Clementine Candied Peel

Now I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts … Actually that’s a lie I’ve been thinking about it for agessss but I’m starting to plan all the homemade edible gifts now!

This recipe is for candied peel, something I’ve always enjoyed eating but never considered trying until I had a few too many clementines leftover this week and thought I would give it a whirl. Most people use orange or lemon peel but clementine certainly works well in my opinion.

Candied Peel

You will need:

6-8 clementines, peel removed carefully in long pieces
300grams of granulated sugar (approx)
Boiling water

Slice the peel into long strips and place in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and then drain the water and add more to cover and bring to the boil again then simmer for 30 minutes. Now drain away the water into a jug and measure it before returning to the saucepan. Add 100grams of sugar for every 100ml of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the peel to the pan and simmer for 30 mins. The peel should be changing colour a little ( becoming slightly translucent) and be soft. Leave to cool in the pan.

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Once cooled place on a wire rack over a tray and place in the oven on the lowest setting for 45 minutes. Remove, cover with sugar and leave to dry/cool for about an hour before bagging/packing.

You could dip these in chocolate once dried for extra indulgence – I’m definitely going to do this next time. I think a dark chocolate would work well.

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Lindam Fabric Playpen Review

I remember that I used to think that playpens were a bit cruel. I mean why do you need to trap your child…shouldn’t they be allowed to roam free as a bird and do as they please. Then I actually had a child and HA HA HA. Roam free? Really? With Izzy we used a sort of walker that didn’t move contraption which was great and we used it as a handy way to keep her in one place when I was making dinner or answering the door etc etc.

Now with Chloe we use an actual playpen. This fabric playpen from Lindam is a wonderful invention. Big enough to store all of Chloe’s little toys therefore avoiding too many standing/tripping on toy injuries and less clutter everywhere… Oh and it’s ideal for a peaceful 15 minutes here and there knowing that I don’t actually have to have eyes in the back of my head to check where she has walked off to. Yes she’s walking sturdily and climbing pretty quickly too already at just 10 months.

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She has napped in it, played in it alone, played in it with Izzy and she is happy in there for short bursts of time which is just what we need it for. 20 minutes to get dinner sorted..15 minutes to reply to some emails or pop on a wash load. It can also be used as a room divider although we are yet to use it for this purpose – handy to know we have that option.

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Don’t feel sorry for her, she’s not in it all day and she actually gets excited about going in!

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I think this is an ideal option for busy parents ( so that’s all of us ) and a great product to help keep your child safe at all times.

The padded mat is machine washable and obviously comfy enough for sneaking in little naps.

Clementine Drizzle Cake

I’ve started planning my Christmas menu early this year and this recipe came about by the desire to not have a traditional Christmas fruitcake but also fancying an alternative to the chocolate cake I’m planning to bake :-)

Clementines always remind me of Christmas. The smell, the juiciness and the vibrant colour and I wanted to capture that in a cake. Lemon drizzle cake is one of my favourite bakes so it didn’t really require a massive amount of effort to think this one up.

I’m going to be sharing a few recipes using clementines so if you end up with a big box leftover this winter you can be sure to find ways to use them up.

Clementine Drizzle Cake

You will need:

For the cake:

225g margarine or butter ( I used Flora baking block)
225g caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
4 medium free range eggs
60ml of whole milk
Zest of 3 clementines and 1 lemon
2 tsp baking powder

Drizzle topping:

175g sugar (granulated)
juice of 3 clementines and 1 lemon

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease a 23cm round cake tin ( I use cake release spray which is so easy and effective)
Combine all of your cake ingredients and blend in a food mixer for 3 minutes until smooth or beat well with a wooden spoon.

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Bake for 25 -30 minutes or until golden and will spring back when pressed lightly.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Mix your drizzle topping together. When still warm to the touch but not hot slowly spoon your topping over the cake being sure to get an even cover. Leave to cool completely until you have a crunchy sugary top.

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I also added some candied clementine peel to my cake to decorate. I will be posting the recipe for candied peel later this week.

Now try not to eat it all at once. This would be lovely on a Christmas Day in the afternoon with mulled wine a cuppa tea.

Brands Supporting Charities – JoJo Maman Bébé Motorbike Ambulance

Most of you will have heard of JoJo Maman Bébé before, perhaps you have even bought some of their fabulous childrens products like us but did you know that for the last 8 years they have been supporting mothers and babies in Mozambique?

Here is what they have to say about it:

In Mozambique, infant and maternal mortality rates are scarily high – in some areas one in three children will not live to see their 5th birthday. JoJo Maman Bébé, the mother and baby specialist, has been working to help reduce this shocking statistics for the past 8 years.

In rural areas, seeking medical attention often means a long walk to reach the town. Once there you will join a queue outside the basic hospital only to find, when it is eventually your turn to see the doctor, that in most cases the medicine has already run out.

A motorbike ambulance will speed up the process of treating patients by taking much needed medicines to those most in need and getting them to the hospital on time in the case of a difficult birth.

“We would love to be able to buy an ambulance in time for Christmas this year” says Laura Tenison MBE, JoJo founder and MD, who has recently returned from visiting the charity.

As a mother of two and someone who had to be admitted to hospital in numerous occasions during pregnancy I can’t imagine having to walk for hours in order to get to my nearest hospital. In the UK we are so lucky with our healthcare system and although we complain about waiting lists etc I think we should be very grateful for that. Imagine your baby in pain needing a doctor and knowing it would take 4 hours to get them there. How frightening and heartbreaking it must be to know you can’t provide the care your child needed or being pushed to a hospital in a wheelbarrow during labour.

A motorbike ambulance will speed up the process of treating patients by taking much needed medicines to those most in need and getting them to the hospital on time in the case of a difficult birth. It costs just £12,000 to buy a motorbike ambulance, run and maintain it for two years, amazingly including the driver’s salary. JoJo customers can support this much needed appeal in two ways – by purchasing a JoJo Gift Voucher in store or online, or by donating directly through the JoJo website. JoJo has pledged to donate 10% of the value of every Gift Voucher purchased to Nema this Christmas, in order to raise the funds required.

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Travel Essentials from Munchkin

We received a hamper of goodies from Munchkin as part of our blog ambassador role for them. The theme of the hamper was travel.

All of the products we received were made to make the lives of parents easier when out and about, perhaps just for the day or on a holiday. I’m going to tell you about some of our favourites which would be ideal for you to take on your next break – perhaps in the half term holidays?

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Our favourite product by far was the booster seat. Izzy always likes to sit on a big girl chair now rather than a high chair but she struggles to reach things on the table and this makes it so much easier and comfortable for her. Within 30 minutes of it arriving she was sat on it at the table doing some crafting and she’s in love. It’s made eating our family meals at the table a much happier occasion as she is strapped in which leads to less walkabouts. I highly recommend this. In fact it’s a product we use at least once a day whether it be for Playdoh fun at the table or eating a bowl of stew with her little sis in the high chair. Oh did I mention it turns into a handy bag which you can take out and about and fill with nappies, wipes etc. Its brilliant.

We love the bib and spoon travel pouch which can be hung off a pram or popped in a bag and Chloe really loves this teether monkey toy which is a soft in parts, textured in others and chewable too. She used to have it on her baby gym and now it’s an everyday fixture on her buggy:

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I’ve never had a bad experience with a product from Munchkin and we have tried a LOT of them and it’s a brand I really trust and can recommend wholeheartedly.

Learning From The Master – Giovanni Rana Pasta Masterclass

Last month I won a pretty amazing food blogger competition which was run by Foodies100 and Giovanni Rana. This was my entry. I was pretty astonished and quite proud to have been chosen as the winner and thrilled with the prize of a Pasta Masterclass with Giovanni Rana and Antonella Rana as well as a goodies bag and supermarket voucher.

Lucky me hey?

So a few weeks ago I travelled to the Giovanni Rana restaurant in London and had a lot of fun learning some new pasta skills, meeting some really interesting people and eating a rather enormous amount of excellent food. All in all a pretty amazing day.

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First up we had some snacks and a drink while chatting about what the plan was for the day. It a tough life …

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Next we moved onto the pasta Masterclass where we met the very lovely Giovanni and Antonella. We learned to make a basic pasta dough before moving to experiment with making fillings and filled pasta. I picked up loads of tips and I can’t wait to try them out at home.

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To finish up we had a delicious three course meal with an incredible red wine.

We started with a selection of Italian cured meats and cheeses with gnocco fritto bread and chutney. It was a really impressive starter.

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I then moved onto Beef and Pork Cappelletti with butter and sage with Parma ham crostino.

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To end a delectable meal we had a selection of home made sweet ravioli & the chefs dessert selection.

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A quick thank you to Giovanni Rana, Wildcard PR and Foodies100 for a fabulous prize and a wonderful day.

How To Make Sundried Tomatoes

Recently we had a bit of a glut of tomatoes from my father in laws garden so after making Slow Cooker Chutney and still having LOADS left I decided to try out some Sundried tomatoes and it’s easy and they taste AMAZING.

Sundried Tomatoes

You will need:

A large amount of tomatoes – I used various types
Dried basil or another herb of your choice ( oregano would be lovely)
Flat baking tray

Turn your oven onto the lowest setting.
Halve or quarter your tomatoes depending on the size. The tomatoes will reduce to about a quarter of their size. Lay out on the baking tray and sprinkle with your choice of dried herbs.

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Leave in the oven for between 12-15 hours. You can tell if they are done by the texture, there should be little to no moisture left and they will feel quite leathery.

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Once cool seal your tomatoes into containers or bags. I vacuumed packed mine and froze some and kept some in the fridge.

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I’ve since used some on pizzas and in pasta dishes and oh they taste incredible. Little sweet bursts of sunshine in your mouth.

Vote For Camp Bestival

If you regularly read this blog then you know we are BIG fans of Camp Bestival.

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To find out why you could take a look at the highlights video from this year:

Camp Bestival Highlights

If you take a sneaky peek at around the 1min45 sec mark you will get a little look at my family scoffing some food!

Camp Bestival have been nominated for Best Family Festival and Best Medium Festival in the UK festival awards and you can vote from them by clicking here

Look at the smiles on the faces of these three.. Proper family fun!

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You could also vote for their sister festival Bestival as they are up for Best Major Festival, Best Dance Event and Best Headline performance for Foals.

If you are fancy getting tickets for next years festival why not check out the payment plan to split the cost: Camp Bestival Payment Plan

Blackberry & Elderflower Tea Loaf

A few years ago a slice of tea loaf would never have been my cake of choice. I’ve always been more of a chocolate fudge or Victoria sandwich girl. Now I’m more open to other cakey avenues.

I received these products as part of a Degustabox subscription box some months ago and I can honestly say the cake release spray has changed my baking world! The tea is nice although a little too fragrant for me to drink but just perfect for this tea loaf:

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Blackberry & Elderflower Tea Loaf

You will need:

300g of dried sultanas, raisins and currants ( any ratio is fine)
150ml of Blackberry and elderflower tea ( I used 2 x Taylor tea bags )
1 medium egg
225g of SR flour
175g of Demerara sugar

Make up your tea with boiling water and 2 tea bag and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.

Remove tea bags whilst water is still hot and add sugar and dried fruit. Leave to soak overnight or at least 6 hours.

Preheat your oven to gas mark 3.

Add your egg, beat well and add your flour. Stir to combine.

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Place into a greased (2lb) loaf tin and bake for 1.5 hours or until firm. Leave to cool slightly before slicing. Spread with proper butter for ultimate indulgence.

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This keeps really well and therefore makes a nice gift to drop into people who are unwell or need a treat. I made this for my OH’s grandpa after a hip replacement op and he loved it.

* I received some of the above products for free as part of a Degustabox review I wrote a few months ago.

A Multi Tasking Pot From Delimano

A little while ago I was sent a cooking pot from Delimano. It’s been thoroughly tested over the past few months with not far off daily use and it shows no signs of wear and tear yet.

This is the pan we were sent:

A Prima+ 24cm cooking pot

It has been used for pan frying, simmering, boiling and everything inbetween. It has housed stews, pasta, meat, asparagus and is my favourite pot for cooking garlic mushrooms.

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The info:

Delimano Ceramica Pans offer safe, non-stick cooking for all types of food. Free from PFOA, the ceramic coating offers an incredible non-stick cooking experience. Scratch resistant, easy to clean, they are durable, hard-wearing and will look beautiful in any kitchen.

– Volume: 7.65L
– Lid available separately
– Heat resistant up to 450ºC
– Ecological Coating
– Base material: Aluminium
– Coating: Greblon Ceramica®
– PFOA & PTFE-free
– 100% Italian-made
– 5 year warranty

I’ve been so impressed that I’m looking at buying other products in the range. I find I’m using less oil to cook with which means that my meals are healthier also I’m using the same pan for various purposes in one meal so saving on washing up – for example I use the pot to simmer my asparagus for 5 minutes before draining and sautéing until golden brown and gorgeous.

I also love that they have a 5 year guarantee on their pots – goes to show the belief they have in the quality of their products.

You can look at their full range of pots here

I love their bake range too and I’m definitely getting a bundt pan!

As someone who loves to cook I couldn’t recommend this brand enough.

* I was sent this pot for the purpose of a review.