Tag Archives: Dairy Diary 2015

Have fun and exercise your mind

Have fun and exercise your mind

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Have fun and exercise your mind

We’ve started a new regime, my other half and I, where on our Friday ‘date’ nights, one of us is totally responsible for choosing what we eat, drink and do.

Mwhahahaha, now’s my chance to dust
down the board games (all in the spirit
of the Dairy Diary of course!)

In our Brain Training feature, in this year’s Dairy Diary we talk about the benefits of keeping our brains active so it has given me the perfect excuse to sneak out the Crossword game.

 

Brain training

The ability to think quickly, clearly and creatively, and to concentrate better, can be cultivated. If you have the motivation, and are prepared to put in a little effort, it seems to be entirely possible to improve your mental capacity, whatever your age. The key is to keep challenging yourself – giving your brain a gentle workout will strengthen it and improve its power.

Messages are passed through your brain via neurons, using chemical and electrical reactions that travel with mind-boggling speed. Part of each neuron is insulated with myelin, a fatty substance that helps electrical transmissions. The thicker the insulation, the speedier and more accurate your thinking and the better your memory. Learning increases the density of neuron connections, and repetition increases the thickness of the myelin. Bingo!

 

What can you do to boost your brain power?

Anything that engages different parts of the brain at the same time is especially effective. The left side is concerned with logic, sequential thinking and decision making; the right side with creativity, imagination and random ideas.

Tackle crosswords, sudokus, quizzes and puzzles, or take up bridge. Solving cryptic puzzles involves several parts of your brain – logic, recall, creative thought, analysis, deciding on likely options, dealing with frustration – and the benefits increase if you do it with someone else.

Learn something new and challenging e.g. chess, crochet, a musical instrument. Learning another language may seem ambitious but is especially good because it forces your brain to switch tracks continuously, which is one of the most mentally demanding things you can do. It helps hone the frontal lobes, the brain’s mind managers, which tend to shrink as part of the ageing process.

Study a subject that you find interesting e.g. botany, nutrition, a specific era of history.

Read, and maybe join or start a book club. Discussing books with others hones your critical/analytical skills.

Make up brain games to play with friends e.g. think of an animal or food for every letter of the alphabet. Focusing on simple tasks helps to improve concentration as well as boosting brain power. Include memory games, so that each person has to repeat what has already been said.

Listen to music. Listening to Mozart has been shown to improve spatial and mathematical reasoning.

An exercise to help improve your concentration is to spend a few minutes every day emptying your mind and thinking of nothing but your breathing. Practising focusing on one thing will help you to de-clutter and calm your thoughts, so you can concentrate better the rest of the time.

 

As working parents with several young children, it’s pretty impossible to find the time to take up a new language or join a book club. We can, however, squeeze in the odd board game or two when the children are asleep (the games that we play with the children are not particularly intellectually taxing just yet!)

 

Here’s my menu for Friday evening:

 

Smoked Mackerel Pate

Smoked Mackerel & Dill Pâté

Time 10 mins plus chilling. Per portion: 185 Kcal, 8.4g fat (1.3g saturated). Serves 4

Smoked mackerel 225g (8oz), skinned
Chopped dill 3 tbsp
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
Double cream 150ml (¼ pint), lightly whipped
Egg white 1, whisked
Lemon wedges to serve (optional)
Melba toast to serve (optional)

1 Place the mackerel flesh in a bowl. Add the chopped dill, lemon juice, garlic and pepper and mash together well or blend in a food processor.

2 Fold in the cream and egg white; chill.

3 Serve with Melba toast and lemon.

 

Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Bacon

Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Bacon

Time 30 minutes. Per portion: 478 Kcal, 23g fat (12g saturated). Serves 4

Butter 25g (1oz)
Risotto rice 225g (8oz)
Spring onions 8, trimmed and chopped
Hot vegetable stock 900ml (1½ pints)
Smoked streaky bacon 8 rashers, de-rinded and halved
Frozen peas 200g (7oz)
Freshly ground black pepper
Mature Cheddar cheese 110g (4oz), diced

1 Melt the butter in a large non-stick saucepan and add the rice, coating it well in the butter. Stir in the spring onions and about 150ml (¼ pint) of the stock and simmer until almost absorbed. Pour in more stock, a ladleful at a time and each time waiting for the liquid to be almost absorbed before adding more, simmering until the rice is almost cooked. The mixture should not be dry.

2 Meanwhile, grill the bacon rashers until crisp.

3 Add the peas and season well with pepper. Heat through, then stir in the Cheddar cheese. When the cheese starts to melt, serve with the bacon rashers piled on top.

 

Raspberry Syllabub Trifle

Syllabub Trifle

Time 20 minutes plus chilling. Per portion: 395 Kcal, 27g fat (15.1g saturated). Serves 6

Trifle sponges 4
Raspberry jam 110g (4oz)
Lemon 1, grated zest and juice
Caster sugar 50g (2oz)
Dry cider with elderflower 120ml (4fl oz)
Double cream 300ml carton
Mixed frozen fruits 200g (7oz), just defrosted

1 Slice each sponge cake in half horizontally. Spread jam over half of the slices, then cover with the remaining slices, cut to fit and place in six individual glasses in a single layer. Spread any remaining jam over the top of the sponge cakes.

2 Place most of the lemon zest, the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Add the cider and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle a little of this liquid over the trifle sponges until just moist.

3 Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the remaining cider mixture.

4 Spoon the fruit over the sponge and then cover with the flavoured cream. Top with any remaining lemon zest. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

 

Accompanied by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and
followed with a couple of games of Crossword.

 

Dairy Diary 2015 collection

The 2015 Dairy Diary is still available and if you like the look of the recipes above, they are taken from our cookbook, Fantastic Food for Less.

You can buy both books with FREE DELIVERY throughout January!

 

I would love to know what activities you participate in to expand and exercise the mind.

 

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Competition. Win flowers for a whole year!

Competition. Win a year of flowers.

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Win flowers for a whole year!

Oh how I would LOVE to win this prize. Imagine choosing a stunning bouquet to be delivered to your home every single month!

Sadly I am not allowed to enter, but you can, just click here <link>.

AND everyone who enters will also receive a £10 offer code towards the cost of a gorgeous bouquet, so even if you don’t win the prize you can bag a great discount.

I’m going to share this with all my girlie friends and family as I know lots who would love a wintry bunch of blooms to glam up their décor.

Good luck.

Win a year of flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Brownies recipe

Chocolate brownies

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Chocolate Brownies 

Time 55 minutes.
Per portion: 122 Kcal, 4g fat (1.6g saturated)
Makes 16
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Prunes in fruit juice 410g can
Eggs 2
Caster sugar 110g (4oz)
Cocoa powder 50g (2oz)
Plain flour 50g (2oz)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Cook’s dark chocolate 75g (3oz)

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line an 18cm (7in) shallow square tin with greaseproof or non-stick baking paper. Snip the paper at the corners, press it into the tin and secure the corners with paper clips.

2 Drain the prunes, remove the stones and put the fruit into a liquidiser or food processor. Blend to a purée.

3 In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale and frothy and the whisk leaves a trail of mixture when lifted above the bowl.

4 Fold in the prune purée, then sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder and carefully fold in.

5 Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and tilt to level the mixture. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the cake is well risen and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

6 Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Stand the bowl over a barely simmering saucepan of water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Melt the chocolate, then spoon it over the cake and spread in a thin layer. Leave to set.

7 Lift the cake out of the tin, peel off the paper and cut into 16 squares.

 

Recipe taken from the new Fantastic Food For Less cookbook.

Competition | Win an M&S Giftcard worth £250

Win an M&S £250 Giftcard

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Competition | Win an M&S Giftcard worth £250

How would you spend £250 in M&S?

This season’s fashions? Shoes? Food and drink? How about your Christmas shopping? Simply complete the form for your chance to win.

The giftcard can be used at M&S stores and the M&S website.

 

Dairy Diary 2015To celebrate the launch of Dairy Diary 2015 – Britain’s best-selling A5, home and kitchen diary – we are offering you the chance to win an M&S Giftcard worth £250.

For your chance to win simply answer the question:
The Dairy Diary has been Britain’s best selling A5 home diary for how many years?

Hint: you can find the answer on the Dairy Diary 2015 page.

Good luck.

Win an M&S £250 Giftcard

Five fantastic Bonfire recipes for all the family

Five fantastic Bonfire recipes for all the family

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Five fantastic Bonfire recipes for all the family

November the 5th will soon be upon us, and although it’s exciting to see the spectacle of organised displays, they can be very busy, noisy, muddy and cold!

Our solution is to stay at home, cook delicious but portable food and enjoy a few fireworks in the garden whilst watching other slightly (much) more impressive ones in the distance.

This means that it’s easy to nip inside for a warm (and the loo) and we can time it to suit the children who still have early bedtimes.

Here’s our menu for this year.  Of course, it’s the 2015 Dairy Diary  and our gorgeous Fantastic Food for Less cookbook  that have provided these delicious Bonfire recipes.

 

For the little ones

 

Pigs in Blankets recipe

Pigs in Blankets 

Time 30 mins.
Per portion: 313 Kcal, 23g fat (10.5g saturated).
Makes 8

Medium-sliced white bread 8 slices
Butter 110g (4oz)
Tomato ketchup 3 tbsp
Mustard 1 rounded tbsp
Chopped parsley 4 tbsp
Good-quality pork sausages 8, skins removed

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Remove the crusts from the bread, then use a rolling pin to roll out each slice.

2 In a saucepan, heat the butter and ketchup together until melted, then stir in the mustard and parsley.

3 Brush some of the butter mixture over each slice of bread, then place a sausage diagonally across each one. Bring the opposite corners up and over and secure with cocktail sticks. Place on a baking tray, brush with butter and bake for 20–25 minutes until the sausages are cooked.

 

Chocolate brownies

Chocolate Brownies 

Time 55 minutes.
Per portion: 122 Kcal, 4g fat (1.6g saturated)
Makes 16
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Prunes in fruit juice 410g can
Eggs 2
Caster sugar 110g (4oz)
Cocoa powder 50g (2oz)
Plain flour 50g (2oz)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Cook’s dark chocolate 75g (3oz)

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line an 18cm (7in) shallow square tin with greaseproof or non-stick baking paper. Snip the paper at the corners, press it into the tin and secure the corners with paper clips.

2 Drain the prunes, remove the stones and put the fruit into a liquidiser or food processor. Blend to a purée.

3 In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale and frothy and the whisk leaves a trail of mixture when lifted above the bowl.

4 Fold in the prune purée, then sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder and carefully fold in.

5 Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and tilt to level the mixture. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the cake is well risen and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

6 Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Stand the bowl over a barely simmering saucepan of water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Melt the chocolate, then spoon it over the cake and spread in a thin layer. Leave to set.

7 Lift the cake out of the tin, peel off the paper and cut into 16 squares.

 

For the grown ups

 

Parsnip Apple Soup

Spiced Dhal Soup 

Time 1¼ hrs plus soaking.
Per portion: 178 Kcal, 5g fat (0.6g saturated).
Serves 8
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Yellow split peas 225g (8oz), soaked overnight in cold water, or red lentils
Sunflower oil 2 tbsp
Onions 2, peeled and finely chopped
Parsnips 5, about 350g (12oz), peeled and chopped
Garlic 4 cloves, peeled and crushed
Ground cumin 1½ tsp
Ground coriander 1½ tsp
Turmeric 2 tsp
Vegetable stock 1.7 litres (3 pints)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Drain the soaked peas and set aside.

2 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions and parsnips for about 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned.

3 Add the garlic and spices and fry for 1minute, stirring. Add the stock and split peas or lentils and season well with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the peas or lentils are very soft.

4 Purée half the soup in a liquidiser or food processor, then stir it back into the remaining soup and reheat before serving in warmed bowls.

 

Bonfire suasages

Bonfire Hot Dogs 

Time 40 mins
Per portion: 412 Kcal, 19g fat (7.4g saturated)
Serves 6

Good quality pork sausages 6
Clear honey 2 tbsp
Tabasco sauce 1 tsp or to taste
Butter 25g (1oz)
Olive oil 1-2 tbsp
Onions 3 large, peeled and sliced
Caster sugar 1 tsp
Hot dog or crusty rolls 6, split

1 Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6.  Place sausages in a roasting tin. Mix together honey and Tabasco sauce and pour over sausages, turning to coat thoroughly. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through, turning and basting a couple of times during cooking.

2 In a large heavy-based pan, melt butter and oil over a medium heat until foaming. Add onions and mix well. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, increase the heat and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden.

3 Pop a sausage into each roll and top with caramelized onions.

 

Luxury Eccles Cakes

Luxury Eccles Cakes

Time 40 minutes.
Per portion: 223 Kcal, 13g fat (5.7g saturated)
Makes 12
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Luxury mixed dried fruits 175g (6oz)
Dark muscovado sugar 50g (2oz)
Ground mixed spice 1 tsp
Grated nutmeg ½ tsp
Lemon 1, finely grated zest only
Butter 40g (1½oz), melted
Ready-rolled puff pastry 375g packet
Egg 1, beaten
Caster sugar for sifting

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 and grease two baking sheets. In a large bowl, mix together the dried fruits, sugar, spices, lemon zest and the butter.

2 Lay the pastry on a lightly floured surface and using a 9cm (3½in) plain round cutter, stamp as many rounds as you can from the pastry and set aside.

3 Re-fold the pastry trimmings, in layers, and then re-roll and stamp out more rounds until you have 12 of them.

4 Dividing evenly, place a rounded teaspoonful of the fruit mixture in the centre of each pastry circle. Brush the edges with cold water, then bring the sides of the pastry up and over the filling and pinch firmly together to seal. Turn over and gently flatten with your hand.

5 Place the Eccles cakes on the greased baking trays and brush lightly with beaten egg, then lightly score the tops, diagonally, three times. Bake for 12–15 minutes until the cakes are well risen, golden brown and crisp to the touch.

6 Sift the Eccles cakes with caster sugar while they are still hot. Eat warm, or leave until cold.

 

Enjoy and stay safe everyone.

Trick or Treat Popcorn

 Trick or Treat Popcorn

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Trick or Treat Popcorn

Time 15 mins
Makes 2 large pans
Per portion: Calories 149
Fat 6g of which 1g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Popcorn 200g (7oz)
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Salt pinch
Chilli powder 1 tsp
Golden caster sugar 1-2 tbsp

1 Cook two panfuls of popcorn one after the other: For the first batch place 100g (3½oz) of popcorn, 2 tablespoons of oil, salt and chilli powder into a pan and stir thoroughly. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and heat gently. Shake occasionally to prevent burning, and continue heating until popping subsides.

2 Remove from heat and leave to stand until no more popping can be heard. Stir thoroughly, taste and add a little more chilli powder if necessary.

3 Repeat with remaining popcorn (without salt or chilli) but add sugar at the end of the cooking time when leaving pan to stand. Leave to cool slightly before popping into bowls and serving to your trick or treaters!

A Dairy Diary recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more recipes on the Dairy Diary website.

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