Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Cinnamon and Banana Bread

It is no secret that I am mad for cinnamon, I am instantly pulled to any food that contains it.

So when I set out to make banana bread last week the thought struck me to adapt my recipe with some cinnamon and make it like my Snickerdoodle Slice. Why hadn't I done this before!

Here's how I made it:
250g strong white flour
100g light brown sugar
60g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup sour cream (or natural yoghurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon sugar - 2 tbsp granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon mixed together

Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan assisted. Grease the inside of a 9inch x 5inch loaf tin and set aside.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until well blended.   Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition. With a wooden spoon stir in the sour cream, vanilla extract and mashed bananas. Slowly stir in the contents of the medium bowl. Don't overmix. Mixture will be thick.
Spoon half the mixture into the loaf tin. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar and cover it with the remaining mixture.
Place into the centre of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a skewer through the middle come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack. I topped with a drizzle of glace icing (warm water and icing sugar) but it is completely optional.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

My Sunday Photo - 20/04/14

Taken at Whin Park, Inverness this is the boys first time on a miniature train. It only went 2MPH so don't know why Daddy LittleHands looks so worried.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Our 24 Hour Family Holiday

We always try and go somewhere at holiday times, doesn't have to be too far, to give the boys something memorable.
As Daddy LittleHands was unable to take extra days off this Easter their Grandparents had suggested the boys could spend a few days with them at their holiday caravan in Morayshire.
With it only being two and a half hours away we agreed that we would take them down on the Tuesday, spend the night with them, and Daddy LittleHands and I would come home after lunch on Wednesday. (his days off)
It was great, we managed to go to a local park on the Tuesday and a different park on the Wednesday before we left them. Both were huge and had numerous swings, slides, climbing frames/features, duck ponds and zip lines. One even had a miniature railway and rowing boats.The biggest play area we have within 100 miles of home consists of 4 swings, a slide and  a roundabout so the boys were delighted.
It may have only been 24 hours but on Wednesday we left them knowing that we managed to do something with them, and knowing that the next few days their Grandparents had planned picnics, forest walks, an Easter egg hunt and more play parks to amuse them.

Saturday, 12 April 2014


I love making different breads and rolls but for some reason it took me a long time to attempt Ciabatta bread. This recipe is so easy, and has never failed me.

3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2tsp active dry Yeast
1/4 cup Milk - warm
1 1/2 cups Water - warm
3/4 tsp sugar
Olive oil - for lining the bowl and clingfilm

In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Make a well in the middle and gradually mix in the water/milk mixture until well combined.
Lightly flour your worktop, tip out your dough and knead for 5 minutes, trying to put as many air bubbles into the dough as possible.
Oil the inside of a large bowl and place your dough inside. Oil a piece of clingfilm and cover the bowl with it. (Oiled side on the inside) Cover with a dish towel and leave to rise for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lightly sprinkle with flour.
Place dough onto lightly floured surface and gently shape into a rectangular shape (approx 12in long x 4in wide). This should only take a couple of movements, you don't want to knock the air out of the dough.
Place the shaped dough onto the floured baking tray and bake for 35-40 minutes, until it is golden and when you tap the top it sounds hollow.
Leave to cool down on a wire tray.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Being a Big Brother

We have two boys, 6 and 3, and although we would love to say that we have treated them as equal it would be a lie.
What we can honestly say is that we have treated them as individuals.
It is impossible to expect a toddler to act, and understand, the same as a 4 year old. As well as this they have completely different personalities and natures. (hence their blog names Chalk and Cheese)

Chalk was a month off turning 3 when he became a big brother and I can truthfully say he has been absolutely fantastic so far. He has a sensitive and considerate soul which has helped him understand why he sometimes had to wait until I changed Cheese's nappy before I helped him build towers and why his tower would be constantly and repeatedly knocked down by little hands.
Of course we have tried to ensure that Chalk has never felt overlooked and gets to do 'big boy' things that his brother isn't able to i.e. going to the cinema with Daddy.

But now that Cheese is 3 they are both more than capable and there is no longer an age/understanding issue. Yet Cheese is still getting away with things, not by us though but by Chalk!
With Chalk spending half his life making allowances for his brother Cheese has now taken advantage of this knowledge and is definitely the dominant one.  Chalk will fetch things for his little brother, give up his seat, back down in an argument and give him his toys. Does not matter how much we tell Chalk that he doesn't have to it is now imprinted in his daily functions.
Don't get me wrong, I would much prefer this sibling relationship to them hating and resenting each other. Maybe Chalk will wake up one day and say enough is enough, but I doubt it.
For now Cheese has a loving big brother (and personal skivvy) and Chalk has developed the strong caring bond with his sibling that he should be proud of.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Tuna Lasagne - slow cooker recipe

I love using my slow cooker, but find that a lot of the meals I make in it are 'wintery' meals. So with the weather getting better (and the family sick of stews!) I started to make this tuna lasagne again. It's a great way to get the boys eating fish (and the sneaky mushrooms)

Serves 6
2 1/2oz / 5 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4oz mushrooms, finely chopped
40g / 1 1/2oz plain flour
150ml / 1/4pint double cream
600ml / 1pint milk
2 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
2 x 200g cans tuna
115g / 4oz mozzarella cheese, grated
8 - 12 sheets lasagne
25g / 1oz grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to season

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of your ceramic cooker with butter.
In a large pan melt 1oz butter on a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, cook gently for 5 mins until onions are soft. Tip veg into a bowl and leave to the side.
Melt the rest of the butter, 1 1/2oz, in the pan and then stir in the flour for a minute. Take off the heat and gradually blend in the milk and cream. Put back on the heat and stir until the mix bubbles and thickens. Stir in the parsley and season.
Put 1/2pint of the sauce into a jug or small bowl then stir in the mushroom mix to the pan with the remaining sauce.
Drain tuna and place in a medium sized bowl. Flake the tuna up with a fork, then gently stir in the mozzarella and season.
Spoon a thin layer of the mushroom sauce onto the bottom of your slow cooker. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets (should be 2 -3 sheets broken to fit). Sprinkle half the tuna mix followed with half the mushroom mix and then another layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat, finishing with a layer of lasagne sheets. Pour over the reserved white sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Put the lid on the slow cooker, set it to low, and leave for 2 hours (or until the sheets are tender).

Link up your recipe of the week

Friday, 21 March 2014

Word of the Week - Academic

Although most weeks revolve around school/nursery (either going to, picking up from, homework, uniform and packed lunches) this week has mainly been dominated by school events and has taken up most nightly conversations.
To start the week Chalks class went to their school hall and met a real life Astronaut and was very impressed by the photos he had brought to show them. On Monday Cheese also left the classroom as his nursery visited the towns library.
This is also Science Festival week so on Tuesday and Wednesday Chalk had a bus ride to another local school to listen to two different science based lessons. One was on oxygen and the other was the science of the circus. Wednesday night was also Chalks after school club.
Yesterday Cheese had his enrolment form for pre-school nursery sent home. This term his class is learning about growth so the pea plant that he planted at nursery was sent home (hopefully we wont kill it now!) along with a letter requesting a baby and current photo are to be taken into class.

So we are on the Friday of a long week and Chalk still has to do a project over the weekend and Cheese was put to nursery with two freshly printed photos and a completed enrolment form with birth certificate.

Yes I am counting down - only two weeks till Easter holidays!

And after Chalks science based week the one fact that he has learnt and thinks is most awesome is - "did you know we have hairs in our nose?!".

The Reading Residence