Easter bakes with lots of the chocolate stuff!

My children just love sweets; I remember when my first son was born, I attempted to convince him that raisins were sweets; it worked for a little while anyway. Now I have four older children they certainly know what they like.

Recently I saw an idea circulating about Facebook – someone had made crème egg muffins, which looked superb. In our house we prefer brownies; all the children go mad for them as they are lovely and moist. We used our normal chocolate brownie recipe (listed below) and then part way through the cooking dropped the halved frozen mini crème eggs into each section of the mix.

Ingredients for our standard chocolate brownies + buy one packet of mini crème eggs (freeze the night before)

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g milk chololate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 95g plain flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a brownie baking tin (if you have one) or a normal tin if you haven’t.
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave.
  3. Break the eggs into a bowl and tip in 275g sugar. Beat until the mix has become thick and creamy.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the eggy mixture, then fold together.
  5. Sieve the cocoa and flour mixture over the combined mixtures. Gently fold in and pour into the baking tin.
  6. Bake the mixture for 15 minutes then press the Cadbury’s Crème egg halves into the mix. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.

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My daughter (aged 10) loved making them, and we loved eating them! They were really straightforward to make and are the perfect Easter themed chocolate dessert. The result looks much more complicated than it is and it’s a really lovely tasty treat for the children too (and not too big either!)

A new twist on pancake day #Cloudy2Competition

Tots100 are running a great ‘Show Us Your Foodimals’ competition in conjunction with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, so we just had to have a go, my children just love pancake day and as it’s just round the corner it seemed like a perfect excuse to dust down the frying pan and get the children involved in some basic cooking – it’s great fun making strange shapes and finding new and interesting ingredients to add. This year we decided to have some fun, so I bought a copy of OMG Pancakes by Jim Belosic and then topped up on food colourings and some chocolate drops for some experimentation in the kitchen.

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I let the children have a few attempts with the batter, our technique was to make up lots of batter and then add a few drops of colour to each small quantity once it was in the bottle. Here is William holding one of the most successful foodimals we did, he loves dinosaurs so it seemed like quite a good one to have a go at. He loved making it and enjoyed eating it even more!

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This is my entry to Make Your Food Fun and Win a £500 Home Cinema System!

Giveaway with Slummy Mummy

Not everyone loves swimming but it’s an important skill to teach our children. I have had a fear of water since almost drowning in the local pool at age 7, since the children were born I have tried to build water confidence in myself so that I don’t pass my fear of water onto my children. I took all of them to baby swimming classes and we regularly go to Centre Parcs now they are older. They all love the water, luckily!

Anyway, my second giveaway (I am going to attempt monthly or at least bi-monthly ones) is for a lovely set called SwimaSong which helps build water confidence in babies. It contains a lovely towel, song disk, reward chart and helpful tips for encoranging your child to like the water – more details can be found at the SwimaSong website.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Photoblogging challenge with Thomas Cook Travel

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When I saw that Thomas Cook were running such a superb competition to win a £5000 travel voucher I just had to enter. If you want to enter too all you have to do is write a blog post and include your own images representing one of the four elements, or a few of them, or maybe all of them. A link to the competition details are here, just write your entry and include the hashtag #ExploreTheElements and nominate 5 other bloggers who also might like to enter. The important T&C’s of entry can be found here.

As you all know I am a keen photographer, I’m rarely seen without a camera; and in fact when I had my children as babies I was more likely to have a camera in my bag than a spare nappy. Anyway, those days are definitely in the past and my youngest is now 7 and my eldest 14. I still love to photograph so I just had to have a ‘shot’ at this competition.

 

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Fire 

It had to be my self-portrait of outward spirit that I chose for this entry. It is my only self portrait entered, I enjoy self portraits as it makes you think about the character you wish to portray. Anyway, I love pyrotechnics and this seemed like a relevant photo to enter. It was done on a tripod with self-timer, so I had time to place myself within the frame correctly. I am both fascinated and scared by fire, a certain level of fear is always good!

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earthEarth

I drove past this in the car and I reversed up to take another look, the only camera I had with me was my iPhone so this is taken on an iPhone but I just love it. I am seriously into 1940’s history and reenactment and to be it feels quite relevant to post this as it is the WW1 Centenary is now here. It is incredibly important to remember the significance of the poppy to veterans and families of those who didn’t come back. I saw this scene as I was driving home, it was such a nice day and landscape I got all the children out of the car to appreciate it too. I’m not sure they did, they were all moaning at me for getting them out. But I loved the resulting photo and what it represents.

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waterWater

For the water entry it was an easy chose. I love Lyme Regis, so this photo of my children playing in the distance had to form my entry for the water category. I love the challenge of photographing water and the choices you can make when shooting it give such different results. Long exposures make the water glass-like and atmospheric, short exposures freeze droplets unable to be seen by the human eye. This was taken on my father-in-laws infrared camera with a super wide angled lens it really gives stunning saturation and a slight colour shift to the scene.

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airAir

To represent air I chose a photograph I took of a friend flying a Harvard over Cambridgeshire. Flying to me is still an amazing feat, I was simply buzzing after doing this shoot, it was incredible, the scenery was amazing as we flew over local landmarks. I love the freedom associated with it, the ability to travel and see new sights.

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As part of this challenge I have to nominate 5 other bloggers who might like an opportunity to take part, these are :-

Chantelle @ http://fatmumslim.com.au/  https://twitter.com/fatmumslim

Di @ http://superlucky.me/ https://twitter.com/superluckydi

Lisa @ https://twitter.com/twinstiarasblog

Helen @ https://twitter.com/ActuallyBlog

Vicki @ https://twitter.com/mrsd_daily

Of course Terms and Conditions do apply, more about the competition can be found here. Good Luck!

Have a #ToyellaChristmas

Christmas is fast approaching and ‘My Mills Baby‘ and Toyella are running a superb bloggers competition to win £150 worth of toy vouchers this Christmas, all you have to do is show your child doing creative play. But hurry if you want to enter as it closes on the 25th October.

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All my children have loved creative play, dressing up, cutting and sticking, colouring, cooking. My youngest Eleanor just loves the Autumn time, this is her at the end of school the other day playing in the leaves. I’m always on the lookout for things for the children to do that don’t cost a great deal, and my children always seem at their happiest with a pile of paper and some pens. Often I look on Pinterest for inspiration, I checked out Autumn crafts and saw this brilliant idea pinned on the left. The children loved the idea so after school we collected some leaves from the playground. We chose a few nice ones which we brought home, I already had googly eyes so then it was over to the girls imagination for the rest.

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The girls spent an hour of so doing it together and ended up with a bird, pumpkin, bee and spider. The girls loved doing it and it is a virtually free activity, which makes it even more fun!

 

 

 

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ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

‘This is Anna’s entry to the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition’

 

 

 

 

My favourite Christmas Experience

They say it’s the simple things in life that give the most pleasure. I have to say my favourite thing at Christmas is seeing the children open their presents, it might be clichéd but it’s just the look on their faces when they receive something they really want. Or alternatively something they really ‘DON’T’ want – a favourite memory was a couple of years ago when a friend had given my youngest daughter Eleanor her gift. Now our children are pretty good at not opening things early, but we do have a ‘family tradition’ of opening one present on Christmas Eve.

This is supposed to get them in the mood and provide something for them to play with on the day before Christmas. Normally I supervise this event and make sure they open something that will provide some playtime, but this year I was too distracted doing something else and I forgot to direct the children to the right presents. So Eleanor ended up opening the gift my friend had bought her which was in fact clothing. Now I am not sure if you can remember receiving clothing as a child, but it isn’t fun, and her look said it all. I adore this photo, her face says it all and amazingly I was armed with the camera to capture the full horror on her face. When my friend saw it she did laugh as she too can remember receiving clothing and not being impressed either!

eleanorFor most year my plans work and they open something that gives them some happiness, and in fact the clothing was lovely – just not quite what she was expecting to open!

Another one of our traditions is that we always do thank you cards in front of the tree every year to send out to our friends, these get great fun to look back on, here are the last few years worth! Eldest is Matthew who is soon to be 14, then Charlotte who is 11, William is 9 and Eleanor will soon be 7!

2010 2011 2012 2013 thankyou thanks copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my entry to win a day trip to Lapland in the Transun bloggers competition, which closes on 21/10/14. To enter the competition, write a blog post about your favourite Christmas traditions or memories and tweet with #TransunXMAS – simple!

 

 

 

 

 

The best bits of Autumn with Sykes Cottages

Sykes cottages are running a bloggers competition to find the best bits we all love about Autumn, for me it is a great time for photography, from the colours of the leaves to the photo opportunites for the children to play in them. The sun is low in the sky and when it is shining it creates a beautiful golden glow that is unmistakebly Autumn. But our best bit has to be November the 5th as we as a family love firework night, the children always get so excited about it, we often have to visit several displays and have parked up and watched random ones before. My photo is from Lyme Regis firework event, again the children were very excited about the whole thing. My in-laws live there so it is nice they can see their excitement too. We always get the children sparklers and in fact last night I let the children do some early as we had friends round for the evening, We leave the fireworks to the professionals though!

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We all love the Autumn time

A time for fireworks, Halloween and having fun

Throwing leaves and conker trees

Chilly hands and in an Autumn breeze

Misty mornings and walks to school

Damp school shoes from the Fall

Puddles and falling leaves are the clues

As well as sparklers, bonfires, clock changes and orange hues

We so all love the Autumn time

 

by Charlotte (age 11) and mum!

 

This is our blog post for Sykes cottages competition, why not enter too, the details are here.

Style a shed from Tiger Sheds and made.com

Shoffice style

When I saw that Tiger Sheds and made.com were offering bloggers the chance to win some made.com shopping vouchers I thought it was the ideal opportunity to decide what I would like to do with one of our sheds. Currently its just a toy store, mostly of things the children have grown out of. We have suggested converting it before but the loft took priority, this has now been made into a teenagers den, with gaming consoles etc. So when asked what I would like to do with the shed, my answer would be to convert it to a shoffice – my friend has one and I have alwayls been envious of her being able to separate her work from home life. My office is currently part of the living room, it makes it look really messy especially when I am busy, so this would enable me to close the door on work and separate the two! If you need a great quality shed then take a look at the Tiger Sheds website, they do great garden sheds and log cabins, storage and metal Sheds as well as summerhouses, wooden playhouses,  and Garages and much more. They offer reasonable prices plus FREE UK Delivery. Why don’t you enter too, but hurry it closes on the 2nd November.

Follow anna’s board Style a Shed on Pinterest.

I have chosen clean lines (as I don’t have the option of that in the house – having 4 children) and I just love the feature wall wallpaper, its funky and different. I love the idea of the photos which span the whole wall too, as I am a photographer so I have no lack of photos to hang. I hanker after minimalist but know that realistically its not really possible, so storage would be a great solution to keep it tidy and organised. I would love to win as it would mean my idea of a shoffice could come one step closer to reality.

I’d love to have my office in my shed;

A chance to organise and to get myself ahead

As I get so very busy near Christmas;

No time for unfinished business

All I need is a nice tiger shed;

Which would make me want to plough ahead

Superb interiors and photos on the wall

I could pop my feet up and take a conference call

So tiger sheds please make my dreams come true…

With an office separate from my living space

No sight of work not even a trace!

Easy peasy gooey Rolo chocolate fudge brownies

When I saw @AOatHome were running a food bloggers competition I felt I had to get the girls in the kitchen baking. All you have to do is come up with a great looking recipe and then tweet your link with the hashtag #aoshowstopper. Charlotte is 11 and Eleanor is 6, both of them love chocolate and brownies are a simple and great looking treat for any guest. We decided to add Rolos to them to give them a nice gooeyness to the centre. I always dislike complicated methods or recipes that have really obscure ingredients that you need Google to help you understand, with us simplicity is key. Now you have a couple of options when making brownies; if like me you are always in a rush and are trying to do 100 things at once you have the option to cheat slightly. I always have a packet of brownie mix in the cupboard as a standby mixture for when guests turn up or the children want to do some ad-hoc cooking. Or if you prefer you can make them from scratch, whichever you choose, it is a straightforward recipe and one that you are bound to have the ingredients for. We added Rolos to our mix, but if you have Smarties or m&m’s you could try them instead!

photoIngredients – The non-lazy version!

  • 1 packet of Rolos
  • 125g butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g brown sugar
  • A small amount of fudge (optional)

Method

Weight the butter out and melt so it is easier to mix, break and melt the chocolate too. If you microwave them be sure not to overheat and burn the chocolate as it is easy to do. Tip the plain flour and cocoa powder into a bowl trying to make sure there are no lumpy bits. Add the eggs and the brown sugar and whisk until creamy, add the butter and chocolate from the first bowl. Pour the mixture into a brownie tin and bake for 10 minutes at 180ºC, then carefully take out and add the Rolos and finely cut fudge (optional) to the mixture while it is part baked. Now bake for a further 5 minutes which will make the Rolos melt slightly.

There we go easy chocolate brownies that look and taste just perfect!

 

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This is my entry to the @AOatHome food bloggers competition’

An awesome new Bubblegum flavour from Angel Delight #AngelDelightMoments

When I noticed that BritMums were running a competiton #AngelDelightMoments to try out a new flavour of Angel Delight I just had to take part. I always remember my mum making lovely set puddings with Angel Delight when I was a child, it was a lovely treat and one I always looked forward to having. In those days (the 1970’s) the flavours were a bit more limited, I remember always getting the strawberry flavour and occasionally the chocolate one. But now things have changed and Angel delight has come up with the funky new Bubblegum flavour. As soon as I saw the competition I headed for the nearest supermarket, only to find they didn’t stock the new flavour. Luckily in the post the next day came my sample pack as I was one of the lucky 100 to receive a couple of free sachets of the new bubblegum flavour, a superb dessert bowl and straw.

IMG_7308aI asked my daughter Charlotte (age 11) what she wanted to do with the sachet. She suggested making cookies, I was a bit surprised as I have never tried baking with Angel Delight before but thought I would take on the challenge.

I used a standard recipe for cookies and added the Angel Delight and a tiny amount of pink food colouring.

Ingredients

  • 190g plain flour
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 50g butter (soft)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 sachet of Angel Delight

Method

My daughter mixed all the ingredients together making sure the butter was super soft, we added milk to get the mixture to the right consistency for cookies and then laid them onto a greased baking sheet and baked at 180°C for 15 minutes. We baked them and cooled them – then we tasted them. WOW! Yummy Scrummy!

 

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“This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments Linky Challenge”

 

Making a meal out of Kikkoman Soy Sauce

I never lay claim to being a good cook, but I am experimental with new ingredients, so when I saw that Kikkoman were running a bloggers competition to find a superb recipe using their soy sauce the challenge was set. If you want to take the challenge too, please check out their blog.

It is no secret – I love chicken, and chicken cooks very nicely in the slow cooker, so I decided that my creation would be a slow cooked chicken dish. I also love the flavour of sweet and sour sauces. Now I realise that oriental cooking wasn’t required for this challenge, but I thought I could get an extra tangy flavour by cooking the chicken slowly in crushed garlic, the Kikkoman Soy Sauce, honey and a small amount of tomato sauce.

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IMG_2931Ingredients (I never weigh ingredients so quantities could vary depending upon your preferences)

  • 4 chicken breasts, or legs/thighs depending upon preference
  • 1 cup of Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup of runny honey
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • a teaspoon of basil

 

Method

Slow cooking is such an easy art and it is ideal for a busy family as it is such a low effort cooking method. Certainly using a slow cooker to cook chicken is a great idea as the meat cooks slowly which allows it to retain its flavour.

My method for this dish was incredibly straightforward. First you add the chicken to the bottom of the dish, combine the other ingredients and pour over. Slow cook on low power for 6 hours. I just combined it with ‘boil in the bag rice’, but equally you could use spaghetti. Simple – you have a lovely warming meal which has the amazing flavour of Kikkoman’s finest soy sauce, My 4 children and husband loved it and gave it the thumbs up!

We will be having this creation again!