Jam Pinwheels

This is a really easy quick tasty treat which young children will enjoy helping to make.

Jam Pinwheels

 

Jam Pinwheels

Ingredients (makes approx 15)

1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
approx half a jar of jam

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Grease baking sheets.
Unroll the pastry.
Spread with jam, leaving a 1cm gap at one end.
Roll the pastry up from the other end.
Cut into slices, approx 1cm wide.
Place on baking sheets.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheets immediately and place on cooling rack.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy.

And this recipe can be easily adapted for other variants. A couple of months ago when I posted a selection of recipes using Macabella, I mentioned that I was planning to make some chocolate pinwheels with the Macabella. These were even more delicious than the jam pinwheels.

Chocolate pinwheels

I’d love to hear what you enjoy cooking with young children or your ideas for tasty pinwheel variants?

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Gilding the Lily by Justine John

I have received a free e-copy of the book Gilding the Lily by Justine John to review.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

Here is the book blurb.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Amelia and husband Jack travel from London to New York to attend a surprise 75th birthday party for her father Roger, organised by his new partner Evelyn. There they meet Evelyn’s step-granddaughter Laura for the first time. Amelia finds it very difficult to get on with Evelyn, but makes friends with Laura, who visits them in London, the next year when over in the UK.

They return to the US for Thanksgiving, but at the airport waiting to go home, they receive a phone call from Miriam, Roger’s housekeeper saying that Roger had been taken into hospital the previous day. They postpone their flight, but Evelyn is not pleased to see them return.

Roger recovers but when he next visits the UK, they are shocked to see how unwell he looks. Ex-cop Jack starts to get suspicious as to why and begins to develop a theory, although there are some red herrings.  I’ll stop at this point to avoid spoilers.

The book switches chapters between narrative by Amelia, Jack and Evelyn, which I enjoyed the different perspective. And the chapters for Evelyn let the reader build up a picture of her history.

Gilding the Lily is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from chapter 18 of the book for you to read.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But a strange dread ran through my veins, as I lay there in the dark. Jack was finally sleeping soundly – the odd snore and mumble emanated from his side of the bed. We’d talked for hours. And now, each thought linked to another in a never-ending chain. “She has enough money of her own so I know she’s not after mine” was what my father told me when they first met. Ironically, it comforted us both. Staring into the blackness, I began to get carried away with Jack’s theory. If it were true then we had to stop it. It would be murder. No, that couldn’t happen, surely, not to us. I tried to mentally rein in my thoughts, as they began to hurry away with me, like a runaway train. Who were we to interfere so belligerently when we could be so wrong? And then again, if we did nothing, and then something terrible happened… that was simply unthinkable.

I turned over to put my arms around my husband. He was warm and his breathing was soft and slow. I tried to relax into his body, and allowed his raising ribs to rock me.

I woke at 6a.m. with a feverish energy. A strange vitality or stamina had suddenly appeared in me – a drive to endure, a surge of power, like a battery charger. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt my dad. Something had to be done. Today.


About Justine John

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

Website  – http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JustineCJohn
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/justinejohnauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15985439.Justine_John


I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Chemotherapy altered son1’s tastebuds, so unlike most of his peers, one of his favourite meals is a curry. He enjoys Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Korma. I thought I’d try to see what other curries he might like, bearing in mind that he is not keen on potatoes or quite a few other vegetables. So since he enjoys spinach in a cheese and spinach cannelloni, I decided to try cooking a Lamb and Spinach Curry. Meanwhile making another dish for son2 who doesn’t like curry.
Lamb and Spinach Curry

Ingredients (serves 3)

150g diced leg of lamb
200g frozen spinach
1 285g jar of Korma sauce
1 medium onion

Method

Chop the onion.
Add the lamb to the wok and cook over a gentle heat, (no oil needed).
After a few minutes, add the onion and continue to cook.
Once the meat is cooked, remove from wok.
Add spinach to wok and cook until defrosted (no need to pre-defrost).
Return meat to wok.
Add the Korma sauce.
Cook for about 5 minutes.
Serve with rice and enjoy.

lamb and spinach curryVerdict. Son1 wasn’t convinced about lamb. However I thought the meal was delicious. Maybe someday I’ll try making a curry sauce from scratch, but for now I’ll stick to the convenience of a jar.

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Valentines cupcakes giveaway

Hands up who loves cake. You do? Then read on for details of a great prize.

Valentine Love Heart Cupcakes giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember that last summer I reviewed two gorgeous personalised photo cupcakes of my boys from Caketoppers. I haven’t received any more of their lovely cakes this time, so I shall be extra jealous of whoever wins the prize, which is a beautiful yummy scrummy box of 9 delicious Valentines cupcakes. This fabulous box currently retails at £17.49 with a choice of classic sponge, chocolate sponge or mixed.

So would you share them with your Valentine or keep them for yourself?
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear which is your favourite cake in their Valentines range?

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Disclosure.  Although I am hosting this giveaway, I have not received any products this time.  All opinions are my own.

Celeriac Mash

I’ve always hated celery apart from when it is blended smooth in a cream of celery soup, so I’ve avoided buying celeriac until now, as I understand it has a fairly similar flavour to celery. However I thought I’d test myself and try celeriac. I decided to keep it simple and make some celeriac mash as a side, not being brave enough to incorporate into the main.

celeriac

mashed celeriac

Celeriac Mash

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side)

1 celeriac
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
water

Method

Peel the celeriac and chop into small pieces.
Add oil to pan and heat gently.
Add garlic and celeriac.
Stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover with water and bring to boil.
Turn down to simmer and put lid on pan.
Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes until tender.
Drain any excess water.
Coarsely mash with a potato masher.
Serve as a side dish and enjoy.

mashed celeriac

mashed celeriac

Verdict. No it didn’t float my boat but at least I have tried. I won’t be buying celeriac again.

I’d love to hear what ways you have tried to cook food that you believe you may dislike?

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The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson

I have received a free e-copy of the book The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson

Here is the book blurb.

Homemaker Ella Casey is circling the middle-age drain. Her once adventurous life is now measured in loads of laundry, her grand dreams of changing the world diluted with each rinse cycle. When she flies to the enchanting California estate of her best friend Teri for a Peace Corps reunion, the accomplishments of her peers threaten to soak up the last drops of Ella’s floundering self-esteem.

Teri Flores is everything Ella is not: glamorous, wealthy, and fearless. Her sprawling mansion, La Casa Del Alma, serves as both artists’ retreat and modern day salon to Teri’s eclectic entourage. Teri entertains her guests with lavish meals, outrageous activities, and impassioned debates, but the weekend sours when old grievances mix with new ambitions.

As past and present collide, Ella struggles to redefine herself, but will her growing need to validate her life end up destroying it?

The House of the Soul is a journey of love, loss, and friendship, and a treasure map for anyone brave enough to embark on the precarious voyage of self-discovery.

Ella leaves her family back home in New Zealand whilst she flies to California for a reunion with her associates from her time spent in the Peace Corps in Ghana 13 years ago. This is hosted by her very rich best friend Teri. Charlie collects her from the airport in a limo and a packed itinerary follows, including awards dinner for which she has nothing to wear. Inbetween there is pampering from Sachi, one of Teri’s resident artists, who does massage and yoga workshops too.

The book is interspersed with plenty of flashbacks to their time in Ghana.

Ella is full of self-doubt when she unpacks the suitcase that her husband David had packed for her. Sweatpants, t-shirts etc. Nothing elegant at all. Is this how David sees her now? Teri to the rescue with a huge choice of designer dresses in Ella’s size. And then to meet up with all the others before another limo ride to the awards, where actor Ben, Master of Ceremonies for the evening takes a shine to Ella. How does she react?

Meanwhile how do the old gang all mix together now? Pleasantly or will sparks fly? I’m not going to say any more. You’ll have to read it to see how the story develops.

The House of the Soul is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.99 in paperback or £3.96 in Kindle format. I loved this book and highly recommend it. A great read.

However I’m not convinced that the cover does justice to the book. Although a lovely picture, it is irrelevant to the story-line.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Senator’s Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Senator’s Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The Senator's Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller

Here is the book blurb.

Senator A.C. McFerren has been missing for more than six months. The obvious prime suspect in his disappearance is the homegrown terrorist group known as the Army of Social Justice.

Searching for her kidnapped father leads Brenna McFerren Jefferson to the terrorists’ elusive “Death of Government” headquarters, known as The Doghouse. But nosing around where the federal government won’t investigate puts a target on her family… and sets in motion a rebellion she isn’t prepared to lead.

Dreams of liberty cause the Senator’s daughter to disguise herself for undercover recon, recruit a high-ranking defector, and partner with a subversive news agency that combats government propaganda. As Brenna’s strength and family ties are tested, she unites a political party that commands the power to transform the United States.

I found this book a little confusing to start with as I tried to work out who was who – Litants, Versives, ASJ’s, dogs, but once I had mastered that, I was soon immersed. And throw Secret Service and Federal Troopers into the mix. It is set in an alternate reality of the US, where American Congress has been permanently dissolved, so that the nation is led only by the president.

It starts with Brenna spying on The Doghouse where her kidnapped father is being held and as she returns home, she passes the library when it is blown up. These events start the pace of the story which continues in a similar vein. All of Brenna’s family have their role to play. Her husband Tate is Chief of Staff for her Senator father and is channelling his efforts into investigating his disappearance. Her brother Ike and sister-in-law Reese are both cyber security computer geniuses and also run a subversive news network. Her sister Esther had been planning to go into politics, before state government was disbanded.

It also includes both funny and sad moments, the funniest being when Brenna’s trousers get snagged in a tight situation and the only way she can free herself, is to leave them behind, continuing on the mission in just her top and underwear.

I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, but this book is definitely worth a read.

The Senator’s Youngest Daughter is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.12 in paperback or £1.63 in Kindle format. A real page turner with plenty of twists. Highly recommended.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A lovely gesture

When I got a DM on Twitter from The Kettle Shed offering me some free tea samples, I thought what a lovely gesture from them to their followers. I then found out that they also give free tea to homeless shelters for every box of tea sold, #WeGiveACup.

I took them up on their kind offer and I received two free tea bags of their new Winter tea blends, namely Eggnog and Gingerbread.

Kettleshed tea

I tried the Gingerbread first. This is a blend of Rooibos, Ginger and Vanilla.

Kettleshed tea

Secondly the Eggnog, a blend of Rooibos, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.

I chose to drink both without milk, but you may drink with milk if you prefer. And I infused for 3 minutes directly in the cup, using boiling water. The strength can be adjusted by either brewing for a shorter or longer time or by using a teapot and adding more water.

I find fuso bags are a good size to let the tea expand in the bag whilst infusing. And I found both were a lovely refreshing drink.

The teas currently retail at £4.49 for a box of 15 fuso bags, a very realistic 30p per cup for a premium tea.

I would certainly be happy to buy a box as a gift.

I’d love to hear your favourite tea.

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

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu

I have received a free e-copy of the book Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu

Here is the book blurb.

The Internet is often the first place that people turn to for information about anything and anyone. Company addresses, information about a person, and reviews about a company are a click away. Potential visitors rely on the Internet to learn about specials, book releases, events, and information. Your website is your storefront and it enables you to reach a global market. Having a website that supplies this information is a necessary component of running a business.

As an author and speaker, the Internet becomes a business channel to network, advertise your products and services, and build a following on a global level. Learn how to create your first blog, effectively market your blog and create passive income opportunities in our new ebook, “Blogging for Smarties Blogging for Authors and Speakers,” which will walk you through the steps of building an extremely effective website.

In this guide, you will learn:

Blogging Basics for Beginners
How to Attract Readers
Popular Blogging Platforms
How to Setup WordPress
Discover How to Use WordPress
Useful Plugins for Authors and Speakers
Discover Effective Marketing Strategies for Your Website
Easy Tips on How to Make Money with Your Blog
Learn Effective Podcasting
How to Market Your Podcast
Important Links to Resources

I don’t usually read much non-fiction, but agreed to review this book when asked by the author. I did also warn Yvonne that I am neither an author nor a speaker. However I know that a number of my readers are authors, so I do hope that my review of this guide is particularly useful to you.

Yvonne did tell me this is also a blogging book for beginners. Although I do consider myself past the beginner stage, I was hoping I could pick up some useful tips.

It is a fairly short book at just over 100 pages. It begins by defining what is a blog and why we blog, then moving on to attracting visitors. This was interesting with regards to identifying your target audience, branding and the value of content. However I was reading it with my own blog in mind and although I am very pleased to have you lovely followers reading my posts, I created my blog with me as the number one audience in mind.

The next chapter was about WordPress and the advantages and disadvantages of being self-hosted or not. I’ve been pretty blinkered on this as I’m not planning to move to self-hosted, so it was eye-opening to find out what I am missing out on. Although as I say, I don’t plan to do anything about this. Continuing with WordPress, I read how to register a domain if I wished and how to use WordPress. Plugins are something again just available to self-hosted, apart from a basic set.

Then the book moved onto something that was very useful for me to learn about syndicating a blog. I plan to investigate that further. The next item was pingbacks and trackbacks but I have to say I still don’t understand the difference between them even after reading it. Google alerts is another new useful tip that I have discovered. This chapter also covered mailing lists.

The next chapter covered making money with your blog which is not something I am personally interested in, as my blog is purely my hobby. However it proved interesting reading about what rankings could be important and advertising.

Finally podcasting, if you want audio alongside your blog. Again something I haven’t considered but I can imagine this would be good for book extracts.

To summarise, even though this book is aimed at authors and speakers, yes I got some tips from it, so I can certainly see that it would appeal to the general blogging beginner. However it very noticeably focussed on WordPress. What about Blogger and other blogging platforms?

This book can be purchased via Amazon, currently priced at £3.66 in kindle format, but watch out for a price reduction between 23rd December to 1st January. This is the short version of the book. Alternatively there is a full version with videos.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu - book tour

And the author is hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash. Open worldwide.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Peanut Butter and Date Breakfast Bars

Regular readers of my blog may remember that having received 12 free jars of Sun-Pat peanut butter, that I promised to share an energy boosting breakfast bar recipe. Well, here it is. Nice and healthy before we hit the excesses of the festive season.

Peanut butter and date breakfast bars

Peanut Butter and Date Breakfast Bars

Ingredients (makes 9)

150g Sun-Pat peanut butter
150g dates
150g oats
10g chia seeds
10g linseeds
About 200ml boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Chop dates and place in basin.
Add bicarbonate of soda.
Add sufficient boiling water to cover.
Leave for 15 minutes, then strain, reserving the liquid.
Place peanut butter in mixing bowl.
Add dates.
Add chia seeds and linseeds.
Mix in oats along with 2 tbsp of the reserved liquid from the dates.
Put mixture into the tin, pressing down into the corners.
Cook in preheated oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown.
Leave in tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.
Once cool, cut into 9 squares.
Serve and enjoy.

Delicious and just what we needed for a quick energy boost ready for parkrun. And it must have done the trick, as son1 achieved a personal best for his run today.

Peanut butter and date breakfast bars

I’d love to hear your ideas for a recipe using peanut butter?

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