Saturday, March 28, 2015

Double Spud Topped Cottage Pie

This week has been a flipping disaster.  Firstly, poor Sandie the fluffy dog ended up at the vets where we found out she has an ulcer on her cornea.  The poor little mush is not a happy dog at all with eyedrops being administered by Little Sis and Lulu forming a two man headlock team every few hours and painkillers hidden in pieces of chicken.  She's feeling very sorry for herself indeed.  Then the next day, I hurt my eye.  Nothing major, I thought.  Just whip out the contacts, stick on the (hated) specs for a day and all will be well. Eh, no.  A visit to the chemist turned into an immediate visit to the GP which transformed into a "get to Casualty in the Eye and Ear hospital.  Now".  After having my eyelid turned inside out twice - as gruesome as it sounds - and dye drops into my eye, I also have an ulcer on my cornea.  Nice.

So this means no driving for a week, lots of eyedrops every few hours, avoiding bright light, splitting headaches and rummaging through the freezer for dinner as quite frankly, I'm not in the humour to cook.  This is the time I'm grateful for batch cooking because I unearthed two portions of special cottage pie that I froze before Christmas.  In foil dishes too, so no washing up necessary.  In fact, had I been alone, I possibly would have eaten it straight from the container.  But decorum called for a plate, extra veggies and cutlery.  Can't let standards slip just because I'm like One Eyed Jack.  This makes 4-5 decent portions which you can eat straight away or freeze for up to 6 months.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Protecting Your Financial Future

Something that has only dawned on me with wisdom is the importance of protecting our financial future.  When I started working, I was paid an absolute pittance but managed to have a pretty decent life with my meagre earnings.  Of course it was because I was spending every penny and not saving anything at all. As I got older and started thinking about buying a house, my financial behaviour had to change enormously to make this happen.  Loans had to be cleared, credit card balances paid off and a lovely healthy credit rating established.  It took time and a second job in the evening at one stage, but I eventually got there.  A bit like Monica Galetti from Masterchef who had some pretty tricky financial issues when she first moved to London.

Monica Galetti talks about becoming a chef

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cherry Amaretti Muffins

During the summer, I buy cherries when they're in season and cheap and spend a happy half hour pitting them before eating some and freezing the rest for baking later in the year.  One of the best investments I've ever made is a cherry pitter which makes short shrift of taking the stones out of the cherries without mangling the delicate fruit.  According to The Hubs, it sounds like a machine gun as I "phut phut" my way through a few punnets but it makes life so much easier and for a tenner, it's definitely worth the investment.

This is a great recipe when you've forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge but want to bake something lovely - buttermilk and oil work together to create a really moist muffin, while cherries straight from the freezer and a handful of amaretti biscuits from the cupboard bring flavour and crunch to a regular run of the mill bake.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marvellous Ideas for Mother's Day

What do you mean, you've forgotten?  Mother's Day is this Sunday, March 15th and I've a list of lovely things which would make perfect gifts for your Mum.  Actually, it's also Little Sis's birthday so Lulu was planning to consolidate the two events into Happy Mother's Birthday but I think I've persuaded her that she needs to make two cards instead of just the one!

Mother's Day at Marks and Spencer

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day

Friday 13th doesn't all have to be doom and gloom, especially this year, when it's time to get your bake on for Red Nose Day.  I picked up a great cupcake kit in Sainsburys last week for £2.50, with half of the proceeds going directly to Comic Relief who fund thousands of projects helping millions of people worldwide. There's nothing more appropriate for a cupcake than a Red Velvet Sponge and I ramped it up by adding some Raspberry flavouring to my basic cake batter for a moist chocolate raspberry sponge with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream icing. Lucy has volunteered to eat all of the cupcakes herself and she might even donate some pocket money too.  She's a generous soul...

So, are you planning to bake cakes or make your face funny for money?  Tell me all about it!

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day