Gnocchi Bolognese with Hello Fresh

posted in: FOOD | 0

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Long time followers may remember my Hello Fresh (here’s a video from 2014!) unboxings. I set myself a goal to cook more for my family and try new meals and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it completely changed the way I shopped and gave me a love of cooking  that I never had before. For those of you who don’t know, Hello Fresh is a food delivery service which provides all of the ingredients to prepare 3-5 meals along with recipe cards and step by step instructions. You can choose the meals that you would prefer (to a point) as well as thing like ‘veggie’ or ‘family’ to specify who (and how many) you are cooking for each week. It’s a flexible subscription so you can pause, alter your order or skip a week, which I frequently did and with my code HELLODIARY you can get £25 off your first box (starting at £39) so if you want to give it a try and see how you like it it’s actually really affordable.

The general ethos of the company is to save you time (shopping, deciding what to make, weighing ingredients etc), to save waste (each meal comes with exactly the right amount of everything you need) and to push you out of your weekly food rut and encourage you to try new things.. or even old things in a new way. A great example of that is this meal. I make spaghetti bolognese ALL THE TIME and never once have I considered adding grated carrot (hidden veg for the kids!!) or Worcestershire sauce (nor so much for the kids but I enjoyed it) and I steamed broccoli in the OVEN which was like some kind of witchcraft.

I think the main thing I got from subscribing to the service was confidence, it’s pretty fool proof with the instructions they give you and it made me feel like I could actually cook. If you feel a bit lost in the kitchen or just want to try something new I would highly recommend you give it a go.. with £25 off the first week it’s cheaper than buying those meals from the supermarket so really, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.. you might even find your new favourite meal!

You can check out the recipe in this video and find out more about Hello Fresh or order your first box online here

*sponsored by Hello Fresh

Baking In The New Year / Mega Moist Orange Drizzle Cake

posted in: FOOD | 1

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Today was the last day of the kids holidays and I have only just managed to sit down .. is it terrible that I’m looking forward to them going back tomorrow? Actually, I don’t care if it is.. I am! I tried to pack in as much as I could in our last day – partly to tire them out so they’d get a good nights sleep, they’re always knackered after the first day of school – and baking is always a hit. I thought I’d try something other than the usual sponge cake so we pulled out an old favourite my Grandma used to make, Orange Drizzle Cake. I kind of guessed at the recipe, adding to my usual 4,4,4,2 method and it turned out to be the MOST moist (shudder) cake i’ve ever made.. not IDEAL to sandwich together and would possibly be better in cupcakes but crumbly and delicious all the same.

For those of you still without a staple cake recipe in their arsenal 4,4,4,2 is easy to remember and adapt. 4oz of sugar, butter and self raising flour and 2 eggs. I doubled that for this cake and added the zest and juice of one orange to the cake itself and more juice to the buttercream filling and to make the icing. For a little drier cake (one that is easier to get out of the pan in one piece) I may skip an egg or use less in the mixture but this is manageable.. just not the prettiest, perfectly formed cake I’ve ever made, hence no picture.

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I baked the two tins at 160C for around 20mins and they were good.. this is the first time I’ve used our new oven for this kind of thing so I was nervous but the transparent door is an absolute godsend, I don’t know how I ever lived without one!

The ‘drizzle’ comes in with the icing once you’ve sandwiched your cakes together, you need a decent amount of (not too thick) icing sugar mixed with orange juice to pour over the cake so that it ‘drizzles’ down the sides, the perfect amount of icing if you ask me. I don’t like too sweet a cake and a thin layer of sugary icing is just right.

And finally at half past 8 Milo has stopped jumping back out of bed, Ella is getting her school stuff ready and I am sitting down with a cup of tea and my first slice and I can confirm, it is delicious!

Can’t Catch Me, I’m The Gingerbread Man

posted in: FOOD | 3

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Since we’re in moving house limbo at the moment I’ve been trying to fit in as many festive activities as I can to keep us from skipping the holiday altogether. On Saturday we took a day trip to York with the kids to see the Christmas Markets and visit the year round Christmas shop – see the vlog here – and last night Milo and I got our bake on and attempted out first proper gingerbread men.

Here’s the recipe we used:

Mix 350g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 125g butter before adding 175g of light brown sugar. In a separate bowl whisk 1 egg and 4 tbsp of golden syrup – I used treacle because it’s all we had but golden syrup would make lighter, sweeter gingerbread. In theory you knead the dough, cover it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for 15 mins..we used foil cause we had no clingfilm but I only did that because dinner was ready. Under normal circumstances I skip these steps because I’m an impatient non-conformist and nothing terrible ever happened to my biscuits! Milo kindly rolled out and cut our little guys and I put they tray in the oven at 180C for 12 minutes – I discovered that it’s tough to guess when already dark cookies are cooked because they’re already ‘browned’ so if you also use treacle I’d suggest erring on the side of caution.

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Since gingerbread isn’t for EVERYONE we also whipped up a batch of sugar cookies and here’s our old faithful recipe for those..

Mix together 200g of caster sugar, 200g of butter and one egg, next is the flavouring – I always use 1 tsp of vanilla essence and this time I also added some grated vanilla pods but you could choose something more festive since it’s Christmas. Lastly.. the flour will depend on how soft your butter was.. I’ve used anything between 300g-400g.. the more you add the crunchier the cookie will be – I personally prefer that – however it wouldn’t hurt to add in a little more sugar if you do add more flour. When the cookies are cut and on the tray I add more sugar before they go in the oven. Once again at 180C but this time for 8-10 minutes/until the edges are golden.

If you’re looking to get in to the spirit of the season I can’t recommend baking cookies highly enough.. especially if you have a willing child on hand.. oh and Michael Buble’s christmas album is the perfect soundtrack

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