Spotted Dick

Regular readers of my blog will know that I enjoy cooking and frequently post on this topic. So when I was recently asked if I would like to try out one of the Sunrise Senior Living recipes, of course I said yes. Do I sense some raised eyebrows at this statement. No I’m not senior, I have 2 young children, but the Sunrise Senior Living chefs ensure that all of their recipes are nutritious and tasty, making them great for everyone, not just the elderly.

I was emailed a selection of Sunrise Senior Living recipes to choose from. They all sounded and looked very delicious, but I decided to cook their Spotted Dick. I thought it would be a good challenge to try making a steamed pudding as I’ve always used the microwave method for sponge puddings. And also I have great memories of my grandma cooking Spotted Dick with custard and other traditional steamed puddings. In fact, custard was my grandad’s favourite food.

Spotted Dick and Custard

I followed the recipe as stated apart from one small change. Butter was included on the ingredients but not mentioned within the method, so I assumed that it needed to be creamed with the suet and sugar. I have updated step 1 of the method below accordingly.

spotted dick
Spotted Dick

Ingredients (serves 8)

90g vegetable suet
90g caster sugar
1 medium egg
90g self raising flour – sieved
90g plain breadcrumbs
90g currants
112ml whole milk
22g salted butter


Cream the suet, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Gently add the egg and mix until smooth.
Slowly add the flour, breadcrumbs and currants.
Mix at low speed until incorporated.
Gradually add the milk until the mixture is smooth.
Grease a pudding basin and spoon the mixture into the basin.
Cover with a piece of folded greaseproof paper.
Tie around the edge with a string and place a damp tea towel over the top.
Tie once more with a string to secure the tea towel.
Place the basin into a large lidded saucepan.
Fill the pan two-thirds of the way up with water.
Cover with the lid.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Serve with custard and enjoy.

spotted dick

spotted dick

spotted dick

Son2 enjoying Spotted Dick and custard

The whole family really enjoyed this tasty dessert. Thank you very much for our taste of Sunrise.

If you’ve ever wondered what award-winning food tastes like, Taste of Sunrise is your chance to find out. To coincide with Nutrition and Hydration Week, from 16th to 22nd March, every Sunrise community is hosting events that celebrate the art of creating great food that is also nutritious. Come and sample fine food, pick up FREE Sunrise recipe cards and learn more about how they cater for even the most challenging dietary needs of each and every resident.

You can use their FREE recipes to recreate the ‘taste of Sunrise’ at home. The cards are just a small selection of their Chefs’ favourite recipes which provide easy, step-by-step instructions and all the nutritional information for each recipe.

Book your Taste of Sunrise today.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Disclosure. This post is in collaboration with Sunrise Senior Living who provide assisted living in care homes. I have been reimbursed for the cost of the ingredients.

Testing out the Epica Kitchen Thermometer on a Roast Chicken

I have received a free Kitchen Thermometer from Epica to review. And I have decided to put it to the test with a Roast Chicken. And to make the test two-fold, I also stuffed my chicken. It is vital to always ensure that chicken is thoroughly cooked to avoid food poisoning.

Epica Kitchen Thermometer

Epica Kitchen Thermometer

As a rule of thumb, chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes. But if you cook your bird with the stuffing inside, you need to allow extra time for the stuffing and for the fact that it cooks more slowly.

The packaging for the thermometer does not include any mention of safe internal temperatures for cooking different types of meat but I know that it is recommended that chicken reaches a temperature of 75 deg C, measured at the thickest part of the bird between the breast and the thigh. Here is a useful temperature guide for cooking different meats.

However this time to test the thermometer out, I experimented with taking the temperature in different areas of the bird and at times way before it would be ready. And I found for instance that the wing temperature had already reached 75 deg C after only an hour cooking whilst the core temperature was still only 45 deg C. And when the stuffing reached 75 deg C, the core temperature was 60 deg C.

Epica Kitchen Thermometer

I had a reasonable idea of how long I was expecting my chicken to take to cook, which is useful in order to gauge what time to start cooking all the trimmings for my roast dinner. Also I observe the colour of the meat and juices. And my idea turned out to be pretty much spot on, but it was great to use a thermometer to back up my own judgement.

So we enjoyed a very tasty Roast Chicken dinner with sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, shallots, roasted peppers, broccoli, green beans, carrots and gravy. Delicious. Plus lots of chicken left over for other meals and I made chicken broth from the carcass. Watch out for another blog post on that.

Roast Chicken Dinner

The thermometer came with an LR44 battery already installed. The packaging indicated that it has a measuring range from -50 to 200 deg C and that it functions at ambient temperature of between 0 to 50 deg C. I turned it off after each measurement but if you forget, it will automatically turn off after one hour. It also has min and max functionality, so you can take several readings and check for both the minimum and maximum. And it can be switched to Farenheit, for those like my mum who still prefer to use Farenheit.

The thermometer currently retails on Amazon for £21.95 compared to an RRP of £34.95. I thought the probe was a good length for large joints of meat and liked that it came with a cover. A shame that you can’t use it as an oven thermometer though. A nice little kitchen gadget in my opinion but I’m not aware of how much similar products retail for.

As well as meat, I think it will prove very useful when making sweets and jams.

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

Zip It book review and giveaway

I’ve received another free book from Little Tiger Press. This time it is Zip It by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Fhiona Galloway.

Zip It by Patricia Hegarty

It is a fun book full of interactive activities for little fingers. It is aimed at younger children than son2, but I was hoping that it would teach him how to tie a bow, something he hasn’t mastered yet. Then we will have more options when it comes to shoe shopping, as I have been deliberately avoiding the ones with laces. But he is starting to get the hang of doing his school tie, so I’m sure we will get there soon with laces too.

Son2 loved doing frog’s zip mouth and cat’s collar although he did pull so hard that half the collar detached from the book. We were able to slot it back in. He found the button on pig’s nose a little difficult and initially the velcro on duck’s wing was a bit strong for him. And then son1 decided to join in and succeeded in tearing poor duck’s wing, so not too robust.

And as for the bow with the mices’ tails, dare I say it, but it even had me struggling. Now there are several different ways to tie a bow and the illustrations are for a different method to how I usually tie a bow. And when I tried to lay the tails out as per the illustrations in order to help explain to son2, I just found them too short. So bow tying is still an ongoing project for son2.

Zip It by Patricia Hegarty

Zip It by Patricia Hegarty

This hardback book has been published today, 2nd March and retails at £8.99. You may purchase it online from Little Tiger Press who are a children’s book publishing company. It is targetted at children age 3-5. My boys who are both older than the target age, thought it was a great book, but I am slightly concerned how quickly they succeeded in damaging it.

This is the fourth book that son2 has reviewed from Little Tiger Press. He previously reviewed their Halloween Sticker Activities book, The Magical Snow Garden and The Forgotten Puppy.

Son 2 really enjoyed this book and you can see him reading it to his big brother in the video below.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 2 kids books courtesy of Little Tiger Press to one lucky winner. You have the opportunity to win copies of Zip It and Train.

Train by Judi Abbot

Train is an award winning title about Little Elephant which is now also available as a board book.

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

I’d love to hear what is your favourite book from Little Tiger Press?

Family Fever

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

Cheese Soufflé

I’ve always previously made cauliflower soufflé, but as neither of the boys are keen on cauliflower, I decided to try making a cheese soufflé instead.

cheese soufflé

Ingredients (serves 4)

600ml milk
1 spring onion
6 peppercorns
1/2 teasp ground bayleaf
100g margarine
100g plain flour
4 large eggs
100g grated cheddar
1/2 teasp mustard powder
Salt and pepper


Preheat fan oven to 170 deg C.
Top and tail the spring onion and cut into a couple of pieces.
Put the milk, shallot, peppercorns and bayleaf in a pan.
Slowly heat until it is just below boiling point.
Remove pan from heat and put to one side to allow flavours to infuse.
Grease a large soufflé dish.
Grate the cheese.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a mixing bowl and the yolks into a cup.
Beat the egg yolks slightly.
Whisk the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks.
Strain the milk into a jug.
Melt the margarine in pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the flour.
Gradually stir in the strained milk.
Return to the heat and bring sauce to the boil, stirring all the time.
Cook for a further minute or so until it thickens.
Stir in the cheese, mustard and seasoning.
Stir in the egg yolks.
Quickly fold in the egg whites using a metal spoon.
Tip the mixture into the soufflé dish.
Bake in centre of oven for about 35 minutes until the top of the soufflé is golden and well risen.
Serve immediately and enjoy.

cheese soufflé

Success. A soufflé which the boys were happy to eat. I served it with mashed potato and vegetables.

cheese soufflé

Link up your recipe of the week

Tasty Tuesdays on

To the Grave – by Steve Robinson

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about ‘In The Blood‘ by Steve Robinson, a gripping genealogical fiction book that I really enjoyed reading. I had barely finished the first book before I started the second book in the series which is ‘To The Grave’. Although I say series, this could easily be read alone, without having read the first book. They are connected because they share the same central character, the genealogist Jefferson Tayte.

In The Blood by Steve Robson, a genealogical mystery

This is what it says on the back cover.

A curiously dated child’s suitcase arrives, unannounced and unexplained, in a modern-day Washington suburb. A week later, American genealogist Jefferson Tayte is sitting in an English hotel room, staring at the wrong end of a loaded gun.

In his latest journey into the past, Tayte lands in wartime Leicestershire, England. The genealogist had hoped simply to reunite his client with the birth mother she had never met, having no idea she had been adopted. Instead, he uncovers the tale of a young girl and an American serviceman from the US 82nd Airborne, and a stolen wartime love affair that went tragically wrong.

With To the Grave, Steve Robinson confirms his status as a master of the taut and delicately constructed historical thriller.

This is the second book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series, which begins with In the Blood but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.

Once again I was gripped right from the prologue, which leaves the reader in suspense as to the fate of Jefferson who has a gun pointed at him.  I just didn’t want to put the book down. It is written in a similar style to ‘In The Blood‘, moving seamlessly back and forth between a thriller set in the present-day and a genealogical mystery set in Leicestershire during the second world war. Can Jefferson find out what happened to his client’s birth mother. Is she still alive nearly 70 years later to be reunited with her daughter? Why are people being killed? Who is trying to hide what?

I loved this book and highly recommend it although the ending wasn’t what I personally hoped would happen. A real page turner. It is available on Amazon in paperback, kindle or audio formats. And you can find out more about his books on the author’s own website or blog.

Genealogy is one of my own hobbies, so I hope I don’t come across anyone waving guns in my own family history research!

Now shall I read the third Jefferson Tayte book next or do I choose something else from my reading pile?

And another plug for CLIC Sargent’s Get In Character fundraiser. Their ebay auctions commenced today and run until 8th March. You have the chance to bid on ebay to have a character named after you in a book by one of your favourite author.

Steve Robinson is one of the participating authors and he is currently writing his fifth Jefferson Tayte novel, scheduled for publication next year. So if you fancy appearing as a named character in this book, then bid now. Or you can gift it to a close friend or family member.

Regular readers of my blog will know that son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2013. We have had a huge amount of support from CLIC Sargent, so I am more than happy to assist with promoting their fundraiser. They do great work in helping children and young people with cancer.

Weekend Book Club

From bouncy castle or deckchair to a new bag!

wyatt & jack are a company who create sustainable bags and accessories from re-purposed beach deckchair canvas and retired bouncy castle vinyl pvc. What a fabulous eco upcycling idea. Take a look at their website, they have a great range of products and they have sent me a free mini pouch to review.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch
It was carefully packaged in tissue paper, sealed with stickers rather than sellotape. Easy to peel off, so that the wrapping could be saved for a future crafting project with the kids. Another eco plus mark. And it even came with a stick of rock, which I found hidden inside when I unzipped the pouch. What a nice touch and in theme with its seaside history.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch
I could immediately see that my mini pouch had been fashioned from deckchair canvas rather than bouncy castle vinyl. And it is of a size (22cm x 13cm) whereby the pouch could have so many different uses, for instance make-up bag or kids wash bag. And I loved the little story on the label.

recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch

However the use has already been decided for this particular mini pouch. Son2 wanted it as soon as he saw it. So it is now a pencil case for son2.
recycled Wyatt and Jack mini pouch

The mini pouch has now been replaced this season by the new slightly larger Starsky Clutch which looks just as fab. I love how each of these items is unique. No two are ever quite the same. And their tagline is great, that they are all made in Britain by the sea! Also if you live near Bembridge, there is the opportunity to have a bespoke item made by booking an appointment at their shop.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway an Anton Everything Purse to five lucky winners. This is an exclusive promotional item which is not currently available via their online shop, but to give you an idea of how much it can hold, I have been told that it is fairly similar in size to the Starsky Clutch. And since each item is unique, it will be a surprise as to what colour and design you might win.

Plus the rafflecopter option to subscribe to the wyatt & jack newsletter also gives you the opportunity to get a free product, because for a limited time only, wyatt & jack are offering a free Starsky Clutch (current price £22.95) when you sign up to their newsletter. I don’t know how long the offer is open, so be quick!

anton everything purse

The anton everything purse

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear of any repurposed items you either own or have seen.

Family Fever

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

Comme Une Evidence review

I have just received a very attractive looking bottle of perfume free to review from Yves Rocher.

Comme une evidence Yves Rocher perfume

This perfume is called comme une Evidence which sounds so much more glamorous in french than its literal translation – as evidence. And the bottle looks very glamorous too, with its bulb spray, like vintage bottles from years gone by.

I’ve never used a bulb spray before and it took a little getting used to for applying to my neck, although easy for wrists. I’ve been using it for a week and I have improved my directional aim. It didn’t help that the instructions on the box said to turn the bulb clockwise, when I found that it actually needed to be turned anti-clockwise.

It is very difficult to convey a description of a fragrance via writing, so I do recommend you try a sample on your local perfume counter, if they stock it. But I’ll try my best. In my opinion, it has a delicate floral scent which I love. And it lasts very well. I’m not very clever at identifying the individual components but the box says it contains patchouli essential oil and jasmine absolute. Delightful. I thoroughly recommend it.

This perfume currently retails at £25.50 for a 30ml size spray bottle, reduced by 50% from £51.

Comme une evidence Yves Rocher perfume

I’ve always liked Yves Rocher fragrances ever since they opened a store in my hometown back in my teenage years. No idea if the shop still exists, but I have fond memories of getting the free sample sachets there. And I love how Yves Rocher only use botanical-based ingredients, no animal ingredients.

Family Fever

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

A badge for my blog!

I’ve just created a badge for my blog and loaded it on my sidebar. Took a while to get the code to work, but I got there in the end. What do you think?

Yet Another Blogging Mummy!!!

Please copy the code below, if you wish to display my badge.

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Yet Another Blogging Mummy!!!" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Yet Another Blogging Mummy!!!" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Dr. Oetker pizza review and giveaway

I’m sure most of you will have seen Dr. Oetker pizza in the frozen aisle at the supermarket, even if you haven’t tried it yet. Dr. Oetker have just introduced a new limited edition to their range – Pollo Arrabiata which combines chicken with a spicy Roquito® sauce. And I received 2 vouchers to try the new flavour for free. I was definitely looking forward to trying this limited edition as I thought their previous Spinaci limited edition was really nice.

Dr. Oetker pizza

I already purchase Dr. Oetker pizzas on a regular basis. They are a firm favourite of the boys and a great standby to have in the freezer for when we need a quick meal and I don’t have time to cook. That is frequently the case on days when son1 does an after-school Street Dance class and we don’t get home until after 6pm. Tea needs to be on the table as quick as possible, because son1 has to take his chemotherapy each evening an hour after food and we don’t want him too late to bed on a school night.

Dr. Oetker pizza

So on my last trip to Tesco I popped a couple of Pollo Arrabiata pizzas in the basket along with son2’s favourite Ristorante Mozzarella flavour. He doesn’t like anything spicy so I knew he would prefer to stick with his usual. I wasn’t sure how son1 would react to the new flavour as he has a more adventurous palate. He gave it a go, but found it a bit too spicy for his liking, so he joined son2 on the Mozzarella, leaving the Polla Arrabiata to us adults. We both thought it was great. And what a bonus, I actually got a second helping and ended up eating half a pizza. Normally I lose out because son1 wants more than his expected share.

Dr. Oetker pizza

Dr. Oetker pizza

Dr. Oetker pizza

These pizzas currently retail at £2.50 each at Tesco, which is great value in my opinion. They are available at most major supermarkets. And Dr. Oetker do a fab range of home baking products too which I also buy regularly. Thumbs up for Dr. Oetker which is definitely one of my trusted brands. You can find them on Facebook here.

So do you have a favourite product from Dr. Oetker?

Dr. Oetker pizza voucher

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway some free Dr. Oetker pizza vouchers. Each voucher is valid for any one free pizza from the Dr. Oetker Ristorante range. The winner will receive 4 vouchers, 2nd person drawn will get 2 vouchers and 3rd person drawn will get 1 voucher.

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 purchased using vouchers I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The boys saving plan – update 4

We have been teaching the boys about the importance of saving. They are participating in a month-long saving project, designed  by Family Investments.

To summarise the boys spent all their money like usual in week1, but since then, they have both saved every penny. I am amazed how they have taken it all on board. Here are the updates for week2 and week3, for those who wish to know the full details.

So with no spending this week, son2 reached his target as anticipated. He has been saving for a Chelsea football kit and some of you may be aware, that I bought it ready at the beginning of the project. We did an exchange – he handed me £11 from the piggy bank and I gave him one penny change plus the kit. He was delighted and tried it on straightaway. He is now deciding what his next target is to be. Meanwhile son1 is still saving towards his more expensive target.

Chelsea football kit

Son2 in his new Chelsea kit

Now as to how they did on little jobs this week. Son1 has been trying really hard this week after his meltdown last week. He has continued to tidy his school clothes nearly every night. It’s half-term next week, so I hope he remembers to carry on with this after half-term. I am hoping to get to the point of this being automatic for both of them, as I don’t really view it as a pocket money task. He helped to pair up the clean socks and to put clothes away after I got a big pile out of the airing cupboard. And not only did he polish his own shoes, but he polished his brother’s too. Finally a big thing for him as he is very shy, he tried to redeliver a parcel nextdoor. It didn’t quite pan out, as they were still out when he tried and then they popped round to get it from us before he had a chance to try again.

Meanwhile son2 continues to remember to clear his dishes into the dishwasher every time now. Even son1 did it once this week, but only after being reminded, whilst son2 also tidied his clothes once. And son2 again helped Daddy with the shopping.

Son1 had tried so hard, that in spite of some rudeness and naughtiness from them both, we decided to give him the maximum £3 extra on top of the basic £2 pocket money. And son2 got an extra £2 for his jobs.

And yet again Son2 had some extra money this week from the tooth fairy. He lost his second milk tooth. No more wobbly teeth currently.

lost tooth

What a funny face to show he has lost another tooth

So they put their money into the piggy bank and filled out their savings charts. We are nearing the end of the project. There is only space left on the chart for this week’s spending and saving.

money saving

money saving

money saving

money saving

You may click on the savings planner image below in order to download your own copy.
childrens saving planner

Disclosure – this post is an entry to Family Investments blogger competition. We received some free products in order to participate.