Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

One reason that I love to bake is the effect is has on bringing us all together. Place a baked good in the centre of a group of people and it suddenly becomes a focal point. Whether it is the biscuit tin in the office that we are crowding round during a coffee break or standing around a cake to sing Happy Birthday to the recipient, food has a way of connecting us all to each other.

This is one of the reasons I love the concept behind the Clandestine Cake Club. Cake is the core of this organisation and through the simple act of baking strangers are drawn together and friendships are made.

Aside from CCC, whenever I catch up with friends or family I have been gained a reputation as the one who always bakes something. Whether it's visiting a friend's house for coffee, being invited for dinner or heading in to work on a Monday morning, I can often be seen armed with a tupperware tub full of baked goodies.

I love to bake (the name of the blog kind of gives it away haha!) but what I love even more is baking something that I can pass on to another person to enjoy. Yes, I love to tuck into a gooey brownie as much as you do but I love it even more to pass on that box of brownies to those that I love. I don't do it in the hope of fishing for compliments, I do it because I know it brings joy to so many people, well apart from those on a diet.... still haven't mastered the fat free cake yet...

Anyway... I digress... so this weekend we popped over to see Mr T's brother, Fiance and their two boys. I suddenly had a notion that I wanted to bake something to bring with us but the cupboards were looking a bit bare of sweet things. Honestly, starting weaning has really made us cut back on the naughty treats. I did spot some porridge oats in the cupboard and raisins in another so immediately I knew I needed to bake some oatmeal and raisin cookies.

They are healthy-ish (I say that very loosely) but surely the addition of raisins rather that chocolate chips is a good thing??

The bonus of this recipe is that it makes a lot of cookies providing you with ample treats to share but the negative is they are oh so moreish! I'm not even going to count the amount myself and Mr T have consumed today. Calories don't count on a weekend right?

I took the recipe from Jo Wheatley's Home Baking. The only things I adjusted were the removal of the pecans (I hate nuts!) and the cooking time. My brother-in-law reckons these are the nicest cookies he's ever had and although they are seriously scrummy I'm not sure I would go that far.

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies
170g unsalted butter 
320g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp sunflower oil
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
150g porridge oats
150g raisins
  • Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)
  • Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  • Add the egg and oil 
  • Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon
  • Fold in the oats and raisins
  • Roll the cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place on to a lined baking tray well spaced apart
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden but still slightly soft
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool

This post has been written in collaboration with The Big Lunch and their "Power of Food" campaign.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Dear Ethan - 6 months

Dear Ethan...

How can you be six months old already? It hardly feels like any time has passed since I wrote you your 3 Month Letter but at the same time it feels like it's been ages.

I feel like these past few months you have reached a lot of development milestones including:

Rolling Over
For some reason you can only roll from back to front and prefer rolling from right to left although you can roll from left to right if something catches your eye. You get a bit frustrated if you are on your front for too long but this leads me on to your next new skill...

Once you are on your tummy (and on your back too) you can shuffle around. You can't get very far but if I pop you in our bed or in your cot you can do a full 180.

Sitting Up
In the past month you have suddenly mastered sitting up. For a few weeks you could sit up for 5-10 seconds but had to be leaning quite far forward then one day the NCT mums and babies were over for a playdate and once you saw Lily sitting something just clicked and you mastered it there and then. From that point you have got stronger and stronger and can now happily sit for ages without any help. I still scatter a few cushions behind you though just in case you fall backwards.

Your Voice
Oh my, have you found your voice or what? We have went from a few oohs to screeching, yelling, blowing raspberries and giggling. You don't have a full on belly laugh but you let out this weird half yell half giggle sound with a giant smile on your face, it's so adorable. And speaking of smiling, you really are the smiliest baby boy we know. Your adore smiling at people and every one you see, whether family, friends or randomers when we are out and about, they all comment on how smiley you are - our little ray of sunshine.

In so many ways you really are perfect but our one negative is sleep. You nap for no more than 30 minutes at a time (I think I can count on one hand the days you have napped for longer than that in the past 3 months and still have spare fingers) which is quite frustrating. Sometimes you wake up smiley but other times it's obvious you are still tired but no amount of boobing, rocking or cuddling will get you back to sleep. No matter how early I put you down for a nap it can often take 20-30 minutes to get you to go over and then 30 minutes later you are awake again. You seem to sense when the car or pram stops too if you are napping and waken as soon as we arrive at our destination. 

As for night time sleeping we have good and bad days. I'm still waiting on you sleeping through - one day eh? You tend to go down any time between 6:30 an 7:30, then often wake half an hour later for a quick top up feed and from then you tend to wake up at 10:30, 1:30 and 6/7am so not too bad. When we have a bad night I just bring you in to bed with us, it's much easier. The only downside is you have discovered how to pull on Daddy's chest hairs which is not a nice way to wake up!

Speaking of Daddy, it's been amazing to have him off these past 6 weeks on school holidays and watch your bond grow and develop. You are a total Daddy's boy and if he walks into the room you immediately stop what you are doing to give him the biggest smile and you start shaking in anticipation of getting a cuddle or better still, making dinosaur noises. It seems to be your new favourite thing to do with him.

Food wise we have just started weaning. Initially I wanted to wait until exactly 6 months and do pure Baby Led Weaning but we noticed over the past few weeks you were very interested in food so we started weaning last week, during the last week of the holidays while Daddy was around. We've offered you the odd pouch but you aren't keen on purees or spoon feeding, you would rather do it yourself. It's fun to watch you eat solid foods but nerve wrecking too every time we see you gag. So far you aren't doing too bad. You love meat especially steak and chicken but breakfast is still a battle. I'm sure we will get there in time though, I just have to trust you and follow your lead.

You're no longer that teeny tiny baby, at 16lb 13oz you have almost doubled your birth weight and are still a total boobie monster. When I look at your chubby thighs and those baby creases I feel so proud that my milk has done that. Initially I felt emotional watching you eat solids and seeing you find nutrition in other food sources but at the same time I'm pleased to have got this far and it's nice that other people (Daddy especially) can now take part in feeding you too.

You interact with all of your little baby friends so well now. We see the NCT babies every Tuesday and our Twitter group on a Wednesday. When you see them you give them your best smile and you love to sit with them and fight over toys (or suck toes, weird boy!). I also take you to Baby Sensory and Burley Babies. Initially we tried a bit of Rhythm Time which you really liked but once we tried Baby Sensory we were both hooked. I have never seen anything grab your attention the way it does (well apart from Postman Pat) and I'm so pleased we decided to enrol you on the course.

We've also done quite a bit of travelling these past 3 months. There have been 2 trips back to Ireland, a weekend in Liverpool, a trip to Birmingham and Banbury to see Georgie and co and a lovely day trip to Scarborough to round off the holidays. You are pretty good in the car but can get grizzly if you have been in it for too long. Considering you are only 6 months old you really are very well traveled!

I feel the need to stop the letter here and stop my rambling. It's been an amazing 6 months watching you grow from that teeny newborn to a little chunk that lights up our life every single day (even with those sleepless nights). You really are the best thing we have ever made.

Love you always,

Mummy xxx

Toe sucking, your new favourite thing!
Snuggles in our bed when you were no longer happy in your Snuzpod as you wanted to sleep on your side
Testing out your new cot

You love love love your jumperoo!

Granny and Granda
With your crazy Uncles

Ollie and Finn adore you!

My favourite photo from this summer

You love kicking us in bed!

First trip to the seaside

Our happy smiley boy

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Malteser Bundt

Malteser Bundt... two of my favourite things combined together to make something quite magical. I'm not even going to pretend I came up with the idea for this cake as let's be honest, the best Bundt ideas always come from the lady herself... Dollybakes.

It's a delicious cake and one I've been meaning to make for a long time. Also, these chocolate bar spreads are genius! Just a quick zap in the microwave to soften it slightly and you have a ready made topping. Now usually I prefer to do all baking from scratch but since the little man arrived I do have to cut corners on occasion and this is a perfect shortcut. 

I decided to make this cake for one of our NCT meet-ups and it was a great hit with all the girls. If anything I'm wishing I had bought two jars of the spread then one could be served warm to be poured over the cake - yummm!

I could go on and on about this cake but I'll let the pictures do the talking. If you wish to make this then check out Dollybake's blog. She's got some truly fantastic recipes on there but I will not be held responsible if you succumb to the Bundt tin addiction!