#Afterschoolchefs Challenge

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take part in the #Afterschoolchefs Challenge. This challenge is in partnership with Birds Eye, but I was too late to get the free Birds Eye vouchers.

 

Birds Eye #Afterschoolchefs Challenge

However I always keep plenty of Birds Eye products in stock in my freezer. The boys love them and they are great for quick simple teas when I’ve been at work, so haven’t prepared a meal in advance. We can get what we want from different packets, so that son1 can have chicken whilst son2 has fish fingers. Everyone is happy that way. And especially good when we arrive home later than usual due to after-school activities and son1 says he chose a baguette for school lunch rather than a hot meal. I don’t want him to just have a sandwich for tea if he hasn’t had a main lunch and I’m always conscious that tea has to be fairly speedy if we have got home late, since son1 then has to wait an hour after tea before he can have his chemotherapy.

I would like to say that the boys help out whilst I’m rushing to get tea ready, but that’s not true. Although I do try to suggest it on our way home or suggest that they do homework, but no as soon as we are in the house, they play. Then after tea, I have to clear up, chase them to do their homework and have baths. It’s all rush, rush, rush.

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.

Disclosure.  I didn’t receive any free product.  All opinions are my own.

Blackberry pancakes

Pancakes are always a favourite in our household, so with all the blackberries around recently, I decided to make some blackberry pancakes. For sweet pancakes, I always include sugar in the batter.

blackberry pancake

Ingredients (makes about 10 pancakes)

150g blackberries
2 eggs
200g flour
600 ml milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
spray oil

Method

Wash the blackberries and ensure there are no bits of stalk or leaf.
In a large jug, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and milk.
Add the blackberries to the jug.
Spray the oil into a frying pan and heat on the hob over a medium heat.
Pour some of the batter into the pan and allow to spread to your desired pancake size.
Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side.
Serve and enjoy.

blackberry pancakes

Although my pancakes may not be the most elegant looking pancakes, they are very tasty especially when served with maple syrup. And if you are after a savoury pancake, take a look at my Green Pancakes recipe.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Disclosure. This post is an entry to the Rix Recipe competition

Halloween Sticker Activities book review and giveaway

Son2 couldn’t understand why I was giving him a Halloween book in September, bless him. However having just received a Halloween Sticker Activities book free from Little Tiger Press, I needed his help in reviewing it. This was really fast dispatch. I received the package in less than 48hrs.

Halloween Sticker Activities

He was happy to oblige and soon was merrily peeling off the stickers from the two double pages and sticking them mostly onto the appropriate pages. The book is also full of fun puzzles and colouring.

Halloween Sticker Activities

Halloween Sticker Activities

This book retails at £4.99 and will provide hours of fun. You may purchase it online directly from the publisher Little Tiger Press who are a children’s book publishing company. As well as this book, they have a couple of other Halloween titles out this year. Five Little Ghosts, a board book for age 1-5 at £5.99 and I Want to be a Witch  for age 3-6 at £6.99.

Son 2 shares his thoughts about Halloween and the book on a short video.

What do you like best about Halloween?

In summary son2 loved this book and enjoyed creating his video review, although he did really want his big brother on the video too. I explained to him that the book was aimed at children age 3-6 and that son1 was too old. Although given half a chance, I’m sure he would have joined in.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of the Halloween Sticker Activities book courtesy of Little Tiger Press to three lucky winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Tofu stir-fry with Amira pure basmati rice

I received a free 500g packet of Amira pure basmati rice to review.

Amira is the newest speciality rice brand on the supermarket shelf and is the choice of Michelin Star chefs.

Amira rice

I learnt something new from the fact sheet that I didn’t know which is that basmati rice has to be aged. Apparently the industry standard is to age basmati rice for 9 months, but Amira flagship products are aged for a minimum of 18 months, giving them a distinctive scent and delicious flavour.

I was also sent a selection of recipes, but I decided to do my own thing and cook a stir-fry. Unfortunately I couldn’t read the cooking instructions on the packet for the rice as the reseal label wouldn’t peel off properly, leaving a layer of label obscuring some of the instructions, so I cooked it the way I usually cook long grain rice. This may not have been the optimum cooking method, but it certainly gave tasty results.

The recipe ideas all looked really tasty. You may see them online here.

tofu & rice stir-fry

tofu & rice stir-fry

Tofu & Rice Stir-fry

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

220g Amira pure basmati rice (60g per adult and 50g per child)
200g smoked tofu
100g carrots
75g chinese leaf
50g shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Tear the chinese leaf into pieces.
Peel and chop the carrots into thin batons.
Peel and push garlic through garlic press.
Peel and finely chop shallots.
Drain tofu and use kitchen roll to absorb surplus moisture.
Chop tofu into small pieces.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.
Add rice.
Cook until soft and drain.
Meanwhile add the olive oil to a wok and heat.
Add the garlic.
After 1 minute, add shallots.
After 1 minute more, add carrots.
After 1-2 minutes more, add tofu.
After a few minutes, add chinese leaf and oyster sauce.
After 1-2 minutes more, add rice.
Mix well and cook for a few minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

tofu & rice stir-fry

 

I thought this was a really tasty meal. It was the first time that the boys had eaten tofu and they weren’t convinced, but they did love the rice, especially son1. The grains didn’t stick together which sometimes happens with other rice.

Amira rice is sold in 1kg bags in Morrisons and in 4kg and 8kg bags in Tesco. And is due to launch in another major supermarket this month. According to My Supermarket, when I started writing this post, it was on special offer at Morrisons, reduced from £4.29 to £2.14 for both pure basmati rice and superior aromatic rice, but it is now back to £4.29.

In summary I could definitely taste that this rice was better than most other rice. I shall be looking out to buy it in the future. I’m planning to use the rest of the packet for a fish curry, so watch out for another blog post soon.

Family Fever
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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Cancer Awareness

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. He has been in remission for over a year now but still has almost two more years of chemotherapy ahead.

This month is “Be Child Cancer Aware” month, so son1 has one thing to say – “Oi Cancer, Poke Off”. You may join in this campaign by texting POKE11 £3 to 70070. 100% of all donations will go to supporting children with cancer in the UK. Use the hashtags #GoGold & #pokeoffcancer to challenge your family and friends to tell cancer to poke off!

oi cancer poke off

Yesterday we participated in a workshop for International Bead Challenge Day for the Beads of Courage Programme. The boys made two String of Strength bracelets each – one for themselves and one to be given to another child undergoing cancer treatment in hospital. Son1 got a special bead to add to his own Beads of Courage. We also got to see the beads being made.

making string of strength bracelets

The boys making string of strength bracelets

string of strength bracelet

Son2 made this string of strength bracelet

Also I would like to draw your attention to another lesser known cancer which you may not have heard of – mesothelioma. This is caused by exposure to asbestos. Heather, a survivor of mesothelioma, who was given 15 months to live in 2005, shares her story here. In the US, it will be mesothelioma awareness day on September 26th, although we have a different date here in the UK, usually the first Friday in July.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Mesothelioma is a preventable disease. I can remember that we had asbestos mats in the science labs at school, but I thought that asbestos had now been outlawed. But no, not fully I now find out. Although it is now banned for construction, some existing asbestos remains. Asbestos needs to be safely disposed of entirely to prevent lives needlessly being lost to mesothelioma.

Here are some key facts about asbestos and mesothelioma.

To this day, asbestos is still found in many schools, homes, commercial and industrial buildings.
Asbestos was once used in common household items such as toasters hairdryers, and over 3,000 other consumer products.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause to mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure was first linked to mesothelioma cancer in 1964. Worldwide mesothelioma cases are expected to reach their peak around the year 2020.

For more information, see www.mesothelioma.com or http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/mesothelioma/

And September 26th is another key cancer awareness date in the UK for Macmillan, with the world’s biggest coffee morning. In 2013, 154,000 people signed up, raising a record £20 million. I’m doing my bit by organising a cake sale and bake off challenge in my workplace for Macmillan that day. And then next month, my other half is participating in an outdoor swim also in aid of Macmillan.

Draw With Me – Favourite Pastimes

My boys are very pleased to see that Draw With Me is back on “This Mummy Loves” blog after a summer break. Draw With Me is a monthly competition for children and this month the theme is favourite pastimes.

When the boys looked at Boo’s drawing of Minecraft, they initially both wanted to draw Minecraft too, as that is also a favourite hobby of theirs, but I suggested they do something different for variety.

So they opted for drawings related to some of their favourite reads. They both love reading and you can see their latest vlog here, plus a book giveaway which is closing later this week.

Son1 loves reading his Beast Quest books and has done a drawing of some of the beasts.

beast quest

And both boys love reading the Beano comic. We have a huge box of old Beano comics from about 30 years ago. So son2 has done a drawing of some of his favourite characters. There is Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Lord Snooty, Ivy the Terrible and Minnie the Minx.

beano

This Mummy Loves...

This post is an entry to Draw With Me.

Christmas crafts review and giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I made a docrafts Roald Dahl decoupage card a few months ago. With the school Autumn term having only just started, dare I say that I am already starting to think about Christmas, having received a free Sew & So On Christmas decoration kit from docrafts to review.

Festive Decorations Kit

This kit is to make 5 Festive Decorations to hang on the Christmas tree and it includes everything required except a needle and glue. It has step by step photographic instructions. All contents were as specified although one of the fabric pieces for the toadstool stem had a 7mm nick in it, but I think I should be able to stitch this together.

Christmas decoration kit

Kit contents

I started by making one of the heart decorations. It was very simple to sew on the lace trim, but I wasn’t sure whether to sew the ribbon onto the outside or inside of the decoration. I personally would prefer to also have written instructions which hopefully would have helped at this point. I opted to sew the ribbon to the inside, but with hindsight it may have worked better on the outside. Then I sewed the back and front together inside out, turned it out the right way, stuffed it and sewed it closed. However the stitching where I closed it, doesn’t look as good as the rest, so again written instructions may have helped, to pinpoint most discreet place to stitch closed.

heart xmas decoration

Christmas decoration

Overall I am pleased with my spotty heart. It will look nice on the tree. And I’m now making the gingham heart. In summary, a lovely craft kit, but more detailed instructions would be helpful.

This kit is available to purchase from docrafts for £4, which equates to 80p per decoration. A fantastic price for 5 nice little craft projects.

The docrafts website has loads of creative inspiration for crafting projects, plus a wide range of products for sale. It also has a busy crafting forum. Do take a look.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway one of these Christmas kits courtesy of docrafts to two lucky winners.  A lovely prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t see the Rafflecopter box above, either click the Rafflecopter link or you may alternatively enter via my Facebook page. And you may see my other giveaways here.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Ravioli with cheesy pesto sauce

Foodies100 have challenges bloggers to create and share an original Italian recipe on their blogs, incorporating Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence pasta. They sent me a £2.50 voucher to take part.

Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence pasta

I hadn’t tried Giovanni Rana pasta previously and was spoilt for choice when I saw the range at Sainsburys. I nearly chose the Italian Indulgence Chicken with Rosemary but eventually selected the Simply Italian Chicken & Mozzarella with Smoked Pancetta ravioli.

Usually I serve ravioli with pesto or butter and parmesan, but I decided to give a twist to cheese sauce by adding some pesto. This sauce would compliment any of the Giovanni Rana Simply Italian or Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence ravioli range.

Ravioli with cheesy pesto sauce

Ravioli with cheesy pesto sauce

Ravioli with cheesy pesto sauce

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

1 250g packet of Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence or Simply Italian ravioli
50g plain flour
50g margarine
500ml milk
100g cheddar cheese
1 tbsp pesto
Parmesan and pepper

Method

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then turn down to simmer.
Melt the margarine in a jug in the microwave.
Stir in the flour.
Gradually stir in the milk.
Return to the microwave and cook on high power.
Stir at 1 minute intervals until the sauce has thickened.
Grate the cheese and stir into the sauce.
Meanwhile add the ravioli to saucepan and cook gently for 3 minutes.
Return sauce to the microwave and cook on high power for 1 more minute.
Stir the pesto into the sauce.
Drain the pasta.
Pour sauce over pasta.
Sprinkle with parmesan and a grind of pepper.
Serve with garlic bread and your choice of vegetables and enjoy.

We had ours with broccoli, green beans and my homemade mini garlic pizza wraps. Son1 said it was the best meal ever and has demanded that I make it again! High praise indeed. With his increasing appetite, I think it won’t be long before we find that we need more than 1 packet for a meal.

cheesy pesto sauce

Disclosure.  This post is an entry to the Giovanni Rana Indulgence Competition and mentions a product I purchased using a voucher I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.