midwives, or books. This book literally covers everything. There are 23 chapters covering subjects such as [actually] breastfeeding, facts about babies, problems with the breast, weaning, illness, fertility whilst breastfeeding, and many many more.

It is written by Carlos Gonzalez, and he writes with both seriousness and humour. Though at some points I did feel he was being critical towards formula feeding mothers, but obviously if you are going to read this book you are planning on breastfeeding anyway so it wouldn’t particularly bother you, and he is of course promoting breastfeeding (I read some of these parts at the point when I was still a bit sensitive; later on it didn’t really bother me).

There are lots of useful images so as well the written word of his advice, you can actually see what to do or what he is referring to. At the end of every chapter there are also references to other literature which has been mentioned so you can seek further information if you wish to do so. Carlos also includes links to support, which is fantastic.

There are some really interesting facts in this book which I had absolutely no idea about and I have come away with a whole new mountain of knowledge which I may be able to pass on to someone else at some point – you never know when that little thing could come up in conversation and a light bulb comes on – “Ooh, I read about that in this great book!”.

It is currently retailing at £9.59 on Pinter & Martin. I think that for anybody who wants to breastfeed, that it is a must buy at this price and I only wish I had read it before N arrived.

My rating – 5/5

I was sent this product free of charge to review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

If you like the sound of this book, I am giving you a chance to win it. All you have to do is complete the entries in the Rafflecopter below and you’re set – good luck! (None are mandatory, complete as many as you wish).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Terms & conditions
Open to UK residents 18 & over.
Entries must be received by 11.59 pm on 15/09/2014.
The winner will be drawn randomly via Rafflecopter/ when the giveaway has ended and will be sent an email informing them they have won.
The winner has 28 days to respond to the email or a new winner will be drawn.
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