> The Beesley Buzz

Eleven


March 2017 was the month that D turned 11. As well as my usual wondering of where did all those years go, I find myself wondering where the time goes to each day. 

This little blog was supposed to capture the kids milestones and even getting up a birthday pic of D has taken me ages to get around to doing. Time just rushes by every day and by the time the jobs are done for the day, school runs, clubs, activities, hospital appointments etc are done for the day, I just collapse into bed and can't face logging on to write a blogpost. 

So this is a speedy one written up before dashing off on the school run today....

D you are now 11. That seems such a big number and yet when I look at you some days you seem so young - so innocent not having seen the horrors that this world is capable of. 

Other times I look at you and see how grown up you are. I see such wisdom already. Knowing you are growing into the most wonderful young man. You already show such a caring attitude towards others - sensing intuitively when things aren't right. Wanting to offer help and put things right. 



You love to read a lot lately. Harry Potter books are your favourite. You've pinched one of my ornate chopsticks to use as a wand. You and Miss T walk around the house casting spells. She now adores Harry Potter rather than Star Wars which was a favourite of hers for so long. You even received a special letter from Hogwarts recently! 

You set a good example to us all - of how to be a good friend. Of how to spend time on what matters most. Of how to put things into perspective. Of how to help when help is most needed. 

You make my day when you notice when the vacuuming has been done, when you appreciate the food that has been cooked, when you say thank you and show that you care. 

In September you will be off to secondary school. Your primary school education wasn't the most conventional as it included our years of homeschooling. Wonderful years that I hope have given you happy memories for life. But for the past 3 years you've settled beautifully into a school setting. Making friends, doing so well, you are the kind of kid everyone loves to know and have as a friend. 

Happy Birthday!






Read more...

More clean cake baking: No-bake Goji bars

After an overindulgence of cake for D's birthday recently, I decided to make a batch of Henrietta Inman's Goji berry cereal bars so that we'd all have healthy treats to snack on this week.

They're brilliant because they are refined-sugar free and this is actually a no-bake recipe so quite easy to do.

The recipe is in her Clean Cakes book which I adore and seem to be making my way through cooking every single recipe. But I also found it online here.

I made a couple of little swaps like using more puffed quinoa as I didn't have brown rice puffs and using a combination of almond butter and peanut butter as I didn't have cashew nut butter at home at the moment.

They turned out quite soft and crumbly even after being put in the fridge - but that made them all the more moreish. Surely it is only right to keep nibbling away at any bits that keep crumbling off, right?

Read more...

Thank Goodness for Dolmio to get us through the week!

Although I wasn't speedy enough to be one of the lucky bloggers getting a Dolmio delivery, I always keep a jar of Dolmio in the cupboard for those mid-week meals that need to be quick and easy and still get that all important nutritional goodness into the kids.

The kids are so busy after school with music lessons, youth club, boys brigade and other activities that it really can be a rush at dinner time. So I was keen to come up with something mega speedy that could be rustled up in minutes and that tasted really good too.

So #ThankGoodness for Dolmio. I threw in some other storecupboard (and freezer ingredients) and hey presto - speedy, tasty and nutritious dinner.

If you've not picked up a jar of Dolmio recently, I'd really recommend taking a look at the great infographic on their website. How brilliant that a whopping 10 tomatoes goes into every 500g jar!


Dolmio & Frankfurter Simple Speedy Spaghetti

Here's what you'll need to make our super-easy supper with Dolmio:

1 x 500g jar Dolmio original
Wholewheat spaghetti
1 pack good quality frankfurters
frozen red onion (equivalent to 1 red onion)
frozen sweetcorn (1 handful)
frozen peas (1 handful)
a little rapeseed oil for frying
fresh basil and / or salad to serve if desired

Method:
1. Cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions
2. Fry the red onion in a little rapeseed oil. Chop the frankfurters into slices and add until browned.
3. Add the frozen peas and sweetcorn, followed by the jar of Dolmio.
4. Simmer for a few minutes.
5. Serve the spaghetti and the Dolmio and frankfurter sauce on top or stir it all together as you prefer.
6. Serve with basil or salad as you wish.

SO simple. SO speedy and tastes SO super!



And here's the bonus...A second speedy meal the following day.

Leftover Spaghetti Nests

With the leftovers, simply lightly greased either a muffin pan or silicone cupcake cases, place little nests of the spaghetti and Dolmio mixture into them, Top with a little crumbled cheddar and pop in the oven at 180C for approximately 15-20 minutes.

You end up with cute little spaghetti nests that the kids will just adore!


We hope you enjoyed our super simple recipe packed with goodness that makes us say #ThankGoodness for #Dolmio


This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. Find out more here www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness
Read more...

A mother's uniform

From the cryptic title you may be expecting a deep thought-provoking post about how mothers clothe themselves with love and care and always put their children first. Well we do often do that but this post is more literal than that.

Becoming a mum meant I had a wardrobe shift. Where once I had rails of work suits, blouses and dresses, I now have piles of T-shirts, jeans and tracksuits.

Because let's face it, there's nothing as easy and comfortable to wear day in day out as a T-shirt when you're running around after kids. So it's very much become my uniform as a mum. It's only on special occasions that you'll find me wearing anything other than a T-shirt and jeans.

But like many, I'm often guilty of grabbing the cheapest clothing I can find, often at the supermarket for convenience, without thinking of the real cost to other people and to the environment when clothes aren't ethically made.

So when I first came across Cup of Tee, I absolutely fell in love with their concept. An ethically made, recycled T-shirt, hand-finished right here in the UK. They're printed with eco-friendly ink.

They come rolled up in a re-usable tea cup which is BPA free.

Their designs are quirky and cool and the T-shirts are mega-comfortable.

They make a great gift arriving in a cup like that. So much fun and certainly a gift that goes on giving as they say. The person on the receiving end is bound to smile and think of you everytime they wear their T-shirt and / or use their cup for a cuppa.

Now another mother dilemma I've had lately is where to shop for clothes for ever-growing J. He seems to have outgrown the kids ranges in stores. Even when we find clothing in a big enough child size for him, the actual designs can be quite childish.

So we're gradually starting to buy him clothing from Men's ranges in the smallest sizes which seems to be working better than squeezing him into children's clothing ranges.

J was sent a men's small size Cup of Tee T-shirt with the "Work With Courage"Stag design.


 He loves it!!!


In fact, he loves it so much he agreed to pose for photos for the first time in months!


And we love them too for their recycled and ethical credentials.

The Cup of Tee T-shirt I was sent was a Medium Ladies one in Vintage green that I love!

Super soft and comfy. The fit was good (despite me piling the pounds back on since my backpain has flared up again).




So if you're looking for a new T-shirt for yourself, or to give a gift with a difference, then I would highly recommend CupofTee.com

You can also find them on facebook and twitter.

So although I've resigned myself to having to wear a mother's uniform of T-shirt and jeans most the time, at least I can wear a stylish, comfy, ethically made one thanks to Cup of Tee.



Disclosure: With huge thanks to Cup of Tee for sending us these lovely T-shirts for the purposes of review. All opinions are, as always, our own. 








Read more...

Three-tiered surprise on the inside chocolate cake

It is blogposts like this that demonstrate just what a rubbish blogger and baker I am. Because when I'm experimenting in the kitchen, I rarely keep track of exactly what I'm doing and so end up clueless about the exact quantities of the ingredients I've used. A big no-no when it comes to the 'science' that is baking.

Anyhow when I made this triple-layered cake that thankfully turned out well, I did want to keep a note of the bits I could remember as a learning point for next time.

First I made a basic vanilla cake batter using:
4 eggs
240g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
240g stork

Once those ingredients were combined, I took 200g of the batter and added in a handful of freeze-dried strawberries. This batter was then poured into my little heart-shaped cake tin (greased and lined) and baked in the oven at 180C for just over 30 minutes.

Then I divided the remaining batter in two.

Into one half I added some random amount of cocoa powder. I could probably have added more as it didn't become too dark coloured. But I was wary of the mixture drying out too much. I added a small splash of milk to keep the consistency and stop it becoming too dry with the cocoa powder.

I greased and lined a circular cake tin and dolloped the vanilla batter and chocolate batter in. Using a lollipop stick I swirled the two around to make a marble effect.

This needed around 30 minutes in the oven at 180C.

For the bottom layer of cake, I mixed together:
180g sugar
100ml rapeseed oil
140g self-raising flour,
1 egg,
40g cocoa powder
vanilla
175 ml milk

This chocolatey batter was poured into a greased and lined square cake tin and popped into the oven at 190C for about 30 minutes.

When all three cakes had cooled, I could start decorating. Each cake got a crumb coat of whipped double cream first. 


I looked up a mirror glaze recipe which stated 175ml double cream, 70g sugar, 20g cocoa powder, 1 and a half leaves gelatin and 75ml water but when I made this up following the instructions it remained very 'watery' and was really running off the cake. 

So an extra leaf and a half of gelatin was added to it, followed by some melted dark chocolate. 

Once cool, this was thick enough that it seemed to work. Not quite as mega-shiny as some mirror-glazes but I was happy enough with it.

I used it for the bottom layer, adding a few chocolate curls around the base.

I also used it for the middle layer. White chocolate was then drizzled across the middle cake.

Finally for the top layer, I didn't even attempt a white chocolate mirror glaze so instead just made a white chocolate ganache with unknown quantities of double cream and white chocolate and poured it over. This was finished off with some freeze-dried strawberries sprinkled around the sides.




So each layer ended up looking different on the outside as well as being different on the inside. Together they had the wow factor as my kids were impressed with it. 

Read more...

Leek, Chicken and Bacon family pie made with British Leeks

We LOVE leeks in our family. They are just so versatile and taste delicious in so many meals. Some of our regular dishes are croquettas made with leeks as the starring ingredient, a citrussy leek side dish, and a cheesy leek bake. 

But the big favourite that ALL the family adores is a pie made with leeks as the number one ingredient. Especially as a warming home-made pie is perfect during the winter season which is British Leek season. 


So here's our recipe for Leek, Chicken and Bacon pie:

Ingredients:
2 large leeks
2 cloves garlic
4 rashers of bacon
2 chicken breasts
2 eggs
275g butter
400ml chicken stock
350ml milk
400g plain flour
seasoning

Method:

1. Simmer the chicken in the chicken stock for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid whilst simmering. Then remove from the hob and leave to cool.
2. Wash and finely slice the leeks. Gently soften in 25g of the butter in a large pan on the hob then add the garlic.

3. Add 50g butter to the same pan, once melted add 50g plain flour.
4. Pour in the milk, then add 200ml of chicken stock. Then leave to thicken on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the pan. Then chop the chicken breasts and add to the pan.
6. Leave to cool while you make the pastry.

7. Make the pastry dough by mixing together 200g butter, 350g plain flour, 1 egg and 1 tbsp of water. I use a food processor to make it really quick but you can mix by hand if you prefer.
8. Take 250g of the dough and set aside for the pie lid.
9. Roll out the rest, line your pie dish and trim any excess from the edges.
10. Ensuring that your pie filling is now cool (you don't want a soggy bottom!), fill the pastry with the delicious leeky filling.
11. Roll out and place the pie lid pastry on top making a small hole for steam to escape. Crimp the edges with a fork then brush with egg as a glaze.
12. Place in a preheated oven at 200C for 40 minutes until golden brown.




British Leeks are in season right now and you can find out more about them here.
Read more...