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!”
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!
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!
1 medium potato
2 boiled eggs
ham or cooked bacon
mayonaise (preferably Japanese if you can get it!)
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!
I don’t like shopping at Sainsburys, some of their prices are ridiculous, but it happens to be the closest supermarket to my house, and if I need to pick up a couple of bits and don’t want to walk into town, I grit my teeth and go. I’ve been going more often recently, as they are the only shop that sells the Japanese ingredients I have been using.
On one of my recent trips, I noticed a few bits on the reduced section. They are usually very stingy with their reduced food, and they never reduce fresh food, which is suspicious. I did see that they had some baking goods, in particular cinnamon sugar, reduced from £2.99 to 39p.
Ordinarily I’d whinge and moan about how I could make cinnamon sugar myself at home, but this time I bought it. I had something in mind. I had recently won a competition on Twitter and been sent a lot of coffee samples. Now, I like coffee, but I have a really sweet tooth, so when I saw this, I decided to make coffee syrup from it.
It was so quick and easy, I just added the sugar to the pan, and then used the pot to measure out the same amount of water, then I heated it on the hob until the sugar had dissolved. I then used this cut glass jug I got from a charity shop to store it in.
Now I have delicious coffee shop grade drinks at an absolute fraction of the price. The syrup should last for quite a while, and it cost the same price as a shot of syrup at the coffee shop!
The toddler loves Play doh, she just can’t get enough of cutting and squishing and rolling it. It is, however, ridiculously expensive. The first kind she had was Crayola 1+ which was gluten free and couldn’t be nibbled on, though not encouraged. This stuff was so hard, and it cost a whopping £1.99 a pot! She couldn’t really play with it on her own because it was so tough, and it broke some of her cutters.
We put up with it until last Christmas when one set of grandparents got her some proper Play doh, and the other got her a Disney Princess Play doh castle thing. This stuff is much easier for her to play with, but I have a real issue with her mixing up the colours, because I don’t want to have to buy more! So, with this is mind, I took to Pinterest (as if I need an excuse!) in search of Play doh recipes. I saw an amazing pin of galaxy play doh, but, as so often happens on Pinterest, there was no link to the original poster and no recipe, so I tried to recreate it. I used a standard Play doh recipe
2 cups of plain flour
2 cups of water with food colouring
1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 cup of salt
Mix liquid ingredients together in a large pan. Begin to heat liquids. I added one bottle of blue food colouring, and one bottle of black. I also added a pot of edible shimmer and glitter as the original picture I saw was really glittery. In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, and then add these to the heating liquids. Stir until the play doh comes together and thickens. Cook until it gets that sheen to it. Let it cool slightly and then knead to bring proper consistency. Store in plastic container. Ta dah, you got play doh!
Once it had cooled down I added some star sprinkle things that had been kicking around in the toddler’s craft box for a while, and we made a galaxy, complete with stars and planets. We used some of her sparkly beads as the planets.
Then we used star cutters, and gave them they’re own planet, and added more glitter too.
We had loads of fun, and I don’t have to worry about her mixing this up , and she only needs one colour. Also, as we had all the ingredients, I made two tuppaware tubs of Play Doh for free!
For Christmas I was given a little pot of Lemon Cheese. I love lemons and citrus flavours, but I had never tried this before. As happens so often with little jars of lovely things, it made it’s way to the back of the cupboard, where I discovered it last week. I’ve been trying to use up the things in the cupboard, and I came across this little jar when I was looking for a some afters. I tried in on a crispbraed and it was DELICIOUS! So delicious that I consumed the jars worth in two days, and I was looking for more. Rather than going out to find some in the shops, I had a look online and found a simple recipe that tastes exactly the same, and I should think is much cheaper too!
You will need
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract.
First, juice the two lemons, and add 1 tablespoon of their rind. Combine this juice with the sugar in a saucepan, and bring it to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk the 3 eggs, and then add the hot lemon and sugar a tiny amount at a time, whisking as you go to avoid scrambling the egg. Put the whole mixture back on the heat, and whisk until it thickens. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter and vanilla. Put straight into a sterilized jar.
It’s delicious on toast or crispbread, or straight from the jar!
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 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
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!
It’s not that she won’t eat, or that she’s fussy with her food, she just won’t sit still long enough to eat it, and even if she does, your dinner always looks better. Cue half an hour of swapping food, and then she doesn’t want any. Frustrated, and more than a little annoyed at all the food that was being wasted (read ‘wasted’ as ‘that I ate’) I took to the internet in search of advice. Continue reading →
Just before Christmas, my parents brought us a mass of reduced food. They have a habit of doing this, and we’re usually inundated with things we struggle to use up. In this assortment was some sandwich fillings. Now, I’m not usually one for these shop bought fillings, but I have to say they were absolutely delicious! However, I wouldn’t dream of paying full price for them! I have been experimenting ever since, and this is what I’ve come up with (not rocket science I admit): Continue reading →
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 →