Friday, 31 October 2014

Spooky Ghost Cake Pops

I love baking, but find cake pops quite daunting.  Dr Oaker sent us some ingredients to try their Spooky Ghost Cake Pops and over the weekend we will be giving them a try.




Preparation time: 2 hours plus cooling and chilling
Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 10 minutes to melt 2 lots of chocolate

Ingredients:

For the cake balls:

·  120g Dr. Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate
·  150g soft unsalted butter at room temp
·  200g Light Muscovado Sugar
·  3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
·  2 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract
·  125g Plain Flour

For the cake pops:

·  2 X 100g bags of Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks & coating the cake pops
·  Teaspoon of vegetable oil

To decorate the ghosts:

·  1 x  pack of Dr. Oetker White Regal Ice
·  Icing sugar for rolling out
·  Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops
·  Dr. Oetker Jet Black Gel Food Colour

Method:

1.     Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Grease and line an 18cm (7 inch) square cake tin
2.     To make the fudge brownie mix melt the extra dark chocolate in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until melted,  or in a heat proof bowl on a gentle heat over a bain marie. Leave to cool.
3.     Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand beater for approx. 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. If you haven’t got an electric mixer you can do this with a wooden spoon in a bowl .
4.     TIP: if you are in a rush or the butter is quite cold, the addition of a couple of tablespoons of boiling water at this stage, beaten on slow until mixed will speed up this process.
5.     Add your eggs on a slow speed about a third at a time, mixing until combined.
6.     Add your cooled chocolate stirring continuously.  Add the vanilla Extract and stir. On slow speed mix in the flour until just combined. Do not over beat. Alternatively fold in by hand.
7.     Pour the mix into your cake tin and bake for approx 40 mins. Check it with a sharp knife or metal skewer. You want this to be slightly under baked, so the knife should come out pasty, with a nice paste on the knife.
8.     Leave to cool, then turn out into a bowl and crumble with your hands to fine fudgy crumb.
9.     To make the cake balls, take a handful of fudge cake mix and squeeze together tightly - you are aiming for little balls about the size of a large walnut, approx. 30g each. If the mixture is dry, the addition of a little chocolate or vanilla butter cream will help the mixture stick
10.  Once you have all of your balls ready, dip the end of your stick into the melted chocolate chips  and push the stick into each ball, about half way in. Hold the ball to stop it splitting open when the stick goes in
11.  Once all the cake pops are ready, refrigerate them for 1-2 hours before dipping them, or pop into the freezer for 30 mins, so the balls are firm enough to hold when dipping in the coating
12.  To coat the cake pops melt Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks White Chocolate on low power in a microwave bowl until just melted -  stirring occasionally or over a bain marie on a gentle heat
13.  Plunge each cake pop into the chocolate coating until completely covered. Tap the cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess. Once all are covered, dip each cake pop again
14.  To decorate the ghosts roll out half the white regal icing into a large rectangle using plenty of icing sugar and a large plastic rolling pin. Roll fairly thinly – 2 to 3mm thick. Squeeze a little Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing onto the tops of the cake pops or brush with some melted white chocolate, to aid sticking of the sugar paste
15.  Using a cake cutter or small bowl, cut out circles of regal icing and place on each of the pops, smoothing down with your fingers to create the white sheet effect. Allow a little wavy movement by using your fingers to create smooth



If like me you find cake pops a little daunting, then there is a really great video tutorial here


Disclosure: We were sent some ingredients to make our own cake pops and I will share our results with you.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Making Jelly Monsters

How often do you tell your kids that they can not play with their food.  Well this weekend we made an exception and had a blast making Jelly (jello) Monsters with a selection of Jellies from Hartley's




Firstly we made the jelly's.  This is great fun for kids.  They cut up the blocks of jelly using scissors, measure the boiling water, mixed, added the cold water, poured into moulds and then took them outside to set.  In fact my boys at nine and wight did this all without me!

Then I let the lost with the Jelly, some icing and some sweets and they had THE best time making Jelly Monsters.


Even better, once they had finished making them they enjoyed eating them and then kept telling me they had monsters in their tummy.

So why not take a leaf out of our book and play with your food this coming weekend.

Friday, 10 October 2014

My Top money saving tips in the Bathroom

I am going to admit now that we don't buy inexpensive bathroom products due to two reasons, one the boys have both suffered with eczema and two I have an issue with SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) making me itch.



So it is important for me to make sure that our products last and I am going to admit that I learned this tip from Lizzie at Me and my shadow and it has transformed how much we spend on products and how long they last.

Did you know that in the UK we spend around £14 million on toiletries and I am going to admit again that I possibly spend a large proportion of that, so anyway to save money is good to me!

So what is this phenomenal tip that I received?

Just use less........................



Yes, really just use less and this is more important with products that contain no parabens or SLS as these are often the foaming agent,

We are programmed to only think that toiletries, especially soaps and shampoos are only doing their job is they are foaming and that we must use enough to get foam and lots of foam at that.

It works, it really does, just read the amount on the bottle and use that.  A 50p amount of shampoo is more than enough for my thick shoulder length hair.

It is amazing.  I have been making sure that the boys just use a pea sized amount of toothpaste and so are we.  It is now lasting us twice a long.  So that is a 50% saving by doing one thing.

I also make sure that we use all of the product too, which often means cutting the top of the bottle and we often get at least another three of four applications that way.

The other biggest spend for us in the bathroom is loo roll.  Kids always use far too much, it just comes off the roll to easily.  So I squash the roll making it less circular and less easy for the toilet paper to just come off the roll!

My hope is with all the savings we are making we can afford a new bathroom. I have been browsing bathroom suites for ages as we don't have a shower in the family bathroom and the biggest way to save water is to have showers and not baths and with two boys who play a lot of sport this would be a big saving for us.



Monday, 29 September 2014

Meal plan w/c 29./09/14

I am trying to get back in to menu planning after a week of illness, so here is this week's menu plan.  Only till Thursday as we are off to London on Friday afternoon for some family fun.



Monday 

Chicken soup with dumplings (using leftover roast chicken)

Tuesday

Homemade fish, chips and mushy peas

Wednesday

Homemade pizza and garlic bread

Thursday

Baked potatoes with beans and cheese

What is on your plan for this week?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Win a goody bag of Rebel Kitchen Mylks delivered to your door.

Jump on the latest coconut “mylk” trend with this fantastic competition to win a selection of Rebel Kitchen’s nourishing, delicious and naturally dairy free drinks!




Rebel Kitchen is on a mission to make tasty, nourishing snacks available to everyone, everyday, everywhere. The range launched earlier this year and includes three delicious varieties of grown-up drinks (Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea and Chai) and three varieties of kids’ drinks (Choco, Banana and Orange Choc). All of Rebel Kitchen’s drinks are made with a base of coconut milk blended with pure spring water from Somerset. They are free from dairy, lactose and refined sugar and contain absolutely no additives, no preservatives and so, no worries!




Tempted? Enter the giveaway to win a goody bag of Rebel Kitchen Mylks delivered to your door.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Talking point - Kids and Inappropriate Selfies

Recent research by My Voucher Codes has shown that 38% of 18-24 year olds have sent an inappropriate selfie.  

Compare this to the fact that 87% of the parents asked who said that they didn't think this is something their child would do.

The sort of selfies my boys take! 


So why the disparity?

What worried me about these statistics as a Mum was that this was kids who had SENT an inappropriate selfie, not taken one or had one on their phone.  When I was growing up photographs were something that were taken on film and sent away to be processed, so there was no way you would take an inappropriate picture!  The only alternative was a polaroid camera and the film was prohibitively expensive. 

Then there was also the fact that it wasn't so easy to share pictures when I was younger, there was no facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and once the negative and image was destroyed it was gone forever.  Nothing that goes on the internet ever disappears.

How I am dealing with this as a Mum?

My boys are eight and nine and as of yet do not have mobile phones, but I feel that it is important top have an open line of communication when it comes to online safety and appropriateness. 

They already know that anything that goes on the Internet is permanent and there is no way to take anything back.  

As my work is online, I tell them that I never share anything online I wouldn't let people see, so I would never pop an image on facebook if we wouldn't be happy having it in a photo frame.

I hope by talking about this now, I prepare them for a time when they do have phones and access to online technology.

How would you handle it?


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