Holiday Hitch

26 Aug

Those of you that pop by regularly may have noticed a slight holiday lull in posts. This is not because I have not been cooking, but because i have moved house, and I am having technical difficulties with my computer and lack of broadband. I have been promised that my broadband should be working in the next week so after the bank holiday week, I am hoping that business will resume as normal.

In the meantime, my inspired holiday sandwich for the kids is too good not to share. Nutella, spread on a wrap, add a banana, roll up, slice into chunks. A winner with both adults and children alike!

Award winning (!) Kiwi, Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

28 Jul

The cheesecake (minus the kiwis!!)

This recipe (save for some tweaking) appeared on my blog when it started, just over 3 months ago.

When I saw the Ocado World Recipe Challenge (to celebrate the world cup) I just had to enter this recipe which is a delicious and easy crowd pleaser. And I am pleased to say, that with the help of some friends, my lovely blog readers, and the enduring love affair that most of us have with cheesecake, the recipe ‘won’ the challenge, and was the most popular recipe out of the finalists. If, like me you are an Ocado shopper, then click the link here to the recipe, and in one easy click, you can add the ingredients to your shopping basket.

My reward, apart from bringing the secret of a quick and easy dessert to the time-pressed, is £200 to spend on a Virgin Experience Day.  I am currently debating between a chocolate making workshop, a case of wine or a day at a spa. Decisions decisions.!

In case you missed the recipe the first time around, I have published it again here. If you do give it a try, and I would love your comments letting me know how you got on.

For this recipe you will need

A round 23cm springform tin, greased and lined

250g ginger nut biscuits or 100g digestives or shortbread biscuits and 150g ginger nuts

100g melted butter

1 tin condensed milk (yes really – condensed milk. Just trust me on this one)

2 x 250g tubs mascarpone cheese

5 unwaxed limes

Method

Make biscuits into crumbs either in the processor, or by placing them in a large (strong) clean plastic food bag and pulverizing them mercilessly with a heavy implement, like a rolling-pin. This can be quite satisfying. Mix with the melted butter. Press into base of tin, then put in fridge to set for at least half an hour, or if you are running late, try 10 minutes in the freezer.

While that is chilling, zest 2 of the limes (I use the microplane) and then extract the juice from them all. Limes can be awkward little devils, and reluctant to give up their juice. When they are warm, you get more juice out, so I often pop them in the microwave to warm them up.5 or 10 seconds per lime. I would probably put them all in and zap for 30 seconds altogether.

Empty mascarpone into a large bowl. Add condensed milk and lime juice and zest. Mix until combined and smooth (do not overmix or it becomes a little thin). You can do this by hand or with the electric beaters (about half a minute works for me).

Empty mixture into the tin, over the biscuit base. Cover with clingfilm, then place in fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove from tin once set and place on serving plate (I often leave it on the tin base, rather than risking a collapse).

Serve

Stand back and wait for the compliments. They will come. I promise..

Alternatives

If you don’t like limes you can make this the traditional way, using lemon juice and lemon zest (juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1), and plain digestives.

The gingernut biscuits are quite hard and make the subsequent base quite hard. As a result I tend to combine them with digestives or shortbread biscuits to alter the texture but retain the ginger taste, which contrasts well with the lime.

If like me, you make the mistake of only buying one tub of mascarpone, I have used half cream cheese. The result is a bit less firm, but still delicious.

Taste the mixture before you place it in on to the base. If you prefer a bit more zing, add the juice of another lemon or lime.

Go on, treat yourself. You deserve it

Happiness & help in the kitchen – for under a fiver!

24 Jul
Since we moved house, my complete lack of internet and phone signal, and TV (I can almost hear your agonised gasps) have left me mithering in a yesteryear haze.  I have been unable to access my blog or emails, and shamefully, todays post has been lingering in my inbox in for a week. But, joy oh joy, a kindly neighbour has taken pity on me, and allowed me access to their wi-fi, until I can have some 21st century technology installed!
The lovely Michelle at BabyDinesOut, (the only guide for eating out with babies and tots) has kindly prepared this post for me, and I have to say that after reading it, I ordered a chef’n’peeler straight away. Anything that keeps the little ones amused and helping with the dinner preparation is a winner in my book.
So, over to Michelle, and her talented almost 4-year-old sous chef.
I love cooking with my nearly four-year old.  Sharing the tastes, aromas and colours of fabulous ingredients and recipes is a real delight.Being a normal nearly four-year old, he naturally wants to be into everything and do everything himself.  He has mastered my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer for cake mixing.  He can stir, mix and (with a small, not too sharp knife) chop.
When it comes to preparing veggies, though, I never let him use the peeler.  Too sharp, too dangerous. The problem is that as soon as I intervene he gets disappointed and loses interest.Then I saw the Chef’n Palm Peeler on an American blog called Cooking with My Kid. Great, I thought, it’ll only be available in the states and cost me a fortune to have delivered, never mind the import duty.  Then I found it on Amazon.  It was a Mummyinahurry-worthy bargain £3.25 plus postage.
The nearly four-year old couldn’t wait to get his mitts (or palms!) on it when it arrived.  As you can see from the pictures he peeled carrots perfectly from the very first time he used it. Peeled perfectly and safely.  Result. Child re-motivated: happy child = happy mummy.

Getting to grips with the peeler

Concentrating on the carrots

Perfectly peeled carrots

Mature Cheddar, Shallot and Sage Crusted Chicken

15 Jul

In preparation for our house move, I have been running down the store cupboards and freezer. I had rescued 2 lonely and forlorn chicken looking breasts from the freezer, along with the breadcrumbs and shallots, and a small cube of mature cheddar from the fridge, that was threatening to sport a mouldy cloak if ignored any longer. And the fresh sage was courtesy of the plant that I abandoned last year in the garden, that has defeated the perils of garden pests, children, and the elements to survive and flourish. I love garden herbs. Fresh, fabulous, and free. What more could you ask for?

INGREDIENTS

Serves two teenies and a greedy mummy.

  • 2 chicken breast fillets (approx 250g)
  • 2 or 3 slices of bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • small chunk of cheese, finely grated
  • small handful of fresh sage, chopped
  • small handful of pre-chopped shallots from freezer
  • 60g butter melted (or an oil/butter mix)

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Step 1. Slicing up the fillets

Slice fillets in half horizontally (so they are thinner and cook more quickly), then into small ish pieces. I turned 2 fillets into 5 small pieces that look like 1/2 fillets.

Mix together breadcrumbs, shallots, sage and cheese. Add melted butter and mix until combined.

Step 2. The breadcrumb mixture

Line a baking dish with foil (just to save on washing up). Press mixture onto the chicken breasts. Cook for approx 15 mins, checking that it is cooked through once removed from oven. Leave to rest for 5/10 mins.

Step 3. After a short hot burst in the oven

Serve with broccoli and cream cheese (kids) or salad (big kids).

Step 4. Going, going, gone

Roast Beef and Horseradish ‘Kebab’

12 Jul

The idea for this ‘combo’ came to me after my childfree bliss weekend away, upon reading YummyMummyNo1s post on her parenting dilemma after her son’s kebab and horror film all nighter at a friend’s house.

I had been away for the weekend (a miracle, I might add, not a regular event) and left a number of easy to assemble ingredients for Mr Mummyinahurry over the weekend. When I returned the near empty fridge contained the following haul.

The Ingredients

  • Cooked sliced beef
  • Salad
  • Tomatoes
  • Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 fat creme fraiche
  • Pack of Pitta bread (I know it should be in the bread bin, but then it goes off when its hot)

So, the dinner dilemma was solved with a simple warm up and assembly job, and was greeted by silence punctuated with  satisfied ‘mmm, mmm, mmm’  noises from  Mr Mummyinahurry.

METHOD

Put a grill pan on the hob and leave to warm up for a few minutes. Toast the pittas on it (or just use the toaster if you dont have one)

Mix horseradish sauce with crème fraîche (or yoghurt) until you have a dressing consistency. While pitta is warming up, slice tomatoes and salad. Stuff warmed pittas with the beef, salad and tomatoes and dressing. Voila, probably the healthiest kebab in town!

The Healthiest Kebab in town?

Money-saving tips

9 Jul

The lovely folks at Moneysupermarket.com, one of my favourite money-saving sites, have asked me if they can guest post some of their hottest money-saving tips here. Those of you that know me well, know that I *love* getting a good deal. I like to equate almost every saving going, into the next little treat. A pedi, a bottle of bubbly, a night out with the girls. The savings all add up. My favourite pages on their site, are the shopping page, and the vouchers page which are well worth a look if you get the chance.

Saving moneyinahurry

So, over to Rachael at Moneysupermarket.com.

Being a parent can be very expensive! This is why it’s important for mums and dads to save money where they can. The recession has had a negative impact on many families’ finances, and many of us are finding that we have less and less money to spend on ourselves at the end of the month. We at moneysupermarket.com are experts at saving money and love sharing a few of our ideas to help you make your money go that little bit further…

Food shopping

For many people, the weekly grocery bill is a major expense, especially if you have a large family. Food prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, and with many incomes being squeezed, it’s more important than ever to make savings where you can (a mummyinahurry speciality!). There are the obvious tips like never shop when you’re hungry and always stick to your shopping list, but sometimes that’s just not enough. To make real savings on your weekly shop it’s worth considering shopping in local independent shops, such as the butchers and fruit and veg shops. Meat from the butcher tends to be cheaper (and tastier) than from the supermarket and it is likely to be from a local source. Local suppliers means less food miles too, so great for the environment too. Your butcher is unlikely to use fancy packaging, which means they can pass those cost savings on to you. Greengrocers work on the same principles, so you’re more likely to get more for your money when you shop locally. And if you walk  to the local shops, rather than driving to the local supermarket, you will save on fuel, and get some free exercise (who needs to pay for fancy gym memberships?).

Another option, which is a Mummyinahurry favourite, and the stalwart of many time-pressed parents is to shop for groceries online. Not only is it easier to stay away from those calorie-laden treats and refrain from the smell of freshly baked bread, but there are always an abundance of vouchers and voucher codes available on the internet for most major supermarket chains. An internet shop can also help you stick to budget, as if you overspend, you can simply edit your basket. Much easier than trying to edit a trolley full of groceries at the supermarket!

Utilities
It is shocking how expensive necessities such as gas, electricity and water can be. Rising energy costs have eaten into family budgets everywhere. One quick and easy way to make savings is to  compare energy providers online. Often, switching can save substantial sums, or you can use the threat of a move to get your current provider to give you a better rate. Another way to save money on utilities bills (and gain ‘eco-points’) is to be more aware of the energy you’re using. You can buy an energy monitor which tells you exactly how much energy you’re using in real time, allowing you to see which are the most expensive appliances to run. Even small changes such as turning off all electronic appliances when they’re not being used, can lead to noticeable savings.

Vouchers
Thrift is chic. Money-off vouchers have lost their stigma and have become increasingly popular during the course of the recession. Everyone loves a bargain, and vouchers give you the chance to buy things you may have been looking at anyway at a discounted price. Whether you’re out and about or shopping online, you’ll more than likely be able to find a printable voucher or voucher codes to use on that product. Before purchasing anything, do a quick search on moneysupermarket’s vouchers channel to see if you can get money off, or if not, consider looking for an alternative product or brand who offer discounts on their merchandise. We recommend spending a few moments printing off the vouchers for your regular stores and restaurants and keeping them in your bag or purse in case you need them while you’re out and about, so you never miss out on an opportunity to save some cash, (or treat yourself to a glass of wine or dessert with the savings).

Sell things you don’t need
Ever received a Christmas or Birthday present that you don’t use or like? Dig out all of the items that don’t use/wear anymore and sell them. There are countless online trading stores you can sell items on, such as the online auction house Ebay which allows you to sell or buy items, usually at a much lower price than in the shops. Sell that unused footspa that your aunt bought you for Christmas, along with that dress you’ve never worn and earn yourself some extra cash, for a rainy day treat.

Organise your direct debits
Keeping track of your bank account can be tricky, especially if you’re always on the go and buying things for the house or the kids. Its may be worth considering altering your organising all of your direct debits so they come out of your account around the date that you get paid, then after they’ve been taken out you will know that the money left is yours to spend. It may not be possible to get all direct debits to come out on the same day, but aim to get them taken out of your account within one week. Alternatively, set up a second account. Have your salary paid in to the account that your bills get paid from, then transfer a set amount into your spending account, operated on a debit card. Then when you check your balance, you will always know where you stand.
For many ‘mummysinahurry’, 24 hour online banking is the answer to that ‘can’t get to the bank in time’ dilemma. You can post/email/phone and fit your banking around your busy life. As mummyinahurry would say, whats not to love?!

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins. An essential component of your five-a-day?!

5 Jul

You know you want me!!

Today’s mouth-watering and seasonal recipe is provided by one of my new blogging friends, Sian, who is helping me out while I am wondering how we are going to get packed up by this time next week! Over to you Sian.

Hi Mummy in a Hurry readers, I’m Sian from Pumpkin and Piglet. Firstly I would like to thank Natalie for having me here. I’ve been reading Natalie’s blog for a while now and love her tips and quick, easy but yummy recipes so it’s a real pleasure to be here!

One of my passions is baking. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a big slice of cake, a fluffy, moist muffin or a lovely cupcake with a sweet swirl of frosting. Sometimes though, time is limited and spending too long in the kitchen is not an option.

For those days, muffins are a good answer. No faffing about making sure everything is combined just so, quick to bake and scrumptious. If time is seriously tight then you can weigh out the ingredients the day before, dry in one bowl and the wet in a jug covered in the fridge, ready to mixed together and taken out of the oven within half an hour.

There as many flavours of muffins as you can think of but I would like to share a recipe with you for Raspberry and White Chocolate muffins. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Approx 120ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g raspberries
  • 100g white chocolate chunks

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200oC and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a largish bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and zest.

In a measuring jug pour in the lemon juice and then enough milk to come up to the 200 mil level (it will curdle, this is fine), then beat in the egg and butter.

Pour into the dry ingredients and stir briefly. The batter should scarcely be combined and should appear lumpy. Don’t worry if there are still streaks of flour.

Fold in the raspberries and chocolate, dollop into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.

Once baked, leave in the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

There you go, 12 muffins! They are best eaten the same day but will keep for another day in an air tight tin.

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