Slow Cooker Pea & Ham Soup

It’s 6am and I’ve just woken up to a house which smells incredible. It may not be breakfast food but I’m looking forward to lunch let me tell you.

I cooked two gammon joints last week in my Sous Vide Supreme.. One in We

I put my ingredients into the slow cooker at about 9.30pm last night and just set on low and walked away – how easy is that?

This morning I woke to perfectly cooked veggies, ham and a gorgeous broth. When I’m ready to serve it will probably blend it up as I love pea and ham soup this way..maybe even with a swirl of cream on top, some cracked black pepper and freshly baked soda bread.

Also apologies for the ingredients being in cups.. I was being rather lazy last night and used a cup for measurements so that I could share the recipe afterwards without the faff of weighing.

Slow Cooker Pea & Ham Soup

You will need:

2 cups ( packed) of cooked shredded ham/gammon
1 cup of frozen peas
3.5 cups of hot chicken stock
9-10 small new potatoes halved
1 carrot diced
Dried parsley
Pepper
Salt ( if required – I didn’t use any as gammon is salty enough)

Put all ingredients into the slow cooker and give a little stir.

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Turn onto low for 10 hours or high for 5. Blend before serve for ultimate flavour and creaminess. Extra good with a little cream on top and served with still warm bread.

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Yum.

Perfect for a chilly autumnal day.

I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

The C Word

The C word. I hate it.

I hate to hear it in sentences from people I love or to overhear it in coffee shops or pubs.

I hate to see it online affecting people. Changing lives.

Six letters which can change your world.

Cancer.

Three summers ago I heard that word from my mum when she stood in front of us and said “it’s cancer” we knew it before she said it. From the moment she called on the way home from her appointment and said she would talk to us when she got home – not the overjoyed voice of relief we had hoped for but a small voice which tried to remain strong for her (almost all grown up) children.

I heard that word so often that year. A hard year for my family but a weirdly wonderful one too as Izzy was born and then my mum went on to beat breast cancer after two operations and radiotherapy. She’s a fighter.

We have lost grandparents to cancer. Friends have lost parents and siblings. It’s such a scary word.

I worry for my mum every day. Everytime she has an ache or pain my mind flits back to that time. I worry for my dad. I worry for myself.. For Andrew and for our children and my siblings.

This rotten, selfish disease who tiptoes up and threatens your family. Who doesn’t care how wonderful or generous the person is who it affects. Who doesn’t stop think no, not them. Not now.

This autumn marks three years cancer free for my mum. Something which wouldn’t be possible without research, medicine and science.

On Friday I will be supporting my mum and Macmillan cancer research by baking cakes, attending my mums coffee morning and donating.

Can you support it too? Find your nearest coffee morning here

I’m writing this late at night ( actually very early in the morning) and my mind is all a muddle but I’d like to do more. Raise money. Use this blog for good. If I thought of something, some way to do something which would raise money – would you help? So many of you read my blog these days I’m overwhelmed ( thanks by the way) and with your help I could maybe, possibly do something good. Who is with me?

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Holiday Memories

When I was growing up we didn’t do exotic holidays abroad. In fact my parents have only just this year been abroad for the first time. My dad didn’t like the idea of flying and also there was just no way we could afford that type of holiday.

Sometimes when a school friend would talk about going to Spain or Eurodisney I may have been a little jealous but looking back I’m so glad we had the kind of holidays we did as they were so much fun.

The first holidays I can remember were in caravan parks near the seaside in South Wales. Lots of us crammed into one small caravan – they weren’t quite as posh back then ..hours spent in the swimming pool and making best friends with all the other holiday makers.

My mum would also make her famous corned beef pie to take with us and doesn’t food always taste a million times better in the sea air. Hot chocolatey before bed and cereal variety packs for breakfast.

Caravans have improved just a little since when I was a little girl. Some are more like sprawling holiday villas than caravans with two bathrooms and three bedrooms as well as fully equipped kitchens.

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We have since taken Izzy to holiday parks in Wales and Cornwall as well as to France and Portugal and we have enjoyed the caravan breaks as much if not more sometimes than our trips abroad because it’s easier and so much less stressful than having to go to an airport and book car hire etc etc.

With school holiday time bookings abroad getting so pricey it’s definitely worth looking at UK holidays when thinking of things to do during half term. Spend time exploring castles and beaches or just chilling out playing board games in a beautiful caravan.

Now sing together…

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside…

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* Collaborated post.

Sleep Deprivation

It goes with the newborn territory doesn’t it? You need to expect to be tired for at least the first year of having a child but there’s tired and then there is TIRED.

Remember that almost haze you lived in for the first few weeks after your child was born? The hourly feeds/ numerous nappy changes .. at a time when your baby was just getting used to life on the outside and found it hard to settle. It’s to be expected in that fourth trimester.

We are still in that haze. 10 months on. We aren’t tired anymore, we are barely functioning. I look like a zombie or as a homeless man in my local city centre told me .. I look absolutely knackered – and this was from someone who sleeps on the actual street.

With Izzy we were tired a lot of the time but that was normal waking up to 2-3 times a night and having early mornings type of tired. This is on another level. These are actual sleepless nights and it’s a different kind of exhaustion I can tell you. It seeps into your bones ( bone tired) it can make you incredibly grumpy and hard to live with ( sorry friends and family) and it makes every day seem so very long and difficult. It makes things like anxiety harder, depression is more depressing and minor ailments such as a simple cold feel like the full blown flu.

I’m still breastfeeding but I think those days are certainly numbered now. It’s not the feeding that is the problem but being awake so much of the time means that those 3 night feeds completely drain me. I wake feeling hungover. Feeling angry. Feeling tired. Why won’t she just sleep?

Today we are trying some final adjustments to her bedroom – a new mattress ..a new sleeping bag maybe. Tomorrow she is booked in for Cranial Osteopathy – I will keep you posted on how that goes.

For now I just needed to vent. Sorry for the ramble. Send all the chocolate please.

Celebrating Organic September With Waitrose

Did you know September is organic month? No.. Neither did I. I buy organic products occasionally but I don’t specifically look for them. Waitrose have invited me to replace one meal a day for 7 days with organic foods and write about how we feel about it afterwards.

Never one to shy away from a food challenge I set off to my nearest Waitrose in hunt of some organic goodies. Now I expected my shop to be a lot more expensive than normal and not to get too much for my money BUT I may have been slightly wrong. I’m going to share what we managed to make with the shopping items we purchased along with some store cupboard staples.

Since today is day 1 I will just give you a little overview of what we bought and what I plan to make this week.

Our shopping trolley which came to approximately £60 included:

Eggs
Bread
Milk
Butter
Buttery spread
Cheese
Chocolate pudding pots
Greek Yoghurt
Mushrooms
Sweet potatoes
Potatoes
Carrots
Rocket
Tomatoes
Butternut squash
A large chicken
Meatballs
Sausages
Apples
Bananas
Ham
Fruit pouches – for Chloe
Pear juice cartons for Izzy
Baby porridge
Shortbread
Fruit compote
Chocolate
Cider

All organic – yes even the cider ( Wyldwood organic cider) and the chocolate ( Green&Blacks ).

Even Peter Rabbit loves Organic juice:

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Day 1:

A light supper of a ham, brie and rocket sandwich. Using all organic products. It was delicious. The brie and bread were particularly good.. We may also have eaten a Rachel’s Organic chocolate pot which was divine.

Tomorrow morning ( Day 2 ) I plan to make fluffy pancakes using the eggs, milk and buttery spread served with the fruit compote. Yum.

Later in the week I am planning:

Evening meals:

Roast Chicken served with butternut squash and garlic mushrooms.
Sweet potato wedges with glazed sausages
Meatballs in a tomato sauce with homemade pasta

Light lunch:

Omelette served with a rocket and tomato salad

Indulgent supper treat:

Nigellas French Doughnut toast using the milk, bread and eggs and served with caramelised bananas. Yum.

And more…

Look out for an update next week with what we thought of the switch to organic.

Take a look at the Waitrose Organic Shop and have a look at the massive selection of organic products they have to offer.

You can find out more about Organic September on The Soil Association website

Cooking In The Kitchen Having Fun – Cherry & Coconut Rock Buns

It’s been aggesssssss since I last wrote one of these posts so I apologise for that but we have still been baking together and having fun – sometimes I forget to take pics or write down recipes while make lots of mess and eat all the cake mixture!

Last week we baked a few times together firstly in preparation for her birthday party – cupcakes freeze well don’t ya know?

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And secondly we made some rock buns which always go down well as it means Izzy can put her hands in the mixture and have a good play about in the kitchen. This time around I gave her some more challenging jobs such chopping the cherries up and helping me weigh the ingredients out and we had a ball.

Izzy preparing to bake with one of the lovely spoons that was gifted to us by Flora as a present when Chloe was born:

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Cherry & Coconut Buns

You will need:

225g Self Raising Flour
100g Butter/Margarine ( we used flora buttery)
50g caster sugar
1 medium beaten egg
1 large handful of glacé cherries ( roughly chopped)
30g Sweet shredded coconut
2tbsp of milk

Preheat oven to gas mark 6.

Rub your butter into your flour – this is the fun and messy part for kids!
Add your sugar, cherries and coconut and mix well. Now add your egg and 1tbsp of milk and mix to a stuff dough – kids may need help here. If it’s too dry add your second tbsp of milk. Place in balls on a greased baking tray or you could use a silicon cupcake mould. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden.

Izzy chopping the cherries.. one for the bowl ..one for her belly.

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And the only pic I have of the finished product. They were devoured still warm in about 10 minutes. Oops.

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I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

A Frozen Party

Izzy is only three years old ( just) so I was surprised that she is as caught up in the Frozen fever as every other little girl in the UK. She has watched it a few times and certainly likes the songs but I didn’t think she was ‘that’ into it.

I was wrong. We sat down a few weeks ago and had a look at photos of her previous birthday cakes. The first one was a Hungry Caterpillar cake and last year was Mr Tumbles spotty bag. I absently asked her what she would like this year expecting nothing specific but no. She looked at me and said:

“I want a build a snowman cake with Elsa, Anna, a reindeer and a man on top..”

I asked:

” Which man?”

She answered..

“the mean one”

So there it was. My challenge.

I love baking but I’m not particularly fussed on decorating although my skills are improving but I just don’t have an awful lot of patience. This however was the first time she had asked for something like this so I decided I was doing it. Looking back I suppose I could have ordered in! I had in mind a pretty spectacular affair but after a long week of sleepless nights this was all I could muster but she loved it all the same.

The Cake:

I made a simple sponge filled with blue buttercream, covered it in white fondant icing and homemade blue sugar glass and topped with some cake topper Frozen figures:

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The Outfits:

I bought her a rather cute Elsa dress from Ebay which unlike most other costumes wasn’t too fussy or scratchy against her skin.

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The Food:

Standard party food. Sandwiches, crisps, sausage rolls, crudités and dips. PARTY RINGS, cadburys fingers, grapes and chicken goujons. Cupcakes and birthday cake were abundant too. Ooh and did I mention I made an ice cream cake? And then forgot to take any photos of it. Grr. It was good though.

The party bags:

I kept these very simple with bubbles, party blowers and some sweet treats. Each child also took home a cupcake.

The activities:

Firstly we set up our lounge like a relaxed kids cinema and played Frozen on the projector. This went down very well and the kids popped in and out as they pleased. We served bowls of popcorn in there for a real cinema vibe. Outside we had big sheets of cardboard for the children to write and scribble on which they all loved and in the conservatory we had a table set up with cupcakes and icing pens for them to decorate their own cakes. I simply made some cupcakes the night before and decorated each one with a plain circle of white fondant and let the kids do as they pleased. We were very lucky that one of my family members has a party planning business and arranged a visit from a special guest too:

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Sous Vide BBQ Chicken Thighs

We have had our Sous Vide Supreme for about 4-5 months now and I’m still in love with it. We use it ALL the time. My favourite things to do in it are chicken thighs. Because they taste awesome.

Chicken thighs are by far my favourite part of a chicken to cook with as they are so full of flavour and much tastier than a breast. The Sous Vide just takes them to another level. They are tender, succulent and just so chickeny. Yes chickeny.

I like to rub them with brown sugar, garlic powder and paprika or a simple BBQ seasoning and cook them for about 6 hours for the ultimate taste, they will be cooked after 4 hours and taste great up to 8 hours but 6 hours is my fave and we have tried them lots of times. I use bone in chicken thighs and I normally remove the skin as I’m trying to cut down on fat -boring I know.

Sous Vide BBQ Thighs

You will need:

6 chicken thighs ( bone in, skin off)
3 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tbsp of garlic powder
1tbsp of sweet smoked paprika

Heat your water bath to 80c.
Rub your thighs with your sugar/garlic/paprika mixture and vacuum pack immediately. Place into your water bath and cook for 6 hours ( min of 4 and max of 8). I tend to cook about 4 batches at a time. I cook one immediately by cutting open the bag and placing meat (carefully) onto the BBQ. This tastes incredible. Perfectly tender but BBQ’d. Yum. I quick chill the other three bags and place 1 in the fridge for later in the week and freeze two.

When cooking the chicken from the fridge, I tend to cook in a hot pan or oven to brown and it makes the juices/sauces go incredibly sticky and sweet. Delicious. To defrost your freezer chicken just pop into the fridge the night before you need them.

I can tell you that this is the tastiest chicken you will try. Cooking it in the Sous Vide Supreme is by far my favourite method.

If you don’t fancy BBQ chicken, a simple bit of salt and pepper is fine or some fresh herbs. Even plain this chicken is outstanding and leaves some lovely stock in the bag to make a gravy or sauce to accompany.

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Fancy finding out more about what I think of the Sous Vide Supreme? Check out this interview I gave on their website.

* As stated in previous posts we were gifted the SVS & Vacuum Sealer for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own.

Upbeat Protein Drinks

We were recently invited to try out some new Blueberry and Raspberry Upbeat Protein drinks.

What is it?

The new addition, which was voted for by Upbeat’s Facebook fans, is not only flavoursome, it also contains high quality protein which keeps skin and hair looking healthy, perfect for those looking for that summer glow. Protein, as the most filling of foods, is especially important in the morning as it helps set on-the-go people up for the day. And don’t worry..Upbeat won’t make you look like a body builder, though it will help you to resist that mid-morning doughnut!

Low in fat, containing just 150 calories and with half the sugar found in most fruit juices and smoothies, Upbeat is a great option for the health conscious at a time when unhealthy snacking remains high on people’s agenda as they look to get in shape

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We really enjoyed sampling them. My other half is always looking for ways to increase his protein intake and I don’t take anywhere near as much interest in my own so it’s really handy to be able to get such a large portion (20g) all in one go. My 3year old also loves them which is great as I find if she has more protein throughout the day that it really helps with her sleep at night.

If you see them whilst on your supermarket shop I highly recommend you give them a whirl. We have also tried out the strawberry which is pretty tasty too.

Blueberry & Raspberry Upbeat is available from Tesco and Holland and Barrett from mid July. Existing flavours of Upbeat are also available from Waitrose, WHSmiths Travel, Ocado and selected petrol stations, RRP £1.79 for a 250ml bottle.

* we were sent some vouchers to purchase upbeat for the purpose of this review.

Teething Gems

Chloe has nearly seven teeth. SEVEN.

Each one didn’t exactly appear overnight. They were accompanied by days and especially NIGHTS of crying, whining, clinging and a severe lack of sleep for all of us.

Apart from the obvious medicines and soothing gels there are few things I wouldn’t be without now from a wide selection of teething toys and gadgets which we seem to have accumulated over the past few years.

Munchkin UK Massaging Teether:

I was sent this as part of my role on the Munchkin blog ambassador panel and Chloe ( and Izzy ) really loves to chew and play with it. The teether vibrates when they clamp down on it so I imagine it gives poor gums a little massage..similar to when we rub it with our fingertips. You can buy them from Amazon for £6.99 with free delivery if you have a Prime account.

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Sophie La Girafe toys:

We have long been fans of Sophie teething toys here. We first bought a Sophie giraffe in France when Izzy was about 9 months old and going through teething hell, it was chewed..thrown.. cuddled and played with until it got lost. We then bought a slightly different version for Chloe when she was about 4 months old which again got lost! Arrggh. Lucky for us I was then offered the latest Sophie toy to review and it’s a hit.

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You can buy it on the official Sophie La Girafe websitefor £10.99

Gumigem Teething Jewellery:

I was sent a Gumigem teething necklace and bracelet a few months back and it has been used over and over again. The bracelet is the teething toy I most often pass back to Chloe in the car if she is whining and the necklace is fabulous for distracting her while feeding. It’s also used constantly when she has a tooth breaking through. It’s jewellery that I feel quite comfortable wearing and it goes with lots of outfits.

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You can buy this set and more on the Gumigem website

Funky Giraffe Bibs:

If you have had any teething experience you will know that bibs, muslins and extra tops always come in handy. Our favourite bibs for teething are from Funky Giraffe UK. Stylish and cute. Funky and functional. So many designs. Such a reasonable price.

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Check out lots more designs on the Funky Giraffe website

* The above items were gifted for the purpose of a review.