Monthly Archives: January 2014

Easy Recipes for Chinese New Year | Spiced Chicken & Noodle Soup, Oriental Pork with Sweet Potato, Coconut Ice Cream

Chinese New Year recipes


Easy Recipes for Chinese New Year

My parents are very conservative eaters, and so the first time I tried Chinese food was as an adult when a friend took me to Chinatown in Manchester – what a revelation!

I have been a fan ever since. It’s Chinese New Year on Friday (the year of the horse), which gives me a great excuse to indulge.

It’s not easy to recreate genuinely authentic
Chinese food, but we can enjoy some
delicious anglicised versions – from the
Dairy Diary of course – that are pretty
close to the real thing.

Here’s my menu for Chinese New Year on Friday. I can’t wait.

Chinese New Year Menu

Spiced Chicken & Noodle Soup

Oriental Pork with Sweet Potato

Coconut Ice Cream

Dairy Diary 2014

The best 2014 diary

If you’re struggling to get
organised this year, don’t panic!

The 2014 Dairy Diary is still available.

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London with Small Children – Top Three Things to Do on a Budget

London with Small Children – Top Three Things to Do on a Budget


London with Small Children


Top Three Things to Do on a Budget


In one of my particularly optimistic (or possibly slightly tipsy) moments I booked a weekend in London with my parents and our three small children.

After realising the gravity of what I had done I did some SERIOUS research in where to go and how to get there – with the minimal amount of stress possible. What transpired was a fabulous (but exhausting) couple of days in the capital brim-full of memories for us and the children.

The research was crucial. For each leg of our journey, using the London Transport website, I found the best possible route with minimal changes and steps. I also purchased Oyster cards so that we didn’t have to worry about buying tickets every time.

We stayed in an apartment, which was much better than a hotel room as it meant that the children could stick to their usual bedtime routine – avoiding grumpiness – and we could enjoy a take-away and bottle of wine in the evening.


Here’s what we did:

The Science Museum

This place is fantastic. We loved the space gallery and the play area in the basement – which is specifically designed for under sixes – kept the children entertained for hours. There are wonderful hands-on sensory activities, a huge waterplay (complete with aprons), a bubble show and much more.

Emirates Air Line

Emirates Air Line and the Thames Clipper

What a way to see London! We took the Docklands Light Railway to Victoria and then the cable car across the Thames to the O2, which has a great selection of family-friendly eateries. From there we took the bus to Greenwich for a quick look at the Cutty Sark and then took the boat down the river. It was late afternoon and just turning dusk, so the buildings and bridges looked magical, lit up against the skyline and reflected in the water. Whilst people relaxed inside with their coffees, we sat outside at the back of the boat for the best views (and the most fun!)

Museum of London with Kids

The Museum of London

This was my first visit to this excellent museum, which illustrates the history of the city in a way that is accessible to everyone. We all thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits and learnt a great deal – the Victorian street was a particular favourite.

Although we had a brilliant time, we didn’t spend a great deal. I booked the train tickets 11 weeks in advance, and used our friends and family railcard (well worth getting for big savings).

This resulted in tickets for the
seven of us at the price I would
usually pay for myself for one
day in London for work.

The Oyster cards were really useful; giving us discounted travel on every mode of transport we used (including the cable car). I booked the apartment via a discount website and it was an absolute bargain. Being in an apartment also meant that we spent much less on food – we only ate out at lunchtimes. And of course, the two museums we visited were free (though we ate in their cafes and spent pocket money in their shops and so we did our bit to support them.)

A weekend in the big smoke with small people is not a relaxing weekend, but it can be so much fun with a bit of forward planning (and as little luggage as possible!).

Go for it.








Competition | Win a £50 Hobbycraft Gift Card

Win a £50 Hobbycraft Gift Card


Competition | Win a £50 Hobbycraft Gift Card

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How to save money and still have lots of fun! | Stress-free cooking for friends part one

Stress-free cooking for friends


How to save money and still have lots of fun!

One of my ‘unofficial’ New Year’s resolutions is to entertain at home once a month. I’m afraid I am one of those irritating people who always tries to look on the bright side and find a solution to someone’s problem; so one evening when my other half and I were having a moan about our lack of social life (due to lack of babysitters and lack of money) I struck upon to idea of eating out, in, once every month.

At the start of each month we are going to sit down and plan out Night Out In. We will pick a couple of friends’ names out of a hat and plan a cosy informal meal – which isn’t going to stress us or cost lots of cash.

So for the price of a few scented tealights
– my current obsession –   some great-value
fresh ingredients and a bottle of wine we
will have a fantastic night in the company
of good friends, without the worry of
finding a babysitter.

Here is my first stress-free menu.

Everything is affordable and easy to make in advance, so it does not intrude on our social time.

Stress-free cooking for friends - recipes part one

Stress-free cooking for friends part one

Starter: Chorizo & Kale Soup

Main: Roasted Cod Loin wrapped in Pancetta

Dessert: Ginger & Marmalade Steamed Pudding


Clever One Pot cookbook


All of these recipes are taken from
Clever One Pot cookbook, which is
still available to buy online for
just £7.99.

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Goodbye 2013 | Most popular blog recipes

Goodbye 2013


Goodbye 2013

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me….an aluminium loft ladder. Well, not quite but much time was spent yesterday up said ladder juggling all the decorations back into the attic.

This year, I have done a
proper sort out and saved
only the beautiful and the

My early January job is to cut up the Christmas cards, punch with a hole and thread with ribbon (I cut these from inside the top of new clothes) for next Christmas gift tags. These are packed with gift bags and leftover wrapping paper ready for next year.

A great tip that I find super-useful is to note in my Dairy Diary, in November, everything I already have for next Christmas. This is particularly useful if I have stocked up on cards, wrap and crackers in the sales and helps to prevent double-buying.

It’s a pretty momentous week in the office for us this week as both books – the 2015 Dairy Diary and the next Dairy Cookbook go to the printer. Yes, it does seem ridiculously early but we need to check all the proofs, get hundreds of thousands (yes that many!) printed, Sets packed and books shipped here for June when we despatch samples to dairy companies and to magazines. So while we are reflecting on 2013 we are also waving goodbye to 2015!

On that note, I thought it might be nice to look back at the most popular blog recipes from last year.

Favourite 2013 recipes from Dairy Diary Chat

Bacon Bruschetta

Rhubarb Sorbet

Flambèed Cherries with Ice Cream


Happy New Year all! I wish you all a peaceful and fun-filled 2014.






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