Bunting Naming Day Cake

 

naming day little them cake topper

It’s taken us nearly 10 months, but we finally decided to do something to celebrate LB’s arrival and set upon a naming day. We wanted a day without a formal ceremony where we could say thank you to a handful of close people who have been there for us over the last year. The people who received facebook messages in the early hours of the morning asking for help and advice, the people who reassured, the people who didn’t judge us on our parenting choices, the people who turned up with M&S Dine In deal and took LB for a walk, the people who fueled us with Boost bars.

bulls head pizza

We decided to treat the 18 guests to a meal at one of our favourite places to eat – Bulls Head in Repton. We were seated on a giant table in the beautiful Garden Room. Bulls Head is an ideal place to eat on a Saturday lunch time. We had 6 children/babies in our party and the menu catered for all tastes. I went for my usual pizza, some people wanted a simple soup and sandwich and quite a few went for an amazing looking belly pork dish. LB seemed to have a taste off everyones plates. After starters and mains we then headed back to our house for a table laden with pudding and an all important glass of pink fizz.

Naming day bunting cake

Of course all events like this need cake. I decided a dessert table would be the way to go with one centrepiece cake. For over a year baking hasn’t been high on the agenda so to allow me to have time to make and bake this cake I needed to plan ahead. I baked the fruit cake a couple of months ago to let it mature then a lot of the decorating was done in the fading light once LB was in bed. This explains some of the slightly dodgy mid-make photos. To cater for some dairy-free guests I used my usual Christmas cake recipe, but substituted butter for Pure sunflower spread. Note: dairy free alternatives make fruit cakes bake quite a bit faster so if you are using one of these spreads keep a close eye on the cake.

I haven’t decorated a cake since Christmas 2013. I’m certainly out of practice! For previous cakes I’ve covered them with Satin Ice, but my local cake decorating shop has stopped selling it so I went for Renshaw professional icing instead. While professional icings are more expensive they are far better than the icing bought off the supermarket shelf. Supermarket icings have a higher icing sugar content and less glycerine meaning the icing dries out quicker and is more likely to crack.

Naming Day sugarpaste bunting

The invitations for LB’s day featured bunting so I continued this theme on the cake. This meant making some sugarpaste edible bunting. You can use a star cutter to make the triangles or be mathematical like me. Using the strip cutter from my tapit cutters I cut a strip of coloured sugarpaste, then made marks 1.5cm along. On the opposite edge I then made marks 1.5cm along starting 7.5mm along the strip. I then used these marks to cut parallelograms which were then cut in half to make isosceles triangles. I warned you I was a bit of a maths geek. I stuck the bunting and flowers on with gin. I use gin (or vodka) rather than water because it is stickier and less likely to leave water marks on the icing. Also if your icing goes wrong you have gin to drink to drown your sorrows.

naming day cake mid make

I made the striped and polka dotted icing by using the same method that I used for the Jubilee cupcake bunting. It’s as simple as rolling dots and long pieces of sugarpaste into a base colour or sugarpaste before cutting in to triangles. The cake was then topped with a green sugarpaste ribbon that featured LB’s full name using letters made using a set of alphabet Tappit cutters.

Little Them little lily close up

To top this cake I knew I needed something special. I met Gail from Little Them at a Fabulous Places Fair in Derby a few years ago. She’s an illustrator by day and Little Them started a few years ago when she painted a bride and groom for friends. I loved her wooden figures, the detail was incredible and only now did I have a reason to buy one. Gail’s attention to detail was impressive. As I’d bought LB’s naming day dress from M&S Autograph range back in February, Gail was able to use photos from the website to help her paint the dress and even included one of LB’s favourite toys – Monkey Bear. When I saw the final painted figurine I was astounded by the detail she’d included. I’ll certainly consider Gail in the future for other projects.

A big thank you to our special guests who joined us to toast LB and eat lots of cake.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/19/bunting-naming-day-cake/

Little Lunches – Chicken Couscous Salad

chicken couscous salad

I like lunches that can be thrown together using some store cupboard ingredients and leftovers. I do plan our lunches over the week, but allow flexibility as we sometimes eat out or have leftovers from the night before.This is one of our current favourites and uses our top three store cupboard lunch essentials. Ideal for when you really need to go food shopping, but two hungry tummies need to be filled first.

First of these store cupboard staples is couscous. It can be prepped one-handed with a grouchy baby balanced on a hip. I’ve even served it with bolognaise or chilli con carne when I haven’t got the patience to cook rice or pasta.

Next is herbs. Can be dried or fresh. Herbs are key for adding flavour without adding salt.  We have a herb garden, though usually the herbs we use the most seem to be incompatible with our garden. It’s a special skill to be able to kill a mint plant. Hubs has this skill so I usually use dried mint in this recipe, however use fresh if you have it to hand. Remember if you are subbing dried for fresh, or vice versa in a recipe, you need to change the quantities. I go for 1 tbsp fresh herbs = 1 tsp dried herbs.

Finally yoghurt. The plain thick Greek style one. Since LB arrived on the scene there is always a large pot of it on the go. She happily eats it neat, but I also sometimes add fruit puree to sweeten it or use it as a savoury food dip. In this recipe the yoghurt helps keep the couscous stuck together making it easier for your little one to pick up. Still, I make no excuses; this can be a messy meal due to the couscous. Sometimes food has to be messy.

Toothless LB struggles with salad leaves so we leave them out for her, but sometimes if there are a few stray leaves of bagged salad in the fridge that needs using up I will throw them in my salad.

Chicken couscous salad - baby led weaning

Chicken Couscous Salad
Serves 1 adult & 1 little one

How you prep the veg is up to you. I have it diced and LB currently eats cucumber in small sticks and tomato in wedges both minus the skin. To peel the skin off a tomato cut a large cross on the bottom of the tomato then dunk it in a mug of hot water for 5 min. You’ll then be able to peel the skin off the tomato without cooking it. 

  • 75g dried couscous
  • generous pinch of dried mint
  • leftover chicken
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 tomato
  • cucumber
  • heaped tablespoons of greek yoghurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • black pepper
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (optional)

 

For the grown up

  • sweet chilli sauce
  • salad leaves
  • salt

 

  1. Put the couscous and mint in a bowl and top with just enough freshly boiled water to cover it. Cover and leave for 5 minutes to allow it to absorb the water.
  2. Cut your chicken and vegetables into manageable pieces for your little one.
  3. Once the couscous is ready, fluff it up with a fork then stir in the vegetables and chicken.
  4. When ready to serve, stir in the yoghurt, lemon juice, pinch of black pepper and chopped coriander leaves.
  5. Pep up the grown up version with sweet chilli sauce, salad leaves and salt.

little lunches rounded

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/05/little-lunches-chicken-couscous-salad/

Make Eat Get Read Go – April ’15

megrg april 15

Or should that read Made Ate Got Read Went. I’ve decided this series of posts would make more sense (and be easier for me) if written retrospectively.

Over the last few months since I last wrote a MEGRG post spring has sprung, LB has grown more independent and our days have been filled with great food and finds, many on our doorstep.

Make

Buggy Liner

I can be particular at times. When I discovered the buggy liner I’d bought for LB’s buggy didn’t fit, although the Mamas & Papas claimed it would, I decided the only way to get one to fit is to make one myself. Ok, I haven’t made it yet, but the material is all ready to go thanks to a Derby market stall and the amazing site Frumble. One look at the colourful Michael Miller fabric and I knew I had to have it. I’ve used Frumble before. I highly recommend them for both quick delivery and beautiful choice of fabrics.

Eat

The Dragon, Willington

We try to reserve Sundays as a  family day. We either take a picnic somewhere or eat lunch out. We’ve been meaning to try The Dragon at Willington for a long time now. After nice walk along the canal at Willington spotting our first swallows of summer, we decided to drop in to The Dragon for a small spot of lunch. How could we resist a hot maple roasted ham and stuffing sandwich topped with yorkshire pudding and served with chips and gravy dip?

Get

Letterbox Lane plate

Letterbox Lane is a company local to me and I’ve looked at their pieces for a while. I love how they combine old crockery with quirky illustration. While at the Fabulous Places spring fair I spotted a plate I’d seen on the Letterbox Lane Facebook page and knew I had to have it. It now sits proudly next to a photo of LB less than 24 hours old.

Read

Slow Cooked – Miss South

When I bought our slow cooker a few years ago I expected that I’d only use it in the winter months for stews, then I discovered a whole world of slow cooking on Pinterest. My slow cooker now gets used once or twice a week. It’s also great for making food suitable for LB. In October 2014 Miss South published Slow Cooked, and it has become a staple cookbook in our kitchen. Favourite recipe so far has to be Beef Rendang closely followed by Butter Chicken. Nothing beats coming home from a busy day finding dinner is bubbling and ready.

Go

Hardwick Hall

Ebay is a dangerous place. After winning something for LB on there that would need to be picked up in Chesterfield we decided to head to make a day of it and Hardwick Hall for LB’s first picnic. As it turns out LB was far more interested in the grass and picnic blanket than eating something I’d lovingly cobbled together for her. Top marks must go to Hardwick Hall for their baby facilities. The best I’ve seen in a National Trust property. Those ardent Harry Potter fans amongst you may recognise Hardwick Hall as Malfoy Manor (minus some digital trickery) in the films.

Have you made any fabulous finds this April?

megrg tag

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/04/28/make-eat-get-read-go-april-15/

Little Baker Picks – April ’15

little baker picks April 15

It’s been a few months since I wrote one of these posts. A draft posts sat ready, but before I had time to edit and publish it LB had grown up and moved on to something else. So while I’m lucky enough that she has settled herself into a predictable nighttime sleep pattern (we won’t talk about daytime naps okay) it gives me a bit of time to blog and work. These four items have been popular with LB over the last month or two.

That’s Not My Books

I doubt there are very few littles ones who don’t own at least one That’s Not My book. We currently own two with two more borrowed from the library. LB loves to go through the pages finding the textured areas, though who has the That’s Not My Bunny book with the freaky-eyed rabbit?

The Gro Company Gro Anywhere Blind

I bought this travel blackout blind second-hand off a friend and we road tested it at the weekend while we were away. Like other Gro Company products it’s fabulous and I’d happily pay the full price for it. Of course it’s not going to fit bigger windows but it can be adjusted to fit smaller ones.

Tomy Eggs

These eggs have been popular with LB since she got them when 5 months old. She doesn’t match the shapes and colours yet but happily empties the box then bats the tops and bottoms along the wooden floor and under the settee.

Tommee Tippee Explora Magic Mat

This isn’t the holy grail of mats to stick plates/bowls to tray, but it’s the best one so far and LB hasn’t worked out how to get it off (yet). I feel I may have jinxed it now and tonight’s meatballs are going to end up strewn on the floor. Why on earth doesn’t anywhere sell suckers that stick to both bowl/plate and tray?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/04/22/little-baker-picks-april-15/

Little Lunches – Vegetable Eggy Rice

Veg eggy rice BLW

We’ve gone down the baby-led weaning route so LB usually eats what I eat. As I’m getting more confident feeding LB I thought I’d begin to share the recipes I make for the two of us eat in a series called Little Lunches. We’re usually at home for lunch and while sandwiches in the pre-weaning days were perfect for me (sorry LB for dropping the odd bit of cheese on you while you were sleeping on me and I was grabbing lunch). Now we eat together and for ease I make something we both can eat. It’s certainly helping me to eat better.

All these recipes are for one grown up and a little one. They’re quick to prepare or can be prepped in advance. Of course everyone (big and little) has different appetites so you may need to adjust it accordingly. These work for me and LB. I’m no Annabel Karmel but these are the dishes that both my daughter and I enjoy.

Under the age of 1 it is recommended that children have no more than 1g of salt a day. Us grown-ups can have 5g so I cook without salt (or use substitutes like low salt stock cubes) then add tweaks at the table to make it more my taste. I try, where possible, to make sure each meal has:

  • protein
  • fruit and or veg
  • carb
  • during the day at least one portion of full fat dairy

First in the series is vegetable eggy rice. One of LB’s first foods was broccoli. Back then she ate florets with gusto, now she’s older and has twigged an association with food and tastes, broccoli is falling down the popularity stakes. I still offer it to her though as she will eat it if it is roughly blended with cheese and lemon juice to make a pasta sauce and when everything else on her tray has gone she will eat florets.

This recipe great for using up those little scraps in the fridge that need eating, hence why the broccoli has a tint of yellow. The vegetables can be easily substituted in this recipe along with adding cooked meat. Sometimes we may add a bit of left over Sunday roast chicken. Depending if your little one has developed good pincer grip or not it can be worth adding an extra egg to the mix to make it stick together better and make it easier to pick up.

vegetable eggy rice

Vegetable Eggy Rice
1 grown up & 1 little one

  • 100g rice (I usually use basmati)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Half a handful of shredded savoy cabbage (or similar)
  • Half a broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
  • 1 egg, beaten (if you want the rice to clump more and make it easier to pick up, add a second egg)
  • pinch of black pepper

For grown-ups

  • soy sauce
  • sweet chilli sauce

 

  1. Precook the rice and put to the side to drain and cool.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a saute pan then gently soften the spring onions, cabbage and broccoli.
  3. Once vegetables are cooked through add the rice to the pan. If there is still water on the rice at this point the pan may spit a bit.
  4. Move the vegetables and rice to one side of the pan and pour the egg in the other side of the pan. Allow the egg to cook for around 5 seconds then stir the vegetables into the egg. Keep stirring until egg is cooked and coating the rice.
  5. Stir in a pinch of black pepper before serving. For the grown up add a good dash of soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to taste.

little lunches rounded

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/04/16/little-lunches-vegetable-eggy-rice/

Weaning – 3 months on

baby-led weaning LB

Time is speeding by and we’ve been on the weaning journey for nearly 3 months now. As mentioned in previous posts we ended up going down the baby-led-weaning route as it worked best for us.We’ve come a long way since that first munch on broccoli and there has been an unexpected benefit for me – shedding those pounds.It hasn’t been intentional, but looking at what we eat to make it suitable for LB has meant I’m eating better too. It also means more or less no naughty baking. LB’s not daft, she seems to know when I’m eating something she isn’t.

We regularly eat out now with LB and she certainly knows how to charm the other diners, though we need to work on her table manners. Grinning at people with a mouthful of food won’t be as acceptable in a few years time! Eating out with her has made me look at menus more. She usually eats what were eating and not too long ago we visited a certain pub for a meal. There wasn’t a single item on the menu suitable for her or remotely healthy for me. The main and kids menu was full of beige food and chips with everything. Even the obligatory peas looked sorry for themselves. The usual failsafe of veggie burger had been replaced with a macaroni cheese burger. Safe to say we won’t be returning there for a while. Thankfully our usual eating haunts have a better choice of tasty dishes.

LB favourite foods

LB is still toothless (I swear she’s been teething since October), so some foods can be a bit tricky, but it still surprises me what she manages to gum and eat without little pegs.

Favourite foods

  • Blueberries If she had her way she’d eat them all the time. When she was ill a few weeks back they were all she would eat.
  • Prunes – A new addition to her diet and may even topple blueberries off the food top spot.
  • Crumpets/pikelets – Particularly popular if topped with a mix of grated carrot, apple and cheese.
  • Banana pancakes – Half a banana mashed into a beaten egg then cooked in a frying pan with a slither of unsalted butter. Can add extra fruits and toppings, like raspberry and cream cheese to make raspberry cheesecake pancakes.
  • Rice cakes – the plain ones. Unsalted ones are not the easiest to find, I pick them up in Boots. LB has tried the fruit coated ones but prefers the plain ones.
  • Quiche/tart call it what you like – There is a great recipe in the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook that LB adores, especially when I make it with cheese pastry. I usually make one big quiche, cut it in long slices then freeze.
  • Cheese – hardly surprising when I craved it during my pregnancy.
  • Yoghurt – It took her a while to appreciate yoghurt but now she’s masted spoon-feeding herself it’s the food she gets visibly excited about. Usually a good dollop of greek yoghurt blended with some ripe pear and peanut butter or Little Yeo pear and apple fromage frais. I’m a big fan off the Little Yeo range (for me too!) as they’re not too sweet plus they stick to the spoon well for her. Yeo Valley apparently sell mini pots of plain fromage frais but I haven’t seen them for sale near me.

Favorite recipe sources

weaning books

  • Baby Led Weaning Cookbook – I found this book useful, especially in the early days, giving me lunch and breakfast ideas. I found the sister book (Baby Led Weaning) to be a bit preachy and patronising but the cookbook (as long as you skip some of the introduction) is not. The most popular recipes from this book so far are the vegetable tart and meatloaf.
  • 5 O’clock Apron – I’ve been following Claire on Twitter (@5oclockapron) and reading her Guardian column about kids food for a few years. Even pre-LB I was envious of the food she served her kids. A few months back she brought out a cookbook and it has been loved here ever since. It’s not a weaning cookbook, but a book of family food. She doesn’t believe hiding vegetables in an effort to make your child eat them, just make the vegetables better in the first place with spices and other ingredients. We’ve really enjoyed cooking dishes from this book and to make the recipes more for mine & Hub’s grown up palate we just add salt at the table and maybe a cheeky glass of wine. What I like about most of the recipes is that I can prep them during the day when I have time, then it’s just a quick cook or assembly job once Hubs is home. LB’s favourite recipes have been and Egyptian dish called Kushari and chicken shawarma with chop chop salad.

One Handed Cooks

  • One Handed Cooks – a beautiful Australian site and magazine full of tasty food ideas for children, half of which seem to be pinned on my weaning Pinterest board. It’s helped me introduce vegetables and textures to LB in different ways.

Useful stuff

weaning equipment

  • Small frying pan – I picked up my pan, that’s no bigger than 20cm, in the Sainsbury’s sale for £4 a few years ago and it’s turned into one of the most used pieces of cookware at the moment. Great to making small omelette for LB along with heating up small portions of food. Bonus is that seems like less washing up and hassle than using our huge saute pan.
  • Mamas & Papas Baby Bud – Rather than a traditional high chair we opted for a booster style Baby Bud with additional benefit of being portable. It comes with a play tray which is handy for keeping LB entertained when I’m trying to sort dinner. My only slight niggle with it is that the tray could do with being a tiny bit bigger. Second choice – the iconic Ikea Antilop.
  • Bento box – LB has a little purple bento box from Paperchase sale and the adjustable little compartments are great for taking lunches and snacks out with us.
  • Microfibre wipes – We started using baby wipes at first, but discovered they don’t seem to grip the food when trying to wipe it up. Instead it just seems to smear it around. A friend introduced me to reusable wipes. The brand name is Cheeky Wipes, but I made my own by cutting down and sewing some microfibre wipes from B&M Bargains. Cost me less than £2.

Have you found any useful things when weaning your little one?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/04/11/weaning-3-months-on/

Baby Tortilla Pizzas

baby led weaning pizza

We’re still relative beginners at the weaning game but we’re rapidly learning what will work for Lily and so far there’s very few foods that have been rejected. Ask me again a few years when LB has decided her current favourite, broccoli, is the worst food we could feed her.

baby pizza lunch

Last weekend after a longer than it should be drive back from Liverpool (Don’t forget you’ve left your keys back at your parents when you turn off the M6 at Stoke meaning you have to get back on the M6 and drive north again) dinner needed to be quick and using what limited ingredients we had around the house. This is when Baby Tortilla Pizzas were born.

tortilla pizza base

As everyone who has ever weaned a child your freezer is full of purees you have lovingly made or you have some pre-made baby food pouches hanging around. Since the beginning LB has rejected purees and pouches so I had spares to be used up for dinner emergencies like this. Add that lonely tortilla wrap in the bread bin from the sweet potato fajitas earlier on in the week and we almost had pizzas.

baby tortilla pizzas

I’m always conscious that babies over 6 months should only have 1g of salt a day. Not much really when you look at the salt content of processed food. Here I’m using ready-made wraps some of which can be high in salt (these ones aren’t), but with time spare some simple tortillas made with flour and water could easily be whipped up.

Baby Tortilla Pizzas

  • Tortilla wrap
  • 3 tsp tomato based baby food puree (I used a Ella’s Kitchen lentil, tomato and red pepper puree )
  • grated cheese

 

  1. Using a 5cm biscuit cutter, cut out three rounds from the tortilla
  2. Spread the puree over the tortilla bases and sprinkle with a small amount of cheese.
  3. Place the pizzas in a small preheated frying pan on medium. Cook gently until cheese has melted. Alternatively you could cook them under the grill. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/02/15/baby-tortilla-pizzas/

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