Happy Halloween

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Weaning favourites - our review of Heinz baby food pouches

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Regular readers of my blog will know that I love to cook. So it goes without saying that I would enjoy preparing food for the bambeanie too. Mushed cod florentine anyone?

But who wants to carry a questionably-sealed pot of bright orange sweet potato and pear goop in their bag on a day out? Not me. I've made that mistake before and it didn't end well for me, or the contents of my change bag.

Sometimes convenience wins and you need something that you can grab, transport easily, reseal hygienically and that both you and your baby are happy with.

We were offered the chance to test out the new Heinz range of baby food pouches and it couldn't have come at a better time for us. Bambeanie has only just started solids, having turned six months a couple of weeks ago. 

We've tried a selection of food so far - from roasted butternut squash and pear, to broccoli, flaked salmon and Weetabix. He seems to have really enjoyed everything I have given him so far and doesn't seem phased when something I give him has a little more texture either, which I'm pleased about.

The fruit and savoury pouches we were sent are suitable for babies from four and seven months plus. We're not far off the seven month pouches, but he's not quite ready for them yet. 

Its Halloween this week, so of course I was going to try him with the pumpkin, sweet potato and apricot pouch first. It would be rude not to.

After enlisting the help of my five-year old Christmas angel (don't ask), we got started. You can watch our video review here and read on to see what we thought.

The good bits

  • The packaging is great. The pouches are convenient and easy to reseal. They're bright, eye catching and appealing. It's easy to read and tells me, at a glance, what's inside.
  • You can easily see how many of their 5-a-day baby will get from each pouch, as well as information about things like vitamin C content.
  • The flavours are varied and I like the combinations.
  • Ayden thoroughly enjoyed the food and happily munched his way through pretty much the whole pouch!

Not so sure...

  • This is entirely my weird thing, but I have issues with any pureed food that contains meat or fish. I don't know where it comes from... unless I've made and pureed it for him myself, I'm not keen. I'm like that with my own food too though, so its not exclusive to baby food. Meat in soup... not a fan. Dips made from mushed fish, like taramasalata... don't think so. Paté... no. Just no. So I wouldn't purchase any flavours containing beef or chicken, for example. I'd rather make my own meat and fish purees and stick to fruit and veg pouches.
  • I try to use organic fruit and veg when making purees myself. Its not essential, but I try to if possible. So if these were organic I'd be even happier to give them to my baby.

On a side note, I wouldn't say you have to think of these pouches as 'baby-only'. My daughter is a fan of fruit purees and the Heinz fruit pouches got a big thumbs up from her. Great for a quick and easy snack :)

The Heinz pouches are available from supermarkets and Boots, priced from 89p. You can find out more here.

*We were sent these pouches for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Halloween recipe - Pumpkin Dump Cake

Friday, 25 October 2013

Its less than a week until Halloween; that means making pumpkin-based cakes / pies is the law. The law I tell you!

I feel like the UK is still not entirely sold on the pumpkin pie thing. We're getting there thanks to Starbucks and their a-mazing pumpkin spice lattes (hands up who wants one of those right now!), but the infamous Libby's canned pumpkin isn't the easiest thing to get hold of. Some branches of Tesco have started stocking it and you can get it via Amazon. Trust me, if you are a fan of those autumnal, cinnamon, nutmeg type flavours, its worth the effort to track one down and experiment.

I made my first pumpkin pie a few years ago. Followed by pumpkin spice bread and butter pudding. Pumpkin cupcakes... all delicious. But, last year, I discovered a recipe for Pumpkin Dump Cake. Questionable name... taste sensation! Do it. You won't be disappointed :)

425g can Libby's pumpkin
340g can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g sugar (I used soft brown sugar)
1 box Betty Crocker's yellow cake mix
170g melted butter
Pecans (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 180 c.
  • Lightly grease a tin (sized roughly 9x13")
  • Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, spices, salt and sugar and pour into prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle dry cake mix on top.
  • Gently pat down with spoon.
  • Sprinkle with nuts if you want to use them. 
  • Drizzle with the melted butter.
  • Bake for 50 mins.
  • Cool and cut into squares.

This is amazing served with vanilla ice cream.

...you're welcome ;)

Super Mario birthday party

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Its all about the Mario Bros in our household at the moment. My oldest turned seven (wait, seven!?) last week and as the proud owner of a new Wii U, there was only one theme in the running for his birthday party.

Except this year - for the first year since he started school - we weren't planning a big party for the whole class. Instead he wanted to take a group of friends to the cinema and for food afterwards. But I couldn't resist a party at home for family. 

I thought I'd share some photos of the props and party food, in case you're planning something similar.

These didn't go quite to plan... but you get the gist :)

 P.S we started the day with confetti pancakes, which were so good and went down very well indeed!

My daughter's first musical score :)

Monday, 21 October 2013

My daughter spent a good couple of hours or so beavering away at the kitchen table yesterday - drawing, colouring, cutting, sticking. All her favourite things to do. 

After she'd gone to school this morning I was tidying up the pile of art she'd created and found this. 

A musical, entitled 'Music is in here' :)

Audiences will enjoy an overture of 'I feel happy', followed by 'I love you'...

Followed by the classic number 'Is it time to go'

My personal favourite, and a real crowd pleaser, 'How would you like it if you were sideways'

Then warm up those jazz hands for a rendition of 'I love my family'

Ending with the rousing finale 'I don't love strangers'!

Just love this :) Love it!

I'll keep it always. What have your little ones made that you will always keep?

Our family birthday traditions

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The original beanie turns seven this week. Seven! I still can't quite believe that my tiny little baby is such a big boy now.

Its so important to me to make sure my little ones feel special on their birthday and that the day is all about them. 

To help make sure that happens, we've developed a few birthday traditions over the last seven years. I thought I'd share them here for anyone looking for ideas themselves. Please also share your birthday traditions... I'd love to hear them.

I have Pinterest to thank for this idea - a bedroom full of balloons. We did it last year and it went down very well indeed. 

You can buy small helium canisters online and in some supermarkets - I got ours from Asda for about £20, balloons included. Then, on the night before their birthday, my husband and I set about inflating as many balloons as we possibly can. We tie string to them and fill his/her room while they're asleep. 

Dylan, being Dylan, woke up last year and walked straight underneath them without noticing! I had to tell him to go back and look at the ceiling. He loved it when he did notice them though. 

What kind of birthday morning would it be without pancakes...? 

This year, because I'm on maternity leave and don't have to rush out the door, it'll be much easier to prepare a special birthday breakfast. 

I thought I'd try another Pinterest fave this year - confetti pancakes. They look amazing and the kids would love them.

Image - Pinterest
I absolutely intend to put a candle in the pancakes too :)

We always display the birthday boy/girl's presents in exactly the same place each year - on the corner of the kitchen table by the door. So its the first thing they see when they come downstairs. I usually add their favourite toy holding a balloon or a birthday card too.

Because Dylan will be in school on his birthday, I plan to put a little birthday note in his lunchbox with a fairy cake. He'll also be taking birthday cake to school with him to share with his friends.

Of course, once he gets home, we'll have a special birthday tea party with the usual party food and cake. Lots of cake.

What birthday traditions does your family have?

Silent Sunday

Sunday, 13 October 2013

My mini-me and me :)

Weaning favourites - our review of Ella's Kitchen wakey wakey baby porridge

Friday, 4 October 2013

Ella's Kitchen is a brand I really trust. I used some of the range with both Dylan and Meryn when they were teeny weeny beanies - particularly the fruit smoothies. So it made sense that we would choose one of their products for Ayden's very first taste of a food that isn't breast milk!

He couldn't have been more excited to try the porridge. His little arms and legs were waving around like the clappers! And he took to it so well, gobbling the little bowl of porridge in what seemed like seconds. So he must approve of the taste.

He has a little bowl of this every day, twice a day and always smiles when he sees me coming towards him with the bowl.

From my point of view, the porridge is 100% organic rice and maize... and that's it. Nothing artificial. No added sugars. 

I like the packaging a lot - more so than similar products from competitor brands. Its in the Ella's Kitchen signature pouch, but with a convenient screw top, which makes dispensing the porridge and resealing it really easy. 

I like to make my own purees and I plan to start doing this for Ayden as soon as he turns six months, but the Ella's Kitchen pouches are perfect for on-the-go. And I know I can trust that there are no artificial nasties in there. 

I'm also excited that they have a range of first tastes pouches now - I don't think these existed when I was weaning Dylan and Meryn. They're made from just one fruit - apple, pear, mango or banana - with nothing else added. I think this is a great idea.

A big thumbs up from me and the bambeanie. We can't wait to try some other products from the range.

Recipe from a family kitchen

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I'm always on the lookout for no-fuss, ideally one-pot suppers that will please the whole family. This is a real winner.

This recipe has evolved over time and is now one of my staple evening meals. It's based on a Nigella recipe, from her Nigelissima book; but I've tweaked it a little.... here's my version:

Sausage and butter bean casserole

Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Sausages (I use one pack of six caramelised red onion sausages)
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
1 tin butter beans
1 tin cherry tomatoes
3 bay leaves
6 or 7 small shallots
Black olives
Salt and pepper

* Cook sausages in the oven according to packet instructions
* Meanwhile, gently warm garlic in the oil
* Chop and add the peppers to the pan
* Add the drained butter beans, cherry tomatoes, bay leaves and as many olives as you fancy
* If the shallots are small enough, I just peel them and pop them in whole. I like the texture they give. If you prefer you could halve them instead
* Half fill the empty cherry tomato tin with water and add this to the pan
* Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste
* Simmer for 15-20 minutes
* Once the sausages are cooked, slice them diagonally and add to the casserole
* I serve with either mini roast potatoes, cous cous or simply with fresh crusty bread and salad.

Delicious! And perfect for autumn.