Thursday, 19 January 2017

Key Lime Pie

What a week we have had!

Last Tuesday as I was leaving work I got a phone call from nursery asking me to collect Ethan as he had had 3 loose nappies and procedure is that they aren't allowed in for the next 48 hours. Now this is tough for us as we don't really have much family nearby that we can call on for help so we both ended up taking a day off work to look after the little man. Thankfully he was happy in himself but oh my, it felt like we were keeping Pampers in business with all of the nappy changes! His poor bum though looked so painful but still, he kept smiling.

Then Saturday rolls around as I went to change Ethan's nappy when he woke I noticed a pin prick rash all over his torso. We did the usual tumbler test and checked his temperature both of which were fine. I phoned 111 and they suspected Chicken Pox as I said it was doing the rounds at nursery. I wanted to believe it was pox but I had this niggling doubt that it wasn't so come Monday I took him to the doctors where they diagnosed a viral rash. 

Nursery were happy to have him back as the GP said it wasn't contagious and I was so relieved that I didn't have to take any more time off work. Now, I would love to not work and be a SAHM but needs must and I don't want to use up all of my annual leave on sick days, I want them to be for holidays and family time.

So Mr T drops Ethan off at nursery on Tuesday morning and an hour later I see their number flash up on my phone screen and all I could think was "please don't be ill." Ethan's key worked said they had noticed some blisters on his finger tips and wondered was it Hand, Foot and Mouth as it was also doing the rounds. Thankfully they said he could stay and they would keep an eye on him. So far it hasn't got any worse and the rash on his body has calmed down but oh my, what a week it was!

In other news.... here's a fantastic quick and easy recipe for a Key Lime Pie that I took from my Nigella Kitchen book. I fiddled with it slightly but it's seriously tasty. As soon as I made it I knew I had to make some other versions of it but keeping the core ingredients the same. I actually made a chocolate version of it at the weekend just to cheer us up so I'll share that with you later this week. I'm already thinking I could make a lemon version swapping the lemon for lime and drizzling in some lemon curd or what about a raspberry and white chocolate one come summer? Yummy!

Anyway... recipe! This is honestly so easy to make. Just whizz up some biscuits and butter, whisk up the wet ingredients and boom - a delicious dessert perfect for any occasion. No baking required, all it needs is a few hours in the fridge to set.

Nigella's Key Lime Pie
300g chocolate digestives
1 tbsp cocoa
50g soft unsalted butter
1 x tin condensed milk
150ml lime juice
300ml double cream

To decorate
zest of one lime
1 square of dark chocolate grated

1 x 23cm fluted tart tin
  • Pop the biscuits, cocoa and butter in a food processor and whizz until it's a sandy consistency
  • Press into the tart tin taking care to push up the sides and make sure there are no holes in the base
  • Pop in the fridge to firm up
  • Whisk the condensed milk and lime juice and once combined add the double cream
  • Keep whisking until smooth and thick
  • Pour into the tart tin and using the back of the spoon to create a soft swirled effect
  • Pop into the fridge for 4 hour to set
  • Before serving scatter over the lime zest and grated chocolate

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Meal Planning Monday (on a Tuesday!)

The adjustment to being a working mum is hard going and I’ve only been back at work a week. I miss my boy like crazy and today is especially hard. Life now is all about planning –  clothes, food, pick up, drop off, baking (I wish!), Ethan time, couple time and maybe even time for me at the end of it all.

I’m trying to be organised with our meals, I’ve worked hard to shift the baby weight and I’m now smaller than I was before I got pregnant and I’m determined to keep it off. This means meal planning and sticking to it. No logging on to Just Eat, no frozen pizzas or microwave meals; I love to cook and it’s important for our health (and our purse) that we eat properly.

Thankfully Ethan has his dinner at nursery so I don't need to worry about feeding him when we get home from work, we can just have some quality family time together before he goes to bed.

When we moved we bought a chest freezer and a slow cooker (hello more space!) and I’m determined to use them to their full advantage. Whether I’m batch cooking so there’s always something to hand in the freezer or prepping the veg for the slow cooker to go on in the morning, it’s important to be organised and stick to our meal planning.

Mr T has a very stressful job (he’s head of faculty at a secondary school) and often has work to do on an evening after he gets in so cooking does fall on my shoulders. Thankfully he’s not a fussy eater so it makes meal planning a lot easier – he just eats whatever I put in front of him.

I’m hoping we can stick to the meal plans and not waiver too much. I fully expect the odd takeaway to be ordered but my intentions are good so time will tell how good we can be.

This week we are eating…

Monday – Curried Gammon fried rice (using up the leftover gammon from Sunday)
Tuesday – slow cooker Spag Bol
Wednesday – Beef Stew
Thursday – leftovers for me as Mr T has a parents evening
Friday – Mayflower Curry
Saturday – I’m out with the girls so takeaway or steak for Mr T
Sunday - Roast

Any of you working mamas – if you have any tips and advice on meal planning, getting organised on an evening and how to juggle work and motherhood please do let me know.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Festive Pavlova (and a return to work...)

We made it! This week marked the end of maternity leave and going back to work. I'll be honest, I was dreading it but actually the fear was much worse than the reality. I didn't want to go back, I didn't want to put Ethan in nursery and I didn't want things to change. I loved going to baby groups, catching up with friends and most of all, spending time with my boy but as we all know, all good things must come to an end.

Tuesday was really hard. I got up at 6am, got myself ready and woke Ethan at 6:45am. I gave him a milk feed, got him dressed and Mr T   left at 7:15am to dropp him off at nursery on his way to work. I work in Bradford and I need to be there for 8am so there is no way I would make it in time so we decided to choose a nursery close to Mr T's school then I can do pick up on an evening. I had a little cry in the car when they left and spent the whole day thinking about Ethan while clock watching until 4:30pm when I knew I could leave the office and pick him up.

Thankfully he has settled really well at nursery. There have been no tears and he was just a little clingy on Tuesday wanting lots of one on one attention. He's such a cuddly boy who loves to be held so the nursery staff have said they have happily obliged as the love babies who love cuddles.

Work wise for me I've slipped right back in to things like I had never left. My role has changed slightly with a bit more responsibility but I'll now be working 4 days rather than 5. I only wanted to work 3 but since we bought the house and have a large mortgage for the next 2 years due to a 5% deposit it's a need more than a want to work these 4 days. It could be worse, I could have to work full time therefore I'm lucky work agreed to this and an an early finish.

I still get to see my mum friends on a Friday but weekends are now very busy trying to fit in family time, housework, food shopping and maybe even a spot of baking but I'm sure after a few weeks we will find our groove and get into a good routine.

So... to celebrate week one back at work I thought I would share one of our Christmas Day desserts that I made. There were 14 people to feed and after the success of last year's traditional Pavlova I decided to put a festive twist on my Chocolate Pavlova. The photos aren't great as I quickly snapped them on my phone before we headed to the in-laws but the dessert was delicious! When time is not on your side I strongly recommend you make a Pavlova.

Festive Pavlova
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder sieved
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
50g dark chocolate finely chopped

To Decorate
300ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
A variety of berries 
Edible silver balls
Icing sugar to dust
  • Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)
  • Lay a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray using a little meringue mixture to hold it in place
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff and cloud-like
  • Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time which should result in a glossy meringue
  • Whisk in the cocoa and vinegar
  • Fold in the chocolate gently until well combined
  • Dollop the meringue on the baking parchment in a rectangular shape and using your spoon push the sides up so the filling has somewhere to sit 
  • Place in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 140C (fan)
  • Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until firm to the touch 
  • Leave the meringue to cool in the oven which will give you that gorgeous marshmallowy filling
  • Melt the chocolate and cream together in a pan over a low heat
  • Mix until well combined and smooth and glossy
  • Place in the fridge to cool and firm up. You want it to be firm enough to spread without sliding off the meringue
  • Once the meringue is cool dollop on the chocolate ganache and scatter over the fruit and silver balls.
  • Dust with icing sugar to give that festive feel