Rice Krispie Chicken Nuggets

Last night I was on the look out for something different to do. I had some lovely fresh chicken breasts available but having had pasta the day before didn’t fancy that and the weather was too warm for the Monday night “roast” they had been bought for. I hit up Google for some ideas and came across suggestions for various crunchy cereal coatings for chicken and fish and as luck would have it we happened to have plenty of most of the options suggested! The ones I found all suggested marinades and herby additions which me and Poppy would probably have enjoyed but the key to making dinner for the fusspots (husband and Izzy) is to keep it simple! It worked and was a hit all round, even with the littlest, Bluebell, who was able to gum down some extremely slim cuts (I am nervously embracing baby led weaning). I served them with mashed potato and loads of veg, some of which Izzy actually ate too! So here we go…

For the four and a bit of us I used:

Three good sized chicken breasts, a bowl of rice krispies, 1 egg, a splash of milk, flour and some frylight spray oil.

First I got some little helpers to smash the heck out of the rice krispies in a sandwich bag with a mini rolling pin. As they reduced the cereal to fine crumbs I diced the chicken into good chunks and floured them. Then I asked the biggest (Izzy) to prepare the egg with the splash of milk, she whisked together well, and put it on a plate with a rim. I transferred the floured chicken chunks to the egg plate a couple at a time and made sure they were totally covered. I put the cereal crumbs onto a big plate and put the eggy chicken on there, turning with a fork to coat them (I originally started out with my fingers but they were so covered in egg that the crumb kept coming off the chicken and coating me instead – the fork worked well to leave the crumb on the chicken where it belonged!). I had a couple of baking trays greased with a few good squirts of the Frylight oil standing by and as the chicken nuggets got dusted I placed them on there. Once they were all on the trays I gave one squirt of oil from above just for moisture and browning and popped them into the preheated oven (190°C) I left them in for 10 minutes before turning them over and giving them another 10 minutes but it will depend on how big, small, fat or thin your strips are. We like ours quite chunky!

Already been asked for them again and it was nice to get the girls in the kitchen with me on a project that required so little assistance from me so I could do the sharps and hots without lots of interruptions! Any recipes for an easy tomato ketchup I could whizz up would be gratefully received!

Xxxx

The anxious mothers guide to… the first year at school

Here we are approaching the end of reception year at school and guess what… We survived! But for every mummy patting herself on the back for a job reasonably well done (well they don’t have to be on time EVERY day, do they???) there is another one bracing herself to take the plunge. So I have put together a Bear Grylls style survival guide to help those with pre-first year jitters get through it.

1. Stock up on vitamins…

I learned this one too late. Whereas parents of preschool children would keep a sick child at home the fearsome rules surrounding school absences have made our kids’ head teachers and attendance officers even scarier than they were “in our day”. All too often this year I have heard the phrase “if they are that ill the teacher will send them home”. This is true, but sadly not before your pooey, sickie, rashy child has spread their germs all round the classroom. Each time I have been told so and so got sick in class I know what is coming next. The following week my eldest has her head in a bucket, followed by my youngest, followed inevitably by my good self! And what happens when my child gets sick, has a temperature or has tonsilitis and is only capable of sleep? I keep her off (obviously) and then get really nasty letters home about her absences. So my first piece of advice is a lesson learned the hard way – get those immune systems toughened up or face the consequences!

2. Invite friends over early on

When September kicked off my first fortnight was spent listening to regularly repeated names which were then invited over for a playdate with a princess doll cake, dressing up and football. Friendship was established and while some drifted off into their own new cliques others have remained steadfast – either way my little girl’s first month ended with friends having been made and I ended her first month assured that she did not sit in the playground alone.

3. Learn the teachers names!

We have been through three teachers this year and nothing gets me moaned at more than getting the teachers name wrong (in fairness she now has two part time teachers and nobody has told me which days each of them work so how am I supposed to know who said what and when???)

4. Accept your child is growing up… Too fast

I have listened to my daughters friends saying “Bye mum” and “Mum where is my lunch box?” and it occurred to me only this morning that I may have limited “mummy” time left before I too am shortened to the lesser cute moniker of “mum”. It clawed at my stomach but I know it is coming. It is just a matter of when.

5. THERE WILL BE SCHOOL TRIPS!!!

Yes, your baby is going to be going places without you, sometimes on big scary coaches and miles away. Repeat after me… He/she WILL be fine. I SUSPECT, given my current tailspin about this one, that this particular fear is ongoing, at least while they are small enough that you still expect them to hold your hand (after all they aren’t taking 70 adults along on the trip with 140 kids so there will definitely not be enough hands available!) but remember your munchkin is undoubtedly nervous too and the first time has to happen some time so it might as well be <gulp!> in two weeks’ time…

6. Not every child is a genius

That’s right, I am talking to you. Your child will get their letters back to front and upside down, they will add together 4 and 5 and get seven and when they pick up a recorder it will sound… Well, horrendous, obviously (though I suspect even a musical genius couldn’t make that particular instrument sound good). That is fine, just be happy with sociable, happy, well adapted and on target for this year. We can work on the genius bit later (or if that fails there is always the second child to fall back on!).

7. Prepare for attitude

It is inevitable they will meet someone with a big mouth inherited from their gobby mother or father and they will undoubtedly try similar lip on you to see how it goes down at home. Rise above it. The rules of combat are the same throughout – terrible two, thoroughly-horrible three, fearsome four. Whatever has worked in the past will work now… Eventually. Just remember more is more. More time out. More trips to the naughty step. More sitting down and explaining why it is unacceptable behaviour and, thanks to their new school child status, more understanding of why it is unacceptable as well. Hopefully this stage seems to be the shortest lived (don’t quote me on that just yet, it is early days still!) and rarely involves children rolling around on the floor screaming so us veterans of the terrifying toddler years will find this bit a doddle!

So that is my survival guide for now but anyone who wants to add their invaluable advice is more than welcome to… After all, we are all learning on the job!

TTFN xxxx

The nocturnal ponderings of the preschool mind…

There is nothing quite like the fall of dusk to trigger a full on inquisition from a preschooler. First is a reasonable statement upon the announcement of bedtime “No it’s not, it’s not dark!”. At which I have to explain that the sun goes to bed later in the summer (as explaining seasonal clock changes in a way my three year old can understand is beyond even me, the mummy who uses ballpit play balls to explain how static shocks occur to the bewildered looking imp – well she did ask!). This prompts its own question. “But why does it go to bed late in summer?” I think for a bit and tell her the sun works hard in summer, shining lots to help make things grow before winter comes and everything grows more slowly, and so it shines for a bit longer. “But why can’t things grow faster in the winter as well?” “Because it’s cold and lots of things don’t like the cold”. “Mummy, can I have another story please?” “No, it’s late now sweetheart.” “But mummy I have been working hard like the sun today so I should get extra play time too”. “Maybe tomorrow, it’s late now”. Turn over to sleep, edge out of the room. “Mummy, is it school tomorrow?”. “Yes baby.” “And Jane’s (childminder)?”. “No baby, it’s school and then  you and me and Poppy time tomorrow”. “Oh good, I like our little holidays.” “Good, night night sweetie”. “Mummy, is daddy at work tomorrow?” “Yes but then it’s the weekend” “Oh good… mummy?” (Sighing a bit haughtily) “Yes Izzy?”. “I love you, you’re the best mummy in the world”. (I feel guilty for being haughty and melt into a puddle of maternal happiness at this matter of fact compliment) “Oh thank you sweetheart, what a lovely thing to say!  I love you too, you are a beautiful and amazingly kind little girl”. Kisses and cuddles ensue. I go to leave. “Mummy? I have a sore throat. I need calpol and chocolate milk”. It’s half past ten. We have had colds and I had a sore throat yesterday so rather than argue I grant her a small dose and a little drink and get her back into bed. “Oops, I need a wee”. Down she gets and goes to the bathroom. Ten minutes later “Izzy are you done yet?” “No, I am doing a poo”. Lovely. Another ten minutes. “Are you ok in there? Izzy? Izzy?” Open the door and there she is playing with bath toys in the sink. Finally at 11pm she goes to sleep.

And Poppy wakes for a feed.

TTFN xxxx

That’s my jam :)

I tried my hand at jam making for the first time this weekend and since it was a success I thought I’d share with the group. 🙂

1. 300g frozen raspberries

2. 1 lemon, juiced and halved

3. 1 cup granulated sugar

4. 1 frozen side plate or saucer

5. 1 jam jar and wax disc (sterilise the jam jar by putting it in the oven at 150C for the duration of your jam making or by putting it in the dishwasher if you’re lucky enough to have one!)

Method:

1. Put both the juice and skin of the lemon into a large saucepan with the raspberries, warm over a medium heat until the fruit is quite mushy, stirring regularly.

2. Add the cup of sugar and stir in thoroughly, turning the heat up high until the mixture reaches a rolling boil (should still be quite turbulent even while you stir it).

3. Once the boiling mixture has begun to thicken and bubble a bit less violently, start timing for 3 minutes.

4. Take saucer/side plate out of the freezer and once the timer signals the end of your boiling time take the saucepan off the heat. Put a little of the jam onto the saucer and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

5. Test the jam by pushing it with your finger and if it wrinkles it’s ready, if it doesn’t then put the saucepan back on the heat for another minute or two and the plate back into the freezer (some people advise different plates but I have a freezer full of food so not enough room for my crockery cupboard in there as well!). Take it back out and once again take the pan off the heat when you’re ready to test again. Repeat as necessary.

6. Once you get that delightful wrinkle get your (very hot!) jam jar and lid out of the oven. Remove the lemon rind from the jam and give it another stir for good measure before tipping it very carefully into your jar. You could use a sterile jam funnel but that would make life simple lol!

7. Pop the wax disc on top of the jar, pop the lid on and turn it upside down for a couple of minutes. I don’t know why, I just read somewhere that you should do it so I did (lemming).

That’s it until it cools. When I first finished I was paranoid it might be solid inside the jar and nearly opened it to check (didn’t want to do that as it was a gift for my mum). Thankfully a good single shake resulted in the jam shooting to the top of the jar and then oozing slowly back down to the bottom when I put it down. I tried a bit from the pan on some crusty bread and butter and was so pleased with it, and since giving it to my mum I have had rave reviews from family, as well as my mum asking if I would consider having a stand at their village summer fete selling cakes and preserves (Woah, only done one jar so far mum lol!).

Would love to know if anyone else has success with this or any other jam recipe.

TTFN xxxx

(Recipe and method from a mish mash of ‘All Recipes’, ‘BBC Good Food’ and several different sites then adapted according to whatever looked right in the pan!)

Father Christmas has no respect for personal space!!! :)

Sitting here in my living room I have the distinct feeling that it has somehow… shrunk.

I suspect many parents have experienced this phenomenon of late so I shall run through the symptoms. Suddenly no matter how much you tidy there is always something brightly coloured that doesn’t look like it fits in the room comfortably, the shelf unit is no longer just a storage space for toys and books but also provides a prop to lean additional toys and books up against, every other dvd that a cheeky monkey slings across the room as she helpfully rearranges them is still in its wrapper and suddenly the harmony in your living room is broken every five minutes by a burst of loud obnoxious music emitted by that ONE toy you haven’t yet figured out how to turn the @$!# off!

Yes it’s January, the glorious time of year where you are as overstuffed as a turkey and trying desperately hard to fit into old things. But I refer, in this instance, not to the annual wrestling match with old jeans but actually the wrestling match required to make all the presents delivered by a well meaning Father Christmas fit into the space that was already full!

It has to be said though, as well as shrunken rooms and sackfulls of presents, Father Christmas also left two very excited, very happy and very grateful little girls – so I think this year we’ll forgive him! 🙂

TTFN xxxx

Zombies are real and they live among us…

In movies we see them dragging dead legs and staring listlessly ahead, grunting and moaning and the reality is no different in that respect… however they are not the flesh devouring creatures from beyond the grave that we are all familiar with. Oh no, on the contrary if they had the energy to smile they would look permanently delirious with happiness! Why this strange contradiction? A simple difference in interpretation. You see, what Hollywood has depicted as zombies are in fact known to the real world by a far less threatening monika – parents.

Yes the joys are parenthood are well known and even better documented but despite this I feel the need to add my tuppence worth… you see I joined this not so exclusive club three years ago and in that time I have experienced joy and fatigue in equal measure… just as the end of the interrupted nights was in sight and our little girl, despite sleeping in our bed still, was at least SLEEPING, we began the rigmarole again as our second daughter arrived in the world. Yes, seven months ago a seemingly very HUNGRY baby joined our family and has fed her way through every night ever since :). Since then I have become the proud owner of a genuine diagnosis of exhaustion, pulled the cartilage around my sternum (coz she is a heavy little fidget bum and her three year old sister enjoys using me and daddy as climbing frames) and struggled to peel my eyes open some mornings – hence the hunched, limping, grunting mummy-zombie who exists before you today.

However also in the last three years I have cried with laughter more times than I could count (though never more than I care to remember), played with Barbie (did you know her boobs have shrunk?!), slid down slides (and sometimes got stuck), painted faces (including my own), rediscovered Scooby Doo, planned play dates and played with paint and glitter and pens (seriously my husband has actually stuck one of my own pieces of artwork up in our kitchen – and notably I have not taken it down as I am quite proud of it!) and run up and down the garden with the energy of a hyperactive… well, toddler, actually. I have not slept but I have played. I have not sat down but I have danced. I have not read a grown up book for months but I have listened to the musical sound of an enthusiastic three year old repeat the sentences I have read from Meg and Mog books and squeal with laughter as her baby sister literally tries to eat the book. I have not had a quiet day but I have experienced the sound of happy children and that beats every quiet day I have ever had hands down. 🙂

 

Take care.

TTFN xxxx