Xmas in September

Yes. I KNOW. It’s September and I am writing about Christmas. To be fair, it’s almost October (not that it makes it any better) and also I started my Christmas shopping at the end of July. Christmas is expensive when you have about a million 20+ people to buy for.

ANYWAY. CHRISTMAS.
It’s 3 months away. But tonight I had a mini Christmas celebration.

Thanks to the lovely PR ladies for Giraffe

They invited myself and some other bloggers and twitter users to sample their new Christmas Menu.

It was delicious. Everything I tried was yummy. There were a few that I couldn’t sample because of my nut allergy, but my accompanying friend Beth tells me that they were tasty.

We arrived and had crackers and cocktails. Cocktails! For this mummy. I KNOW!
A Sleighbellini was my first drink. Gin, Cassis, Cranberry & elderflower topped off with prosecco. It was lush. Too many of those and I would have become a lush!

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The drink shown here was a Cherry Christmas, a non-alcoholic mojito style drink with cherries, apple and mint.

Then some starters; Curried Parsnip Soup, Potted Smoked Salmon & Trout, Goats Cheese, Clementine, Walnut & Cranberry Salad, and Chicken Liver Pate.
I tried everything but the Goats Cheese Salad. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the Salmon & Trout. Too fishy for me. I am not a lover of fish. But I tried it, which will definitely impress The Husband.

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Then Mains! There was Giraffes take on the Turkey dinner, a Turkey Schnitzel. Cauliflower Cheese & Roasted Vegetable crumble. Double roasted duck, and Salmon Saltimbocca.

Again, I tried everything except the Cauliflower Cheese crumble as it contained nuts. It was all delicious. And yep, I did try the salmon. Still don’t like salmon, no matter how it’s prepared or cooked.

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Then, the bet part of the meal (in my opinion!).
DESSERT!
A merry berry sundae, a white chocolate and passion fruit cheese cake and a chocolate tart.
Oh. My. God.
SO GOOD!
Except the sundae, that had nuts, so couldn’t try that one. My waistline thanks me. I think.

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I had a great evening. Great food, great company and thanks to the Giraffe PR ladies, it was all complimentary.
I tweeted the evening and now I’m blogging my appreciation.

Giraffes Christmas menu is reasonably priced, at £17.95 for 2 courses or £20.95 or 3 courses. The Christmas menu is only available for parties of 6 or more.

If you secure your Christmas booking before the end of October then Giraffe will throw in a free glass of bubbly per person with your Christmas meal.
And if you opt to have your Christmas party on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th of December then you will also get 20% off of your food bill!

I had a very enjoyable and memorable evening.
I want to express a big thank you to the PR ladies and Giraffe for the opportunity to taste test their upcoming Christmas menu!

Weaning Adventures

We started the weaning process last week. Getting Emma used to the idea of having other things besides milk.

She was showing 2 and 1/2 of the 3 signs that she was ready for solids, so we tried a bit of mooshed banana. She wasn’t too keen! And well, if I’m honest her diapers the next day were pretty weird. We knew to expect changes when weaning but no one really tells you exactly what to expect!

The 3 signs that your baby is ready to start experimenting with solids are;

1) they can sit up and hold their head steady
2) they can swallow the food you put in to their mouth
3) they can coordinate themselves picking things up and putting them in their mouths

Emma is now showing all 3 signs, so we ordered her a highchair, which I am stupidly excited about!

This morning I tried her on some baby porridge, suitable for 4-6 months.
A lovely creamy banana one.
I just sat her in her chair, and to be honest I was very weary of her making a huge mess, but she didn’t at all!
She had her own spoon which went straight into her mouth and then she polished off the entire bowl!

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Cannot wait to see what else she loves!

Cravings

Not every woman gets cravings during pregnancy. I did. For some really unhealthy stuff. Stuff so bad that my husband flat out refused to buy it for me.

McDonalds French fries and sweet and sour sauce and the pickles in Big Macs and Whopper cheeses.

They were SO good, salty and hot and crispy and full of yummy, but not good for my diet at all.

Thankfully I’m no longer craving them.
Now it’s orange juice and fresh tomatoes. Oh yum. Fresh tomatoes, green ones, red salad ones, beef tomatoes, little orange plum tomatoes, tiger tomatoes, cherry tomatoes. All sliced up, sprinkled with salt and fresh ground pepper, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze and maybe sprinkled with a few basil leaves, and if I’m feeling rich ill slice in some mozzarella.

Quite a healthy craving, for now.

Seeing as I’ve hardly any tomatoes in the fridge, I’ve had to make do with just the one salad tomato. It was still good though.

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Four Weddings Mrs Flams style

This September, the husband and I will have been married for 3 years.  Our wedding was amazing (for us) and all our guests enjoyed themselves immensely. Over the last year I have watched a fair few episodes of Four Weddings. Bitching Brides, Bizarre and Beautiful venues, some great food and some absolutely AWFUL food.  After a while I started recording it on the Sky+ box, so that I can fast-forwarded through all the crap and rubbish bits (and of course the commercial breaks!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then? Then, I came across Four Weddings US. The US version, is SO SO much better than the UK version, even if some of the brides have more money than sense. The Brides are less bitchy, the venues (mostly) are much nicer, and the food is mainly amazing and so there is SO MUCH OF IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the UK, a wedding usually consists of, Ceremony, Meal, Disco, Buffet. In that order. In the US, it’s Ceremony, Cocktail Hour (with Open bar), Meal, Disco, Buffet.

After watching considerable amounts of Four Weddings US, I have decided that I want to have another wedding, however my husband has said no.  Seeing as I’m not allowed to have another wedding, instead, I’m going to lay it all our here. Not that we would EVER be able to afford such an affair anyway! We would invite EVERYONE. The dress code would, of course, be Black Tie.

First there is the Ceremony. Short, Sweet and Simple. 30 minutes tops. Fabulous Dress. 6 Bridesmaids, 2 Flower girls, 1 Ring bearer, 1 Best Man and 5 Ushers. The person conducting the ceremony would be professional but funny. Everyone would cry.

Then Guests would make their way to a fantastic Hotel Ballroom, with sweeping City views, for Cocktail Hour, with an open bar.

There would be waiters in waistcoats taking round glasses of champagne, a signature cocktail, and canapes. The canapes would consist of miniature prawn cocktails in shot glasses, smoked salmon and cream cheese Bellini, Caviar, vol-a-vents, and miniature vegetable tarts.  There would also be hot food buffet stands serving warm dishes such as pastas and warm vegetables, as well as tables covered with cheeses and crackers, fresh fruit and miniature cakes. At cocktail hour there would be a photo booth, and guests would get the chance to sign the guestbook.

 

 

After cocktail hour, guests would make their way into a second ball room, also with sweeping city views, the sun would be setting. The tables would be tastefully decorated, and speeches would be made. After speeches from the Father of the Bride, the Groom, the Best Man and the Maid of Honour, dinner would be served, whilst a small string quartet played music.

A six course meal (really it’s 4, but you’ve got to have palate cleansers between courses right?) Each course would be small and elegant, with guest having a choice of 5 options per course and 3 options per palate cleanser.

Starters – Melon with Parma Ham and a balsamic glaze and mint garnish;

a seafood selection with prawns, smoked salmon, calamari and mussels;

a pâté with a balsamic onion marmalade and brioche toast;

asparagus spears with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce;

a red pepper and tomato soup served with crusty wholemeal bread and butter.
 
Palate Cleanser – Champagne Sorbet, Lemon Sorbet or Mint and Lime Sorbet.

 

Mains – Fillet Steak with a choice of sauce and fresh seasonal vegetables;

Pan Seared Cod on a bed of crushed new potatoes and minted peas;

Breast of Chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and black olives with a dressed green been salad;

Grilled vegetable tart with a rocket salad;

Lobster thermidor with a fresh spinach salad.

 

 

 

Palate Cleanser – Champagne Sorbet, Lemon Sorbet or Mint and Lime Sorbet.

Desserts – crème brûlée with fresh raspberries;

a selection of cheeses with crackers, grapes and quince;

Lemon Tart with fresh raspberries;

a marscapone and fresh strawberry cheesecake;

a chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream.

 

 

Selection of chocolates and fresh coffees and teas.

Finally guests would make their way to the first ballroom, where a live band would play classic Rat Pack and Divas of Jazz. There would be waiters walking round with trays of champagne and the signature cocktail. Then the DJ would play music for everyone to boogy-down into the night to.

A finger buffet would be served with tiny sandwiches, miniature tarts and fresh fruit and cheeses.

 

 

Personally, you wouldn’t even need a wedding to pull off a feast / party like this. Hmmmmm. My 30th birthday is in 18 months. Think I’ve just set in place a great plan.  Now all I need is £45,000.

Anyone care to lend me £45,000, ok, ok, give it to me, because lets face it, it’s highly unlikely that I’d be able to pay you back!

Sausage and Bean Casserole

What you need

 

8 good quality Pork Sausages

1 small chorizo cooking sausage, roughly chopped

800g of chopped tomatoes

800g of cannellini beans (drained)

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large red onion, sliced

1 large white onion, sliced

1 large red pepper deseeded and sliced

2 large chillies deseeded and finely chopped

250g of closed cup white mushrooms, halved

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

What you do

  • Heat a large Casserole dish on the hob and add a good glug of oil.
  • Add your sausages and cook until browned all over.
  • Remove sausages from pan and set to one side.
  • Add the sliced red and white onion and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes and then add the deseeded red pepper, chillies and chorizo.
  • Cook for a further 4-5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and mushrooms and cook through.
  • Once cooked through, season with salt and pepper and add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 25 minutes.
  • Add the sausages and allow to cook on a low heat for about 25 – 35 minutes.
  • Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Serve with Crusty French Baguette and Salted butter.

 

Substitutes – you can use Italian or French Style sausages for this dish.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

What you need

 

1kg of minced beef

1200g of chopped tomatoes

Olive Oil

3 tablespoon of Tomato Puree

250ml of red wine (preferably a nice Italian Chianti)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed and then roughly chopped

2 large onions, roughly sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

400g of closed cup mushrooms, sliced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Dried Oregano and Basil

Salt and Pepper

 

What you do

  • Heat the Olive Oil gently in a deep pan and add the onions and red pepper, cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes, stirring often
  • Add the garlic and the chilli and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
  • Add the tomato puree and stir in thoroughly
  • In another pan add ¼ of the beef and cook on a medium heat until browned
  • Slowly add the rest of the beef ¼ at a time and cook until all browned, add the red wine and allow to cook through
  • Season the beef with salt, pepper and the dried Oregano and Basil
  • Add the mushrooms to the onion and peppers, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add the 1200g of chopped tomatoes to the beef and stir in thoroughly
  • Add the onion, pepper and mushrooms to the beef, and stir well
  • Allow to cook for another 30 minutes
  • In another pan bring some salted water to the boil and add enough spaghetti for 6 people

 

Serve with hot garlic bread and a good glass of Chianti!

 

serves 6

Toffee Apple Crumble

What you need

  • 4 large Bramley Apples
  • 150g of unsalted butter
  • 100g of Demerara sugar
  • 100g of caster sugar

 

  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar (for crumble)
  • 100g of unsalted butter (for crumble)
  • 100g of muesli
  • 100g of rolled porridge oats

 

What to do

  • Mix the 100g of butter with the 150g of plain flour with your hands.
  • Once well mixed, add the sugar, muesli and porridge oats.   Mix well and set to one side.
  • Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks.
  • In a deep pan melt the 150g of butter, add the 100g of Demerara sugar and the 100g of caster sugar and bring to a bubble.
  • Add the apples and cook for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Pour into a deep dish, cover with the crumble mix and cook in the oven for 35 minutes on gas mark 6/180C.

Chilli!

What you need

 

1kg of minced beef

1200g of chopped tomatoes

800g of red kidney beans (drained)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed and then roughly chopped

2 large onions, roughly sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 whole red chillies, finely chopped

2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder

1 teaspoon of paprika

½ teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Olive Oil

1 tablespoon of Tomato Puree

2 teaspoons of West Indian hot sauce

Salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste

Chopped fresh red chilli and sour cream to garnish when served.

 

What you do

  • In 1 deep saucepan, gently heat the olive oil and add the onions and red pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes on a low heat until soft.
  • Add in your dry spices and allow to cook through for about 3-4 minutes.
  • In a large casserole dish (hob proof) heat some olive oil and add ¼ of the beef.  Allow to cook and then slowly add the rest of the beef.  Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
  • Add the garlic and red chillies to the pan that contains the onions.  Allow to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the tomato puree to the onions and peppers and then stir in 400g of chopped tomatoes and the hot sauce, and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat.
  • Add the remaining 800g of chopped tomatoes to the beef and stir well.
  • Let the beef cook for about 15 minutes, then add the onion and pepper mix to it.
  • Cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the 800g of kidney beans.
  • Cook for another 30 minutes and add any further seasoning to your taste
  • Serve with plain white rice, and the chopped fresh red chillies and sour cream

 

Despite the amount of chillies used, this isn’t very spicy.  If you prefer your chilli spicy then I’d recommend using a chilli with a higher Scoville rating or just add more chilli.

 

serves 6

Mama Kats Prompts – Resolutions

5.) Okay okay I have to ask…what are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 and/or how did 2011′s resolutions turn out?

Once again I find myself posting based on a prompt from Mamakatslosinit. This weeks it’s about resolutions (prompt 5).

I was going to choose prompt 4, which was about having your significant others family over for dinner in 2 hours, what can you make with what you’ve got in your kitchen, however thinking about what I have I probably couldn’t make something amazing and there’s no point in half baked ideas. (ha ha get it?)

A-hem!
Anyway.

I ALWAYS used to make resolutions. And I ALWAYS used to fail/give up/just not bother with them. So I stopped.

I can’t remember the last time I set myself a New Years resolution.

To be honest, I don’t even really have goals, which let’s face it, when you really think of it that’s what a resolution is. Goals to do something, change something, goals to start something or to break a habit.

I guess if I really thought about it then I’d have to say that my resolution for 2012 is to exercise more. Maybe tone up and slim down a dress size.

But we’ll see.
If I call it a goal or resolution and I don’t achieve it then I’ll be disappointed.

So maybe I’ll stick with not having a resolution, that way I can’t be disappointed.

If it happens it happens.

Happy 2012 all!