Monthly Archives: February 2014

Heart Shaped Chocolate Shortbread

After a rather pathetic attempt at making heart shaped flapjacks for Mr C. on Valentine’s Day, it was back to the drawing board. I refused to buy any more ingredients so it had to be something I could make from what I had. The decision was heart shaped chocolate coated shortbread. I was still a little bitter about my flapjacks, but I knew that Lewis (3) would love helping to make these.

You will need:

200g butter or margarine

100g caster sugar

400g flour

1/4tsp salt

1 tablespoon golden syrup (this can be omitted if preferred but it adds a honeyed flavour)

75g  milk chocolate

150g white chocolate

red food dye

heart shaped cookie cutters

To get started cream the butter, golden syrup and sugar together. Then mix in the flour and salt. You will get quite a dry mixture that you should knead until it holds together.

Roll out the mixture onto a floured surface and cut out your heart shapes. Place these onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.

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When the shortbread has cooled, melt the chocolate according to the pack instructions. I suggest you do this in three stages, just melting the amount you need for each coloured coating at one time.

To make pink or red chocolate, simply add red food colouring to melted white chocolate until you have the colour you desire.

Dip the shortbread into the melted chocolate and leave to harden.

When your biscuits have hardened you just need to package them. I used a box I had and lined it with some red tissue paper left over from Christmas. And viola…

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Of course you can obtain a ‘neater’ finish with the chocolate if you just do it yourself without a three year old’s help, but that would take away all the fun!

Valentine’s Heart Flapjacks Disaster

I don’t really ‘do’ Valentines Day since the arrival of my two boys. Prior to that my husband and I would have enjoyed weekends away to Amsterdam, London, or anywhere we could get a good deal. The reason for this mostly was because I find it so difficult to find appropriate Valentine’s gifts for my man.

This year, with a three year old and a six month old baby the treat is I did the shopping out of Sainsbury’s instead of Asda!

However, I am not completely immune to the romance of the day and I decided to make something for Mr C. I wanted to do something ‘manly’, that fitted in the theme of Valentine’s, when inspiration struck – I would make flapjacks – they’re manly – and I would make them heart shaped to mark the occasion.

And so I set to work with Lewis helping and Aaron supervising.

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I’m not going to bother telling you the recipe because seriously, you don’t want to try this at home.

After mixing the ingredients we spread the mixture onto the baking tray and started impressing the heart shapes.

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I gave the cutters a good wiggle to make sure the flapjacks took on the shape and then put them in the oven. After ten minutes I had a peek, and my worst suspicions were confirmed – the mixture was spreading back into one huge block. I quickly lifted them from the oven and cut out the shapes again – maybe by now they would hold a little better.

Another ten minutes and they were cooked. Still not heart shaped though, and worse than that, pretty well glued to the baking tray.

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Try as I might I couldn’t rescue any heart shaped flapjacks. Never mind. It wasn’t a total disaster as the oaty mix I now had turned out to be rather tasty sprinkled on top of yoghurt.

It just goes to show, if some-one hasn’t already done it, there’s probably a good reason why. And if you found this page while searching for a recipe for heart shaped flapjacks, my advice to you is don’t waste your time.

It was back to the drawing board. I decided to just go with shortbread, at least I was confident I could make that the right shape! If you want to see how it turned out click here.

Binky Linky

Does blogging about your life stop you from living?

I published my first blog post nearly two weeks ago, and I have to admit, I’ve become a little obsessed with the whole blogging thing since then. I admit, like most people starting out, I thought I would put up some posts and the viewers would come flocking to read whatever I had written. Apparently, it doesn’t quite work like that!

By chance one of the bloggers I was following started up a group to help new bloggers. Twinmumanddad has been a great source of information and advice on all things bloggy. What I did learn pretty fast was that I had to put myself ‘out there’ more and get networking. And so I spent most of last week setting up twitter, facebook pages, bloglovin, google+ and there are many more I just haven’t got around to yet. I was glued to my phone, tablet or computer at every opportunity. I decided that this was really going a bit too far and so I had the weekend (mostly) off.

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Then disaster struck. When I checked my stats, (apparently you should not make a habit of this!), on Sunday I had only 2 views. Two days off had resulted in a total collapse of my viewers. What should I do? Get straight back on and start posting?

Will it always be like this? In order to have a viewing public will I have to give up my life to social media so that other people will read about it? I hope not. I think maybe I am trying to run before I can crawl!

I have several posts in draft which I hope to post soon, and if anything, blogging is encouraging me to make my life more interesting so that other people will want to read about it. How am I going to make my life more interesting you might ask. Well, since I’ve started writing blogs, I’ve started reading them too. There is a wealth of ideas, events and inspiration which will ensure that I am never stuck for something to do with my children.

So will blogging stop me from living? If living is doing housework then yes. Blogging is definitely going to take precedence. Anything takes precedence over that! Will blogging get in the way of me doing things with my family? No. I pledge to keep taking weekends (mostly) off. I may post things I already have in draft form, and check in to my networks when the kids are sleeping, but I will not spend time with my head buried in a computer when I should be living. If that ever changes, I guess I’ll have to stop blogging, though I’ll always be a blog follower from now on.

Vegetable soup recipe

Vegetable Soup Recipe

There’s nothing quite like a hot bowl of vegetable soup on a cold rainy day, or any day for that matter. It has taken me about 5 years to perfect the quantities and ingredients in this vegetable soup recipe, and now I have it exactly as I want it. I do add a little chicken and chicken stock in my version, but this could be omitted and exchanged for vegetable stock if desired.

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You will need:

350g chicken

100g dried split red lentils

50g dried barley

3 medium carrots

3 sticks of celery

1 leek

1 onion

1 bunch parsley

1 vegetable stock cube

1 chicken stock cube

To get started dice your chicken and add it to a 5 litre saucepan. Add 2 litres of cold water, and you can then put this on the stove to start heating.

Rinse the lentils and barley and add them to the saucepan.

After rinsing and peeling if required, dice all the vegetables and finely cut the parsley. I love to use my nicer dicer to do this, using the finest setting. It just makes all the vegetables a uniform size and saves me the job of chopping them. These can then be added to the saucepan as they are prepared.

Add more water until the saucepan is about 3/4 full.

Finally, dissolve the stock cubes in a cup of bowling water and add to the soup.

Let the soup simmer for about 2 hours on a low heat and it’s ready. Serve with some bread of your choice or to make it more hearty add some whole boiled potatoes. I make loads so I can freeze it, but for smaller quantities just divide the ingredients accordingly.

Vegetable soup recipe northern ireland

If you make this vegetable soup recipe do feel free to leave you comments below! And remember you can follow my facebook page to catch up on more recipes and lifestyle posts!

Whowhatwhenwherewhy W5 Belfast

With another rainy weekend forecast I wanted a family day out that would be based indoors. So my husband and I headed to W5 at the Odessey in Belfast with a 6 month old, 3 year old and 10 year old in tow. W5 promises scientific based exhibits that are hands on, fun for all ages and educational. It all sounds great.

Once inside Lewis'(3) face lit up in the under 8 section. He loved the water exhibit, and playing in the car, boat and fort. Even when we visited the Go, See and Do sections there were enough practical elements to keep him entertained, such as flying a plane with a joystick and playing tug of war. Even Aaron was able to have a go with the foam guitars!

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There is no doubt the kids loved it, and as an adult I also had fun trying out all the different exhibitions. However I was left feeling a bit like I was in a high tech softplay. I think I expected more information on the exhibits.  More of the why! Some exhibits had explanations, but they weren’t detailed and certainly not clear enough to explain to a child why they behaved the way they did. Nor was there much of a staff presence, so it’s not as if some-one was there to explain it. They do have several shows scheduled throughout the day which may have been more informative, however we missed viewing these. It was also disappointing that we couldn’t get some of the exhibitions, such as the hot air ballons, to work.

There is a picnic area so it’s easy to cut costs by bringing your own lunch, though we went to the café for a snack. I felt it was good value for money, especially since we got a voucher for £2.50 by signing up for gift aid.

Overall, I thought it was a great day out, with something for everyone. Plenty to keep the kids entertained, and since you could easily spend several hours there, not too bad on the pricing front either!