Monthly Archives: March 2016

Jar of Fun

50 easy ideas to banish boredom during the school holidays

50 easy ideas to banish boredom during the school holidays

 

The school holidays are in full swing and the battle to prise my son away from his tablet has commenced.

I do believe that in 2016 technology has its place – it’s important for children to learn how to use it as it’s so integral to work and life. However, it does need to be limited!

After an hour on his tablet my son’s imagination
seems to evaporate and the inevitable ‘I don’t
know what to do’ will follow.

This is where the Jar of Fun comes into play.

The idea of the Jar of Fun is not to limit their imagination – if they’re happily ensconced in a game that’s great. It’s for those moments when they’re ‘bored’ or ‘don’t know what to do’. Let one child choose a paper from the jar and then encourage the whole family to join in.

 

To Prepare

One evening, sit in front of the television (don’t watch Brian Cox while doing this activity, it needs something that requires little concentration!) with a jar, some paper, scissors and a pen (or laptop and printer).

Snip the paper into 50 pieces and on each of them write an activity (or you can copy and print this list if you like). Note: you DO need to be prepared to actually do these if they’re picked from the jar, so don’t write anything too ambitious. Fold the paper and place in the jar.

 

Here’s my list – obviously you can tweak these to suit your family/lifestyle.

  • Act out your favourite story
  • Bake biscuits/cakes
  • Blow bubbles
  • Build a Lego town
  • Build/draw a train track
  • Build our house out of recycled objects
  • Chalk a beautiful mural on the driveway
  • Choose a new book from the library
  • Collect nature materials and make a collage
  • Construct an obstacle course
  • Copy a famous painting
  • Count pocket money and take a trip to a charity or sweet shop
  • Create a cafe at home with table settings and make lunch
  • Create a toy car race track
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle
  • Draw/paint a self-portrait and create a family collage
  • Dress up in funny outfits and take photos
  • Explore Google Earth
  • Face paints
  • Fill in an activity/sticker book
  • Find a game and teach someone else how to play
  • Go for a wildlife spotting walk
  • Go geocaching
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Have a disco
  • Hold a teddy bear’s picnic
  • Learn a magic trick
  • Look through family photographs
  • Make a book using your own photos/drawings
  • Make a den
  • Make a film
  • Make animals from Playdough
  • Make bead bracelets
  • Make paper aeroplanes
  • Make sock puppets
  • Paint animals/patterns on stones
  • Plan a treasure hunt
  • Plant bulbs/seeds
  • Play ball
  • Play dominoes
  • Read a book and then create a collage or model of your favourite part
  • Sort through the toy baskets and take a trip to the charity shop
  • Take your dolls/teddies out for a walk
  • Visit a friend
  • Visit a museum
  • Walk to the park
  • Wash the car
  • Watch a film
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Write a recipe (then make it)

Have fun everyone!

 


AND as a special Easter treat we have a very lovely competition for you.

Win a Crock-Pot

Here’s your chance to win a fantastic Crock-Pot Thyme Slow Cooker as used (and loved) by our very own managing editor.

ENTER

#win

#competition

#tripletested

#easterrecipe

#delicious

 

#jaroffun

#schoolholidays

Recipe of the Week: Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding

Two of my favourite things in one dish!

This pud is OH SO GOOD.

 

Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding

Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 615 per portion
Fat 42g (23.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Hot cross buns 6 large, each sliced into 3 horizontally
  • Butter 50g (2oz), softened
  • Apricot jam 175g (6oz)
  • Double cream 300ml (½ pint)
  • Milk 300ml (½ pint)
  • Golden caster sugar 2-3 tbsp
  • Eggs 4, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Spread each slice of bun with butter and jam. Sandwich buns together and cut in half along the diagonal.
  2. Butter a 1.7 litre (3 pint) ovenproof dish. Arrange bun triangles neatly in the dish.
  3. Pour cream, milk and sugar (if buns are very sweet, use 2 tbsp) into a large saucepan and bring slowly to scalding point, stirring often; do not allow to boil.
  4. Pour hot cream onto eggs in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly. Strain and pour over buns. Leave to soak for an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 190°C(170°fan)/375°F/Gas 5. Place pudding into a larger ovenproof dish containing enough water to come halfway up sides of dish and bake for
    35-40 minutes or until just set and golden. Serve warm.

 

#recipeoftheweek

#easterrecipe

#tripletested

Top 3 Easter Recipes of all Time

Woohoo it’s the lovely long Easter weekend coming up

Now is the perfect time to gather together, have a giggle and, of course, eat something rather delicious.

In preparation, I have been looking back through our diaries and cookbooks to find the three best Easter recipes. And here they are.

Enjoy everyone and happy Easter!

 


Lamb Apricot Stuffing

Roast Lamb with Apricots

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 499 per portion
Fat 24g (11.3g sat) per portion

Ingredients

  • Leg of lamb 1.8kg (4lb), or shoulder, boned out
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Spinach leaves 110g (4oz)
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots 175g (6oz), chopped
  • Onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
  • Breadcrumbs 75g (3oz)
  • Chopped mint 2 tbsp fresh or 1–2 tsp dried
  • Egg 1, beaten
  • Olive oil
  • Lamb or vegetable stock 300ml (1⁄2 pint)
  • Port 150ml (1⁄4 pint)
  • Cornflour or gravy granules
  • Mint sprigs to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Flatten the lamb as best you can, check for tough tendons or bones and remove them. Season well. Wash the spinach leaves and then put them in a large pan over a fairly high heat and let them wilt down for a minute. Cut out thick stalks. Arrange half the leaves to cover the inside of the lamb.
  2. To make the stuffing, in a bowl mix the chopped apricots, onion, breadcrumbs, mint and just enough egg to make a light stuffing. Spread the mixture over the spinach layer on the lamb then cover with the rest of the spinach leaves. Roll it up, securing with string.
  3. Put the stuffed lamb in a roasting tin, sprinkle with a little oil and seasoning. Cover with foil and cook for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes to brown the meat. Leave to stand, wrapped in the foil, for 10 minutes before carving.
  4. Bring the lamb stock and port to the boil in a saucepan and reduce it by a third. Add any meat juices from the roasting tin without adding too much fat. Thicken with cornflour or gravy granules. Serve with roast potatoes and parsnips together with some green vegetables and mint sprigs to garnish.


Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding

Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 615 per portion
Fat 42g (23.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Hot cross buns 6 large, each sliced into 3 horizontally
  • Butter 50g (2oz), softened
  • Apricot jam 175g (6oz)
  • Double cream 300ml (½ pint)
  • Milk 300ml (½ pint)
  • Golden caster sugar 2-3 tbsp
  • Eggs 4, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Spread each slice of bun with butter and jam. Sandwich buns together and cut in half along the diagonal.
  2. Butter a 1.7 litre (3 pint) ovenproof dish. Arrange bun triangles neatly in the dish.
  3. Pour cream, milk and sugar (if buns are very sweet, use 2 tbsp) into a large saucepan and bring slowly to scalding point, stirring often; do not allow to boil.
  4. Pour hot cream onto eggs in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly. Strain and pour over buns. Leave to soak for an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 190°C(170°fan)/375°F/Gas 5. Place pudding into a larger ovenproof dish containing enough water to come halfway up sides of dish and bake for
    35-40 minutes or until just set and golden. Serve warm.


 

Mocha Easter Cake

Mocha Easter Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 657 per portion
Fat 39g (23g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter 250g (9oz), cut into small pieces and softened
  • Caster sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Eggs 4 large, beaten
  • Self-raising flour 250g (9oz)
  • Baking powder ½ tsp
  • Coffee essence 2 tbsp
  • Dark chocolate 350g (12oz), broken into small pieces
  • Soured cream 284ml tub
  • Mini Easter eggs to decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Grease and lightly flour a 20cm (8in) round cake tin. Line base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put butter, caster sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl. Sift in self-raising flour and baking powder, then beat well, until smooth. Spoon half the mixture into another bowl and add coffee essence. Stir well.
  3. Fill cake tin with alternate spoonfuls of both cake mixtures, then swirl a skewer through mixture to create a marbled effect.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes–1 hour, or until well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. Put chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and stir until melted.
  6. Add soured cream and stir it in with a wire whisk. Using a palette knife, quickly spread and swirl warm icing over cake. Leave to set at room temperature and decorate with mini Easter eggs.


 

AND as a special Easter treat we have a very lovely competition for you.

Win a Crock-Pot

Here’s your chance to win a fantastic Crock-Pot Thyme Slow Cooker as used (and loved) by our very own managing editor.

ENTER

 

#win

#competition

#tripletested

#easterrecipe

#delicious

Simnel Cake

Simple Cake

One of the oldest Christian festivals, Easter marks Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Simnel cake has at some point been adopted as a traditional Easter cake.

The 11 marzipan balls on the
top represent the apostles,
minus the treacherous Judas.

Simnel Cake

  • Servings: 11 slices
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 722 per portion
Fat 30g (13.2g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians

Ingredients

  • Butter 250g (9oz), softened
  • Light muscovado sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Eggs 4
  • Plain flour 300g (11oz)
  • Baking powder 1 tsp
  • Ground mixed spice 2 tsp
  • Ground almonds 50g (2oz)
  • Luxury dried mixed fruit 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Lemon 1, finely grated zest and 2 tbsp juice
  • White marzipan 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Apricot glaze or sieved apricot jam 2 tbsp

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 and line a 20cm (8in) cake tin with baking parchment.
    Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour along with each egg. Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and spice and fold the almonds, dried fruit and lemon zest and juice into the mixture. Spoon half into the cake tin and smooth the surface level.
  2. Roll out one third of the marzipan until it’s a circle, just smaller than the cake tin, and lay it on top of the mixture in the tin. Spoon the remaining mixture over the top and level the surface.
  3. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 2–2¼ hours, or until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the cake. Cover with a sheet of baking parchment if it starts to brown. When cooked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool.
  4. Remove the cake from the tin and peel away the lining paper. Spread the apricot glaze or jam over the top. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan to fit the top of the cake. Place it on the cake and smooth down, taking care not to trap any air pockets underneath. Pinch around the edges.
  5. Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 pieces and roll each into a ball. Brush a little apricot glaze or jam onto the base of each and evenly space around the top of the cake. Place under a hot grill to brown the marzipan lightly. Remove from the grill and leave to cool before serving.

Cook’s tips
The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
If you have a choice of marzipan, choose white marzipan, which has a more natural flavour than golden marzipan.

A Splash of Colour and Instant Curb Appeal in 4 Simple Steps

PLANTING SPRING POTS

A Splash of Colour and Instant Curb Appeal in 4 Simple Steps

Garden centres are filling up with beddings plants and we can finally say goodbye to winter on Sunday with the official start of spring.

Celebrate the new season by creating a splash of colour at the front of your house.

For just a few pounds and a few minutes
you can give your home instant curb
appeal with some gorgeous flowers.

In this feature from our Seasonal Garden Ideas book we show you show.


 

Playing a Supporting Role

A single giant pot with a very large plant can look a bit stark – surrounding it with smaller containers holding a variety of colourful flowers will soften the overall effect.

Buy a bedding strip of pansies, and several pots of white narcissi in bud in March for flowering in April and May.

Planting one pot like this takes less than an hour, but if you want to surround a large container with many smaller ones, allow an afternoon for the job.

 

What you need

Plants

  • Bedding strip of six to eight blue pansy (Viola) plantlets.
  • Six white Narcissus ‘Petrel’ in bud.

Equipment

  • Terracotta pot.
  • Soil-based potting compost.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.
  • Extra terracotta pots, if required, to surround the planted container.

1 Line the terracotta pot with a layer of broken crocks for drainage.

2 Start filling with compost, then ascertain the right height for the narcissi by placing them in their pot on the compost – the rootball/bulbs should be about 4cm (1½in) below the rim of the terracotta pot.

3 Position all the narcissi, spacing them out as evenly as possible, firm in by twisting each one slightly, then top with more compost.

4 Plant the pansies in the same way, positioning them around and in front of the pot. Firm them in, finishing with a final layer of compost. Bump the pot gently to settle the plants and compost, then water thoroughly.

Tip

The beauty of this arrangement is that when the pansies and narcissi have finished flowering, you can replace the whole pot with another display. With the wide range of narcissi and pansy colours available, you can choose any number of variations on this theme – or go for something completely different.

Note

The pansies may well flower a lot longer than the white narcissi. In this case, cut down the narcissi stalks when the flowers have withered and allow the pansies to continue on their own.

Aftercare

Deadhead the pansies regularly to ensure a long and continuing display of flowers. If the narcissi start bending over (in high winds or rain), support with thin bamboo canes and soft string ties.

Seasonal Garden Ideas if available for just £3.99 at http://www.dairydiary.co.uk/gift-books.html

 

#springflowers

Recipe of the Week; Easter Egg Cake Pops

 

Easter Egg Cake Pops

Easter Egg Cake Pops

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 291 per portion
Fat 15g (6.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians

Ingredients

  • Plain Madeira cake 285g pack
  • Chocolate spread 5 tbsp
  • White chocolate 225g (8oz), broken into pieces
  • Lollipop sticks 10 x 15cm (6in) Neon sugar sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Trim off brown edges and crumble cake into a bowl. Add half the chocolate spread and mix well with your hands. Add remaining spread a tablespoon at a time until you have a mixture that can be squished and rolled into 10 tightly packed 30g (1oz) egg shapes.
  2. Place on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring often.
  4. Dip end of each stick into chocolate and insert into eggs. Place in a cake pop stand or glass and leave to set. Dip cake pop into chocolate and slowly rotate until evenly covered. Hold over a plate and sprinkle with decorations. Leave to set as before. Repeat with other pops.
  5. If giving as an Easter gift, pop into a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty coloured ribbon.

 

 

#easterrecipe

 

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