Adulting · Cleaning · Family · Parenting

Tips for Busy Moms: No House Helps

Moms have a lot on their plates, probably more than men have in their briefcases. How do you manage a home without going insane? Good organization is critical. If you are a busy mom feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to read through these tips. They will make your life easier.

Meals

Nothing is more exhausting than daily cooking. What immense efforts were made for a meal that was then quickly swallowed! But offering healthy food to your family is well worth the time. Use these tips.

Frozen foods: Stock up on frozen foods. They are picked at full maturity, stored at the best time of freshness, and they will save you precious time: no need to peel them! 

Meal planning: Plan your menus for the five evenings of the week. Indeed, it is not preparing a meal that takes the most time. It is choosing what to cook! Last-minute decisions about meals are not just time-consuming; they can be stressful.

Cook on weekends: During the weekend, spend half a day cooking. Prepare as many dishes as possible for the week, which you will store in the refrigerator or freezer. When you get from work in the evening, all you have to do is reheat them and add the final touch (a fresh sauce, parsley, etc.).

Shopping

Make a shopping list: Make a shopping list of the products you need regularly. You will hang it on the refrigerator. Whenever you / the nanny / your husband find that something is missing, update it. When it’s time to go shopping, refer to it. It will save you from unending trips to the store during the week.

Use home delivery: Take advantage of the stores’ delivery services. As long as you group your purchases, the amount of the bill will surely entitle you to free delivery.

Shop online: Shopping online can be a bit more expensive. Butyou save the cost of the car trip, and you save yourself a lot of effort. A shopping cart for four people weighs at least 30 kg. Think about the strain on your back when you load and unload!

Cleaning

Pace yourself: It’s not about cleaning everything thoroughly every day but about keeping your home consistently tidy and clean. Clean that uncluttered kitchen table, dirty sink, a stained floor as soon as you notice that they need cleaning.

Use the right products: Most of us are don’t have the time to clean. So finding a cleaning product that speeds up the work can significantly save your time and effort. The right tile cleaner, for instance, should be tough on stains and gentle on the tile surface.

Get every tool you need: Gather all the equipment you need in a plastic bin that you can carry with you. This will eliminate the need to leave one room to pick up a brush or soap in another or from wondering where you may have put the mop or the cleaning product.

Be strategic: When you tackle the cleaning of a room, proceed methodically. Update your knowledge on how to clean grout. Learn about the products and techniques that work best. When cleaning, start at a corner of the room and dust while going around until you return to the starting point. Then clean what is in the middle of the room.

Laundry

Get a laundry basket: Install a basket of dirty laundry in each bedroom or on each floor to encourage everyone to throw away their belongings. This will prevent you from stalking dirty socks under the bed and picking up T-shirts behind the toy box.

Documents

Talk to the children: Teach your children and your partner to empty the pockets of their clothes before putting them in the dirty basket. Nothing is more painful than the white paper handkerchief that we find crumbled on all the clothes or the purple bus ticket, leaving its mark on the ivory blouse!

Sort your receipts and papers, including pay slips, bank statements, reservations—separate bills from correspondence.

Among the documents to be processed, immediately deal with those which require an urgent response or which do not require more than five minutes (a check to write, a slip to fill out). Andgather the others in a file. You will deal with them later.

Good luck!

Baking

Vegan Coconut and Chocolate Cake Recipe

On Saturday afternoon, I was bored. We didn’t have much to do, the housework was mostly done and the kids were just doing their own thing. We didn’t have much in the cupboards, but I decided to have a rummage around to see what I could find. Two things I did happen upon were a bag of unopened cacao powder and some dessicated coconut, both of which had been bought for other projects, but never used.

I wanted to have a go at making a cake, but we didn’t have any eggs in the house, so I decided to see if I could knock up a decent vegan cake without going to the shops for ingredients. It turned out that not only could I do it, but it tasted GOOOOOD!

Vegan Chocolate and Coconut Cake
The cake part was chewy and dense and super coconutty and the chocolate icing that I made for the outside was so rich and delicious that I’m thinking of making it my go-to icing next time I make a chocolate cake. Our vegan chocolate and coconut cake would also be great for people dealing with allergies as it contains no dairy, no eggs and no lactose. Obviously there’s wheat flour and coconut, which I know can cause people issues, but if you’re okay with coconut, maybe substitute the flour for almond flour, Buckwheat Flour or rice flour instead. Here’s how I did it:

Vegan Coconut and Chocolate Cake
Recipe Type: Baking
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
A chewy, sweet chocolate and coconut cake which is egg-free, dairy-free and lactose-free.
Ingredients
  • For the Cake
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 200g white sugar
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 160g dessicated coconut
  • 360ml Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 120ml Coconut Oil (Melted)
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • For the Icing
  • 420g Icing Sugar
  • 120g Raw Cacao Powder
  • 110g Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 60ml Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsps Dessicated Coconut (for decorating)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Rub two 8 inch cake pans with a little coconut oil and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and then add the sugar, salt and dessicated coconut. Mix together well.
  4. Then add in the coconut milk, melted coconut oil, vinegar, and vanilla and stir into a thick batter. Make sure it’s well mixed, you do tend to find pockets of dry ingredients if you don’t.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and spread it out to the edges of the pans with a spatula or the back of a spoon, the batter will be too thick to spread out on its own.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  7. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing.
  8. Prepare your icing by adding the icing sugar, cacao powder, coconut oil and coconut milk to a mixing bowl and mixing with an electric mixer starting off slow and then gradually increasing speed until thick and smooth.
  9. If your icing is too thick, add a tiny bit more coconut milk, a drop at a time until you reach the right consistency, if it’s too thin add more icing sugar.
  10. Ice your cake and decorate it with plenty of dessicated coconut.

We’re trying really hard at the moment to reduce the amount of animal products we eat and knowing that we can still have a properly indulgent treat without using any animal-derived ingredients at all is so encouraging. I think that added drop of virtue made this cake taste even better! Let me know if you give this a go and if you make any tweaks to the recipe, I love to see variations and changes that other people try. Next time, I’m going to try to find some vegan pouring cream to go with it!

(Post contains affiliate links)

Holidays

Sweet Burritos (Camping Recipe) – #campfirecooking

When I was a kid, the vast majority of the holidays we went on were of the camping variety. The south of England is pretty packed with family-friendly places to camp and on years that we couldn’t afford a big holiday, we’d still get taken for the odd night camping here and there, which felt like such an adventure. Unless you’re camping on a  site with great facilities, campfire cooking can take some thought and preparation – it’s unlikely you’ll have refrigeration beyond a cool box (which doesn’t stay cold forever) so finding food which won’t perish without a fridge is essential.

Just recently, Simply Hike got in touch and asked me to create a campfire cooking recipe. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’ve been eating a low carb diet for around six months now, but I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try to make something sweet, decadent and TOTALLY off plane! Here’s my recipe for sweet burritos:

Sweet Burritos #campfirecooking

Sweet Burritos (Recipe) – #campfirecooking
Recipe Type: Campfire Cooking
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A sweet take on a burrito
Ingredients
  • Flour tortillas (I used special ones with a foldable end)
  • Bananas
  • Mini marshmallows
  • A bag of giant chocolate buttons
  • Tin foil
  • Cast iron pan
Instructions
  1. Place your pan on your campfire or camping stove and allow it to get hot
  2. Tear off a strip of tin foil which is about the size of an A4 sheet of paper
  3. Place your torilla on the foil
  4. Peel a banana and place it in the middle of the tortilla
  5. Sprinkle mini marshamllows down one side of the banana
  6. Line your choloate buttons along the top of your banana
  7. Wrap your tortilla, remembering to fold the bottoms in first to create an enlosed pocket
  8. Wrap your tinfoil tightly around the burrito and place it in the hot cast iron pan
  9. Cook it for a minute at a time on each side, turning frequently
  10. You’ll know it’s cooked when you give the burrito a squeeze and it feels squishy inside!
  11. Eat around the campfire!

Sweet Burritos #campfirecooking

This is honestly the sweetest, most indulgent thing I’ve eaten in months and it was SO worth it! It’s the perfect dish to top off a whole day of camping and will definitely help you to drift off into a cosy slumber when you crawl into your tent at bedtime. And don’t worry about all of the calories, because you’re bound to burn it off with all of the walking/tent erecting/other activities you’ll do whilst on your camping trip! This recipe can also just as easily be made a home on the hob, so don’t feel like you have to wait to make it!

Do you have a favourite camping recipe? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear all about it.

 

Christmas · Food · Review

Waitrose Party Food – A Family Review

At this time of year, one of the things that I love to do is try new food and recipes and I can usually be found watching some Christmas-themed cookery show or another, such is my obsession. However, this year I’ve decided to dial back the stress and try to have a more chilled-out festive period, which is why I was particularly interested to try out the Waitrose Party Food range. One of the main appeals is that everything that needs to be cooked goes in at the same temperature, so although you have to get your timings right, you don’t have to wait for an oven to heat or cool between cooking sessions, which made life SO much easier when prepping it all. Here’s some of what we were sent:

Waitrose Party Food

  1. Waitrose Christmas 12 Bourbon BBQ Pork Waffles 230g (£6.00)
  2. Waitrose Christmas Cheese Toasties Selection 110g (£5.00)
  3. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Chicken & Gravy 400g (£6.00)
  4. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Beef & Stout 400g (£6.00)
  5. Waitrose 1 chipotle 4 chilli sausage rolls (£2.49)
  6. Waitrose Party pork crackling straws 130g (£4.00)

We were also sent Christmas olives with snowballs 320g (£5.00), Waitrose Chai Spiced Chocolate Nuts 220g (£4.99) and Waitrose Maple Caramelised Cashews 175g (£4.99) but they got devoured by my lot before I could take a picture! We have a bit of a family ritual of going to my MILs on a Saturday evening and either cooking or having a takeaway together, so I took the party food with me to get some varied opinions and basically everything went down really well!

The waffles were definitely a hit and the smoky, almost sweet barbeque sauce added a lovely flavour to the softness of the waffles. The cheese toasties were lovely little savoury morsels that I probably could have eaten about ten of, all by myself! My Sausage found the chipotle sausage rolls to be a tiny bit too piquant for her taste, but the rest of us loved them so just beware if you have chilli-wuss kids! The pork crackling straws were like an amazingly delicious alternative to a breadstick and went beautifully with the apple sauce, but BEWARE if you have any dental issues – they’re really hard and crunchy and only get harder and crunchier as they cool, so definitely not or anyone prone to breaking of teeth!

The only thing which was a little hit-and-miss were the mini pies – the beef and stout ones were really tasty, with a rich gravy and crisp pastry, but the chicken ones were less of a hit – not bad or unpleasant, just not really a flavour that any of us found massively appealing.

Largely, we were really impressed with the quality of Waitrose Party Food and the ease of cooking, and for a small family gathering it would be ideal as party nibbles, however I’m not sure that the individual prices would be ideal if you had more than around 10 people to feed. Having said that, people usually shop at Waitrose for the quality of their items, not in order to get a bargain, so maybe this is a moot point?

Everything was sent to us about three weeks ago, right when the family was in the middle of a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, and I was able to freeze everything which is also a huge bonus, meaning that it would be really easy to buy ahead of time and bring out for cooking closer to Christmas, and I’m actually planning to go and get us all a few bits for New Years Eve as they’re ideal for a casual evening at home with Jool’s Hootenanny and a few bottles of fizz!

Have you tried the Waitrose Party Food? What did you think? Leave me a comment below.

Cooking and Recipes · Slow Cooker

7 Day Slow Cooker Challenge – Beef and Guiness Stew

Beef and Guiness StewToday is the first day of my slow cooker challenge, and it was one of those awkward days where I had to be at an appointment in the mid afternoon. This meant that I needed to choose a dish for the day which could be put on around lunchtime and left for at least 6 hours, so I opted for the Beef and Guinness stew. It’s rubbish weather here (we’ve actually had the heating on today!) so coming home to something warm and tasty, bubbling away, was incredibly welcome.

If I’m honest, I don’t know the difference between a casserole and a stew, so this could be either, but I opted for a recipe without veg so that we could choose what to have with it – I’ve served it with red cabbage and mash, but you could choose anything you fancy (or have in the freezer).

Here’s the recipe:

Beef and Guiness Stew
Recipe Type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
A tender, slow-cooked beef stew with Guiness and bacon.
Ingredients
  • 900g diced beef
  • 150g streaky bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbs plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bouquet Garni
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 bottle of Guiness (or other stout)
  • Olive oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the onions and fry in a little oil until translucent
  2. Slice the bacon and add to the onions. Fry for 2-3 minutes
  3. Place the onions and bacon the the slow cooker
  4. In a bowl, season the flour with salt and pepper
  5. Toss the diced beef in the seasoned flour
  6. Fry the beef in a little oil in the same pan that you cooked the bacon and onions in until browned
  7. Once browned, add the beef to the slow cookers
  8. Add the stock, Guiness and bouquet garni to the slow cooker
  9. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  10. Serve with potatoes and veg of your choice

Often I shy away from dishes which require any sort of prep or pre-cooking because I feel like slow cooking should basically just be “chuck it all in”, but I can honestly say that the extra effort was well worth it here. The beef was super tender because it had cooked for so long, but the flavour was incredible because of the initial browning in seasoned flour and the salty morsels of bacon added bursts of savoury flavour to the dish. The stock, herbs, ale and juices from the meat and onions combined to make the most delicious gravy…I had to resist the urge to dip bread in the remaining sauce in the pot!

I also think this dish would freeze really well, so I’d be tempted to make a double portion and freeze half next time I made it. All in all, I’m really pleased with today’s recipe and I’m really glad I kicked off with this as it was just perfect for today!

Don’t forget to blog about what’s in your slow cooker and link up with the linky below.

LINKY REMOVED