On Monday evening, when the kids got home from school, we got to work on a mass baking sess! It was super nuts and VERY messy, but it was also important to us to show appreciation for those who live around us and thank them for welcoming us into our new life. We decided that we wanted to bake them some treats and drop them off with a card and say “Thank you” and that we think they’re great and despite the madness it was a lovely and fun evening together.

I am not the best baker, and these were not the best treats, in fact I felt a little awkward giving them to people as they didn’t go as great as I had originally hoped. But they were edible, looked pretty and were very graciously received. They made everyone’s night (including ours)!

Amongst them were ginger biscuits, and my favourite thing to bake “Peanut butter cookies!”. I have made them twice in this last week; once on Monday for the neighbours, and again at the weekend for my Nephews birthday! I love them because they are tasty, simple, quick to do, and look great! So if you think you might like to give them a go then here they are.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Why not give them a go for a tasty treat one evening with hot chocs. Or as a little treat for friends or neighbours! Its a great (and very simple) way to spread Christmas cheer!

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Last year my parents bought us a juicer for Christmas. It was something I wanted and was very excited for to boost our vitamin intake and generally be a little healthier. Whilst I still have a tonne of juice combos I want to test out, so far it has become something we use very regularly and something the kids especially love to help with!
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One thing that did concern me however quite early on, was the amount of waste. I am more than happy to buy my fruits and Veggies from markets, and often Aldi, which keep the cost low, but to think of all that was being thrown away was a hard pill to swallow and I literally felt I was chucking money away. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use this “waste” and incorporate it into our cooking so that we were buying less veg and not wasting food!

So here is one of my recipes to use up the pulp after juicing and add more goodness to your meals.
Hearty Life

Veggie lasagne – it is one of our family faves, and If your kids don’t like veggies, this is also an excellent way to disguise them in food. I always start by juicing the veg 1st, so use whatever you fancy. In this one I used spinach, courgette and carrots. I then set that aside out of the “bin” from the juicer before adding my fruits!
WP_20160111_11_28_25_ProNext I diced onion and peppers and fried them up with olive oil and crushed garlic.
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Next I added the pulp from the juicer and dried mixed herbs, a little garlic salt and black pepper.
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Because I was making a large family sized one I then used about 6 tins of chopped tomatoes and allowed it all to simmer before layering it up as normal. The carrots give it a natural sweetness and I am always quite heavy with garlic because I like the taste in a lasagne! I then top with a home made white sauce (costs pennies).

And more than enough cheese.
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And voila – A healthy family dinner made from something that would have been tossed away! And on this particular night, Ethan had 3 helpings and it did us 2 meals because I had cooked in bulk! LOVE IT!!!
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Other recipes I have tried using pulp have been bolognese sauce, savoury muffins and curry. The curry especially has a wonderful texture! And I think its going to be great for home made baby food come the weaning stages!

Have you ever used the pulp in cooking to save money and avoid waste? 

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A few weeks ago we were asked by Duerr’s to take up the challenge of creating something using their Chunky Ginger preserve, which is a great product for this Autumnal season, as its warm flavours are perfect for blowing away the cobwebs and kick-starting the immune system as the cold season is will and truly here!
WP_20151013_14_48_26_ProHalf of my family is ginger, so its something I am used to and love, but it isn’t something I tend to keep in stock at home or regularly use. I was however very intrigued by this “Jam” and my initial thought was to use it somehow in a curry and then also in a dessert too. That was as far as I got with my ideas, so accepted the challenge and then decided to come up with the logistics of it all once it arrived.

I decided that Yes I would make a curry with it and also use it on Ethan’s Birthday cake as he had asked for a lemon sponge, and to me Lemon and ginger seemed a delightful combo!

Firstly The Curry: 
I love to make curries and as this week was “National curry week” (who’d have thought) it was the perfect excuse to give it a go. Both Nathan and the kids dislike spicy foods, so I have to choose wisely when cooking and will always push the boundaries on how much spice I can get away with. I chose a Korma and gave it my own twist – and it was divine!

We are very lucky living here in West Yorkshire to have asian food stores all over and so spices are very easy and cheap to come across.

Ingredients:
WP_20151013_16_18_11_ProShan Korma mix, Natural Yoghurt, One onion, Meat of choice, Garlic and Duerr’s chunky ginger preserve. Optional – Spinach and Corriander

1. In a bowl combine 2 table spoons of the Preserve, Shan packet and garlic (I used powder as didn’t have fresh)
WP_20151013_16_23_39_Pro2. Marinade the meat in it and set aside.
3. Heat oil and cook diced onions
WP_20151013_16_26_19_Pro4. Once cooked add to natural yoghurt and add the meat to the remaining oil to stir fry off
WP_20151013_16_33_34_Pro5. This is where I added shredded spinach and corriander
WP_20151013_16_35_52_Pro6. finally add the onion and yoghurt mixture and leave to simmer. SMELLS AMAZING
7. Serve with rice or Naan and enjoy
InstagramCapture_aa262ac5-28ce-48b9-bd08-7ea30adeb0caThis tasted as good as take out only it made your body feel 10x better. The preserve gave it a deliciously sweet taste and the ginger was very evident along with the other spices. I was amazed how well it turned out and will definitely use it in a lentil curry I like to make too with a tomato base and garam masala seasoning.

Next – Ethans Lemon and Ginger Birthday cake
Ethan was very specific on wanting a Spiderman cake with lemon sponge for his birthday this year and so I had the idea to do a sandwich style with a lemon butter cream filling and Duerr’s chunky ginger preserve. I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to give it a go on their birthdays at the very least.

1. I made and baked 2 lemon sponges
WP_20151013_16_04_50_Pro2. Once cooled I spread the Ginger preserve on one cake and added lemon butter-cream before adding the top cake.
WP_20151013_17_14_46_Pro3. I shockingly attempted to decorate it with a Spiderman theme
WP_20151013_17_38_12_ProDespite looking like a 5 year old had made this himself, the cake inside was delicious. The zest of the lemons with the kick of the ginger was gorgeous. It was such a tasty combo and a refreshing change to the ordinary jams that I would usually have used, and lets face it, its what’s on the inside that counts – right?

There is no denying the gingery-ness of this preserve, it is full of flavour but not over powering or “spicy” like you perhaps would expect. Of course ginger isn’t to everyone’s taste, but we were VERY impressed by it and its another ginger were loving! Not only have we used it in baking and cooking, but Mr Smith has thoroughly enjoyed eating it on toast too and finds it delicious. Its such a seasonal taste, warming and very yummy indeed…grab a jar and see what you can create and enjoy with some ginger in your life (its almost like ginger beer in a jar)!

Disclaimer: Duerr’s sent us a complimentary jar of their chunky ginger preserve to see what we could create. All thoughts, opinions and pictures are my own. 

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Since becoming a mother and being at home almost full time, my desire to be able to sew has increased significantly. I learn’t to sew/use a sewing machine whilst in high school and I remember my mum doing a little bit here and there and letting us use her sewing machine for the occasional up-cycle project as a teen. My memory tells me I did pretty well with it which is evident by “A” for textiles! As with many things we learn at school you smash it in an exam and then think that we will never really need it again or rather want to use it. I seriously never imagined that as I married and had kids that I would want to be making personal home furnishings, costumes and clothing for them. Teenage me would never have wanted to go fabric shopping and design lovely things for the fam, let alone enjoy doing it too. Isn’t it funny how life experiences change us and our interests move into new realms?!

Earlier this year some local ladies posted on the community FB wall enquiring about whether there were any local and reasonable sewing classes. Whilst I have made the odd baby quilt and for Megs the odd skirt I have REALLY wanted to improve my skills and learn (or rather be reminded of) how to use my sewing machine. For a while I have seen lovely fabrics and even bought some but never had the confidence to attempt anything. I was just as eager as everyone else and after we were able to find a teacher the “Take a break” sewing group was born! We meet every fortnight for 3 hrs on a Saturday where we receive instruction and a helping hand from our lovely and VERY patient teacher. Together we create – sometimes chaos mostly usable fabric things and always a mess! I really love this group and look forward to it – I love to chat and laugh with the other ladies  as we attempt to become domestic goddesses. I love to create and see the finished products and I am really getting into refining and improving my sewing skills. This group has become an ordinary part of every other Saturday but I just love it. Everyone is so nice, we share some sweet baked goods, have some fun and make some lovely things, we often justify our mistakes with things like “well the pattern was bigger than I wanted anyway” or “It was just a practice”…its fun but Im sure at times our teacher wants to tear her hair out with us all!
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So far I have made a tote bag, Cushion cover and currently battling with some bias binding on a quilted cosmetic purse (that im not interested in anyway hahahaha #justification) Sewing is becoming my new mummy hobby that I love. I already have fabric to make a dress for Megs, blind for the landing, cushion covers and a gift for someone. I want to make both kids some shorts for the summer and PJ’s and I want to make lovely things for people for Christmas. I can actually see as I complete each project how these goals are quite within my reach now, I love that I can make things to my taste and that are so cheap compared to buying them.

I look forward to my next sess to see what I can crack out!
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