Cooking and Recipes · Food · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Chorizo Stuffed Chicken with Ratatouille

Stuffed Chicken and Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Things have been a bit hectic in the Mum’s the Word house since Sausage went back to school; first, the girls were poorly (tonsilitis), then I was poorly (gall bladder) and then the car decided to go kaput, leaving us unable to make regular trips to the shops, so we were living on what we had in the cupboards and as a result, my slow cookers have been rather neglected! Yesterday, I decided that I needed to get back into slow cooking again with something completely new, so I tried a recipe that I’ve been seeing on Facebook for a while and thought I’d share it here. I’m struggling with a succinct name for the whole dish, but it basically consists of chicken stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese on a kind of slow-cooked ratatouille concoction! Here’s how we made it:

Stuffed Chicken with Slow Cooker Ratatouille
Recipe Type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Mixed
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 portions
Chicken breasts, stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese, slow cooked on a bed of ratatouille.
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tub cream cheese
  • 12 slices of chorizo
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 punnet mushrooms
  • 300ml passata
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • New potatoes, to serve
Instructions
  1. Chop your onions, peppers and mushrooms and place in the bottom of your slow cooker
  2. Add the paprika to the passata and pour the passata over the veg mix
  3. Take your chicken breasts and slice 3/4 of the way through the breast diagonally
  4. Open the flap in the chicken breast and stuff with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese and 3 slices of chorizo
  5. Close the flap over the stuffing and and place on top of the veg and passata in the slow cooker
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours
  7. Serve with new potatoes or side of your choice (would work well with sweet potato wedges, too!)

The end result was wonderful – the veg and passata were tender and fresh-tasting, while the cheese and chorizo gave the chicken a creamy, smoky quality which went really well with the ratatouille. Sausage wasn’t a huge fan because she hates mushrooms but it was a winner with the rest of us and will definitely be made again. It would go well with a number of different sides too, making it a pretty versatile, easy-to-make dish and I’m also pretty sure it contains several of your 5-a-day. Let us know what you think!

 

Home

How Long Should You Really Take To Clean Your Home?

Woman cleaning kitchen counter

Are you guilty of giving the bathroom only a weekly wipe down, and the kitchen counters little more than a spritz at the end of a meal? You’re probably not alone… with many of us working, juggling family commitments, careers, exercising and social calendars, finding time to give the house a good scrub is a tall order!

But, with longer, warmer days upon us, the annual spring clean is in order. All those surfaces need dusting, you’ve not hovered in forever, wiping down awaits, and your cupboards are begging for a thorough clear-out… so, how long do you expect it to take you? (And yes, we mean moving the furniture to get into every nook and cranny!).

Is there a rule of thumb?

The length of time (and amount of effort) it takes to clean your house is going to depend on a lot of things. However, you can expect it to take 1 person approximately 4 hours for every 1,000 square feet of property. Why not make it faster by checking out these cleaning tips from Molly Maid and then consider the points below?

How big is your property?

If you live in a five-bedroom house, you’re going to have a lot more to clean than someone who lives in a studio flat. Of course, you can give your large property a cursory once over, but if you really want to do it justice, you’re going to need to set aside at least an entire weekend. On the other hand, your one bedroom apartment will probably take you little more than a morning of frenzied activity.

When did you last give it a deep clean?

If you’ve just moved into your house, you’ll want to give a thorough mop down to remove all trace of the previous owners. However, if you’ve just snapped up a new build, you might find a quick hoover and dust is all it requires. On the other hand, if you’ve been in your property for a long time and haven’t given it a deep clean since you moved in, you’re going to need to start by decluttering and then really put in some elbow grease to shift those layers of dust!

Do you have pets?

Cats and dogs shed their hair everywhere (even the breeds that are said not to!), and leave a lovable but notable ‘pet’ smell in their wake. If you’ve pets in your home, you’ll need to factor in extra time to lift stains and smells, and invest in a vacuum that can tackle their fur.

What products are you using?

Some cleaners are going to shift dirt quicker than others. It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to use environmentally friendly products or extra strength cleaners, but be sure to account for the fact that natural cleaners (such as solutions of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda) work best when left overnight.

Are you going it alone?

If you plan on tackling the chores single-handedly, it’s going to take you longer. However, if you can afford to and your free time is more valuable, consider enlisting the help of family members (after all, your kids live there too, right?!), or call on the services of professional cleaners.

Family · Holidays · Parenting

Preparing For That Family Camping Holiday

It’s always a good idea to provide variety for your family, particularly when it comes to holidays. As they say, travel broadens the mind – and getting your kids off to an early start in that respect is a great idea. That adage applies equally well whether you intend to holiday at home or abroad. But at home, there are particular favourite holidays which really work wonders with the whole family. Camping is one of the most popular choices for many families – and it’s not hard to figure out why. Provided that you are graced with some decent weather, camping can really be a memorable experience. For families in particular, it can do wonders for bringing everyone together. However, if you want it to be a successful holiday, then you need to prepare. Preparation is the key to success in everything, family holidays included. Read on now to find out some top tips for being as prepared as possible for your camping holiday.

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Get The Right Gear

As with anything, it is a really good idea to have the right equipment for the job. This ensures that you don’t come upon many nasty surprises later on. You can’t prepare for every eventuality possible, of course. But what you can do is prepare for most of them. And to do that, you need to get a little clever with your planning. Some of the camping gear is obvious – things such as tents and sleeping bags are a given. However, which type to get is another matter altogether – and something which is up for much debate. Ask people who go camping regularly, and they will all have different responses to give you. Ultimately, what is important is that you research the products thoroughly. The last thing you want is to find that you do not have everything you need.

When it comes to buying a decent tent, space is the priority. Other qualities – like being waterproof – are more or less a given. But if you do not have enough space for all the family, it is a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t matter how close-knit a family you are, in close quarters things can get tense. So treat yourself to a tent which is slightly too large. You may well be glad that you did.

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Plan It Out

You can, of course, just go where the wind takes you and see what happens. There is something exciting about this, and much to be gained from it. However, when you are taking the whole family camping, it might not be the best idea. With a whole family event, it is probably best to plan it out in as much detail as possible. In all likelihood, this will save a great deal of trouble for everyone involved. There is really only a limited amount that you need to plan – but make sure you do, and you’ll save yourself a headache.

The most important thing is to plan the route there and home. Don’t forget the second part – many people do, and it makes getting home that much more stressful. That’s the last thing you want after a nice holiday with the family.

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Check The Car

Speaking of being on the road, it is probably a good idea to check your car beforehand. This is especially important if you are going on a long journey. For example, if you will be going to the other end of the country, then it is best to take a lot of care with your car. This is important for a number of reasons. The most important – and most obvious – is that you need to take care of your family. The last thing you want is for there to be a road accident or something of that nature. Even just breaking down can be a real nightmare; best to avoid it altogether.

Check the oil and water levels, and top them up if necessary. You do not want your engine to burn out when you are halfway to the campsite. While you’re at it, check your Bridgestone tyres to see if they need any more pressure. At the same time, check the tread. If they have worn down, consider replacing the tyres.

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Do A Test Run

Finally, remember that going away with your family can be a big event. For that reason, it is probably worth doing a test run first. This can be as simple as going to a local campsite and staying for one night. Or you could just have a night in the garden. Testing it out in this way is a great way to iron out any kinks – while having fun with the family!

Home

Mummy On-the-Go: Finding a Floor Rug That Isn’t Your Foe


When living in small rented bungalows, personalising the living space means working within the landlord’s boundaries. My husband and I are to some degree limited with how stylish we can actually make our place. Let’s get real – rental cabinetry, hardware, and middle-of-the-road carpet quality are not really our style. Switching these things would make a huge difference, if rental property rules weren’t so black and white. So when we wanted to make our girls’ bedroom theirs, I had to look for a minimal-effort, easily changed décor ingredient that still delivers a richly textured scheme. I decided to go with a floor rug.

Beside defining a space, throw rugs come in an assortment of colours and textures and are the easiest way to add warmth and style to a room. In a way, area rugs are like cocktails – they are the first foray into a menu and contribute to the overall atmosphere of a party. Knowing that the rug I choose will either make or break the room, I had to choose wisely. However I wasn’t sure whether I should focus on making a grand statement, or if design should take second place to durability. Between my kids eating and playing, and our spunky English Bull Terrier, I knew the rug would take a beating. I needed something tough and kid proof.

After few days of CSI-style online investigating and a Sherlock Holmes-esque intuition (the being-mother talent I’ve mastered over the years), I finally decided to go with a striped floor rug in an array of cool, pastel rainbow colours. It’s hand-loomed and hand-tufted out of 100% Japanese acrylic.


I did first consider natural fiber rugs as they are advertised as the safest and child friendly. I was leaning more towards cotton, mainly because it’s a natural product that is strong yet budget-friendly. Also, cotton area rugs are usually made in a flat wave, toys slide across easily and I thought cleaning would be a breeze. However, after researching, I learned that with time, cotton fibers get matted and tend to accumulate dander and dirt particles easily.

I then thought of wool, but learned these are quite hard to clean. Using a vacuum’s rotary brush is not recommended (fiber may fuzz) and neither is DIY deep-cleaning, because the majority of store bought cleaners are high in alkaline which can damage fibers. Also, since wool fibers absorb more water, they are harder to dry. Wool was therefore off the list as well.

I had to consider what was safest to go below my girls’ feet. Since they spend plenty of time in their room, I wanted something that would be able to withstand rough handling – Sausage’s painting and crafting mishaps and BB’s inevitable spills and potty accidents. After weighing all the options, I knew Japanese acrylic was the way to go.

Although made of man-made fibers, it’s lightweight and made in short pile so it doesn’t permanently trap every crumb. The rug feels and looks like wool, less the staggering price tag and risk of airborne allergies. It is warm, plush, soft and feels springy underfoot. The acrylic helps the rug breathe (absorb and release moisture), and has good resistance to oil and stains. The backing is made of cotton which not only ensures the durability of the rug, but also reduces odours. And best of all, it is actually very easy to clean.

I usually roll it up, put it out in the front yard and clean it with a mild dish detergent (never a laundry detergent) and water. This is the best combination to attack ink markers and chocolate stains. Because I power-wash the rug once or twice a year, every few weeks I deodorize it with baking soda. Between soft drink spills, BB’s potty training accidents and the rare occasions when Chuck drags his hind end on the floor, the funky odours are certain. The power of baking soda helps me avoid the unavoidable. I simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the rug, let it sit for few hours and vacuum. Oftentimes, I also shake it to remove dust, because let’s be realistic, vacuums do miss a lot of dirt (even with frequent vacuuming).

What I like more than the easy-to-clean feature is that the rug perfectly defines the girls’ Dulux’s Storybook bedroom design. It adds the just-right pop of colour. Plus there’s that added safety when BB is playing on the floor. It’s thick, sturdy and still, so BB’s feet do not get stuck on the corners and there’s no tripping. It also offers a decent cushioning to BB’s falls and bumps.

Simply put, the rug serves its purpose. Plus, I love the idea of girls having a soft, safe and clean area where they can indulge in reading and envelop in their favourite make-believe coffee shop game.

Health · Kids

Health and Safety Poster Competition

As parents, Husband and I do our best to instil a lot of common sense in the girls, especially when it comes to their perception of danger. Health and safety is so important and being able to rely on ones own sense of what’s right and wrong is hugely important and will set them up for adulthood. According to Accident Advice Helpline thousands of people suffer accidents and ill-health while at work most of which can be avoided. Obviously it’s the responsibility of any employer to ensure the safety of their workers, but this doesn’t always happen.

It’s funny to think about how adults and children perceive danger so differently. Burrito Baby is going through a particularly intrepid phase at the moment. Wait, who am I kidding? This phase has been going on since the moment she was able to move around by herself! I’ll never forget sitting here, typing on my laptop much like I’m doing now, with BB playing on the floor by my feet. One moment she’s there and the next I see her out of the corner of my eye using our clothes airer as a ladder! I joke that BB will turn me grey one day, but I’m not sure it’s that far from reality!

Sausage, on the other hand, is my cautious, sensible child who would never take a risk like that, but I do sometimes wish that she was less worrisome and let herself go a little more. As much as we’re teaching the girls what’s sensible, I also think that kids definitely need to throw themselves around a bit in order to properly BE kids.

On that note, Accident Advice Helpline is organising a competition for kids to get involved in. They are inviting children under the age of 16 to create a poster highlighting anything to do with health and safety and how accidents can be prevented. The website says:

The winner will be awarded a £100 Amazon Voucher and one runner up will receive a £25 Amazon voucher. Enter your poster by posting it on Twitter using the hashtag #aahhealthandsafety or emailing your poster to aahhealthandsafetyposter@gmail.com . All posters must be received by midnight on May 21st 2016 to be in with a chance of winning. And make sure you keep an eye out on our social media channels where we will feature our favorite entries.

Further terms and conditions of the competition can be found here.

Sausage is midway through designing her poster at the moment and won’t let me see what she’s up to until it’s done, but I’ll be sharing her entry with you once it’s all submitted!