Halloween 2015: The Lazy One

Halloween

I made a call early last week that I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself for a homemade Halloween this year. We had great fun last year, preparing to be Dr Dombie the Science Zombie but this year I just didn’t have the time or inclination to go all out. We’re still quite lucky in that I’m not under huge pressure from the kids – Dominic is quite laid back as long as he decrees his costume cool, and Ted, well he’s just not that bothered yet. But you just can’t ignore the season altogether when there’s a five year old around, and one that laps up scary things at that. So we’ve still had plenty of simple fun: Here’s how.

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Now we are Three: Pox & A Minion Birthday Cake

It looks like we might have made it to the end of the chicken pox. Two small boys down in three weeks, many tears shed (mostly mine), large doses of cabin fever and one birthday that fell on a bad day celebrated instead at the weekend. I would like to be folded into a suitcase and posted to the nearest yoga retreat with vegan food and a vow of silence right now. But I’ll settle for a cuppa and the tv to myself.

Crumbs V Pox
Crumbs V Pox

I steered Teddy away from a Star Wars cake request (think big bro had had a word in his ear). I’m a fan of age-appropriate celebratory baking, so I started big upping the idea of Minion birthday cake a few weeks ago. Continue reading

The Granola Bars To Rule Them All

...and in the bars

We had a go at making buns yesterday. There was a number of issues with this. It was all going okay mess wise until Ted got up from his nap. Then half the ingredients went on the countertop/floor/cat.

My husband was working from home and had made an omelette for his lunch, leaving no eggs. No problemo, I made a chia egg replacement. (1 tbsp milled chia, 3 tbsp water = stir and leave sit for 10-15 mins = 1 egg)

I had no regular flour so I used spelt. That doesn’t usually cause an issue for me either.

Then I realised that the milled chia seed I thought I had was in fact a mix: one third chia, one third linseed and one third hemp. So, still very good for you but maybe not suitable when what the recipe really truly was asking for was “2 eggs”.

Anyway, it put in half an hour with the kids on a rainy afternoon which is never to be sniffed at. Add another ten minutes of fighting over blueberries. The mixture was very light and fluffy and the bowl got licked and the slightly sticky buns eaten, but I don’t think I need waste your time with this particular recipe.

What I will share with you is an entirely foolproof no-bake granola bar recipe which is adaptable to infinity and allows you to fly by the seat of your pants in a way that baked goods don’t usually. I can’t believe I haven’t written about these before. I’ve only made them about sixty seven times. They’re fairly healthy and wholesome to boot.

Foolproof No-Bake Granola Bars

The only 5 ingredients you need

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A Week In Dinners: What We Ate Round Ours.

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As part of a look at what ‘real’ families eat, Sinéad over at Bumbles of Rice started a ‘Week In Dinners’ linky. I’m always interested in what other people are chomping down on, and I think it’s important to represent for the veggie contingent here in the Properfud house.

Monday: I concocted something with bulgar wheat, chickpeas and a creamy nutty dressing which was FINE but a bit forgettable. It got eaten by everyone but the leftovers are still in the fridge. I suppose I should chuck them now.

Tuesday: A random walk through the Marks & Spencer food hall meant some items threw themselves in my basket like Cheese Tasters, overpriced dark chocolate and stem ginger cookies (for a trip to a friends house), a Nutty Superfood Salad and a Sprouted Bean Salad.  For dinner the husband cooked up some quorn pieces with red pesto, a little stock and frozen spinach and we ate that served with the salads. The boys picked the bits they wanted out of the salads and we ate the rest. I didn’t even try to make them eat any more than they wanted because I wanted it all to myself.

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Me, when I get my hands on Cheese Tasters

Slim-With-TinaWednesday: I got my hands on the Slim With Tina book a couple of weeks ago. You can find out more and buy it here.

I’m not slimming (see above), but I do really like Tina’s approach to health and fitness and this book includes lots of great meal ideas. I learned to run properly on a Run With Tina group course, and have had a strong social media friendship with her since.  My ever-popular pancake recipe even made it into her book with some healthy modifications! I was like a proud mammy when I saw that in there.

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Anyway, she has a delicious simple Chana Masala recipe in the book. I had run out of chickpeas so it was technically Bean-a Masala, as I used a couple of tins of mixed beans. This is a real store-cupboard meal for me, I always have the ingredients (or substitutes!) on hand. I picked at food as I cooked and then ran out the door to my Boxfit class as the boys sat down for dinner. Plates were cleaned!  I also did some grilled aubergine and courgettes on the side because I swear I get itchy if my day doesn’t have enough veggies in it. My husband didn’t even offer them to anyone so I ate them all later *burp*

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Thursday: I made both banana bread and scones on Thursday so had run out of steam a bit by dinner time. Baking with a toddler is double the work, and due to waning enthusiasm for both bonding and cleaning up obviously I dispatched him to in front of the TV while I rolled and cut them. That tiny baby bib is what he insisted on wearing as his apron. It protected NOTHING.

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Luckily I found some Lorraine Pascale marscapone gnocchi in the freezer – this stuff is so good, I always make a good big batch and freeze some. I fried that up, served it on rocket with basil pesto, avocado and yellow peppers. Plates were served according to taste preferences – that is no leaves, loads of pepper for the kids. I think Teddy robbed about half my gnocchi.

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Friday: I cooked up some fresh rice and the boys ate leftover Chana Masala. I didn’t feel so great with a crappy sore throat, and the husband had his eye on a takeaway. I eyed up an avocado smoothie recipe in a bid to make myself feel healthy. Then I thought about the Cheese Tasters for a bit. Curse you M&S and your tasty snacks! I relented and made the smoothie (and it was delicious). Did I have takeaway later? You’ll never know…

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Don’t forget to look at all the other Week in Dinners posts over here!

In which I am a genius and bake a cake

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Inspired.  That’s what I am.  This year we threw caution to the wind and outsourced the birthday party to a play centre. No more tidying the house pre-party, being anxious about all the people arriving and being all squished in our tiny house with it’s tiny living room and tiny kitchen. Then no trying to calm down overexcited kids after it’s all over so we can clean up the mammoth mess. Well, not til next year: there’s no way we can afford to do play centre for every party, but it was nice to push the boat out for once. I didn’t wake up stressed with a  list as long as my arm the morning of the party.  I had one job for Dominic’s birthday, and I didn’t fail.  *High-fives self*

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