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

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Mummying around

I am trying to think of something insightful to say. Or witty. Witty would be good. But you got me up at 4am. Four o’bloody clock. 0400hrs. Whatever way you say it it is TOO GODDAMN EARLY. You didn’t want to settle after your feed, you didn’t want to play either. You just wanted to yell at the unfairness of the clammy heat that stuck our skin together until the sweat that came between us made you slippery.

We partied for 2hrs. TWO BLOODY HOURS of yelling at me over youtube videos of lullabies, soothing piano music and eventually Ellie Goulding and Andrew Belle because, well, you weren’t bothered what was on so I might as well try anything.

You wiggled and strained. We rocked and nappy changed, fed and paced and yes even admit I turned my back on you briefly to see if you would get the message that it was time to go back to sleep. I am not good at things like that though so moments later had you scooped back up in my arms, shhhshing and lulling and hoping I would accidentally hit on the right way to soothe you.

Because most of my parenting is accidental if I am honest. How was I to know the crafts and art would go down so well with your big sisters? How was I to know that the meals they love the most would come from throwing stuff at a pan and seeing what happens? It wasn’t instinct that led us to find out you love the old Sony Bravo advert with all the bouncy balls (though who doesn’t watch that ad and wish they could re-enact it down their street?), but rather me googling everything that popped into my head to chill you out. Well at last it worked anyway and now here we are, early enough for you to get an hour and a half before I need to wake you for your sister’s school run but too late for me to squeeze out a few last zzzzz’s. If you had asked me at 4am if I would be ok with starting my day then and there I would have been horrified and said “You are joking aren’t you?” But actually now it has happened I don’t feel so bad. I will notice it more later but for now I am only noticing a few less horrifying things.

You are my last baby and though you are almost always in my arms our cuddles are often lost in amongst all the busy-ness of being a mum of three. I hold you while I read to your sisters, make lunches and do the school runs. I hold you while I feed you and myself in the afternoon and evening. But these night time and early morning feeds are our time. The pause button has been hit for the world around us and I can gaze at you. Learn what you are about. When I hold you I am cuddling you, soothing you and while at first it is frantic in the hope of sleep still being a possibility, as the possibility fades I find so does that harrassment. Because it no longer matters if you sleep, because I won’t, so I relax and start to enjoy those clammy sticky cuddles and the feel of your hot damp hand on my cheek or pulling at my nose. Nobody else needs me right now. Only you. Right now I am all yours and you are all mine – just as it was every night for nine months. My singing is songs you and I love, instead of having been picked to be least grating to daddy, least babyish for your 6yr old sister but still simple enough for your 3yr old sister to join in with. You aren’t pulling away from me looking for something to crawl towards or pull yourself up on, or searching for something completely inappropriate to chew on. For the past few hours it has just been you and me and what could be a sweeter way to start my day? I love you little lady, let’s do this again tomorrow (or maybe the next day?!) Xxxx

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Me and Blue getting our cuddle on

 

A new flower for my garden

We recently welcomed a new flower to the family. Bluebell Hope arrived after the encouragement of an induction for health reasons (mummy’s – baby Blue is perfect!) three weeks ago. It wasn’t the easiest pregnancy – from being told it appeared we had  lost a twin just over a month after falling pregnant after checking out bleeding, anxiety on the health of the remaining baby, SPD, predictions of a 10lb baby even before being diagnosed late with gestational diabetes which can make them even bigger if not managed correctly (yikes!) and subsequently having a few scary hypos due to being overcautious with my sugar levels before finally being told it would be adviseable to deliver a week or two early – but baby Bluebell (actually born weighing a perfectly reasonable 8lbs 14oz) was worth it.

I will no doubt blog a birth story when I come to reminisce on it one day in the not too distant future as I found it very hard to find positive induction stories online before mine. Rest assured for those awaiting their own miracles – labour hurts but it is no worse when induced than if you pop on your own! Every labour is different regardless of the woman or surroundings so when people say it hurts more to be induced bear in mind they don’t know what it would have been like without the intervention. Be positive, breathe and remember every contraction brings tour miracle closer to your waiting arms :).

TTFN xxxx

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The truth about breastfeeding a toddler (according to me lol!)

Well the first thing to say about it is that it doesn’t usually hurt as much as you would expect. Feeding a toddler with most of their teeth is the same as feeding a baby with none (though I reserve the right to amend this soon as the fangs are coming through!). The only time those gnashers come into contact with flesh is when the little bugger falls asleep hehe! Poppy is now 17 months old and shows no sign of quitting the boobie feed. Daily, nightly and ever so rightly, if I am there then so is she!

I never planned nor intended to keep going for this long. I am not a mummy who feels the bond will be broken when I give up this “special time in our lives”. In fact I feel more awkward about feeding at this age out in public than I ever did when I first began breastfeeding way back when my eldest, Izzy, was born (her first public feed was in a church as my Godson was Christened). There has been so much publicity surrounding extended breastfeeding of late that I feel if I whip one out and pop Poppy on I may be hunted down with torches and pitchforks by baying villagers. Baby feeding seems to be the new witch hunt… switch to formula too early (or, God forbid, skip breastfeeding althogether) and you obviously don’t care about your baby’s health and wellbeing. Quit breastfeeding too late and you are “hanging on” to the baby days, stunting your childs emotional independence and obviously don’t care about your child’s health and wellbeing. I can’t comment too much on formula feeding partially because I don’t feel strongly about it either way – we combination fed Izzy after a few weeks so she had one bottle a day that my husband gave her for daddy bonding time and the rest of the time was breastfeeding. That’s been the extent of our experience with formula as Poppy would never touch it. Even when I was away from her at four months old, taking a few hours a week to learn dressmaking, she turned her nose up at daddy’s bottle and screamed until I returned. We tried giving it to her from a beaker. A cup. A straw. Nothing worked. Then we tried cows milk and still nothing. However if I expressed she would have a little from any of the drinking paraphernalia aforementioned (mainly because my body doesn’t seem to express well unless she is feeding off the other side simultaneously so a little was all I could ever manage). I can comment on her emotional independence though – if she is midway through a feed she has demanded and something more interesting catches her eye, she is up and off like a shot. Children, dogs, cats, adults – anyone who looks interesting can persuade her to bugger off and leave me there, boob hanging out and dripping like a coffee machine. Her independence, emotional or other, remains intact and flourishing.

My main reason for carrying on is that, quite simply, she isn’t ready to quit. If you were sat at the pub and the barstaff whipped your pint or glass of wine (or something stronger) away you wouldn’t be best pleased. If you were thirsty and hadn’t had anything to drink for a while and someone sanctimoniously said “No you can’t have what you have ordered” without satisfactory explanation you would request to speak to the manager or simply leave and go somewhere you could get the drink you wanted. And quite rightly so -we are given the opportunity to choose as adults and whether we choose what is good for us or something naughty is down to us entirely. As children we have choices thrust upon us. “You have to wear a cardigan because it’s chilly”. This is probably true uif you are a grown up sitting at a desk but if you’re three, running around a classroom crowded with other hyperactive three year olds all kicking out body heat it is probably pretty tropical. But we grown ups know best. “Eat your carrots, you can’t say you don’t like then until you have tried them 15 times” (or whatever the books are saying this year). “Um, no. I have tried them mum and I really truly DON’T like them. Feel free to try my lukewarm pureed spinach 15 times before you tell me you don’t like it though.” Well breastfeeding is no different. Young Poppy here has a choice. Milk from an animal in a field run through a process of heat treatment and cooling, bottling and transportation to a coldstore until put out on a shelf in an openfronted fridge. Or she can have powdered milk that you add boiled water to then wait patiently to cool to the correct temperature (a bit like a pot noodle for kids). Or she can have what she has known since birth – fresh milk on demand,  untouched even by fresh air, at a perfect temperature, in a variety of flavours if mummy’s had something nice for dinner. All this and it comes with a free cuddle. I was going to say the second reason was her aversion to any other kind of milk but actually having read my own breakdown of the main reason I suddenly don’t give a crap about that second reason anymore.

So breast it is. Not because I have an attachment issue. Not because I am bohemian or hippyish. Not even because it’s ‘best’ (the jury is still firmly out on the nutritional benefits of extended feeding in the western world with our ‘superior’ diet – coz I reckon a Macdonalds is packed with nutrients). Simply because Poppy has voted with her tastebuds and her tummy and it turns out she thinks it’s best for her. And that makes it best for me too (even if my back hurts as she grows heavier, my sleep is STILL seriously disturbed by a little gannet in the middle of the night and I warily eye the fangs poking through her little pink gums).

So am an advocate of extended breastfeeding? No, not at all. If your toddler will happily leave you to partake in your first alcoholic beverage since that pregnancy test, let you take stronger painkillers for the migraine brought on by too many high pitched voices on kids tv or wear that gorgeous but high-cut dress with absolutely no boobie access without stripping – do it! Run for the hills while patting yourself on the back for breastfeeding through the socially acceptable period and quitting before your boobs hit the deck. But if you can’t… if you feel your child isn’t in that space yet and you are ok with carrying on for the timebeing at least… then settle down for that cuddle, use the excuse to request your other half to bring you a cuppa while you sit on your bum doing what only mummy can. And if you get nipped or pulled or your back begins to ache, don’t feel guilty for thinking “God I thought we’d be done by now”. But do try to remember why you’re not done. Because to your toddler you are awesome. You’re warm, possibly a bit squishy still (damn baby weight!), you’re a perfect fit for their ever growing body and they love you more than they have ever loved anything in their whole entire busy little lives.

Love you, my beautiful chunky monkey and gorgeous little princess.

Take care

TTFN xxxx

The Rules…

There are rules in life for everything – brush your teeth twice a day, always say please and thank you, no wine before 3pm… 2pm? Ok, 1pm but that’s my final offer…

The point is that some of the rules we know and love to live by have solid foundations in the world. “Always look both ways before crossing the street” – great as not many of us wish to be floored by a moving vehicle. Some are made up to keep us in check (see the wine rule) and others… well what are THEY for? “Kids should be in bed by… (insert time here)”. Agreed that bed by 1am is a bit over the top rebellious and not great for their health or your relationships (with your husband or your wine), but more and more I see friends who insist their child is in bed by 7pm (I myself used to have to be tucked up by the first doof’s of the East Enders theme tune) and I wonder to myself “why?”.

If I get home from work at 5:30pm I then must spend half an hour cooking. The next half an hour is spent sitting together answering the most important questions in the world (to my kids) over dinner: “why do I have to eat my veg’ables?”, “why can’t I watch my programmes?” and “mummy, why can’t I have chocolate for dinner?” (I will come to the “chocolate rule” shortly).

That leaves me with half an hour to enjoy my children – although those who subscribe to the bath, book and bed routine have even less than that (we learned long ago that bath is simply a wet playground for our little mermaids -to bath them before bed means certain doom for any feelings of sleepiness… in fact I am fairly sure my girls are in fact mogwai’s, those adorable fluffy creatures that turn into gremlins when they hit water!). In any case bedtime is largely irrelevent if those in bed are still singing/reading/getting up to ask another question before being taken back to bed. In fairness to my children, I am not a sleeper either. I remember many nights as a child where I would be marauding the house and climbing onto chairs for crackers or biscuits long after my parents were in bed (I couldn’t tell the time yet – that’s how small I was) accompanied by my slightly younger brother who also couldn’t sleep. Moving on a few years to when we rented a flat together, the same brother got a job in a nightclub becaus he was “up anyway” and I would finally get out of bed when I heard him come home so we could have a couple of hours sing song before dawn (it all sounds a bit twee but to recover our street cred my bro would be strumming Metallica, Green Day etc. for me to sing along with – I actually walked down the aisle to him playing Green Day’s time of your life on his beloved guitar). Nowadays if my beloved family is asleep I will still prowl, listening for noises that don’t belong or signs that a child may be on the verge of waking with questions or the urge to feed or simply just enjoying the quiet. I needn’t be lonely though as chances are my mum or any of my four brothers would be awake if I chanced a cheeky text. Yet for the most part (barring anaemia related exhaustion) I have been fit, healthy and able to function at normal capacity throughout the day. It is this that I keep in mind when my little fox cubs find fresh energy after having an evening snooze, proceeding to keep us on our toes until we go to bed and in the ensuing silence they join us in the land of nod.

Now, back to the rules surrounding chocolate. East provided us with the usual parental conundrum. When may the first child start on their first egg, how much is too much and when do we fit in meals??? I take my lead from my parents. There were two days in all the year that we termed a chocolate free for all. Boxing day and Easter Sunday. And so yesterday involved many wet wipes as clean up after clean up took place. I don’t know if it was sugar crash but actually both girls slept without disturbance (as I watched a murder mystery series on box set and nibbled chocolate with a glass of water – you can’t beat thick gooey chocolate followed by thin cold water in my book!) And then, when I finally fell asleep, so did I! Then we woke up this morning and realised the conundrum wasn’t actually over. There are still piles of chocolate eggs and chicks and ducks to be eaten but now we have two girls who are operating on Easter rules expecting to sustain themselves primarily on their favourite food stuff! So I ask you… What’s the rule for Easter Monday (and who wrote it???)!?

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!)