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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Christmas: Hipp Organic Festive Treats

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Competition | Posted on 23-12-2014

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We’re on the home straight now, with just a few more sleeps before Christmas. I for one will be glad when its Christmas Eve and I can stop work for the festive period and focus on having fun as a family, and not what blog post I should be writing! Tomorrow my online food shop will be arriving and I’ll be playing “Christmas Tetris” as I try and find spaces in the fridge, freezer and cupboards for all the food. We’re a traditional “Turkey and all the trimmings” family, though with two small children I like to make things as easy as possible and I’m not ashamed to admit that there’s a drawer in my freezer with bags of Asda’s Chosen By You pre-prepared frozen vegetables in!

range shot 3As for Little Dude? Well he’s got a lovely selection of Christmas foods to choose from this week, thanks to a gorgeous stocking he was sent by Hipp Organic. From a breakfast of seasonal Apple & Cranberry through to his Christmas lunch of Parsnip, Potato and Turkey Casserole he’ll be celebrating with the rest of us. We’re big fans of Hipp Organic over here anyway, and its one of the brands of baby food you’ll always find tucked in a cupboard. As well as being organic the food always smells and tastes like its meant to, even if it doesn’t always look it. But then again, not much baby food does! I for one will be happy knowing he’s eating a similar meal to us, without much effort from me, and at Christmas that’s ideal. From 4 months upwards you’ll find something in the Hipp Organic range to satisfy your little one this Christmas, whether it be a pouch of Parsnip, Sweet Squash and Chicken Dinner, or a more textured Chunky Vegetable & Beef Casserole.

To celebrate Christmas Hipp are offering a “Hipp Hungry Hamper” to one of my readers. It’ll contain a great selection of Hipp’s products, ideal if you’re just starting out weaning. To be in with a chance of winning just follow the instructions on the below Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#LeanOnTurkey : Marco Pierre White Christmas Masterclass

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Christmas, Foodie | Posted on 24-09-2013

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Ah Christmas. The one time in a year that most competent cooks go totally bonkers and freak out at the sight of a turkey. When all knowledge of the previous 52 weeks worth of roast dinners leaves their brains and they turn into a gibbering wreck. We’ve all been there. But its not that hard, I promise. Its basically just a giant chicken, so why does the idea of Christmas lunch cause a sense of dread and panic? Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club and the rather fancy “Marco” restaurant to meet the man himself – Marco Pierre White – and learn his tips and tricks for creating the perfect Christmas lunch without the stress. Now Christmas lunch doesn’t really fill me with dread – like I said, its a giant chicken – but I know it does intimidate a lot of people, so I wanted to be able to pass on some pearls of wisdom from an expert.

Marco Pierre White is probably one of the most intimidating people you’ll ever meet. He has a definite presence when he enters the room, and there was generally a sense of hush and awe when he wandered in, apart from the muffled squeals of one over excited blogger who spent a good part of the day trying to find ways to declare her undying love for him. I’m not sure if she succeeded…

There were 21 bloggers at this event and so we were split in to two groups for our masterclass sessions. Our group went first and we were allowed access to Marco’s kitchen where we stood listening to his tips for the perfect Christmas lunch whilst watching him in action. As you can see here, there was a lot of knife wielding involved – nobody was brave enough to point out the handle end – as we watched him cook turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Marco’s Top Tips:
* Remove the legs and wings of the turkey before cooking, or simply buy a turkey crown. Nobody really wants the brown meat, and it will speed up the cooking process. He cooked our turkey in about an hour and a half! The best way to find out if your turkey is done is to invest in a meat probe and use that in the thickest part of the bird to ensure its properly cooked and at the right temperature.

* To stuff your bird use a 50/50 mix of Paxo – yes, he did specifically say PAXO – and the best sausage meat you can afford – there’s is from a posh place in Chelsea, mine will probably come from Asda…. You can also add chopped onion or herbs if you wish. Don’t use as much water as the Paxo instructions tell you, but otherwise do as it says on the packet.

* Marco’s Cranberry Sauce is made using 500g cranberries, 250g sugar, 100ml port and 100ml of orange juice. Simply boil the fruit and sugar together until you get a runny jam consistency. Take it off the heat to add the port and orange juice, and stir it all together. You can make this in advance and store it in your fridge in a sealed jar for up to a month. It also makes a nice gift if you put it in a fancy jar.

* The gravy was made from the chopped up bones from the legs and wings of the turkey which Marco removed at the start. He added onion, garlic, water, butter and bouillon. He thickened it to taste with cornflour. He did mention that we could use Knorr stock pots instead of bouillon if we preferred. No surprise there though!

Christmas lunch truly can be simple. It can be calm and it can be stress free. Now admittedly Marco cooked this in a quiet kitchen apart from having ten bloggers looking on, and he did have ONE thing that none of us will have on Christmas morning to help us. Marco has Roger. Roger has been working with Marco for 25 years, and there is a sense of “old married couple” about them. Roger is his right hand man and I get the impression he’s pretty indispensable. Despite many pleas, Roger is not available to hire out for special occasions, nor is he free Christmas morning to do all the hard work so we don’t have to.

After watching Marco – and Roger – cook, we got to eat which I think most people were rather keen on. We watched as the food was carved in the kitchen, plated up school dinner style – a fairly orderly queue was formed – and then we were dispatched back to the dining area to enjoy our meal with the odd glass of wine. Here’s my first Christmas lunch of 2013.

Yes I know, there’s no potatoes. Much devastation on my table about the lack of potatoes. It was, as expected, delicious. Was it the best Christmas lunch I’ve ever tasted… I’m not sure to be honest. My Mum is rather good at Christmas lunch to be fair. It was really nice though, and the cranberry sauce was very tasty. I don’t tend to enjoy homemade sauce, but this was simple and one recipe I will be doing this December. I’ll probably also be found mixing sausage meat with Paxo – other stuffing brands are available… – to make my stuffing. The idea of just cooking the turkey crown is interesting, especially with the speed of cooking factor. I do like leftovers though, so I’m not sure if I could get on board with this totally. In fact after Christmas Day you can generally find me stood by the open fridge picking bits of cold turkey from the carcass for ages!

This Christmas Day there will be me, Daddy, Little Man, Nana and Pops for lunch. I will certainly be using some of the tips and ideas I picked up on the day, and I hope you all will too. Most of all, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas – when it gets here! – and a wonderful New Year.

One last photo – the obligatory shot I think.
#LeanOnTurkey