Chrismas Gifts – Cake Decorating Book

The Cake Decorating Bible Juliet SearSorry to not have blogged for a shamefully long time but well life has been busy! I’m baking for two local cafes now, working two and a half days as a secretary and also being a full time Mum!

Since I started sharing my cakes on my facebook page I sometimes get asked if I’ll ever give classes – this is something I can’t fit in to my schedule – so if you would like to learn more about cake decorating ask for this book for Christmas: The Cake Decorating Bible by Juliet Sear.

Juliet Sear’s shop ‘Fancy Nancy’ is in my home town Leigh-on-Sea and her cakes are sold in Harvey Nichols, as well as having a customer list which includes Holly Willoughby, Peaches Geldof and Sir Ian McKellen. Read my original review of it here.

This book taught me all the basics and improved my skills dramatically. Buy for someone who likes to bake or put on your own Christmas list!

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Guest Blogger – Sweet Chilli Salmon And Noodles

Elle from shared this lovely recipe with me. I hope you like her guest post:

“One of my favourite quick, healthy and easy meals to make when I am in a rush is sweet chilli salmon, mangetout and noodles.

I told my colleagues that I had this when my partner was out and I had a really busy evening and they could not believe that I had gone to ‘so much trouble’ just to feed myself. Actually, I had only troubled myself for 20 minutes from start to finish! Here’s how I did it:

Elle’s Sweet Chilli Salmon And Noodles


1. Turn the oven on. Put your noodles in a pan of water, turn the hob on to full power.

2. Coat your salmon fillet in a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce, put it on a sheet of tin foil in a baking tray (less scrubbing when you wash up!) and set your timer for about 16 minutes.

3. When the noodles are softening, add your mangetout to the water – they will only need a couple of minutes.

4. Drain the noodles and mangetout, put back into the pan with a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce, warm through and then transfer on to your plate.

5. Take your salmon out of the oven, check it is cooked through and serve on top of your noodles.

6. Time to eat!*

*Glass of dry white wine to serve is optional

If my calculations are correct, that meal took me 20 minutes to make including preheating the oven. Oven chips take approximately 20- 25 minutes plus time to preheat the oven. Point made?

If salmon isn’t your cup of tea, you could always use a chicken breast cut into about eight or nine pieces and dry fried. Vegetarians can scrap the meat altogether and just put in whatever vegetables you have lurking in the fridge – mushrooms, sweetcorn, sugar snap peas – anything really!

What’s your favourite quick and healthy meal to prepare?

Elle blog signiture

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Home Baking by Jo Wheatley

jo wheatleyI think Jo Wheatley is fantastic; two years ago she was the winner of The Great British Bake Off. Rather unfairly she was my favourite from the start, after all she is a Mum from Essex who loves to bake – just the same as me. Yet, it was her down-to-earth, unassuming nature, matched by her skill that consolidated my support for her.

Last week I was delighted to receive Jo’s second book ‘Home Baking’ to review.  I was so impressed with Jo’s first book which was much more than I had expected that when her second book came along I was unsure how many more recipes Jo would have. How wrong I was! Jo’s second book is bigger than her last, more recipes, a greater variety, and once again real recipes that you actual want to start cooking straight away.

This is why I love Jo, her book is made for real people and with what I call ‘real ingredients’ – ingredients you can find in your local shops. I’m looking forward to trying her Stem Ginger Cheeesecake, Fruit and Nut Brownies, Cornbread and I could go on. Fantastic! From one Essex Mum to another I know that Jo has skill, talent and passion. Seeing Jo’s food brought to life in her beautifully styled books and knowing this is the food she dishes up for her family and friends inspires me. I am encouraged to keep striving on to improve, bake more, cook more and know that homemade food is really appreciated. Thank you Jo.

For sale exclusively at Sainsbury’s



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My Garlic Prawn Recipe

garlic prawnsLast night was the first dinner we had outside in our garden so we could take advantage of the sunshine. It is lovely to enjoy our garden and appreciate our new fruit trees given to us by the Actimel Family Wellbeing Fund. I cooked such a quick meal but it was also healthy and yummy! We are trying to eat more fish and get away from too many stodgy carbohydrate meals. For this meal I used tiger prawns which we bought on special offer but use whatever type of prawns you prefer. Here is the recipe if you want to cook a super quick meal.

Serves 2


  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable/olive oil (whichever you have)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 spring onions or half an onion, chopped
  • 1tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 200g fresh tiger prawns
  • 1tsp tomato puree
  • 250ml white wine (or substitute with chicken/vegetable stock)
  • Black pepper


  1. Heat saucepan, add oil and butter, once oil is hot add in garlic, onion and herbs.
  2. Stir and check onion is lightly browned and add prawns along with tomato puree and continue stirring.
  3. Add white wine, and as much black pepper as you like, and leave until the liquid is bubbling and all the prawns have turned from grey to pink.
  4. Serve with any fresh herbs you may have, parsley, chives etc.

We ate this meal with brown rice and salad. To make the salad interesting I made a fresh dressing

Orange & Hazelnut Dressing:

  1. Toast a large handful of hazelnut.
  2. Crush them roughly in a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add some oil (approx 1 tbsp).
  4. Throw in some chopped chives.
  5. Finish with the juice of a freshly squeezed orange. 
  6. Drizzle over your salad.





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Actimel Family Wellbeing Fund & Our Mini Garden Orchard

apples on tree 2apple treeapple blossom

A couple of months ago I was invited by Actimel to apply for funding for a project I thought would be beneficial to my family involving food. It didn’t take me long to realise this would be my chance to ask for funding towards the fruit trees I’ve been longing for. When we bought our bungalow it already had a well established apple tree bearing Golden Delicious apples. It was lovely to have our own supply of apples and my next move was to find a local pick your own fruit farm. During the summer and autumn my son and I spend many happy hours wandering through the orchards at the last pick your own in our area, and have made friends with the 70 year old lady farmer who sees to its maintenance. Now, with the Actimel Wellbeing Fund, would be my chance to have more fruit in our own garden and to make jams, chutneys and preserves to last all year by freezing and canning the fruit. I saw this as a way to increase my family’s fruit intake and reduce our food bill, Actimel agreed and last month we were allowed to buy 5 of our own fruit trees for our garden!

Thank you very much to Actimel for choosing our family and funding our project. The good news is that there is more funding to be awarded and Actimel want bloggers to apply. My funding was awarded under the EAT category of the Family Wellbeing project but there are 5 more categories: PLAY, CONNECT, MOVE, LEARN & GIVE.

If you would like to apply for funding check out their website: Actimel Family Wellbeing

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Rose Cake

This cake is a lemon sponge covered in buttercream icing.

All my cakes are for order.




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Dinosaur Cakes

Meet Terry the T-Rex. This was a very special cake made for a little boy’s 4th birthday, in fact he is the brother of my god-daughter and one of my son’s best friends. A big thanks to his Mum for trusting me to make this cake; it is the first 3D cake I have made and I’m pleased with the results. This cake would be £35 depending on the size required.

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Quick Crispie Cupcakes

Yesterday I needed to make cupcakes but I had run out of time. I had to invent my new quick cupcakes – cupcakes made with rice crispies. I followed a simple recipe by Nigella Lawson and used silicone cupcake cases to make it easy to turn out the cakes. Next to change these cakes from basic crispie cakes into cupcakes I piped buttercream icing and added some fondant decorations.

These tasted delicious and took a less time to make than regular cupcakes. I think the adults at the party enjoyed these cakes more than the children!

Nigella’s Recipe is as follows:
(makes approx 20 cupcakes)


  • 45 gram(s) butter
  • 300 gram(s) mini marshmallows
  • 180 gram(s) rice krispies
  • 1 sprinkling of sprinkles (or edible glitter – optional)
  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.
  4. Press the mixture into a greased silicone cupcakes cases; use two spoons to push and scrape into the cases as it will be very sticky. Flatten the top and
  5. Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the cases and then decorate with butter icing.

My buttercream icing recipe can be found here.

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Start Meal Planning for the New Year

photo from

I love to meal plan. In my family I am in charge of the kitchen and to keep organised  I meal plan. Meal planning means I can save time and money. To get started with meal planning there are plenty of recipes for quick easy meals to try  here.   However, meal planning can also include pre-packaged food, just so long as you have planned ahead and bought in what you need. If you are working full time it is not always practical to cook from scratch every day and so forward planning can help you select some good prepared foods that help you to balance the issue of saving both time, money and healthy eating in your kitchen.

Here are my top tips to get started with meal planning:

  1. Find out the weekly schedule for everybody in your family; see who will be eating at home on what days; see which days are busy and plan an easy meal to prepare.
  2. Look through the fridge/cupboards and see what there is to use, this will prevent duplicates being bought and keeps costs down.
  3. Write a list of 7 meals and, if lunch planning too, write a list of 7 lunch meals (or use an meal plan from the meal plan page).
  4. Write a shopping list including all the things you need for your 7 meals plus extras such as cleaning products.
  5. Do one big shopping trip* and get everything you need, or make an online grocery order and have it delivered to your door.

*As a stay at home Mum I do one big weekly shop but leave some fresh items, such as salad, to bought throughout the week. Then later in the week I plan into my routine a trip to a local shop when it is convenient to buy a few fresh ingredients. If you plan ahead this can fit into an routine such as a trip to a shop on the way home from work, rather than arriving home and realising it is necessary to go out again to the shops.

If you use my 5 steps to meal planning you may find it helpful to use a meal plan chart and place it somewhere that everyone can see it. I have found an attractive free meal plan at this website:

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Strawberry Santas

If you love these Christmas Santa Strawberries. You can see how to make them below and watch the step by step picture instructions:

Check out How to Make Christmas Strawberry Santa Claus With Micho by Michel on Snapguide.

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