The Boy Makes…..Cut Out Biscuits

Like most nurseries (I guess), Oscar’s preschool celebrates each and every birthday in their midst. They invite the parents of the birthday child to come in and watch their child’s special day be celebrated by their friends (my guy’s school also carries out something of a rather abstract birthday ritual. The child carries a globe round a circle of children as many times as they are years old, whilst they all sing a song about the world. Yeah I’m not sure either, but the kids seem to like it). Said parents are also invited to provide a little treat for the children. I was so excited when I heard about this. What a lovely thing to be able to do and it was definitely something Oscar and I could prepare together. However, as is to be expected, the nursery have pupils with all kinds of specific dietary requirements. Oscar himself eats gluten free and he has a little pal who has a serious broad spectrum nut allergy. Meaning anything we chose to make had to be pretty well thought through. To the Googles!

As Oscar got so many lovely cookie cutters for his birthday, I decided it would be fun to let him try them out. That’s when I found a great biscuit recipe on the American site Momables.com. It was written to be purely gluten free however, I checked with Oscar’s pal’s mum and found the recipe was also completely free of nut contaminants too. Perfect.

A simple recipe

A simple recipe

I followed the original recipe, which being American, was measured in cups. However, because I’m nice like that, I have converted it to grams here for the baker who favours the scales.

  • 200g sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour already has it, mine didn’t)
  • 250g gluten-free plain flour

I use Dove Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour and Xanthan Gum to great effect. You could also add spice such as cinnamon, if you were making these near Christmas

I used my Kitchenaid mixer, but you could do this by hand

  1. Cream the sugar and butter together
  2. Add egg, milk, vanilla extract and salt mixing well
  3. Add flour and xanthan gum if using. Mix at a low speed until well combined. Dough should come together well and not be too sticky.
  4. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c or Gas Mark 5 and cover two baking sheets with baking paper
  6. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, as thick as you want. Mine were about 0.25cm.
  7. Cut out the dough with cookie cutters, and place the biscuits on the baking sheets. Ensure the cookies are not touching.
  8. Re-roll and re-cut dough until it’s all used
  9. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack.
  10. Cool completely before decorating. If you’re so inclined. They’re lovely with or without decoration
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Add butter to sugar

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The boy loves turning on the KitchenAid

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Scrape that dough down!

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Using his birthday cutters from his Aunty & Uncle

In the end I chose to make all heart biscuits as I reckoned they were a decent size. I got 24 out of this recipe, plus a handful of the smaller shapes you can see Oscar cutting above.

I decided to “decorate” them with a simple water icing. Unfortunately I had to do this when Oscar was in bed, but I totally plan to let him have a go next time! I think I used around 60g of icing sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water mixed to make a smooth paste, runny enough to drizzle. I used a couple of drops of Wilton colouring to get the amazing blue, then just drizzled the icing from the end of a spoon onto the biscuits at an angle. It did take a while to dry though so be factor this in when planning timings.

Lay the biscuits on baking paper before drizzling the icing over the biscuits. Leave until they are totally dry.

Lay the biscuits on baking paper before drizzling the icing over the biscuits. Leave until they are totally dry then lift them off and throw the paper away. No messy clean up!

They went down a treat with Oscar and all his pals. As one of his little friends told her mum “they had blue on them and they were yum”. What more could you ask for?!

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Gluten Free Biscuits – Happy Birthday Oscar

 

 

BakedPotato Mummy
Free From Farmhouse

Birthday Party at The Hen House, Haslemere

What a couple of weeks it’s been. We’ve had an awesome Easter, with fabulous weather, amazing days out, lots of fun and lots of love. The best thing by far about the Easter Holidays though has to be Oscar’s 3rd Birthday party. We chose The Hen House in Haslemere as the venue for his party months ago, and you can read about why here. I have to say in the run up to his birthday, I was much more excited than he was. I just knew how much fun he was going to have and that made me really happy.

On the day, I had my hair cut in the morning, leaving Oscar at home with Ben. Seriously you’d have thought it was me having the party, I was so excited (although that could have been the giddiness I always get when I spend time alone!) As we’d chosen exclusive use of The Hen House, we arrived at 2.30pm, just as they were closing to the public. We were immediately made to feel welcome as the staff busied around cleaning up, tidying the soft play and rearranging the tables. I was asked how I wanted the tables laid out and as I wanted as much floor space as possible, the tables were laid out in two long lines. This gave plenty of seating, but also tonnes of milling/running around (depending on your age I guess) space. We didn’t have to arrange any extra decoration, but as I’d decided on a loose Farmyard theme, I had ordered 20 cow print helium balloons, from a local party shop who delivered them to The Hen House for us. The most I had to do in terms of preparation of the venue on the day, was tie weights to the balloons, place them artfully strategically round the floor and fill some bowls with the M&Ms and Haribo I’d bought with me. Job done!

A very tidy Hen House, ready to party!

A very tidy Hen House, ready to party!

Oscar found the M&Ms

Oscar found the M&Ms

Guests started to arrive bang on 3pm. We’d decided to take full advantage of the Hen House’s licence and bought prosecco and larger for our adult guests. To be honest I wasn’t sure how this would go down. Would people be driving? Would people think it was weird to drink at a children’s party? Well, I can categorically tell you it went down a storm! I had people tell me this was definitely the way ahead in children’s parties and the prosecco went down so well, one of the staff had to run out and grab us some more bottles. All before anyone realised we were running low though! Smooth!

It was a prosecco and Haribo kinda party

It was a prosecco and Haribo kinda party

The kids had an absolute BLAST! I have never seen Oscar play for so long and so hard and sooooooo well with everyone there. He could run, he could throw himself down the slide, he laughed. Some of the dad’s got well and truly roped into playing with the children and Ben got adopted by our friend’s daughter, Charlotte, for the day. She wouldn’t let him leave her side. It was the sweetest thing.

Come with me Ben!

Come with me Ben!

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Note the Daddy at the top of the slide. To be fair I did find a group of them hiding up there later on!

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Oscar and his buddy Cecily playing and laughing

Oscar taking a rare moment of rest on the light up disco floor. I chose the "light up when you step on it" setting and the kids loved it!

Oscar taking a rare moment of rest on the light up disco floor. I chose the “light up when you step on it” setting and the kids loved it!

Because the number of children was a very manageable ten (plus two babies), there was plenty of space and fun to be had without a single altercation happening. Don’t get me wrong, we could have had more (up to 30 at an exclusive party), but I felt for Oscar (and for me to be fair) ten was plenty and I think I was right. It meant the adults (or at least those who weren’t being held prisoner at the top of the slide 😉 ) got to well and truly relax. It’s also a venue that really understands little people, meaning we were able to feel relaxed about their safety. This allowed us to have a good old catch up and it really did feel as much as a party for us as it was for them. The music was a playlist I’d put together myself and played through The Hen House computer (they did offer to make one for me, but I have a very specific taste in cheesy music and it was best for me to do it myself 😉 ). I got to talk to friends I hadn’t seen in weeks and introduce friends from different areas of my life to one another. This was fab and some great conversations were had. All while the children played happily and safely.

There were children at the party - honest!

There were children at the party – honest!

The children played until they were red in the face (or was that just my son?). The food was bought out around 4ish and the children all sat to a set table. I was a bit concerned whether Oscar would want to join in with this (who’d want to eat where there’s soft play to be throwing your little body down?) But sit he did! The party package comes with food included and we had all the usual suspects of freshly made sandwiches (for which I was able to chose three different fillings), sausage rolls, crisps and vegetable sticks. When we booked the party I’d explained to Henri, the owner, that Oscar is eating a gluten free diet at the moment. She wasn’t fazed in the slightest and couldn’t have been more accommodating. Some of the sandwiches were made using (good) gluten free bread and despite my suggestion that we swap sausage rolls for plain GF sausages, Henri insisted on making her own delicious GF sausage rolls for everyone! The crisps and snacks were all corn or potato based (as opposed to wheat based Cheddars or similar). The children took a break from wearing themselves out and tucked in happily. And there was plenty enough for the toddlers to eat their fill and for the parents to grab a bite too.

All the children sat and tucked in happily

All the children sat and tucked in happily

Yup thats my boy sitting with the other children and eating. Happy Mummy Moment!

Yup that’s my boy sitting with the other children and eating. Happy Mummy Moment!

Myred faced boy. I swear the wine is not his!

My red faced boy. I swear the wine is not his!

The absolute icing on the proverbial cake was in fact the cake. Or more to the point the cake/candle blowing moment. Instead of one large birthday cake, Hen had made Oscar a pile of his favourite GF Brownies (the ones he badgers me for every time we visit The Hen House). The staff asked if I would like to hold the cake, while every one sang Happy Birthday, which was a lovely touch. He’s not really done the whole blowing candles thing before and despite practising at home for days before (so he knew what to do), I was a little nervous as to how he’d react. So Ben held Oscar and I held the cake(s). Everyone sang to him and he took it all his stride, looking to me for assurance when the time came to blow. It was a perfect, perfect moment! We then handed round the gorgeous Brownies and every one was taken or devoured!

Perfect

Look at those happy chops! Perfect.

 

The children started to leave around 5, happy and tired, with a cow print balloon in one hand and a farm themed party bag in the other. I had real fun putting the party bags together and although The Hen House did offer to do them for me, I’m glad I did my own. They had a Milky Bar Cow, a farm animal toy, a farmer’s neckerchief/bandana and a packet of seeds for them to plant and grow. This all came in a brown paper bag, with a farm animal mask to decorate. Putting the fun back into functional, that’s me!

Balloons!

Balloons!

Farm themed party bags

Farm themed party bags

We had so many compliments on the way out. The children all told us how much fun they’d had and the parents did the same. It was such an amazing feeling. We got to take the credit for the most amazing party, when really, we did so little towards it. The staff at The Hen House, did everything and made the whole day go without a single hitch. We didn’t even have to tidy up! We just packed up his pressies, grabbed the remaining balloons and left! Bliss.

We have had such a bumpy few months recently, what with Oscar’s ASD diagnosis and the stress that has put us under as a family. But we were able to give our special little guy the most amazing birthday party, exactly as he needed it, to have as much fun as is humanly possible for any three year old to have.

And for that, I can’t thank The Hen House enough.

 

 

 

We’d like to thank Henri and everyone at The Hen House for their amazing hospitality and generosity in hosting Oscar’s birthday for us. You can find out more about hiring the venue, either exclusively or non exclusively, on their website www.thehen-house.com.

I was not paid to write this review and as always all opinions are my own.

Share the Joy linky at bodfortea.co.uk

The Boy Makes….Homemade Bounty Bars

Over the Easter holidays, the boy and I were inspired to have a crack at some more sweet cooking projects. We made chocolate cupcakes one day and then, scrolling through Instagram one morning, I came across this post for Homemade Bounty Bars by the gorgeous Mrs Bishop over at MrsBishopBakesandBanter. I LOVE Bounty bars and the boy has taken a real shine to coconut and dark chocolate recently (there’s not an issue in the world that can’t be solved with a Mrs Crimble’s Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroon I tells ya!). We’ve never tried making proper ‘sweets’ before, so I thought this would be a fun place to start.

The recipe Mrs B (and I!) used was incredibly simple with just four ingredients:

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  • 100ml Condensed Milk
  • 75g Desiccated Coconut
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
I weighed out the ingredients.....

I weighed out the ingredients…..

...and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut.....

…and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut…..

...followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. Mix it all together.

…followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. We mixed it all together.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) Place on greaseproof paper lined tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for an hour or so. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) We placed the bars on a greaseproof paper lined tray and left them to firm up in the fridge for a couple of hours. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it in a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the choclate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit. Lift onto greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it over a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the melted chocolate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit, but it was a bit messy and I got no photos – boohoo! Lift onto a greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

Oh my life they were so good! We’re definitely going to make them again, but next time I am going to fiddle around with the proportions. I want to try adding more coconut and a little less sugar. I’m also going to make 16 small bars, instead of 8 big ones. Don’t get me wrong the big bars looked awesome, but realistically, I think a smaller bar would have been enough. You could also try making them in to bit size pieces, perhaps for a party. Bounty Bites, if you will! I think you’d easily get 32 bites out of this recipe, although I’m not sure if you’d need slightly more chocolate. Give it a go!

The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

Homemade Bounty Bars. The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

 

BakedPotato Mummy
Gym Bunny Mummy

Slimming World Update – Week 90

Hiya

How’s your week been? I hope you’ve had some of the good weather we’ve had this week. Man alive it’s sooo good to feel the sun on my skin and the grass between my toes again. I always thought Autumn was my favourite month, but the older I get the more I love the summer. I think I was born to walk bare foot! The sunshine just makes everything feel more hopeful.

We’ve had an amazing week in real life too! It was Oscar’s third birthday last Thursday. I know, my little itty bitty baby is now a strapping three year old, with a shock of blonde hair and the cheekiest grin. We had a day out on Thursday for him, which if you missed you can read about here and then a full on celebration on Saturday at The Hen House, in Haslemere. I’ll be writing a post about that shortly, but suffice to say we had an awesome time.

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But as far as the food has gone this week? Well, let’s just say it’s not been quite so awesome. On top of Oscar’s birthday shenanigans the house has also been awash (sort of) with Easter chocolate. Add to that party food, the odd tipple to celebrate and cake, well let’s just say this week was a write off.

At least I assumed it was.

Last night’s weigh in was a weigh and run. Not because I didn’t want to stay, but because I was coming out the back end of a 24hr bug and feeling ropey to say the least. To be honest, I could have just not gone at all, but I felt that would only compound the chance of me continuing to gain, so regardless of the fact that I felt rough and was going to have to face the result of an Easter/Birthday week, I made the effort and went.

What I wasn’t expecting, in any way, was the result I got.

OK, so I want you to understand I DO NOT know how this happened (unless the sun can melt weight!). I also DO NOT mean to advocate Prosecco and M&Ms as a weight loss method. But yes, this week I have had a loss. And a rather substantial one at that. I lost 5.5lb taking me to 6 stone 2lb lost. When I looked at the scales I was convinced it said 5.5lb ON. I sort of sighed. Then my sad face turned to a shocked face and I had to be asked if I was OK. I continued to be baffled all the way home. I seriously can’t explain what is going on with my body at the moment, and I’m well aware this week might come back to bite me on the behind next week. However, it has given me a much needed kick in the right direction.

Funnily enough a couple of other things have happened to bolster my motivation this week. Firstly I had a message from a friend I haven’t seen, or even spoken to, in about 8 years. She said she’d just seen a picture of me (ahh good old social media, how I love thee, you weird little thing!). It said:

I hope you don’t mind me messaging you out of the blue but I saw a picture of you and did a double take so I just had to tell you how bloody fantastic you look!

This friend was someone who helped me enormously when I lost some weight back in 2006. She was my inspiration, in the way I hear people tell me I have been for them. So it was super flattering to hear her say how impressed she was with my progress and a real boost. Secondly, I was looking at getting some boots online. I haven’t bought any boots since winter 2013, and I know it’s the end of the season but they really are falling apart! I used to buy my boots from the plus size retailer Evans, as their wider fit suited me. Now, although my feet are much smaller than they were, they are still wide fit (I’ve had wide feet literally all my life – I was an H fitting as a child). So I thought I’d take a look on the Evans website, to see if they had anything in the sale. Now, I haven’t visited their site for aaaaages (I’ve not needed to) and almost as soon as I landed on their homepage, I just felt so very sad. Like, I don’t really know how to explain it, but sad that this used to be my life and desperate that I don’t want this to be my life again. I had a quick look around, feeling worse and worse and closed the browser. I didn’t get any boots.

So all these things combined to make me think a bit really. To make me not want to slide back into oblivion. And I’ve come up with a new target for myself. I want to get back to what I was just before Christmas. And I want to do it by the time I go on holiday. To do that I need to lose 8.5lb in 5 weeks. I think that’s realistic.

And I don’t ever want to have to shop in Evans again.

I’ve got some super meals planned this week, including a couple from the Slimming World Fake Away book:

  • Pan fried Salmon, stir fried vegetables and noodles
  • Steak, SW Chips, salad, mushrooms and red cabbage
  • Black Bean Pork with peppers, green beans and noodles
  • King Prawn Dopiaza with spinach and rice
  • Chicken and Aspragus Risotto

And I’m feeling really focussed for the week ahead.

Let’s see if can’t limit any damage the last week may do to me next week! I’m going for a loss of 2lb.

Enjoy the sunshine and smile.

We can do this.

Xxxxxx

Sim's Life

 

 

 

Slimming World Update – Week 89

Hi guys

Just a quick update this week.

So I don’t know if any of you follow me on Instagram, but if you do you’ll know I spent the past week uploading pictures of my meals – not normally something I do. I thought perhaps if I could keep a visual diary it might help me stay focussed AND get a little accountability back in my life. If you do follow me, this is the kind of thing you’ll have seen:

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My lunches and dinners have all been fully on plan and optimised to the max. The only syns in any of these was in the sweet chilli sauce in the noodles. Boom!

Only this wasn’t all I was eating. Yes my meals were all bang on, but in between? What I like to call the hidden food? The bits and snacks no on sees you eating? Yeah, they’re the ones that caused me to gain 3lb this week.

Shit.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately. I just cant stick to it. Some days I can’t, some days I just don’t want to (and mark me there is a difference). I’ve taken a food diary this week and I fully intended to use it. It’s Friday already and I haven’t written a single thing down. No point in lying, I haven’t. I had a syn free dinner last night and am currently preparing one for tonight (my favourite Pepperpot Stew, with green beans and rice) but I know I’ve gone over my syns yesterday and today. And if I’m being honest I know tomorrow probably wont be totally food optimised either.

I feel a bit like I’m unravelling. It’s all well and good saying ‘Oh yes I’m going to do this and this and wont do this and blah blah blah’, but if it comes down to the crunch and you do the opposite it’s just all bluster and hot air. Good intentions never helped anyone lose weight.

Sorry this hasn’t been more positive. It’s hard to inspire others when you don’t even have the inspiration to help yourself.

Laters

xx