A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party

It was Jenson’s 1st birthday on Friday (30th).
We had a lovely day and the birthday boy and his brother really enjoyed themselves!
Mummy and Daddy gave Jenson a wooden trike and an activity cube and Burton gave him a Melissa & Doug latches board. He also ‘wrote’ a birthday card out for Jenson and made some lovely colourful squiggles inside it!
We also gave Burton two small presents to open so that he wouldn’t feel left out and to occupy him so that Jenson would be able to play with his new things. Hmmm…..like that was going to work!! Burton has enjoyed trying out all of his brother’s new toys and especially likes riding his new trike!!
I spent most of the day in between occupying the boys, trying to finish off the party food. Luckily I managed to get Jenson to nap for an hour after lunch which enabled me to get some food prep completed!
Due to the weather being so glorious and because we don’t have a garden to host the party in, Jon’s parents very kindly agreed to let us host the party at their house so that the children could run around outside and use the trampoline and swings. The guests were a mix of family and friends, and even though several of the guests couldn’t make it, which was a shame, it was a lovely gathering and everyone enjoyed themselves.
I did a theme for the party which was The Very Hungry Caterpillar , and I based all of the party food on the items that features in the story. I replaced some items for similar ones e.g.. cherry pie was actually cheese & onion quiche, the chocolate cake became mini triple decker sandwiches on wholemeal bread, I made blue & yellow cake pops for the lollipops, pizza wedges for the watermelon, mini cheddars for the oranges and ham instead of salami! I also filled ice cream wafer cornets with jelly for the ice creams. I made mini caterpillars using grapes and a cherry tomato on cocktail sticks. I then wrote cards out with the lines from the story on as menu cards

The cake turned out much better than I had imagined!! I made two chocolate sponge cakes filled with chocolate butter cream, which I placed on top of one another and covered with white chocolate ganache. Then I stuck smarties around the sides and finally I cut a hungry caterpillar out of icing to decorate the top of the cake with.

It really was a fun afternoon and Jenson really seemed to be enjoying himself and he didn’t cry once!
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Thank you xx

Christmas Pudding

If you haven’t yet bought your Christmas pudding or made one even, then let me share this recipe with you as there is still time, as I only made mine today! I first made this version of a Christmas pudding last year and it went down so well with all my guests! So much so that I have been asked to make it again this year! I have to thank the BBC Good Food Magazine for this amazing recipe as it was in my December issue last year, but you can also find it on their website.

One thing I like about this version of a Christmas pudding is that you don’t have to steam it as you bake it in the oven, and because it is baked in a loaf tin it cuts so much more easily for your guests than a pudding bowl version! I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe this year, having stuck to the original last year, but the recipe is as follows:

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

Slow Cooker Roast Beef
This is my recipe for slow cooker roast beef . It is a meal that I have been cooking for many years now. It is the easiest way to ensure meat that is tender and tasty. As the beef cooks it creates its own gravy which contains all the juices from the meat. Please try it, because you will not be disappointed!
Slow Cooker Roast Beef

I appreciate that a joint of beef doesn’t take long to cook the conventional way in an oven. However, I like the fact that I can leave it cooking all day if I want to, while I am doing other things. I often put my beef in my slow cooker before breakfast on a Sunday morning for Sunday lunch. This means that I have a few hours, maybe all day, to enjoy time with my family. Allowing us to go out for a walk to work up an appetite, or to visit friends or family, before I need to return to the kitchen and get the vegetables cooked, and the slow cooker roast beef dished up.  

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Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

 
slow cooker chicken
 
I experienced a cooking revelation today!
Thanks to Dawn (The Moiderer) I decided to try cooking a whole chicken in my slow cooker, as I was out all day and it needed to be eaten by tomorrow.
 
Now I am not joking when I say that the chicken was amaaaaaaazing! As I lifted it out of the slow cooker it literally fell apart! It was so moist too and even the meat from the drumstick and wings was delicious ( I am not usually fan of the brown meat on a roasted chicken!). The skin was fairly crispy – not that I eat it myself and there is no need to carve the chicken because the meat just falls off the bones.
 
So this is what I did:
 
1 whole chicken (mine was 1.765 kg)
I stuffed it with 1 lemon (cut in 2 halves)
 I rubbed the skin with Rosemary, and garlic (optional)
I also slashed the drumsticks (which I do when I roast chicken in an oven)
1 onion cut into 4 chunks around the chicken once it was in the slow cooker
 
Anyway, I put my slow cooker on medium setting at 9.30am and turned it off at 5.30pm. The meat falls off the bone it is the nicest moistest chicken i have ever cooked!! Brilliant!
 
If you are in a hurry, you can cook it on high for about 4-5 hours 🙂
 
 
But do you know what, the meat is that good plus no roasting pans to wash up! I think I may never cook a whole chicken in the oven again!