Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thursdays party food

Every Thursday I will be bringing you a  recipe perfect for parties. Its all in the preparation!!
You really don't need to be spending the morning of the party making sandwiches, these recipes will mean all the preparation can be done in the days before so you can relax & enjoy the party.

Quail scotch eggs (recipe for 12 eggs)

  • 12 quail eggs
  • 400g  plain  sausage meat 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (no stalks) or 2 tsp  dried thyme
  • 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g  plain flour
  • 200g Panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying

  • Prepare a bowl of ice water. Bring a litre or two of water to the boil in a pan. Carefully drop the quail's eggs in & boil for 2 minutes

  • Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place into ice cold water. Once they are cold, peel & set aside. Be very careful when handling the quail's eggs – they will be soft & fragile.

  • Using your hands, mix the sausage meat in a bowl with the chopped thyme, oil & a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Divide the sausage mixture into 12 equal quantities & press flat between your hands to form a thin sheet of the sausage mixture. Carefully wrap each quail's egg in the mixture, packing the eggs solid and ensuring that there are no air pockets

  • Cover the Scotch eggs with cling film & refrigerate for 15 minutes to set

  • Whisk the hen's eggs in a bowl. Place the flour & panko breadcrumbs on 2 different plates

  • Cover each Scotch egg with the flour, egg & then panko breadcrumbs, then roll again in egg & breadcrumbs, lightly coating each time. The second coating prevents any cracks when frying

  • Heat the deep fat fryer to 175˚C & fry the scotch eggs for 3 minutes.

I mince organic pork shoulder to make my sausage meat. I just like to know what I'm putting in my food, but you can buy prepared sausage meat from butchers.

You can make this the day before & serve cold at the party with some home made brown sauce

I prefer panko breadcrumbs as it gives a crispier finish but you can use normal breadcrumbs.

I like the quails eggs to be a little runny in the middle but if you prefer a hard yolk add a minute to the boiling time at the start.

Also perfect for picnics

Anna x

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Keeping kids entertained while dining out

As anyone with  kids knows, eating out can be hit or miss, especially if you'd like to go somewhere a step up from fast food! I came up with a way to ease the pain of dining out by bringing along a restaurant kit when we go out.

Here's what I put in our restaurant kit for kids:

1. Start with the bag - A small cosmetics bag would work great - I used a bag with a clear front so that I could see inside easily & its heavy duty material lets me clean it off. 

2. Little blank notebooks for each of the kids - fun for drawing, noughts & crosses or pretending to be the waiter.

3. Extra plastic utensils - just in case (sometimes the restaurant only has large heavy utensils which are impractical for little kids & sometimes the fork is on the floor with no replacement in sight).

4. Assorted little toys - I tried to pick things that both kids would enjoy & that could spark some imaginative play.

5. Extra straws - Sometimes restaurants don't have straws or they're only giant straws. I have some thin straws in our kit,  I also cut down some straws so that they fit kid-sized glasses better.

6. Little card games - Snap, happy families or flashcards

7. Crayons - I put them in ziplock bags which hold up better than the little cardboard boxes

8. Little books - We have a Velveteen Rabbit set which breaks the story up into 6 little books, but any little books would work.

9. Sticker books or stickers - The reusable sticker books are great for a restaurant kit because then you know that the stickers won't permanently bond to the table, chairs or floor of the restaurant!

10. Printable coloring pages from Of course you can also find coloring & activity pages at a lot of other sites as well. I've found on some printers you can adjust the print settings to print 4 pages on one, which shrinks the images down to a smaller size - great for going in the kit & for coloring on the table without taking up a ton of space.

Of course, a phone with some kid-friendly apps works well too, but I try to avoid the electronic crutch when possible.

Anna x

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Secret garden - Girls party

If you are looking for inspiration for a summer birthday party, a secret garden theme is magical!
It helps if you have or can borrow a large garden that you can have different areas for play, eating etc

Start with handwritten invitations on vintage paper & attach an old key (to the gate of the secret garden!)

Decorate your garden with paper pom poms.

Add a petal walk way

Have a special dining table or picnic blankets hidden in a corner of the garden. A gazebo may be needed for unpredictable weather.

Serve hampers with home made lemonade served in jam jars, 
dainty  sandwiches, macaroons & mini cupcakes decorated with 
seed packets & vegetables.
Decorate dining area with jars of wild flowers, peonies & roses.

Create areas for creative play.

Entertain the children with a scavenger hunt or hide paper butterflies for them to find. Provide skipping ropes & hula hoops. Pinatas are also fantastic hung from a tree.

Gift bags could be plant pots with gardening tools & seeds or personalised butterfly wings.

The possibilities are endless depending on budget.

Photos courtesy of pinterest`

Anna x

Friday, 24 May 2013


I love photo booths, but really who doesn't. I will say that I am only a fan of the older ones with the black and white film that come out looking grainy and sometimes a little over or under exposed. 
If you are hiring one for a party think about what props will work with the guests you have invited. Photobooths work well with all ages.

Buy photo props here and here.

For a bit of online fun, try La photocabine a cute website with an old school, french photo booth generator. 

Update: Saw this blog post about creating your own photo booth.

Anna x

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Instant pops

After we have finally had some sunny days, my boys have started to ask for my homemade ice pops.
I use a Zoko pop maker to make them within 7 minutes.

You just keep the maker in the freezer and just take it out when you want to make pops. 
You can layer smoothies, fruit juice and yoghurts to make some tasty combinations.
I use up leftover homemade yoghurt and add fruit coulis. Healthy and delicious!

Anna x

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Quiet boxes

When I have jobs to do, the weathers bad or just have whiny kids, I bring out a quiet box I have made to entertain the boys. I keep them on a shelf in the garage, out of the way so they don't get used all the time!
I save shoe boxes & in each create an activity which is age appropriate & doesn't require to much parental assistance.

Each box needs to have everything required for the activity including paper, scissors, glue etc. 
Its an idea to pop in picture instructions for little ones.
I then label the boxes & put them away until needed. 
I pick up cheap craft items & stationary supplies from cheap high street stores. 
Budget around £2 to £3 per box. Much cheaper than a kids magazine!
We currently have boxes containing card making, origami, paper cutting, lego (with pictures of what to make) & finger painting with stamps.

Some activities are fun & some promote learning & dexterity.
The key is to make it obvious what they need to create or do in each box.
Enjoy your quiet time..

Anna x

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Making yoghurt

When I was little my mum used to make the most amazing homemade yoghurt. I started making it myself about 18 months ago when I was going through a frugal phase. I use a yoghurt maker that I bought in a sale. You do not need one but I personally prefer it as the jars are a perfect size.

For the raw ingredients I use a whole or jersey milk & a live or bio yoghurt. 
My preferred brand is Longley farm but thats probably because I can see the dairy farm out of my kitchen window. 
Hows that for supporting local farmers!

Before starting make sure everything is scrupulously clean.
You will need 1 litre of milk & a small tub of active natural yoghurt.
Put the milk in a heavy bottomed pan & heat to 85°c. I use a jam thermometer. Let it cool to 43°c (you can stir the milk over an ice bath to speed this up) & whisk in the yoghurt. If milk is too hot when yoghurt is added it will kill the much needed cultures.
At this stage you can stir in 2 tbsp of milk powder if you prefer a thicker consistency.

I then pour the mixture into jars, put machine lid on & leave for at least 10 hours. I tend to leave mine between 12 & 14 hours. 
When ready pop the jar lids on & refrigerate for a couple of hours before eating.

If you haven't got a yoghurt maker here is an alternative method.

Heat oven to 200°c, then turn off. 
Fill jars with mixture, seal & let sit in a oven for 8 hours.
You will want to heat the oven to 200°c again after 4 hours & then turn off.

Do not disturb the yoghurt

After 8 hours, remove from oven & put in refrigerator until completely cool.

I usually start the process in the morning, put jars in fridge overnight & enjoy fresh home made yoghurt for breakfast.

I always make plain yoghurt & add flavourings before serving.

Our favourites are stewed strawberries, blueberries, honey & granola


Anna x