Pink Onions with Sarsons

I have wanted to make my own pickles and have had a go at chutney’s, and regularly use vinegar for cooking and cleaning. I had plans to pickle lots of produce from the garden. Sarsons sent me some products so that I could have a go at pickling and it was much easier than I thought it would be!

sarsons

The Sarsons website has lots of pickling ideas and I thought pink onions would be a great choice to add to my Boxing day table. The recipe is easy and the ingredients are:

  • 1 medium red onion, very finely sliced
  • 250ml Sarson’s Speciality Pickling Blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, halved
  • 3 small sprigs thyme
  • 1 small dried chilli

I didn’t have the dried chilli’s so added a small amount of chilli flakes to the mix. You could customize the mix to your taste. Once you have sliced your onions you will need to par blanche them. Place the onion slices in a sieve and pour boiling water slowly over them. I separated the rings and this made it easier to make sure they were all blanched. Meanwhile gently heat the other ingredients in a pan with the Sarsons pickling vinegar. Place the warmed vinegar mixture and onions in a storage jar of your choice and then leave to cool.

pink-pickled-onions-sarsons

 

The onions will store in the refrigerator for a few weeks so you could bottle them now in plenty of time for the boxing day table. I love having different pickles for the cold buffet on boxing day and pink onions are a great addition. Sarsons pink onions look so pretty as they change colour in the jar to a sweet pink, and would make a great gift.

sarsons-pickles

Have a look at the Sarsons website for more inspiration on how to use their range of vinegars to make homemade store cupboard pickles of your own.

Disclaimer I was sent a range of Sarsons products in return for this post, the words remain my own and have not been altered.

School lunchbox Tips with #HartleysYourLunchbox

Its time to start thinking about the school lunch boxes, and I have been thinking about trying something new for the boys lunches. I am lucky that he like a big variety of different foods, but over the last few weeks of term decided that he didn’t like having sandwiches any more. This made lunches a little tricky as I find I get stuck in the rut of the same things each day.

Our school have a no nut policy which is fine, but the boy does love peanut butter so that is ruled out. So I decided over the holidays to try out a few easy school lunch ideas. My first thought is to try lots of easy to eat foods, cucumber and tomatoes always go down well. I also found chopped peppers and gherkins with cubes of cheese went down well.

Wraps have been a great compromise as they are less bready than a sandwich but I can still sneak in a few bits of lettuce with plenty of chicken. I found wraps are great for picnics and I could make them the night before so there would be no mad panic in the mornings before school. I like to add in some dairy and have found a frozen tube yoghurt keep the rest of the food cool, and is defrosted before lunchtime.

school lunch

I always add fruit, and this makes a great colourful lunch. Adding a pot of Hartley’s Jelly is a little treat. With the no added sugar option you don’t have to worry about too much sugar. This summer Hartley’s are offering you the chance to collect 12 of the special edition green lids from their jelly pots. In return you will receive a free Hartley’s Lunchbox and stickers, perfect to personalise your back to school lunches.

My final back to school lunchbox tip would be to make your lunches personal to your child. Mine loves sushi, so loves a pot of rice and fish. Sometimes I even send in a small amount of tortilla chips and a pot of salsa. I have found the boys taste has changed over the years at school, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

This post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Hartley’s Jelly

Wyke Farms Cheesy scones

Wyke Farms are celebrating a whole host of awards including being the first dairy in the UK to be awarded a triple Carbon Trust Standard for carbon, water and waste. Knowing that Wyke Farms are doing their bit for our planet somehow makes their cheese and butter even tastier (if that is possible).

Wyke Farms have 150 years of family farming experience. Wyke Farms’ cheese and butter is made with the milk from their cows grazing the lush pastures of the Mendip Hills in the centre of the Cheddar making region in Somerset.

I decided that I would try out a simple Cheese scone recipe with my Wyke farm cheese and butter. For this recipe you will need: 225g self raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 25g butter, 150ml milk, 30g Wyke Farms strong cheese.

wyke farm

Preheat the oven to 220 c, and sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Next lightly rub the butter into the flour to form breadcrumbs. mix in the Wykes Farm cheese, and then combine with the milk to make a dough. the less you tough the mixture the lighter your scones will be so I mix in with a knife, and try not to handle the dough too much. Then its time to press out the mixture, and cut out your shapes. Place on a baking sheet, and either glaze with milk of beaten egg.

wyke farm scones

Cook at the top of the oven for 15/18 minutes until risen and lightly coloured. Cool on a wire rack. We enjoyed ours warm from the oven with lashings of Wyke farm butter, and some carrot chutney. Wyke farm cheese and butter is available from the dairy section of your supermarket. We love Wyke farm cheese, and hope that the farm continue their success in the coming year.

wyke farm cheese

Disclaimer, we were sent a range of Wyke farm products to try, the words remain our own and have not been altered.

Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract

When I saw this recipe for oat energy bars from Potter’s Herbals and thought it would be a great after school snack for the boy. I am always on the lookout for easy foods for him in the after school hours when he would happily eat everything in the fridge. I was interested to read about the properties of Potters Herbals Malt Extract and finding out about the slow release of the sugars in malt extract mean that this recipe is a perfect energy choice.

Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract ­ a traditional, nutritious and versatile malt extract. Can be spread on bread and toast, added to cereals, used as a replacement for refined sugar in bread, cakes and general cooking, or taken by the spoonful as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

  • Made using pure barley extract.
  • Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
  • Sugar in Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract is in the form of maltose, which converts to glucose during digestion. Glucose is stored as glycogen, which can be readily converted back to glucose for sustaining blood glucose levels and energy release.
  • Prepared by low temperature concentration to preserve the natural ingredients in an easily digestible form.

Potter’s Herbals orange, raisin and cranberry oat energy bar

This protein packed energy bar has the citrus zing of the orange, combined with the sweetness of the dried fruits and the nutty tang of peanut butter. The malt, peanut butter and oats all create a slow release energy bar that will keep you energised throughout the day.

Makes: 12 Prep time: 10-15 minutes, plus cooling Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

100ml orange juice

75g stoned medjool dates, chopped

50g dried cranberries

50g raisins

75g Potter’s Herbals malt extract

75g peanut butter

150g porridge oats

50g pistachios, chopped

potter's herbals

 

1 Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.  

2 Place the orange juice, dates, cranberries and raisins into a pan, bring to a gentle simmer and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Pour into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl then stir in the malt, peanut butter and porridge oats until combined and sticky. Stir through the pistachios and spoon into the lined tin.  

potters herbals malt extract

3 Flatten down with a spoon and bake for 15 minutes, until just golden around the edges.  Remove from the oven and immediately score into 12 energy bars, then leave fully to cool in the tin. 

4 Once cool remove from the tin and place onto a chopping board. Cut into bars. These can be kept in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Tip: For an added treat, you can stir 100g white chocolate chips/chopped white chocolate into the mixture.

potters herbals energy bars

I substituted a few ingredients in my bars as I found I didn’t have raisins so added cherry’s and currants instead. We didn’t add the nuts as the boy is not keen and I think my next batch might have to include banana chips as they are one of the boys favourite. My finished Potter’s Herbals cereal bars smelt amazing and tasted even better, they certainly went down well with the boy who loved the peanut buttery taste.

I was sent malt extract to try out this recipe, and would recommend it as a better alternative to refined sugar. Potters Herbals range can be bought online, or in Waitrose, Boots, Holland and Barrett and health food stores. Visit their website for more information.

 

Cooking up a Feast – Puzzle Review

Cooking up a feast is number 7 in the perplexing puzzle series from Ravensburger, this 1,000 piece puzzle is suitable for ages 10+ RRP £11.99.

This is the first time I have tried one of the Perplexing puzzles, and cooking up a feast was a fun puzzle that brought back memories of my Nan’s kitchen. I particularly liked the rabbit jelly mould as this was part of my childhood, along with the bone handled butter knives. Cooking up a feast is a photographic puzzle, and at first glance didn’t look as if it was going to be particularly difficult as there is plenty of colour in the picture.

cooking up a feast

I started with edges and the bright pink, orange of the rabbit jelly mould, next the red of the strawberries, jam and tea-pot. After this the puzzle was a little more difficult but certainly not impossible. There were enough little details in the cooking up a feast puzzle to keep my interest and it took about 4 hours to complete the puzzle. I loved all the vintage packaging and can imagine my Nan’s cupboards having things like these in them, I certainly remember the hand turned mincer!

cooking up

 

I didn’t find cooking up a feast was more of a challenge than some of the Colin Thompson puzzles that I have previously completed, but it was certainly still fun. The quality of a Ravensburger puzzle is faultless, and the pieces always sit well together. Have a look at the Ravensburger website for more of the Perplexing puzzle series or have a look at my affiliate link below.

cooking up a feast finished puzzle

 

Disclaimer I was sent this puzzle in return for an honest review.

Green Giant Minion Challenge

We have been asked to take part in the Tots100 & Green Giant Minion challenge, and as Minions are everywhere at the moment this seemed the perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. Our challenge was to create something incorporating sweet corn that was fun, and of course minion related.

green giant

The minions film is now out at cinemas across the country and we went to see it last week so have been inspired to make some Green Giant sweet corn Minion mini omelettes. The ingredients are simple and something most people will have in their cupboards, so our minion omelette would make an easy mid week meal.

To make 2 mini minions you will need 2 eggs, one tin of sweet corn and a splash of milk. We used the peel from cucumber with some peas to decorate.

We whisked up the whole eggs with a splash of milk. Drain and rinse the sweet corn. Heat up a mini frying pan, or if you don’t have one a chefs ring in a larger pan would work fine. Then add half of the mixture to the pan, and sprinkle a handful of sweet corn into the omelette mixture. cook until the eggs have gone solid and flip to brown the second side. Once cooked pop on a plate ready to decorate.

green giant minion

For decoration we used thin peelings of cucumber, or you could use bacon strips, olives or peppers to decorate the minions cheeky faces. we cut two long strips for the sides of the minions goggles, then used a small slices of cucumber for the eyes with a pea in the middle. We cut out small pieces for mouths and you could make tufts of hair too. Now you have your very own Bob, Stuart and Dave creations.

minion challenge with green giant

We hope you will have a go at making your own fun minion food creations, if you have been inspired or would like to look at some of the other fun Minion foods then why not check out the #greengiantminions on twitter and instagram.

minions green giant

 

 

What is #BetterWithCake?

So what isn’t  #BetterWithCake? Mr Kipling has asked us to find out. We had lots of fun testing situations and here is what we discovered.

Mondays are certainly  #BetterWithCake, and the perfect way to start the week with a Cherry Bakewell my favourite. I would say the other 6 days of the week are also  #BetterWithCake just so they don’t feel left out!

Fencing Friday is certainly a good cake day and one that I wholeheartedly participate in. Somehow it makes up for spending 2 hours in a corridor waiting for my sons fencing lesson to finish and the mums take it in turn to supply the cake, its good to share.

Weekends and Sunday coffee with Bingo Granny is #BetterWithCake, and her favourite is the Viennese Whirl, great with any hot drink, coffee tea or hot chocolate.

We tested out the garden, and in the sunshine it was  #BetterWithCake, although I don’t think even sheltering from the rain could spoil the bright fun colour of a fondant fancy.

Finally we tested out den building, and after all the hard work of sourcing building materials, construction, and finally furnishings, the boy came to the conclusion that Dens are #BetterWithCake too!

dens are

Our experiment finished, we decided that “there really is nothing that cannot be made  #BetterWithCake”

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge, sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes.

Curried Potatoes

Curried Potatoes are one of my favourite foods, whether it is the much-loved Bombay Potatoes or simply just adding them into my favourite sauce. This week I thought I would try something a bit new and set about finding a new way to add curry flavour to my Maris Pipers!

I have just bought a slow cooker and am determined to find some new family favourites, so this week I thought it was time to try curry. I searched the internet and came across a simple curried mince recipe. Since I didn’t have mince, I substituted this for soya, which comes dried and you dehydrate.

Ingredients: 500g of mince, or in my case soya, 1 onion sliced, can of chopped tomato’s, 300ml of beef, or vegetable stock, curry powder (between 1-2 table spoons depending on your taste) 500g peeled chopped and rinsed potato’s.

To the basic recipe I added finely chopped fresh ginger, 3 cloves of fresh garlic, 4 cardamom pods, 5 cloves, and 1/2 a teaspoon of each, cinnamon, chilli, paprika, cumin, black mustard seeds, garam masala.

I sautéed the onion in a little oil till golden before adding the soya, spices, curry powder fresh herbs and stock. Then add the chopped potatoes and cooked in the slow cooker for 6 hours on a med setting.

curried potatoes

The resulting curry was very pleasing, and was enjoyed by everyone including the boy who like me is not a fan of beef mince. The addition of beef stock made a nice meaty flavour and the curry had a good kick to it, from the fresh spices. I especially enjoyed the potatoes, and will certainly cook them this way again as there was enough curry left for Dad to have for lunch the next day too. This mine curried potatoes recipe may not win medals in the looks department, but it wins for us in the taste.

This post is an entry for #FluffyMarisPiper Linky Challenge sponsored by Potato Council. Learn more at Love Potatoes

Birds Eye, quick dinner rescue

Birds Eye have been helping families all over the uk with quick and easy to prepare meals. For me this means something that I don’t have to think about, and can be done between home time and after school clubs like fencing.

I set off with my Birds Eye vouchers to see what I could find. I know Birds Eye do peas! but they do lots more, including fast cook meals. The boy has become fond of one of their new Inspirations range and loves the fish with sun blush tomato, basil and oregano, which is a super speedy tea. In my book you can’t go wrong with fish as it has to be pretty good for you, and fish fingers are one of my freezer staples. I picked up some more well-known (and loved) Birds Eye waffles, or windows as they are known in our house. I also decided to try the new rice fusions, and some chicken pies.

birds eye

So our speedy Birds Eye tea was: chicken pie with windows and rice. The fragrant golden vegetable rice made a nice change, and one pyramid bag has enough for 3 of us. The whole meal took 40 minutes to cook, and while it looked after itself I had some time to help the boy with his school reading. Fitting in homework is something we are going to have to keep on top of now that the boy has moved up a year. Spending more time with the boy can be difficult during the week. Birds eye has a great range of all sorts of different foods for different tastes, and anything that makes my life easier at tea time has to be good.

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page.

Actimel for Kids -Healthy Lunches

Actimel for Kids is a great new yoghurt drink perfect for kids lunch boxes or simply used as a healthy snack, with three flavours, and a space theme, we were interested to see what the boy thought.

We were invited to a cookery school in London to get inspiration for school lunches, and the boy was excited to see what he could create. We arrived in plenty of time to see the Actimel team setting up our cooking stations before being treated to some fun space themed snacks. Eating planets made from Melon, and star-shaped tortillas was fun. The kids certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves and with plenty of the New Actimel for kids to wash the snacks down, plates were soon empty.

actimel for kids header Actimel for kids

Soon it was time for us to have a go at making some Funky Lunch creations with Mark Northeast creator of the book with the same name. Our first challenge was to make some flying saucers. With crackers, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and cucumber all foods I would keep in my fridge at home. With basic instructions covered, we were free to make our individual creations.

funky lunch actimel

I was amazed at the boys creativity, and he really did enjoy the challenge of balancing crackers on cucumber legs. He also loved carving cheese with a knife. Soon we had an assortment of cheese carvings with a slight Minecraft theme. Our next challenge was a space monster sandwich. This simple sandwich would be perfect for a lunch box or treat, and the boy was enjoying himself so much he was still constructing his creation even while the other family’s had moved on.

monster sandwich actimel for kids

We say plenty of the children enjoying not only creating fun food, but the enjoyment of eating their creations. Even the boy who can be a little fussy at times, cleared all the food, and even offcuts from his plate. Inspired by his creations for Actimel for kids, he has been making sandwich cut outs at home. Even going as far as wanting to make his own lunch box creations.

actimel for kids day

Actimel for Kids is a great little yoghurt drink, and something the boy has enjoyed with his breakfasts this week. The boy enjoyed all three flavours, Strawberry, Raspberry and Vanilla with Strawberry being his favourite.

Each little bottle of Actimel for Kids is packed with yummy yogurt, billions of L.casei live cultures, delicious fruit purée* and essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein. Actimel for Kids is also free from artificial flavours, preservatives and colours.

 

Why not have a look at the Actimel for kids website for inspiration for your little ones, find out about A.C, Ti, and Mel, and add some funk to your kids lunches! For some lunch inspiration have a look at this video of Mark, and Sophie as they give you some great healthy lunch ideas.

Actimel great kids Lunch ideas

Disclaimer: We were invited to this event to try out new Actimel for Kids, and our travel was compensated. The opinions and photos from the day remain our own, and have not been altered.