August 19, 2015
by Jenni Clutten
Have you ever wanted a new mattress but not really had the money to get a good one straight away? We have been in this situation for a while, wanting something new to celebrate the end of baby days and the return of our bed to the adults. (When the children aren’t bouncing about on it in the mornings…)
I was recently asked to try out the Airstream mattress topper and it seemed like a great middle ground, giving us a fresh new feel to the mattress, without having to shell out hundreds of pounds for a new one.
The airstream mattress topper arrived, packaged up much smaller than I had imaged, neatly rolled into a bag a similar size to the ones you find a set of two pillows in.
We have a standard double bed from Ikea and the mattress topper came up slightly too small with a thin gap at the top and the bottom of the bed. This has had no effect on comfort or looks once we strapped the corners down and put the bedsheet down over the top. (It took like a few minutes to roll out and attach.) Being so thin, it’s hard to believe that the mattress topper will make any difference but I must admit I’ve found it adds an extra level of comfort. Having used it for the last couple of weeks, I certainly wouldn’t be without one and would without doubt will be purchasing one for guest room.
And if that wasn’t enough I’ve also got 10 tips to keep cool in bed this summer. I have definitely been making sure I have a lighter duvet for the summer months, and ridding the bed of anything dark but I like the idea of freezing your sheets on those unbearably hot nights!
Have you tried using a mattress topper? What did you think?
August 9, 2015
by Jenni Clutten
I’ve spent a bit more time in the kitchen recently, pottering about with some new recipes. We all know it gets a bit boring eating the same things over and again, so when I was sent this truly delicious looking recipe kit, I knew immediately that I wanted to try out this amazing Jewelled Persian Rice Recipe.
Now, lets be straight it’s not one to make when you’re feeling ravenous, as it takes time to soak and prepare the ingredients, but it is without doubt one the most delicious things I have ever cooked. I’m normally terrible with rice but I followed the instructions to the T and it was honestly better than the rice at my favourite Indian.
You might be wondering what on earth to serve this complex and delicious dish with? Well, we served it with a slow cooked lamb shank (much like this recipe) and then served leftovers in a steak burrito.
So, here’s the recipe!
You will need:
- 300g Amira superior Aromatic Rice
- Pinch of Saffron threads
- 150g dried cranberries
- 1 x large onion
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 60g unsalted butter
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1tsp caramon pods
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g walnuts roughly chopped
- pomegrante seeds (110g pack ready prepared seeds)
- handful of parsley, finely chopped
- finely grated zest from 1 orange
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Start by rinsing the rice in a sieve under running water, then tip into a bowl and cover with cold water and set aside for 1 hour. Add the saffron to a small heatproof glass and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then leave to soak. Add the cranberries to a small heatproof bowl and cover in boiling water, set aside to soak.
- Once your rice, saffron and cranberries are halfway though their soaking time (30minutes), add the oil and half the butter to a deep, preferably non stick pan and set over a low heat. When the butter has melted add the onion, cinnamon, cardamon and cumin and fry gently for 30 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, then turn off the heat.
- Drain your Amira rice and add to a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water so it comes up 3 cm above the rice and set over a medium high heat. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water to cool and drain well. The rice will have started to cook but will still have plenty of bite and the grains will not yet me fluffy.
- Stir the cooled Amira rice through the onions in the frying pan, along with the saffron, cranberries and their soaking water. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stirring well, then dot the surface of the rice with the remaining butter.
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon make 5-6 holes through the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan – this helps it to steam evenly. Tear off a sheet of baking paper, scrunch it up under cold running water, shaking off the excess, then lay snugly over the surface of the rice. Cover the pan tightly with a layer of foil and set over a very low heat. Cook, undisturbed, for 40 minutes, after which time your rice will be cooked and fluffy and a delicious buttery crust will have developed on the bottom.
- Whilst your rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until golden and smelling nutty. Tip into a bowl and stir through the pomegranate seeds, parsley, orange zest and garlic. Set aside.
- Once your rice is ready, remove and discard the paper. Lightly fork through the walnut, pomegranate and parsley mixture and pile the rice onto a warmed serving dish. Scrape the lovely crunchy caramelised rice (the tahdig) from the base of the pan and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately.
I hope you give this recipe a go, if you would like to make it, Amira can be found on the shelves of Waitrose, Morrison’s, Tesco and Asda. I’ve already bought some more saffron so I can make up a nice big batch. It freezes really well so I’m thinking about making more to save for days when I don’t have time to cook. I also love the look of this Middle Eastern Clove and Cardamon Scented Rice with Caramelized Red Onions, Green Lentils & Griddled Halloumi, I’ll let you know how I get on.
Disclosure: This recipe box was sent to me on behalf of Amira, all thoughts, words and opinions are my own.
August 2, 2015
by Jenni Clutten
As a parent it’s quite common to find yourself with hungry mouths to feed. Throw in a few of someone else’s children and you’ll feel the need to rummage something up that’s quick but you can also make and decorate with them too.
A few weeks ago I made my first ever whoopie pies, they turned out really nice, kind of like mini cookie cakes. Normally you put two together with a filling in between, but I think they are great, just on their own, topped with a bit of icing.
- 40g coco powder
- 4 tablespoons of boiling water
- 250g of plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 75g of melted butter
- 150g natural yogurt
- 1 egg
For the topping:
- Icing sugar
- food colouring of your choice
- sprinkles and glitter, or chopped nuts, crushed biscuits (anything your children will love)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper
- Mix the coco powder and the boiling water together until you get a smooth paste
- Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir together. Add the cocoa paste, butter, yogurt and egg and beat together until smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into 5 cm rounds on the baking tray and leave to stand for 5 minutes. (Don’t forget to leave space for them to rise during baking.)
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen, the tops appear slightly cracked and can be easily lifted from the baking paper. When finished bake the next batch until you have used up all your mixture. Ours made around 35 individual whoopie biscuits
- Mix up the icing sugar into a thick paste with a few drops of food colouring and a little water.
- Once the whoopies have cooled, bring them to the table ready for decoration. Arrange your sprinkles and icing and let the fun commence.
We just loved sharing these with friends, and those we had left over we simply put in the freezer, ready to decorate another time.