Sugar free Jelly Worm Recipe

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Sugar is a big no no in our house. Don’t get me wrong, I have an obscene sweet tooth, but if the toddler so much as walks past the sugar bowl she becomes possessed by some sort of hideous toddler demon that is out for your soul! For a while I worried about ADD or hyperactivity, but it soon became clear that it was the sugary treats that was turning her into the very epitome of the terrible twos. Once I started to cut out pure fruit juice, chocolate, commercial ice lollies etc. we had our lovely happy daughter back. That is, until she goes to her grandparents and comes back kneed deep in marshmallows and chocolate buttons!

Of course, I don’t want her to miss out. Her diet was already slightly limited by her peanut allergy, so no sugar knocked even more items off her possible treat list. I started doing some research and found a wealth of recipes online. Unfortunately, the ones that replace chocolate recipes usual include peanut butter, so that’s a no go, but I did find one for jelly worms. She does love a gummy sweet, and she also loves worms, so I thought I’d give them a go. They were super simple and went down a storm. Now all I hear is “Can I have 1 wiggly red thing please mummy. No, two wiggly red things!”

 

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of sugar free jelly crystals
  • 3 packets of gelatine, or 3 leaves
  • 1 cup of water

Soak the gelatine leaves if you’re using them. Bung all of the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until everything is dissolved. I then lined a lasagne dish with clingfilm and poured it in there. It should be a 1cm approx layer across the bottom of your container. Then out it in the fridge. It sets pretty quickly, I think it was in there for barely an hour. Then turn it out carefully and cut into strips. Hey presto, jelly worms. AND no more toddler tantrums! Bonus!

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My Japanese Potato Salad recipe

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As you can probably guess, we eat a lot of Japanese food in this house. It’s healthy, easy to cook, and absolutely delicious! One of my favourite things to have in the fridge is Japanese Potato salad. It isn’t necessarily very healthy, but it is incredibly scrummy, and can also be a great way of using up bits and bobs in the fridge! This recipe isn’t strictly the ‘proper’ way of making it, it’s just a simpler way of doing it that works for us! If you don’t have Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise for this recipe, then normal is fine, but there is a recipe here for Kewpie style mayonnaise that tastes pretty much the same!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • ham or cooked bacon
  • mayonaise (preferably Japanese if you can get it!)
  • spring onions

Peel and boil the potato whole. It is done when you can easily push a chopstick through it. This takes longer than you think! Mash together the eggs and mayonnaise. Slice the ham or bacon up into tiny rectangles and stir through.  Mash the potato and add the spring onions. You can also cook some cabbage or onion to add  to the spring onions. Mix the egg mixture to the potato until it is a smooth consistency, adding more mayonnaise if you need to. Feel free to add any cooked vegetable that needs using up!

That’s it! It keeeps in the fridge for a couple of days, but chances are, it won’t last that long! You can eat it however you want. I like to eat it from the fridge, with a spoon!

Extreme Food Planning

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Even though we are usually very careful with our money, we had a bit of a bad time with bills last month.We had an extra water bill, nearly £400 is gas and electric, car tax and I also started an online teaching assistant course. Nearly £800 all in all, is a pretty sizeable amount to pay in one month, whatever your income. As we only have one income it made things a little tight for us!

The only thing we really spend money on is our food, and it occurred to me I had been a little frivolous with our housekeeping money recently. I did the same shop every week whether we needed it or not. It’s not a massive shop, or an expensive shop, but we could do without it. I started worrying that we had no money to live on and we wouldn’t be able to buy food. I took my notebook and decided to do a full inventory of what we had, the fridge, both freezers, cupboards, pantry (read shelf) and dry food rack.

Well, we have a LOT of food. I mean A LOT!!! I seem to be a bit of food hoarder. We have soooo many packets of dried food, stock, sauce packets, loads of tins, freezers full of food. Suffice to say, once I realised I could have sushi once a week for the next 6 weeks without going to the shop, I started feeling a little less sorry for myself! We can comfortably eat for a while without doing a real shop or starving.

The whole thing made me think, we don’t waste any of this food as it can all be stored, but it’s so easy to bulk buy and shop out of habit, I can see how easy it is for people to buy so much food that they end up wasting it. I don’t want to become one of those families that throws away food because they just can’t eat it all! So, we decided to make a meal list of everything we can cook with the ingredients we have, and we have set ourselves a budget of £15 a week for bits like milk, bread, eggs, and fruit and veg. It helps that the toddler is now fully toilet trained as we are saving money on her nappies. We also gave up alcohol for lent, so this is saving us a bit too. Hopefully this will save us the money we need to get on track, and free up a bit of space in our kitchen!

Earl Grey Tea Muffin Recipe

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Sometimes you just need a little something to make it through til lunch, or perhaps a little pick up mid afternoon to see you through til tea time. My two favourite things to turn to at such times are earl grey tea and a muffin.  Whilst finding recipes for our latest bento adventures, I cam across this outstanding recipe for Earl Grey Tea Muffins! My favourite things in one yummy package. At 120 calories for a standard sized muffin they are the perfect break time treat. Not only that, but they’re very cheap to make. Please check out Just Bento for this recipe and lots of amazing Japanese and non- Japanese bento recipes, but I have included the recipe here

Recipe: Earl Grey Tea Muffins

The dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups minus 3 Tbs (230g) all purpose or cake flour (with cake flour they will be lighter, but AP flour works too)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 Tbs. Sucanat (see notes) or light brown sugar or raw cane sugar or regular sugar
  • Pinch of salt

The wet ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbs canola oil or light olive oil (or other flavorless vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or 1 1/3 regular low-fat milk + 1 Tbs. vinegar)

Plus:

  • 1 tsp. or 1 teabag fine Earl Grey tea leaves. If your tea leaves are on the coarse side, grind them up a bit in a mortar and pestle, or just crumble them up by rubbing the leaves between your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Grease or spray non-stick spray onto your muffin tins if needed.

Mix or sift together the dry ingredients.

Beat together the wet ingredients until blended.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, using a spatula. Don’t overmix. Add the tea leaves.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes for mini-muffins, 25-30 for regular size muffins, until the tops are browned and a skewer stuck through a middle muffin comes out clean. Note: these muffins will puff up quite a bit.

Take out of the muffin tins and cool on a rack

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I didn’t have buttermilk, so used the milk and vinegar and they were delicious, they taste just like a cup of milky earl grey. The toddler approves of them too!

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Tips for reducing your food bill

Everyone knows that times are getting tougher, and most people are finding ways to reduce food bills as well as many other household costs. I wanted to share this particular shopping trip with you, and tips as to how I keep our weekly to shops down to around £30.

On a Monday morning I go through the fridge and the freezer and find what meals I can make with what we have. If I need a couple of ingredients then I make my list of ‘make up’ ingredients which turns what we already have into meals. Planning is a huge part of keeping your shopping costs down, and it’s not just about planning meals necessarily, but also knowing exactly what you have so you don’t duplicate or buy things you can’t use.

I leave pretty much as soon as the shops open, ensuring that I get the pick of reduced items. They are reduced more later on in the day, but a lot of the items are gone by then. Although it isn’t practical for most, I visit certain shops for certain items. For example, I go to Morrisons for reduced meat, but Aldi for fruit and vegetables  We live in a small town with lots of supermarkets. Even though I don’t drive, I have 5 supermarkets and several discount shops within walking distance of our house.

Even though I write a list for what I need, this doesn’t mean that the list is set in stone. The key to getting a cheaper shop is to be flexible with ingredients, and to have a large recipe repertoire (or to be handy on Google). If your recipe calls for chicken and £4 for a pack, but turkey or pork is reduced, then it makes sense to substitute.

This is the best Monday morning shop I’ve had

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Almost everything you see here was reduced or on offer. This shop came to a total of £28.34, which is a steal as there are multiple packs of branded items and large cuts of meat. The wraps were reduced to 29p a packet, and the hobnob flapjacks were 12p a packet. I didn’t go out planning to buy them, but they’re things we use everyday, so it makes sense to buy in bulk at that price. The packet food actually came from the discount store BnM. I used to work in a store like this before becoming a full time mum, so I know that the food they receive is usually food from supermarkets that is short dated and they wouldn’t be able to sell in time, or a product that isn’t selling very well at full price. The food is exactly the same quality as the supermarkets, just the price is often greatly reduced.

Of course, we do spend more than we should sometimes, and it’s taken us quite sometime to get in to a shopping habit that suits our budget, but this basic routine means that we always have at least a weeks worth of meals and other staples in the house on a modest budget.

Tricking the toddler into eating- the magic of bento boxes

It seems our love of Japanese food knows no bounds. I’ve gotten so addicted to the cuisine that I spend an hour at a time searching for new recipes and ingredients. One thing I definitely wanted to try was bento boxes. If you have never seen  bento box, they are really just a Japanese lunch box, but they include a wide selection of nutritional food, often leftovers with rice as the main staple. They are an every day part of life in Japan, but in the west we really only see the works of art like these

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Minted Marrow and Pea Soup Recipe

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I don’t know about anyone else, but we still have a fair few marrows kicking around the place. By this stage I start to get pretty bored of them, so any recipe that uses an entire marrow is fine by me! Continue reading

Easy peasy cheese straw recipe

We went out for the day at the weekend. We decided to take the toddler to a local ‘amusement park’ type affairs that caters for little ones.  It’s called Twinlakes, if you’re in the area with toddlers I suggest you check it out.

Anyway, we decided on coming home before lunch, as they are pretty busy and really just serve chips. Delayed lunch means plenty of snacks, so on the spur of the moment I decided to make something I had been meaning to do for a couple of days – cheese straws. Continue reading

A little fishy on a little dishy

My turn to cook?  Oh, that means there’s only one thing comin’!

My favourite dish to cook (certainly one of my favourites to eat) is the ever-simple, fairly cheap and very tasty seasoned Basa (or cod if you’re feeling flush) with rice and vinegary-veggies.

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Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe

Ninny Threadgoode: “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the cafe. Ooh!” Continue reading