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Nutella Marble Cupcakes

Ever have one of those days where you just wanna make something?

I have those days alot but the problem is sometimes i don't know what to make ... so i just go into the kitchen and start experimenting.

I've found a fair few hits this way (and a few misses) but i decided to share a success with you guys since I'm told "Those are your best cupcakes" *harsh considering the amount of cupcakes I've made the boys but anyway*

So here it is ... 

You'll Need
6oz Self Raising Flour
6oz Margarine
6oz Caster Sugar
3 eggs
1 tbs Nutella
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Nutella for spreading on top

To make
This recipe is just like any basic cupcake recipe I've made with a little difference.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and mix completely.

Gradually add the flour a little at a time till it is all combined.

Divide the mixture into 2 bowls and add the vanilla to one and the nutella to the other, then mix each bowl.

Place cupcake cases in a tin and add a little of each mixture to each case. It doesn't need to be exact, there can be a little more of the vanilla over the nutella or vice versa.

Give the tray a little shake so that the mix gets right to the bottom of the case ... Saves you getting one of those pesky air bubbles at the bottom.

Bake for 10-12 min or until the cakes are cooked all the way through.

Set to the side to cool and then spread a layer of Nutella over the top (or leave as it ... Its nice both ways!)

Chinese Lemon Chicken

I love Chinese food!

When we were younger my parents would take us to our local Chinese restaurant to celebrate Birthdays or special family events. I loved the whole getting to pick a starter and main with the promise of banana fritters for desert if i was a good girl and ate all my dinner. It made me feel like a proper wee adult :)

Even now, when we decide to treat ourselves to a rare take-out, we almost always get a Chinese. I love love love Lemon chicken so i decided to give my own a go ... Which was tasty!!!
You'll need
3 chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 cup plain flour
½ cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp cider vinegar

Lemon sauce
¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
zest of one lemon

How to make
Mix together all sauce ingredients, and still until sugar melts, and are left with a lovely lemon sauce. Then set aside.
Next, prepare chicken by cutting chicken into tender chunks, then pat them dry.

Then mix together salt and pepper (a few shakes of each) with the flour, and coat the chunks in it.

Mix together milk, egg, and vinegar, and take floured chicken, and dip into the egg, milk, vinegar mixture then back into the flour again.

In a medium size pan, heat oil until it sizzles and fry your chicken chunks on each side until nice and brown.
Set on paper towels to catch excess oil

You can pour over the lemon sauce or put it in a separate dish to dunk it in. That's totally up to you.

Serve with rice or noodles ... again that's your call :)

Silent Sunday - 22/2/15


Gratitude List #8

I'm hoping all the bad news with family and us all getting sick is getting itself outta the way for the rest of the year cause this has been a rough month!

I feel heart sorry for the men in the family as its been tough going. From losing a parent, to brothers being diagnosed again to a lovely grandparent taking seriously ill. I just wanna gather all the boys together and give them all the biggest hugs ever. Its been rough on them.

This weeks gratitude list seems like I'm happy about insignificant things when compared to such illness and loss but i made a promise to myself that i would try to look at life more positively rather than focus on the negative.

This week I'm grateful for ...

  • My washing machine and tumble dryer cause without them we'd all be sleeping on the sofa ... LIFESAVERS!
  • My slow cooker for letting me have dinner after college without having to slave away at the cooker for hours.
  • My Clients who have helped me complete 2 full blocks in my hairdressing course 
  • The future clients who have helped me become fully booked till after Easter every Thursday :)
and most importantly ...

 My Mammy who is just fecking amazing! 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Part of the joys of winter (she says sarcastically) are the inevitable sick bugs that will come traipsing through the house.

Wither its Agent M catching something from the playground or i catch a cold or cough from a client at college, you can pretty much guarantee that our house will as some point require a has-mat suit.

This week was no different with all 3 of us having colds and sore throats, and felling kinda run down so Mama decided to get our soup on with some Homemade Chicken Noodle.

I'm not sure if that's a medically proven thing that chicken noodle soup is great when your not well or if its just kid-ology but it made us all feel a little better having some nice heat on our throats and some warm chicken in our tummies.

Its really easy to make too ... perfect for when you cant tolerate standing in the kitchen for hours :)

You'll need
3 Chicken stock cubes (plus the correct ratio of boiling water)
2 balls of fine noodles
3 spring onions
1 tbs soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, (cooked and chopped into strips or chunks)
pepper to taste

How to make
Pour the boiling water in to a large pan with the stock cubes and allow to dissolve over a medium heat.

*We like our noodle soup a little more stocky so i always use a little less water that the stock cube instructions say however the proper amount of water you'll need can vary depending on the brand you use so be sure to check the packet*

Chop the spring onions and add to the pot of stock along with the table spoon on soy sauce.

Add the cooked chicken and let bubble for a few minutes before tasting the stock. Some cubes can be very salty so if needed you can add some pepper to the soup to help season it.

Lastly break up the noodles balls into the soup. *The packets we get always seem to have the noodles in balls, if the packet you have doesn't have them in balls then add enough for the number your serving plus 2 for a nice big pot*

A note on the noodles ... I say to break up the noodles before adding to the soup. Its easier to break dry noodles than to cut long wet ones, and makes less mess *Tried and tested that one!*

This makes a big pot with enough for seconds. If you just want enough for one meal then make the recipe with 2 stock cubes and 1 ball of noodles. The rest of the ingredients you can make the call on depending on how much chicken you like in your soup :)

Blueberry Muffins

I love Blueberry Muffins cause they are portable for the breakfast on the go and Agent M likes to take one for his play piece too (he goes to the breakfast club in the mornings).

They, like most recipes i make, are easy and don't cost much to make. *I get the blueberries at the reduced aisle and freeze them ahead of time so i have a wee stock waiting*

You'll need
110g butter
250g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g fresh blueberries

To make
Preheat oven to 180C

Grease a muffin tin or line with paper cases. 

Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and milk, then the flour mixture. Then stir in blueberries.

Then fill the cases about 2/3 of the way up and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown on top

Nom Nom Nom

Happy Pancake Day

Pancake Day is big in our house, not for the religious Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday celebrations but because both agents are daft on Pancakes.

They are more fond of the "American Style" pancakes i.e the puffy ones (sometimes called "dropped scones") although I'm also fond on the "crepes".

Both don't take long to make though the Puffy pancakes are easy to take on go when your running late for school/college (tried and tested that one lol)

Pancakes are one of those versatile all round types of food ... You can make tiny bite sized ones for taking on trips or for snacks.
Or you can make them with yummy toppings/ fillings ... I'm a big fan of Blueberry and lemon *wipes away drool*
Pancakes are also really easy to make ... Remember the Apple pancake recipe i posted? (Click on the pic below for the link) 

Well, for the basic recipe just omit the apple and add whatever you like ... Blueberries, chocolate chips ... Even Bacon!! 

Agent D let me try his bacon pancakes with chocolate sauce and yeah it sounds nasty but Oh My!! It was delicious!!

You can even have them for dinner just fill them with savoury foods like ham and egg, chicken or prawn perhaps?

So this Pancake day ... 
Embrace the pancake ... Love the pancake ... Munch the Pancake

Images from Pinterest (bar apple and banana)

Silent Sunday - 15/2/15


Gratitude List #7

This week started off with a still sick kid which kinda ruined his February break but never the less I've been trying to look on the positive and i think I've don't quite well on a week that has been quite difficult.

This week I'm grateful for ...

  • Minor Ailment service and their free calpol
  • Also loving that he gets cream for his eczema too
  • Warm blankets to cuddle up on the sofa with
  • Long(ish) lies in
  • My lovely wee Gran who got all emotional over her homemade birthday cake ... she's such a wee darling.
  • Netflix for its magical entertaining properties when Agent M just felt 'Meh'
  • My Kindle for keeping me sane through the endless episodes of Pokemon on said Netflix
  • Agent D and i getting to have a date lunch as an early valentines
  • The flowers he bought me for valentines :)
  • TKMax where i found a £60 book box set down to £12.99 for Agent M's birthday (I love a good saving me!)
  • eBay for selling me half price ink cartridges for my printer. Agent M has had loads of fun colouring in pictures of Hiccup and Toothless this weekend :)

Love Bugs

Since its coming up to valentines day and Agent M has been champing at the bit to make something with me, i decided we should make something "Love themed".

A quick Pinterest search threw up 'Pom Pom Love Bugs' and Agent M was sold.

He'd never made his own pom poms before so it seemed like a perfect way to spend a holiday afternoon.

Mama boiled the kettle for the hot chocolate and coffee, while Agent M raided my wool stash and we got set to it.

There are special little machines you can buy to make pom poms (but we don't have any) and I've seen some people make them using forks (or even their hands) but i decided it would be easier to make a template and use cardboard.

I found a website Homemade gifts made easy which had 3 different sized templates. Agent M picked the in between size (6cm) and mama started cutting.

To make proper pom poms you should use both of these templates for one pom pom but we needed the bugs to have a flat base so we just used one template each.

Feel free to have a look at the instructions on the Homemade gifts made easy for the tutorial on making full ones.
Agent M waiting patiently 

Once cut out, we got set making the bugs.

We folded the the template in half and started winding the wool around the loop half. I like when pom poms are nice and fully so we kept going till it was nice and thick.

I chose the pink wool and Agent M chose the red ... We decided since we are planning to send them down to Granny and Aunt Midge, we would make them one each.

Deep in concentration while discussing Harry Potter

Once they were nice and chunky, i cut down the middle of the template while holding the wool tight. It did take me a while as i could only find my tiny scissors. I wasn't loving Agent M's suggestion we use my Hairdressing scissors *insert horrified look here*

3 outta 4 of the bug bodies

After Agent M finished his last one, it was time to break out the googly eyes and PVA glue. I figured this was a job Agent M could do on his own while i made us some lunch.

I think he made a pretty good job of them ... He was very happy with the outcome and now has developed a taste for pom pom making.

Hope Granny and Auntie like them too :)

Super Busy Mum
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Running in Lavender

Dettol Baby Blanket Campaign

Dettol and Childrens charity Sparks have teamed up for the Dettol Baby blanket campaign and they need your help!

They are asking any and all mums (and dads) out there to donate a baby blanket to the campaign which will be passed on to a family in need.

Not only that ... for every blanket donated, Dettol have pledged to donate £1 to Sparks.

Did you know ...
"Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol – on washed blankets donated by volunteer mums – show that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40°C wash. In-fact, a third of the washed blankets harboured coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces."

I didn't know and to be honest i was kinda horrified.

However to help combat this, Dettol have an Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser on the market which all blankets donated will be washed in. The cleanser has kills 99.9% of bacteria (even at a 30 degrees wash).

The campaign, Fronted by fellow mummy Rachel Stevens, promises to donate the baby blankets to babies in need.

As parents, we all know the importance of keeping our babies safe and warm. The comfort and protection a blanket can give to a child is something special, but for some its not a possibly.

Keeping your baby warm shouldn't be a luxury but we can all help.

Even if you cant donate a 'Pre-loved' blanket, add a baby blanket to your basket next time your shopping. Its all for a good cause.

I went out and bought a brand new one as Agent M's Blanket is in his memory box.  

All blankets should be sent to ...
Dettol Baby Blanket Donation, 
c/o Spink, 
The Hay Loft, 
Balcombe Place Stables, 
RH17 6QJ 

You can also join in by promoting the campaign by uploading your baby blanket snaps on twitter. Tweet @DettolBlanket, with the tag #sharethememories or pop along to their Facebook page and upload your special memories.

Agent M and his Blankets (The top one was my baby blanket)

The childrens charity Sparks funds life-saving research to find preventions, treatments and cures for childhood illness.

So why not help out a good cause and join in to "Keep the memories, Not the bacteria" 

Homemade Bread

We eat loads of bread in our house.

Agent D has his packed lunch for work everyday and Agent M loves his Toast and Nutella/Peanut Butter/Jam in the mornings. Even I've started to have breakfast most mornings, which is usually toast and marmalade. And that's not including bread used throughout the day i.e Toasties or along with soup or fish at dinner time.

We usually go through a loaf and a half (sometimes 2) a week which is easily £3 so instead of buying bread, I've decided to give making my own a go and see if its worth the saving.

I don't have a bread maker so i made my loaf the traditional way via the oven. So i'm not using the oven only for bread, i baked other treats for us at the same time. I'm a cost effective wee bunny me :)

I can finally use my dough hook :)

The recipe i found was for plain white bread but you can make loads of different varieties.

You'll Need
500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml water

To Make
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, then add the oil and water, and mix.

If the dough seems a little too stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead.

Once the dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and leave to rise for about an hour.

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper, or if you wish, you could lightly oil a loaf tin.

Tip out the bread and gently mould the dough into a ball. Place it on the baking tray (loaf tin) to prove for a further hour until doubled in size. 

*Proving is the process of allowing the bread to rise before baking. Its normally done by covering the bread dough with cling film or a clean damp tea-towel and letting it double in size*

Dust the loaf with flour and bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. 

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

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