Thursday, 31 March 2011

What are you reading in April?


I've been prompted to write this post after reading Curtains for the Window's blog post which is a monthly linky about what they are reading.

You may or may not remember that I wrote this post back in January about my reading pile? Well I am ashamed to say after a relatively good start which saw me flying through the first three of the Flowers in the Attic series (book 3 bored me and I gave up, although I did enjoy 1 and 2) I slowed right down to a bit of a halt.  I managed to read Katie Piper's Beautiful recently - which is an awe-inspiring book, what an amazing girl and I also started "One Day" by David Nicholls.  It's rare that I ever give up on a book but honestly, four chapters in and I was still bored rigid so I disposed of it.  I thought it was as dull as dishwater.  It's a controversial view, most people love it but clearly it wasn't for me.

My reading pile has in fact grown larger, I know, it's a bit of a problem so I hereby vow to attack it by commiting to read three books this month and for April these will be as follows.

The Secret History which has been on my list for like forever!


The Lady in the Tower - The Fall of Anne Boleyn.  If you know me, you know I have a Tudors obession.

and the one I am most excited about *cough* I pre-ordered this today after a chat about it on Twitter. Sweet Valley Confidential. Yes! What happened 10 years after the last Sweet Valley High books. I know this is sad but I don't care!


So come tell me, what are you reading in April? and do pop over to Curtains for the Window and leave a comment or link up to your own blog post on the linky.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Rhubarb & Custard Cake


Earlier this week I felt like I needed some rhubarb in my life. Every year I miss the rhubarb in the shops but not this year! I refused to be caught out! Obviously Tesco being next to useless didn't have any but as expected Waitrose stepped up to the mark.

I searched around for a suitable recipe and settled on the Rhubarb and Custard cake from BBC Good Food because a) it sounded lovely and b) it had pretty good reviews.

My biggest stumbling block with this cake was roasting the rhubarb. Not because it's difficult or anything, but because the aroma was amazing and all I wanted to do was scoff the roasted rhubarb! I did manage to restrain myself though.


This cake was gorgeous.  I thought I was going to have a complete cake wreck on my hands as it took ages to cook, I mean almost double the time the recipe states and as a result the edges went a bit biscuity but actually overnight it softened again and was perfect the next day.  It was absolutely delicious and even Mr M didn't object to the slimy bits of rhubarb.  It's firmly found it's place in my list of favourite cakes ever!  If you like rhubarb, give it a try!

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

Ingredients

For the rhubarb;
400g rhubarb
50g caster sugar

For the cake;
250g butter (with extra for greasing)
150g pot Ambrosia ready-made custard
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g golder caster sugar

Method

First make the rhubarb.  Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.   Rinse the rhubarb and shake off excess water.  Trim the ends of the rhubarb and cut into small finger-size pieces.  Put in a shallow dish or a baking tray, tip over 50g caster sugar, toss together.  Make sure the rhubarb is in a single layer and cover the dish with foil.  Roast in the oven for around 15 minutes before removing the foil, shaking it all around a bit and roasting for a further 5 minutes.  Carefully drain away the juices and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4.  Butter and line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Reserve 3 tbsp of the ready-made custard in bowl and beat together the rest of the custard with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth (I used the KitchenAid mixer for this). 

Spoon one third of the mix into the tin and add some of the rhubarb.  Add another third of the mix and spread it out over the top as well as you can.  Top with some more rhubarb and then the remaining cake mix, leaving it in rough mounds and dips.  Scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the top of the cake batter and dot the remaining custard over.

Bake the cake for 40 minutes until risen and golden, then cover with foil and bake for around 20 minutes more.  You can tell when the cake is ready in the usual way - by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle. If it comes out clean, it's ready!

Cool the cake in the tin and if you wish, dredge with icing sugar when cool.

Just be mindful, as mentioned above, that you may need to extend the cooking time somewhat.  All in all I probably had it in the oven for well over an hour and a half.  I kept the foil on for all of the extra cooking time.

Even though this cake made me nervous due to the extended cooking time, it turned out very well and I think I shall make it a lot over the years - it's perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Movie Meme....Favourite Chick Flick

For the first time ever I am joining in with the Movie Meme that Metal Mummy does on her blog each week.  I don't know why I have never done this before as I quite enjoy a meme from time to time and I love movies so it's a no-brainer really.

I see that many people have recoiled in horror at this week's subject - the chick flick - but I'm not going to lie to you, a flipping love a good chick flick and if it makes me cry, even better.

Because I love all chick flicks (I'm not going to discriminate, I pretty much love them all even if they are truly a pile of pap) it was hard to narrow it down to one. Recent favourites include 27 Dresses and PS I Love You, older favourites include Step Mom and The Bodyguard but I am going for a classic. Okay, an 80's classic.

Steel Magnolias.


I must have seen this film a hundred times but I never get bored of it. I even introduced a friend of mine to it and now she loves it as much as I do. Not only does it star amazing group of actresses (and of course one of my favourite gals is in there, Dolly Parton) it also has some of the wittiest snappiest dialogue surrounding a highly emotional storyline.

"Oh get with it, Clairee. This is the eighties. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past."

It makes me laugh and it makes me cry, but more than anything it leaves me with a warm, squidgy feeling after I've watched it.  Before I go I'll share one of my favourite bits from the film with you;


I apologise for the fluffiness of this blog-post!  I'm off to dig out the DVD, a hanky and some wine.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

I went to a shoe musuem today, it was a load of old cobblers

All this lovely sunny weather gives me a shoe issue. What do you wear on your feet when it's warm?  I'm especially pondering over this due to our forthcoming Florida trip.  I've been checking out the feet of mothers on the school run recently (don't worry I haven't got a foot fetish, honest), and it seems to be a mix of Fit Flops, Crocs, ballet flats and Birkenstocks.   

Now I have about four pairs of Birkenstocks (all Madrid) which I love - the black ones I have are vintage now (*cough* I bought them in 2004...) and are my favourite as they are so comfy but I think I might just need a new pair or two for 2011.  Ssh. I like to colour co-ordinate my Birkies with my outfit. Current favourites are these babies
but I'm also considering one of these


but I refuse to wear Crocs - the ugliest footwear ever made.  Sure, they are bound to be comfortable - that's one of the reasons I won't even try them on. What if I love them and then never want to take them off? The fact that my kids wear them is also another reason for me not to have any although having just looked at their website I know realise that they do a whole load of other styles and not just the midwife-style clogs but the fact that they make Hello Kitty Crocs for ADULTS made me leave their website almost immediately.


and Fit Flops? well they just make me feel a bit funny.  I don't really *get* them.  Do they really work? I guess I'll never know.


There's a beautiful array out there but I can't do ballet flats.  I find them so uncomfortable, they slip off my feet and they show too much toe cleavage for my liking.  And don't get me started on anything with a toe-post (*vomits a little bit*) I like how they look but not how they feel.  I'm also total shorty so I like a bit of height and I guess wedges are good for this however my small-but-wide feet cannot cope with a peep or open-toe shoe, my poor little toes get squished through the gaps and I ended up all bleeding and blistered. NOT a good look. 

I swear all shoes hurt my feet, unless they are coated in a layer of Elastoplast. I must have sensitive feet or something as nobody else seems to struggle! Perhaps my feet need to man up a bit.

Anyway, all these shoe traumas do not stop me admiring or indeed buying, pretty but painful shoes and if I could I'd wear shoes like these every day!



Beautiful and much more me, but not entirely practical...

What graces your tooties in warmer weather?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 28 March 2011

Meal Planning Monday (28th March 2011)

I am totally uninspired this week but have managed to cobble together a plan for the week. You know sometimes you just don't know what you want?  I bet when it comes down to it I won't even want to make these dinners, I'm just in that weird kind of mood but I've eaten out a lot recently and had a lot of takeaways so I've got to make an effort this week!


Week commencing Monday 28th March 2011

Pepper & potato omelette
Spring pasta
Salmon & warm rice salad
Spaghetti bolognese
Pizza

Rhubarb & strawberry crumble
Rhubarb & custard cake


An extremely simple week this week - my head can't take anything too complex right now and the baking and dessert exploits are enough to keep me busy!

What have you got planned? Join in the Linky below and let me know!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Friday, 25 March 2011

Review: Find Me A Gift and Joseph Joseph

Find Me a Gift recently sent me a couple of items from  to review from the fabulously designed Joseph Joseph range that they stock on their website. 

I decided to choose two items that I knew I would use a couple of times a week and opted for the Smasher Potato Masher and the Rocker Garlic Press.


The first one I tried was the potato masher.  I was a little dubious at first.  Could this be any better than my 99p jobby from Woolworths? After all, it's just a masher. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the difference this pump-action masher made to my mashed potatoes. The Smasher pushes the mash potato up through the holes rather than out, resulting in a lovely smooth texture. Of course, this could be achieved with a normal masher however it would take a lot more time and effort.  I'm become a fan of it and it's already replaced my trusty old masher in my affections!

It's completely dishwasher safe but I was pleased to find because it is plastic it's very easy to clean, a quick swill under the tap and it's clean. The main problem I have is finding somewhere to store it as it's quite bulky and it doesn't fit in a utensil pot or any of my drawers.

At £13.00 it's seems a bit pricy but when you work out what the cost per use would be it's value for money! I'd certainly consider giving it as a house-warming gift as suggested on the Find Me a Gift website.

Next I tried the garlic rocker when I was making spaghetti bolognese for tea.  I currently use a metal garlic press which is looking a bit worse for wear after suffering some serious abuse in the past few years so I was in the market for a new press.

My first thought was it was bigger than I had imagined, which was a good thing. The idea is that you use downward pressure and a rocking motion to quickly and evenly crush the garlic and push it up through the holes. The shallow bowl of the rocker holds all the crushed garlic and you can do clove after clove without having to empty it or clean it.  

I liked the fact that it could hold the garlic as well as crush it because I do find I always need another little bowl or somewhere to scrape the garlic onto when I am using my garlic press and want to do more than one clove.  I loved it and I can imagine that it will become my full-time garlic crusher of choice!

It's extremely easy to clean and because it's stainless steel, it is suggested that you use it rub over your hands to reduce any garlic odours. What a good idea!

At £16.00 I don't think it's an unreasonable price for something that will get a lot of use and is extremely practical both in use and cleaning terms. 

Thank you to Find Me A Gift for providing these items for review.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rustic Herby Chips


Thought I'd just share this very simple but tasty herby chip recipe. I served these with the pork and apple burgers that I previously blogged about.  There's not a lot to say about these as well, they're just chips and they speak for themselves so I'll just get on with it!  Recipe serves 4.

Rustic Herby Chips

Ingredients

1kg potatoes
100ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp celery salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6.

Leaving the skin on cut each potato into wedges or fat chips and blanch in boiling water for four minutes. The water should be kept on a rolling boil.  Drain the chips through a colander and allow to cool.  

Put the spices into a large bowl and tip in the potatoes.  Toss the chips around to coat them evenly with the spices.  Add the oil and coat the chips well.

Place on an oven tray and cook for around 45 minutes.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Pork and Apple Burger with Caramelised Onions


Another triumph from BBC Good Food. My photography isn't up to much but believe me, these burgers were extremely tasty.  The best thing was they took very little effort!
A really simple recipe with just a few basic ingredients - where can you go wrong? They tasted beautiful and I can't wait to try these out on the BBQ now the season is coming up. Yes, I realise it's still only March but the sun is shining, it's warm and BBQ's surely can't be that far away?


I nearly didn't bother making the onions but am really glad I did, they added an extra bit of taste and texture.

I've adapted the recipe because I thought the quantities were a bit strange on the original which stated 900g of mince for four burgers. That seems excessive, no? I used 500g and still managed to get five large burgers out of the mixture!  This recipe serves 4.

Pork and Apple Burger with Caramelised Onions

Ingredients

500g minced pork
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cooking apple, peeled and finely grated
1 egg
handful sage

For the caramelised onion;
3 onions, sliced
2 tbsp light muscavado sugar
butter

Method

To caramelise the onions, cook them in a small saucepan with the sugar and a large knob of butter over a very gentle heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every now and again.

Meanwhile, mix all the burger ingredients together in a large bowl and season well.  Shape the mixture into four burgers and fry over a medium heat for around 7 minutes on each side until browned and cooked in the middle.

Serve the burgers on toasted buns and top with the caramelised onions.

See? Easy.

I didn't have any fresh sage so I used some dried sage. I probably used about 1.5 heaped tsps.

I served the burgers on warm ciabatta rolls with a dollop of apple sauce and some rustic herby chip.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

RIP Elizabeth Taylor


27th February 1932 - 23rd March 2011
"Big girls need big diamonds"

I just heard the news that Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. Sad times. I always find it such a shock when someone high profile dies, even when they are old or in Elizabeth's case have been suffering from ill-health.

When she was younger she was such an incredible, amazing beauty. One of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life.  I recently enjoyed reading a biography of her colourful and interesting life.







Gorgeous.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Movie magic and movie misery


Last night I sat down to watch Titanic for the first time in years.  I can't remember the last time I watched it but it must be at least 4 years I'd say.  I'll risk public ridicule and being cast from society by saying I love this film. Yes, it's cheesy and the acting's not great and we all know how it ends but I don't care.  I think at the time this film was done beautifully. I say "at the time" because the advances in CGI mean that it looks a bit dated now but hey, it was filmed in 1997 - a whole fourteen years ago!


As I admitted on Twitter last night - I saw this no less than three times at the cinema. Is that is something I should own up to or not?  I was always going to love this film as ever since I was a little girl I have had a rather large obsession with the Titanic.  It seemed like such an incredible story and of course it was, apart from that it was fact rather than fiction.  It's still something that captivates people nearly a hundred years later.  For me it was the splendour and glamour of this big ship and the rich, beautiful people that sailed on it. Then there were the tales of the third class passengers off to start new lives in America with their families, most of which never made it.  The thought of this huge ship lying at the bottom of the see fascinated me and thanks to modern technology, the pictures still do. All those eerie pictures of peoples possessions lying at the bottom of the Atlantic.  I've read a great many books, seen documentaries, been to exhibitions and I still I want to know more all the time.


I was quite excited to hear yesterday that Julian Fellowes is writing a TV mini-series about the Titanic which is starting filming very soon. I have high hopes for this based on the work he has done on both Downton Abbey and Gosford Park.  Obviously it will be quite fictional but it should still be a good watch.

Back to the film and the misery part. was merrily sat watching, shouting out random bits of Titanic and film trivia at Mr M and got to the dreaded iceberg part when...the film stopped and it asked me to put in disc 2. What? Of course disc 2 was in the case squirreled away in the loft as I keep DVDs in a folder so it meant I had to cease watching at that point. How very frustrating and unfulfilling! Why would you put a film on two discs? Why? The DVD I have was a special edition, exclusive to HMV with tons of extras - I told you I hadn't watched it for ages, I'd clearly erased this annoyance from my mind!

Anyway, I'd seen enough to be able to comment on just how beautiful Kate Winslet was in that film. I've never been a huge fan of hers but I think she was just the most gorgeous I have ever seen her. 








I adore the dress she wears in these scenes


Do you remember when she wore this green dress to the Oscars in 1998? I remember  back then thinking, wow!


Are you a Titanic lover? or do you have some other secret obsession?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 21 March 2011

Meal Planning Monday (21st March 2011)

Here I am with my second ever "Meal Planning Monday" blogpost! I had a few people join in last week which was lovely - I enjoyed reading about what others had planned for the week.

As usual I left my meal planning to the last minute last night so it's all a bit rushed! Note the delectable qualities of the first "meal" on the menu. Can't really be called a meal can it? We're going to Ikea this evening so a light snack is order as a trip to Ikea always means a trip to McDonalds on the way home!
Week commencing Monday 21st March 2011

Cheese toasties
Chilli and garlic spaghetti with lemon crumbs
Thai style biryani
Mashed potato pie
Macaroni cheese


Actually quite a simple week in our house, I'm sorry it's not more inspiring. 

I hasten to add I will not be partaking in macaroni cheese eating (bleurgh) but Mr M and the kids love it and I shall be serving it up to them before I swan off with some girlfriends for a lovely meal out!

Happy meal planning people and don't forget to let me know what you're dishing up this week - and if you can blog about it and use the Linky tool below to link to it so I can come check it out!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Colour obsession - what's yours?

I have developed an unhealthy obsessions with the colour coral, fueled by the many gorgeous items out there at the moment that are sporting this lovely hue.

I'm not normally a coral person but I'm drawn to it like a moth to a flame this Spring. I plan to be wearing a lot of it.  If you see a coral-coloured blob coming towards you there is a high chance it's me.

The coral items in the shop at the moment seem to range from the peachy to the downright orange but in truth, I'm not being overly picky. I thought I'd share some of my coral wishlist with you, some of which is clearly in my dreams...

Tara Jarmon Sundress from John Lewis £175
Winnie T-Bar Espradrilles by Topshop £65

Proenza Schouler satchel from Net-a-Porter £1,215

Coral pleated dress from Miss Selfridge £45

Whistles Carrie pleated skirt at John Lewis £95

Piped patent wedge from New Look £19.99


Bow stripe jumper from New Look £14.99

Tights from Dorothy Perkins £5.00

Coral crochet pumps from Dorothy Perkins £18.00

Lots of coral goodness! I definitely won't be splurging on the more expensive items but whilst it's still cold enough to get away with tights, I might get some of those beauties from Dotty P's. I'm a sucker for coloured tights.

Is there a colour your particularly loving right now? Do tell me!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Saturday, 19 March 2011

...and the winner is?


Comment No 6 aka Debbie who nominated Holly Willoughby has the best celeb mum!

Holly Willoughby was by far the most popular mum amongst the entrants, closely followed by Victoria Beckham.


Congratulations Debbie - theTatty Teddy chocs will be on their way to you very shortly!

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition, I hope that you get treated for Mothers Day!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Giveaway: Tatty Teddy Mothers Day Choc Box

Following on from the highly popular giveaway last week, I have another chocolate treat for you right here!

As you know (or should know) it's Mother's Day very soon, 3rd April to be precise and if you're looking a little gift for your mother (or maybe even for yourself...) one of these lovely Tatty Teddy boxes might be just the ticket.


There's a choice of gorgeous fillings - golden caramel, almond, marzipan and strawberry parfait amongst others.  

You can buy these lovely boxes of chocolates at selected Tesco stores where they retail at £4.99 however I have one to giveaway this week!

Here's what to do...
If you'd like to win a box of Tatty Teddy chocolates all you need to do to enter is leave a comment below telling me who you think the best celebrity mum is and why.  Please also send a quick email to athomewithmrsm@btinternet.com so that I am able to contact the winner.
After the giveaway has ended your email address will be deleted and not used for any other purpose.  The prize will be sent to you direct from the PR company.  This giveaway is one entry per person and open to people in the UK only. Sorry!

The giveaway closes on Friday 18th March 2011 at 5.00pm and the winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!
love & kisses
Mrs M x

Chilli Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry


See that up there? That was last nights dinner.  You want to know something? It was flipping great.

It was the first time I had made this stirfry, originally from BBC Good Food but it won't be the last, oh no.   Due to the frying aspect it's not particularly healthy but it IS extremely tasty and the scope to veg-it-up a bit is huge.

I had special dispensation from Mr M to include broccoli in this weeks meal planning. To me, broccoli is by far the most superior vegetable out there.  To Mr M, it's green and squidgy and is therefore BAD, but not as bad as sprouts and cabbage I hasten to add.  Would you believe that Mr M "dodger of all things green" actually stated halfway through eating this that he'd like more broccoli in it? He nearly received a short, sharp smack of a wok on his head however that is testament to how tasty this is.

As I've said above, this is a keeper and next time I will add a bit of extra vegetables.  I'm thinking maybe water chestnuts, mushrooms, green beans or sugar snap peas would work well.

Chilli Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

Ingredients

oil, for frying
300g thin-cut sirloin steaks
3tbsp cornflour
broccoli florets from a small head, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5cm piece ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
4 spring onions, sliced 
4 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp sugar
2 limes, juiced

Method

Slice the steak into thin strips and toss in a bowl with the cornflour.

In a wok heat a 5cm depth of oil until very hot.  Fry the steak strips in batches until dark and crisp.  Drain (Kitchen roll would be perfect for soaking up some of the oil).

Pour off most of the oil and stir-fry the broccoli, garlic, ginger and chilli for around a minute.  Mix the soy sauce and sugar together and tip into the wok along with the lime juice.  Cook for a further two minutes.

Toss in the beef and spring onions and serve!

We served this with some fluffy white basmati rice which went perfectly but this would also go well with noodles.

A few things to note - I used rump steak last night instead of sirloin as I was feeling cheap. It didn't make a noticeable difference. If you're not overly keen on ginger or lime you might want to reduce the amount slightly so it's not too overpowering.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 14 March 2011

Meal Planning Monday (14th March 2011)

Okay, here it is. As you might know from previous posts, I love to meal plan. I do it every week - planning ahead for the next 5-7 days what we will be having for dinner.  It doesn't work for everyone, some people like to be completely spontaneous but for me, it helps me to organise myself better, try new things and most importantly, save money on the groceries.

I thought it might be useful if each Monday I shared with you my menu for the week and I'm kind of hoping that if you're a meal planner you might share yours with me? I use blogs as a great source of inspiration for things to cook so I know I would find it incredibly helpful to see what other people are eating each week.

You can share your menu either by leaving a comment below or by blogging it and using the tool below the post to link to your own post.  I'll be sure to visit each and every blog post to check out your plans!  When blogging your weekly plan why not link to the recipe you'll be using if it's online or on your blog so that others can check it out.

Here's my first blog post for Meal Planning Monday.


Week commencing Monday 14th March 2011


Now it's your turn! I'd love for you to join in - get meal planning if you've never done it before and come back and tell me what you'll be eating this week!   Don't worry if it's not Monday when you do your planning - share it anyway!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

PS Feel free to pick up the image at the top of the page to use on your blog post - but please mention me when using it!