Bath Bombs Galore!

Over the past few years, it seems bath bombs have been popping up at every skincare shop out there. Bath bombs leave your bathwater cleansing, soothing and delightfully fizzy. With their soothing scents and fun fizzy effect, it’s no wonder bath bombs are such a huge hit. .However, boutique bath bombs can be expensive and include a fizzing ingredient called citric acid that can be harsh on your skin.  .

It’s easy to make on your own using ingredients found at your local supermarket, and you can omit the citric acid. This recipe calls for cream of tartar (which is sold in the baking aisle in Asda!), which, when combined with baking soda, will give you the same fizzy results.

Ingredients & Materials Needed

256g (9oz / 2 cups) of bicarbonate soda

128g (4.5oz / 1 cup) cream of tartar

50g (1.6oz / 6 tbsp) of Epsom salts

Essential oils of your choosing

Coconut or olive oil

Water or Witch Hazel – in a spray bottle

Large mixing bowl

Large metal spoon

Silicone ice cube tray or mould

Method

  1. Combine the bicarb soda, cream of tartar and Epsom salts in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add up to 20 drops of your choice of essential oil (or up to your desired scent) and two teaspoons (7g / 11ml) of coconut / olive oil.  If you have any dried lavender or any other dried flowers, you can add them at this point.
  3. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, test the mixture by squeezing a small amount in your hand.  If the powder easily compresses together without separating, it is ready to place in the moulds.  However, if the mixture crumbles apart, add a single spray of water / Witch Hazel at a time until you can compress it into a ball.  You shouldn’t have to add more than five sprays of water / Witch Hazel.
  4. Now pack the mixture tightly into the silicone moulds.  You will find that the back of a metal spoon will help compact the mixture in to all corners of the mould.
  5. Leave the mixture in the mould for a full 24 hours to dry.
  6. Once the bath bombs have dried for 24 hours in the mould, carefully remove them and allow them to air dry undisturbed for another 24 hours.  Then, drop one in your bath and enjoy the fizz!

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Chicken and Smoked Sausage Alfredo Pasta

It’s been quite a while my last post, and I thought it was about time I started blogging again.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better time than to post a new recipe!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 smoked pork sausage

1 courgette (for those who live in the USA, you would call this a zucchini)

1 small(ish) unsweetened double cream (Elmlea is perfect.  Again, if you’re in the US, you may call this heavy, or whipping cream)

A couple of handfuls of cheese – I used 1 handful of white Cheddar, and 1 handful of red Cheddar

1 small pot of garlic paste, or if unavailable, 2 garlic cloves – crushed / chopped…  Whatever your preference

A good shaking of smoked paprika

Pasta – I used five handfuls of fusilli

Tablespoon of olive oil – for frying

Method

  • Dice your chicken breasts, slice your sausage, and ‘stick’ your courgette.

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  • Add your pasta to a pan, and cover with water.  Put on the heat, on the hob.

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  • Warm your wok / frying pan up, and add the oil just as the pan begins to smoke.
  • Add the chicken, and fry until fully cooked, stirring occasionally.

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  • When the chicken has cooked, add a decent shaking of your smoked paprika, and add your garlic paste / cloves.

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  • Stir thoroughly, and allow the paprika & garlic to be absorbed just a little.
  • Add the sliced smoked sausage and sticked courgette, and allow to fry – stirring occasionally – until the courgette has started to soften slightly.

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  • Pour in the cream, and stir thoroughly.

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  • Ignore the look of it now…  It’s gone from “pretty” to a mess in less than 5 seconds.
  • Add the cheese – about half a handful at a time – and use the ‘lift & stir’ technique.  (If you don’t know what this is, it’s simple.  Push your wooden spoon / spatula under the mixture, then lift – as if you’re folding the mixture – then stir around, until all the cheese has melted.)

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  • Turn down the heat completely, and sort out your pasta…  I usually drain off the pasta, pour boiling water over it, then redrain.  Add a small amount of butter (small – ha ha!!) and stir until the butter has melted.

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  • Turn off the heat to the cheese sauce & meat mix, and add the pasta directly to the pan.

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  • Give it a good stir, then turn out in to a fancy (if you have one) serving dish.

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  • Help yourself, and enjoy 🙂  I served this with a couple of garlic baguettes, straight from the oven.  Yummy.

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Shortbread & Coconut Shortbread

It’s Gnings’ last day in school tomorrow, as he is breaking up for Christmas.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come around!

I’ve been struggling for ideas on what he should give to his teacher, and two teaching assistants, as a gift for Christmas; and with money being a bit tight too (I’m still on maternity leave), I didn’t really want to spend a lot.  So I thought, everyone loves biscuits, so that’s what we’ll do.  And that’s what we did!

I think I managed to make about 50 stars, and 35 “gingerbread” biscuits.  The stars cost approx. 50p, and the “gingerbread” ones about 75p.

Here’s the recipe:~

125g butter, softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour (all-purpose)

OPTIONAL – (1tbsp desiccated coconut)

Drop of water

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C for fan assisted).
  2. Line a baking tray (or two) with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together, using the back of a large, wooden spoon.
  4. Sift in all of the flour, in one go, and stir it all together using the spoon (this is also the part where you will add the coconut – if you are going to.  This worked absolutely wonderfully).  When you’re unable to stir any more, use one of your hands to start “bringing the mixture together”, in to a dough.
  5. Add just a drop or two of water – just enough so the mixture starts to meld nicely.  Don’t add too much, otherwise it’ll end up all sticky, and icky.
  6. Once the dough has formed a lovely ball, turn out on to a work surface, that has had a ‘scattering’ of icing sugar (powdered / confectioners sugar), and roll out with a rolling pin, so that it’s about 1cm thick.
  7. Cut out your required shape(s) – squares, rectangles, circles, stars, etc. – and place on the lined baking tray.
  8. Lightly prick the top of the biscuits with a fork, and sprinkle a little more caster sugar on the top of each.
  9. Throw them in the oven (well, not literally) for 15-20 minutes, or until a golden brown colour.
  10. Allow to cool fully before digging in.  Be careful though!  They are incredibly moreish.

Excuse the pics – my camera is playing up a little 😦

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And this is how I packaged them up – all ready for Gningy to take in to school tomorrow:

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

This, was rather an easy make, and I am VERY impressed with how it turned out.  For one full tart, it cost me about £3 to make…  I suppose you can say that this was a frugal make, because the richness of the chocolate and caramel meant that you can only have a small piece!  Ha ha.

I had my little Gning help me make this…  He broke up the chocolate for me, and because the final result had lots of chocolate, he loved eating it afterwards!

Pastry Ingredients

225g plain flour

100g butter

pinch salt

2-3 tbsp water

Caramel Ingredients

210g caster sugar

112.5ml (or there abouts) water

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

70g butter

1tsp salt

Chocolate Ingredients

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

120g dark or milk chocolate (dark works best, but it’s up to you)

Sea salt crystals

Method

  1. Make your pastry by sifting the flour in to a large bowl.  Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the salt, then add a little water at a time to mix in to a firm dough.
  3. Knead the dough slightly, on a floured board, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  4. Roll out the dough to a size to fit your tart tin, and about a pound coin thickness.  Place in your greased tin, with a slight overhang on the sides…  Don’t bother to trim, as the pastry will shrink a little when in the oven.
  5. Lightly prick all over the bottom of the dough with a fork, and line with baking / greaseproof paper.  Add baking beans, and “blind bake” on 170C (fan assisted) for 20 minutes.  After this time, remove from the oven, remove the beans and paper, then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden colour.
  6. Wait until the pastry has completely cooled before turning it out on to a serving plate.  Place this out the way…  You won’t need it for a little while now.
  7. To make the caramel, add the caster sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil – WITHOUT STIRRING.  When the sugar water has started to boil, turn the temperature down a little, and “swirl” the pan around – still without stirring.
  8. Now it is time for a fair amount of patience…  You have to wait for the sugar water to turn in to a caramel colour…  This can take 10-15 minutes.  Do not stir!
  9. When the sugar water has turned in to a lovely golden colour, remove from the heat, and stir in the cream.  Return to the heat for a further 2 minutes, constantly stirring.  Be careful at this point, as the mixture will bubble up and may “spit” when you add the cream.
  10. Remove from the heat again, and stir in the butter until fully melted.
  11. Allow to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), before pouring in to the pastry that you made earlier.
  12. Place the caramel tart in the fridge for about 3-5 hours, or so, until the caramel has ‘set’.
  13. When your caramel has set, it’s time to make the chocolate!  Break the chocolate up in to a bowl, and leave to one side.
  14. Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer gently for about 2 minutes or so…  You don’t really want to ‘cook’ the cream, so don’t have a high temperature.
  15. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and leave for about a minute.  After a minute, stir the cream and chocolate together…
  16. Allow to settle slightly, then pour over the top of the caramel tart.  You may need to scrape, and smooth out the chocolate.
  17. Return to the fridge for a further 1-2 hours, or until set.  Please be aware that the chocolate will NOT fully set.
  18. Before serving, sprinkle a small amount of coarse sea salt on the top of the tart, and serve any which way you like.  Good enough to eat on its’ own, or with a strawberry and mint leaf!

Enjoy!

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Homemade Toad in the Hole

Ooo, you’re in for a treat today, stalkers.  Today I’m making a ‘Toad in the Hole’ from scratch…  No cheating here!  I have even made the batter from scratch today 🙂

If you’re curious as to what a “Toad in the Hole” is, simply keep scrolling…  Or, you can always Google for pictures.  No, it’s not an actual frog in a hole…  It’s pork sausages baked inside a Yorkshire pudding.  And it’s so easy and cheap to make…  It’s also a family favourite.

Ingredients

8 pork link sausages

Oil (vegetable, olive, sunflower…  The choice is yours)

100g plain flour

1 egg

150ml water

150ml milk (full fat / whole milk is best)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 220C (200C for fan assisted).
  • If required, separate your sausages, and line in the base of an oven proof dish, ensuring enough of a gap in between each sausage.
  • Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil over the sausages.

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  • Place in to the oven for about 20 minutes or so, until the sausages have started to brown.
  • Now it’s time to make the batter!  Sieve the flour in to a mixing bowl, and make a ‘well’ in the middle.
  • Crack the egg in to the well, and mix lightly.
  • Add the milk and water slowly to the flour mixture, stirring constantly.  I put the water and milk in to a jug, and poured in to the flour mix whilst using an electric whisk.  The mixture should be of a creamy texture when it’s all combined.

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  • When the sausages are cooked, quickly pour the flour mixture over the top of the sausages, and return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes.

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  • The batter mix should be a lovely golden brown colour when done.

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  • Serve one its’ own or with a yummy gravy.  Enjoy x

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Homemade Cottage Pie – Pic Heavy x

I bought a 5kg sack of potatoes last week, and so far we’d only used a small handful out of it.  Usually when I buy spuds, they end up growing roots all over them, and sometimes I forget about them completely, and end up having to chuck them out.

I wanted to use up some of the potatoes, so I wandered around Asda earlier today, wondering what I could make with them.

There’s a shelf hidden away that stores all the reduced fresh foods…  The foods that have the “eat by” (todays) date on, and sometimes you can get a real bargain there.  In the past, I’ve managed to get a beautiful rump steak for only 60p!

Scouring the shelf this afternoon, I looked through the reduced fish, quiches, yogurts…  And there it was.  Hidden at the back, under a pile of macaroni cheese ready meals…  A 500g carton of lean beef mince.  It had a price tag of £4.99 on the carton, but a yellow sticker placed on top, saying £3.42.  Not a huge saving, but I was in a bit of a rush at this point.

The dilemma of what we were going to have for dinner was solved.  Cottage Pie.

Now, you may be surprised when I tell you that there are so many people out there who do not know the difference between a cottage and a shepherds pie (seriously – I’m not lying!!).

It’s easy to remember…  What do shepherds do?  They look after sheep!  A shepherds pie is made with lamb.  A cottage pie is beef.

So, here’s my take on the classic cottage pie.  It’s so family friendly, that even my 4 year old had seconds!!

Ingredients

Beef mince meat

Potatoes

Peas

Carrots

Beef gravy granules

Cheese (I used red Leicester)

BBQ sauce

Salt

Oil (for frying)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 200C (180C for fan assisted ovens), and get an ovenproof dish ready.
  • Peel and quarter your potatoes, then place them in a large pan.  Add a sprinkle of salt, and cover the potatoes with water.  Bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a splash of oil in it.  I usually use my wok because of its’ size.  I love my wok, ha ha.  When the oil is almost bubbling, gently place the mince meat in to the oil, and separate with a wooden spoon / spatula.

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  • When the meat has all browned off, squirt a bit of barbecue sauce on top of the meat, and stir in well.
  • This is the part that I cheat on…  A little bit anyway.  Now you can do it with fresh peas and carrots, but due to a certain little man annoying me for his dinner, I opened a tin of petit pois and carrots and threw them in.

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  • Next up is to make yourself about 3/4 of a pint of gravy.  If you’ve never done this before (which I’m sure you have), simply add two large spoonfuls of gravy granules to a jug, and pour in boiled water, whisking constantly.  When you’ve made your gravy, pour it over the meat and veg, and stir thoroughly.

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  • As soon as the meat mixture has been stirred thoroughly, scoop in to an ovenproof dish, and set aside until you’re ready for the potatoes.

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  • Your potatoes should almost be done now.  To check if they’re ready, simply prod a couple with a fork, or knife.  If the utensil slips in to the potato easily, then they’re ready to be mashed.  Drain the excess water from the pan, add a big blob of butter (or marg), and attack it with your masher!

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  • When it’s all mashed, use a large metal spoon (or wooden – whatever you like) to scoop the potatoes on top of the meat mixture.

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  • Phew!  We’re almost there now…  If you haven’t already, now’s the time to get your cheese of choice grated.  When that’s done, sprinkle as much (or as little) as you want on top of the potatoes.

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  • Ok!  Be careful here, as I’m sure you’re aware; ovens are hot!!  Place your dish in the middle of the oven, and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • It’s time for the waiting game now.  You can do whatever you want at this point.  I decided I was going to have a Diet Coke break (I have not been paid to advertise them, lol).

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  • What’s that I can hear?  It’s the timer!  It’s dinner time!!

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  • Enjoy!

Sweet Egg Bread Breakfast

As Donut was kind enough to wait until 7am to wake up (very proud), I gave him his bottle, and I wondered what I should make for breakfast this morning.

I have a tendency to buy eggs, pop them in the fridge (although, technically, you shouldn’t store eggs in the fridge – they should be kept at room temperature – it’s just that my kitchen is SO hot!) and then forget all about them.  What usually happens next is that I fancy a fried or scrambled egg, so I go to the fridge, and then cringe as I look at the “use by” date.

Today was no exception…  I opened the fridge, and I starred at the five eggs that were sitting in the fridge.  They were still in date, as I had only purchased them on Thursday evening.  I realised that I had also only 6 rounds of bread left…  Now breakfast is an easy choice when you have these essential ingredients.

If you use 2 rounds per person, this breakfast costs approx. 50p per person.

Ingredients

1 egg per person

Splash of milk

1 or 2 rounds of bread per person

A good portion of cinnamon / sweet mixed spice powder (I only have sweet mixed spice)

Splash of oil (for frying)

Golden or Maple Syrup

Method

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and a good sprinkling of your powdered cinnamon (or sweet mixed spice).
  2. Place enough oil in a frying pan, and heat gently.
  3. Dip the bread – one round at a time – in to the egg mixture, and place in the frying pan.  Sprinkle a little more of the powdered cinnamon (or sweet mixed spice) on to the bread.  **Note:  Do not “dip” more than one round of bread at a time in to the egg mixture unless you have enough room in your frying pan.
  4. Allow to fry for approx. 2 minutes, then turn over.  Add a touch more powdered cinnamon (or sweet mixed spice) to the round of bread, then allow to fry for another 2 minutes.  Turn over once more to quickly “seal” in the powdered cinnamon (or sweet mixed spice).
  5. Place on your plate, and serve either on its’ own, or with a lashing of golden / maple syrup.

This dish is best served hot 🙂

I ended up with excess egg mixture at the end, so I just put a drop more oil in the pan and poured the egg mix directly in.  It was like a sweet omelette.  Again, I poured a little of the syrup over the finished dish.

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