Layered Flag Dip Recipe

We don’t have a summer holiday the way the Americans do. Our weather is so unpredictable, even in the summer, that BBQs tend to be last minute things, with no planning involved. So when my American friend Bethany suggested we have a Summer BBQ months ago it was actually really exciting to plan. Weather be damned! And when she suggested having it on 4th July, to celebrate Independance Day, well, I hit the Pinterest with a vengeance.

Having used Pinterest for Oscar’s birthday party recently, I was aware how bonkers they go for party theming stateside, so was unsurprised to see how many ideas there were for a 4th July shindig. I found a red, white and blue version of everything you could possibly need or want at your patriotic BBQ, some of it really awesome looking, some incredibly tacky. Then I saw this recipe for a layered dip. Designed to look like the American flag! It was just so, well, American. I knew straight away I had to make it as a centrepiece for my first all American cookout.

Tex Mex Layered Dip. Flag decoration optional!

Tex Mex Layered Dip. Flag decoration optional!

It was actually incredibly easy to make, but looked amazing and tasted fantastic.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can Refried Beans
  • 1 packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 pot salsa
  • 1 pot olives (about 100g)
  • Half an iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 bag of grated cheese (I used Monterey Jack, but any mild cheddar would do)
  • 1 large tub of Philidelphia
  • 1 large pot of sour cream
  • 1 large/beef tomato

If you want to do the flag decoration then also:

  • Handful of Blue Tortilla chips
  • 2/3 slices of mozerella or other pale coloured cheese
Blue Tortilla Chips. Not dyed, but made from actual blue corn. I got these from Ocado but you can find them in many large supermarkets.

Blue Tortilla Chips. Not dyed, but made from actual blue corn. I got these from Ocado but you can find them in many large supermarkets.

Method

Mix the taco seasoning with the Refried beans and spread the mixture over the base of a large rectangular dish

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Cover the beans with the salsa, cut the olives in half and sprinkle over the salsa.

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Top with the shredded iceberg lettuce and the cheese

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Mix together the Philadelphia with the sour cream.

If you’re going to make this into a flag, then use a small amount of the cream cheese mix to make a small square in the the top left hand corner of the dish.

Blitz the blue corn chips in the food processor (or otherwise crush). Sprinkle the crumbs onto the square of cream cheese mix.

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Then put the rest of the cream cheese mix in a freezer bag or a piping bag (depending on how fancy you are 😉 ), snip the end off and pipe stripes across the dish.

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Chop the tomato finely and fill the gaps inbetween the cream cheese mix.

I had a tiny star cutter (thank you the boy’s playdoh box) but you could just use a straw a make dots in place of stars. Cut them out of the mozerella (the sheet slices, not the fresh stuff) and pop them on the blue chip crumbs.

Et voila!

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Serve with the remainder of the blue corn chips or any other tortilla chips you like. Or a fork. It’s that good!

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Bethany takes an inaugural dip!

Obviously, we would have less need for a dip that looks like an American flag, in the UK, but I totally urge you just to make a stripy one instead. Or if you’re the crafty type, how about a Union Flag?

Let me know if you have a go at this. I’d love to hear if you like it as much as I, and my guests, did.

xx

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Free From Farmhouse

The Twos

The terrible twos. They really are terrible. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they suck. Big time. Not just for me, but for him too. We had something of an epic fail in the past week, one behavioural disaster after another. Some weeks are just like that I guess. It started with a return to toddler group after the summer break. Hammer is big, it’s noisy and it’s busier than a branch of Next on the first day of the sale. It’s full on, always has been. In the past he’s been OK with it, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Last week was not a good week. Then there was a failed trip to the Hen House. Meh, it happens I guess. It’s this ‘pushing’ phase that’s doing my nut. I know it’s his way (whether right or wrong) of expressing himself (“you’re in my space/touching my stuff/touching stuff I deem to be mine because I glanced at it 20 minutes ago and I don’t like it”). It’s not malicious. But other people don’t see that. They just glare and in some cases admonish me for his behaviour. His speech delayed, frustrated, two year old behaviour. Sigh.

So what do I do? Seriously? Much of the advice given by official channels is to ignore bad behaviour (er not always possible, especially in public when it’s involving other children) and getting them to talk through their feelings (hmmm can we park that one for now?), in fact much of the advice just seems to be ‘well yeah, this is going to happen and you gotta ride it out best you can honey, sorry. We’ll talk again when he’s three, OK?’. My initial reaction on Friday was to never take him out again. Ever. Again. We’ll just stay in I thought. He wont meet other children, but that way he can’t push them (his modus operadi) and no one will look at me like I’ve pissed in the punch!

I’m not serious of course. What would that teach him? Nada, nothing, zip! I know that really. Just some days, I feel like I’m walking a tightrope. Blindfold. With my hands tied behind my back. Whilst reciting Chaucer (I really hated Chaucer at A’level). Sometimes I’m just so tired to my bones with all this worry and indecision and feeling just not quite good enough, that the path of least resistance just starts to look mighty appealing.

Yeah, the last week was not a good week.

But then, actually, wasn’t it? Thursday, Friday and Saturday could have been better. Sure. Things could have gone more the way I wanted them to, but ya’ know, no one died. And Sunday’s trip to Alice Holt and Tuesday’s trip to The Hen House, whilst embarked upon with gritted teeth, worked out amazingly well. No pushing, minimal squealing, making friends and laughing like a loon (him not me. Well a bit me 😉 )

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Taking turns

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Swinging happy

And then there’s the speech. The delay in Oscar’s speech is, I feel, impacting greatly on his behaviour, but guess what? Those pesky little words are starting to emerge. Slowly, and in a really peculiar order, but in the last week my boy suddenly has something of a vocabulary. It’s a mixtures of single words like ‘ready’, ‘water’, ‘more’ and ‘flower’ and then even some short phrases like ‘another one’ and ‘I don’t want to’! Whether they ‘stick’ and he continues to use them regularly is yet to be seen (apologies for my cautious tone, but we’ve been here before. Said bear four times in one day, never said it again) but in a week when everything was dreadful, actually it wasn’t at all. He even has a name for me now! I’m Nuhnuh. Just when you think it couldn’t be worse, it suddenly isn’t. That’s the twos for you.

The terrible, terrifying, wonderful twos.

Diary of an Imperfect Mum

Slimming World Update – Week 57

Hi hi hi!

It’s feels like ages since we last spoke! How’ve you been?? I’ve been good, thanks. Having a holiday was absolutely needed and it gave me so much, including time to do jack! Which, as the mother of a 2 year old boy, I never get to do! Part of my holiday also included the decision to take a weeks break from Slimming World. When I say I took a holiday from Slimming World, I don’t mean I ditched everything I’ve become and went back to all my old ways. No, it was more a case of not counting syns and eating things with a bit less thought than I usually do. It was nice not to have to use brain power on food for a while, but it didn’t come without it’s lessons.

If you read my last post, you’ll know that last week we went away for a couple of nights, staying and eating in a hotel. This was really interesting from a SW perspective as some of the choices available were clearly better than others. The first night I chose Scallops, followed by Salt Cod and a Yoghurt based dessert. None of it syn free, but definitely the ‘better’ choices on the menu. Second night I went completely the other way, choosing duck liver pate, followed by pork belly and a peanut and chocolate parfait! I enjoyed both menus equally (and have discovered that I love salt cod having never had it before!), but it was interesting to me how optimised the first menu was, compared the second one. And all done without thinking 🙂 . Of course the scones we had on the first day were not optimised at all, and neither were the handmade chocolate chip cookies they delivered with every coffee, but less said about those the better hey 😉

Scones and Clotted cream definitely NOT Food Optimised!

Scones and Clotted cream definitely NOT Food Optimised!

Anywho, I spent the rest of the week occasionally having bits and bobs I generally avoid. One of my biggest weaknesses in the past used to be bread, particularly white crusty bread or baguettes. As such, I’ve stopped having it all together. I just don’t eat it any more. It was hard to get my head around this choice to start with and I would get cravings for it now and then, but slowly it got easier and I rarely think about it now. I’ve not had a baguette since I started SW, but last Friday I decided that’s what I wanted for lunch, bought from a local farm shop. I had it with syn free roast beef and yeah it was nice, but I didn’t feel the rapture with every mouthful I thought I would. And actually afterwards it made me so gassy! I just couldn’t stop belching (haha sorry! You know me, I just love to share!) I guess having cut out much of the wheat (not on purpose I just have) from my every day diet, my system was a bit perplexed at what to do with it all. In fact several times in the last week or so I’ve had episodes where I’ve eaten stuff I wouldn’t usually and its been nice at the time, but has quickly made me feel properly ill. The sugar in the peanut and chocolate parfait I had at Moonfleet gave me serious palpitations and I’ve had stomach cramps so bad I’ve had to sit down more than once this past week. I think I would be a fool to ignore my body’s very clear signals that it really doesn’t enjoy these things any more, regardless of what my head says it likes 😉 !

The hardest thing I think I found about having a SW holiday was the snacking. When I wasn’t counting my syns, I didn’t have to think about having the odd biccie here or the odd bag of Twiglets there. Getting my head around noticing things like that again was really difficult and it made me realise how easily the control can slip when you’re not mindful of what you eat. I mean meals wise I was straight back to SW fare, with delicious first attempts at a Thai Yellow Vegetable Curry (from the Fakeaways book) and a Moroccan Vegetable Tagine (from the Family Feasts book). But I really wrestled with the desire to snack! I guess it was a bit mean to give my body all that sugar and then just take it away again again overnight. Several times in the past week I’ve found myself raiding the huge bag of sultanas I have for Oscar. Dried fruit isn’t free, but it was better than gorging on chocolate I suppose.

SW Moroccan Vegetable Tagine, severed with Bulghar wheat and Pomegranate. All Free on Extra Easy

SW Moroccan Vegetable Tagine, severed with Bulghar wheat and Pomegranate. All Free on Extra Easy

So when it came to weigh in this week, I was fully expecting a gain. You just can’t spend a week and a half eating cake and drinking wine and expect anything else. But I was astounded when I found out that gain was only 1.5lb. Tiny in the grand scheme of things, and much smaller than I’m sure I deserve (not that I’m going to question it 😉 ) It’s taken me to just (and I mean just) back under the 6 stone mark to 5 Stone 13.5lb. It would obviously have been nicer if it was going in the other direction, but I can live with that.

So where are we now? Well, it was pointed out to us last night that we have 17 more weigh ins before Christmas. It sounds like a lot but actually at rate of 1lb loss per week, that’s only just over a stone. Which is what I’ve decided to aim for. I have 14.5lbs to lose to get to my 7 stone award and I plan to do that in time for Christmas. It will mean being consistent, which I’ve really struggled with lately, but I believe I can do it. It also reflects that my journey is likely to be a slower one this far down the road, so I feel it’s a realistic target. I’d like to start this week by losing the 1.5lb I gained on holiday, setting me back on an even keel. I’m not saying it’ll be easy this week, but I believe it’ll be easier. I’ve bought lots of fruit and I’m treating myself tonight to a 6 syn bag of cinnamon popcorn. I’ve not tried it before but it sounds lush!

Sweet Cinnamon Spice Popcorn for 6 syns? What's not to like?

Sweet Cinnamon Spice Popcorn for 6 syns? What’s not to like?

 

If it applies to you, have a great Bank Holiday Weekend. If it doesn’t, Happy Friday y’all. Have a great week

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Running up that hill….

Mrssavageangel’s been a bit quiet of late (unless you’re over with us on Facebook, then you’d know she never shuts the hell up!) It’s not that I don’t have 100 things I want to talk about, it’s just knowing how to, or when to, or even, well just, too.

Things are all a bit crazy over at Casa Del Savage at the mo. We’ve completely emptied our bedroom, so it can be gutted and redone (which I tell you is harder than moving, particularly when you have little space to move everything into!). It’ll be lovely when it’s done, but boy is the process painful. For me anyway. Moving all the furniture set my gallbladder off again. Thankfully it seems to have gone back to sleep again now, but it’s made me painfully (pun intended!) aware that I wont be able to put off having the bugger removed forever. I will until it’s unbearable though!

The before

The before

Then there’s been some movement on Oscar’s speech. While he does has a handful of words, it really is too few to be particularly useful to him in everyday life (Din au or rrrrrr* anyone?) and that’s the reason the HV has referred him to speech and language. We’ve also got a hearing check on 29th August just to be on the safe side. I’m pretty sure he can hear, but I am interested to see if he can hear everything (all frequencies, all sounds etc). I’m not looking forward to the tests. It’s asking a lot of a 2.5 year old to sit still for what he sees as no discernible reason. Ahh well. So anyway yes we’ve been referred for speech therapy, but I’m hearing the wait is really long. Even the HV didn’t seem optimistic as to when we’d get an appointment. Which pretty much sucks. And pretty much means I’m on my own if I want to help him. A couple of friends with an interest in communication have given me some ideas to try surrounding visual aids and another a book on learning through play. But the things that bind all the ideas seem to be simplicity, patience and PERSEVERANCE. Which is why it’s so draining I guess.

His behaviour’s been a little up and down of late, some days beyond tiring, some days angelic. But do you know, the more I look at everything he does, in terms of him attempting to communicate, the more I see. And the more understanding (and patient) I can try to be. I’ve taken to explaining where we’re going and how I expect him to behave at these places before we go out and that’s working wonders. And when he is cross or upset or frustrated I try to talk him through the outrage. I am also learning to see when he really has had enough, usually linked to him being too tired to keep the frustration reigned in. Take yesterday for example. We went the Hen House and he had a whale of a time, playing both alone and with other children. Earlier in the afternoon he was happy to share the roundabout with our friend’s daughter Elsa and watching them giggling together was just awesome. However towards the end of the afternoon, when asked to share the same toy, in exactly the same way with Elsa, he was having none of it. He didn’t get cross just would not let her get on. It was then I knew it was time to leave. So we did and despite small initial protestations, once he was in the buggy nibbling a cheese sarnie he seemed positively grateful.

Taking this approach is making me see him in a whole different light. I was worried what other parents might think or say if they saw me taking this (what some might perceive as) softly softly approach, but actually, do you know what:

1) fuck ’em

and

2) if you have a child that doesn’t needs this kind of eagle eyed understanding and can tell you straight up what’s going on then that’s great. Mine can’t

It’s quite a big thing to admit, to yourself more than anyone, that your child might need something (even slightly) different than the norm. But admitting it and running with, whilst it’s the hardest part, is the best thing you can do.

Pass me those Nikes will you – I’ve got running to do!

Wake up and smell the flowers Mama

Wake up and smell the flowers Mama

 

*Dinosaur Grrrrrr if you didn’t guess 😉

 

 

Slimming World Update – Week 52 – One Year Special

Hi there

I’ll start by telling you that at last night’s weigh in I lost 2.5lb which, despite not being all the weight I gained over the last two weeks, is a good enough start for me. It takes me back to 5 Stone 12.5lb.

But actually what I want to talk about today is not last night’s group, or even this weeks result.

You see this is a pretty special post for me, because last night’s weigh in marked the 1 year anniversary of my joining Slimming World and starting on this incredible journey I never believed I could make.

A year ago I was in a very different ‘place’. I weighed 6 stone more than I do now, had a very different relationship with food in general and my outlook on life was tired, sad and often on the negative side. I was so consumed with being a new mother and the associated challenges that come with that, that I’d almost ceased to exist as a person in my own right. I don’t think that’s wholly unusual in new mothers, but I was compensating for this lack of self worth by giving myself the one thing that I really didn’t need. High sugar, high fat food and lots of it. It’s sad to think I gained 2 stone after I had my son (and not, as someone assumed the other day, while I was pregnant), but I think I need to make it clear that I can’t blame my starting weight solely on motherhood. I have been obese my whole adult life. My weight’s fluctuated a bit, but except for a year or so I’ve been a size 22/24 all my adult life. The last time I wore the size 16’s I’m wearing now was in my late teens.

A couple of things happened to motivate me to change things in 2013. Firstly my son turned 1 in the April (I wore a size 24 dress to his party. It was pretty tight) and I realised I wouldn’t be able to the use the ‘new baby’ excuse for much longer. He wasn’t new any more!

Around the same time I also started keeping a gratitude journal via the Happier.com app, recording three happy moments a day. I did it daily and realised within a few months that all my happy moments were about Oscar and never about me. This got me thinking. So I started my blog to give me something of an outlet, with no intention of sharing it 😉 !

Then over the next few months I happened to see a couple of photos that shocked me rigid.

First there was this one.

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

At the time I told myself it was just an awful photo – that the boy was extremely wriggly and I was caught in an unflattering position, trying to keep hold of him. Now, I think it looks like I’m trying to hide behind by one year old son.

Then a couple of months later this was taken at Oscar’s toddler group summer picnic.

July 2013

July 2013

I was convinced this was going to be a great picture of the two of us and when I saw it I was heart broken. That dress is a size 26.

I knew something had to change, but funnily enough joining Slimming World wasn’t so much about losing weight at first. It was more about getting some space for me. So OK, so my reason for joining might sound odd to you, but it was hugely motivating at the time. I’m not sure if I had joined with the sole intention of losing lots of weight I would have succeeded in quite the same way. I went with no real expectation, putting no pressure on myself to ‘do well’.

But to my surprise, after a couple of weeks I did start to ‘do well’ and the boost it gave me was immeasurable. The ‘plan’ (I never call it the ‘plan’ – it makes it sound a bit cult like!) made me question how I thought about food. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what foods were nutritionally better for me than others, but this actually made me stop and think about the food I was eating, rather than blindly eating whatever I fancied. The group sessions, or Image Therapy as Slimming World rather grandly call them 😉 were also a revelation. I found, and still do find, talking about any issues I’ve had that week incredibly useful, but not only that it also gave me the space to be proud of my achievements, something I’d never done before. Accepting compliments is incredibly liberating. If you’ve not done it before, I highly recommend it.

The rest of the year you probably already know. It’s passed anyone’s expectations, probably because no one actually had any 🙂 . My SW achievements include:

  • Winning Slimmer of the Week 12 times
  • Winning Slimmer of the Month 3 times
  • Losing 10% of my body weight
  • Winning ‘Greatest Loser of the Year’ for Liphook 7.30 group
  • Losing 6 stone in just under one year

12 What a loser! 20140627-124559-45959549.jpg

But the achievements I’ve seen every day have been just as incredible

  • Going from a size 26 to a 16 Dress (with a stop off in my gorgeous size 22 Monsoon dress)
  • Getting back into my pre-pregnancy size 22 jeans and quickly slimming out of them again
  • Walking everywhere. I’ve halved the time it takes me to get anywhere, meaning I keep arriving early to everything!
  • Buying my first ever pair of skinny jeans – and living in them!
  • Finally fitting into Fat Face and Joules and other brands that don’t even carry plus sizes.

photo 4 - Copy

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But I guess my greatest achievement so far has been just to keep going. To finally understand that no one else is responsible for this journey. Only me.

It’s not always easy. I have hard times, same as everyone. I have set backs and disappointments. I have days where I just don’t want to care any more. Days when I’m sick and tired of thinking about food and whether the choices I’m making are the best ones. Weeks when I look at the scales and want to cry, be it a gain or a loss. But despite all that, I just keep going. Something in me wont let me not.

Because you see I’m not finished yet. I still have further to go than some people ever do, but I have lost more than I need to lose and that’s a great feeling.

Hey what am I saying, I haven’t lost this weight. It’s gone. I have no intention of finding it again!

So the coming year? Who knows. I still have no idea of what my final target weight will be, or even should be. It was so far away I couldn’t even think about it before. Perhaps this year I will. I have my next interim target (to lose 2 more stone, making a total of 8 stone) to reach and I’m happy enough with that for now. Scales aside, who knows? I’m looking forward to buying a new winter coat to replace my old size 24 one. I want to take up yoga or pilates. Little things really.

Most of all I want to keep this happy, confident feeling. I feel like I’m visible for the first time in so long, I don’t want to fade again.

See her? That’s Lisa that is.

Have a great week

xxxxx