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Unconventional Uses for Every Day Appliances


With energy prices rising every year and the averageUK household spending £50 - £90 a year on powering appliances they’re not even using, it makes sense to get the most out of our appliances and get our money’s worth!

Firstly – make sure you’ve got energy efficient appliances which are cheaper to run and better for the environment. The range of kitchen and home appliances from LG offers state of the art technology and energy efficient options.

Next up – let’s look at getting the most out of them. Many common, every-day household appliances have rather unconventional uses alongside those they are well-known for. Here we take a look at some of our best-loved appliances, and the unusual ways we can use them.

Dynamic dishwashers:

A dishwasher is a wonderfully useful appliance, and undoubtedly, one that many of us can't live without. However, it's greatly appreciated cleansing prowess is not just limited to dishes; almost anything can be cleaned in a dishwasher. Designed to be gentle with your crockery, but at the same time, effective at removing grease and bacteria, the dishwasher proves to be the perfect cleaning tool for any number of items. Wash toys, toothbrushes, garden tools, clothes and even hub-caps; the list is pretty inexhaustible, so use your imagination! The dishwasher's usefulness can be extended to food, too: if scrubbing potatoes is a pet-peeve, pop them in for a quick wash; and while you are at it, why not throw in a salmon? As strange as it may sound, many people swear that using a dishwasher is the best way to produce a perfectly cooked salmon. Thissimple recipe explains how.


Freeze your jeans:

The freezer is another appliance that we have become so dependent on; and it also hides a multitude of little-known talents. Surprisingly, candles burn longer, and batteries have an extended life, after being placed in the freezer. Chewing gum is notoriously difficult to get off clothes, but freezing the affected item makes it easier to remove. If you want to sneakily open a sealed envelope, then pop it in the freezer first, and it will open without ripping; you'll also be able to re-seal it, too. Worried about bed-bugs? Then place your pillows or other bed linen into the freezer, as this will kill them off. Perhaps you've bought an expensive pair of jeans, but are concerned about fading when you wash them. If so, your freezer could offer a more gentle approach: place them inside a zipped bag, and leave them for a week; this will kill any lurking bacteria, and eliminate any unpleasant odours, without going through a harsh washing machine cycle. And lastly, a few hours in the freezer can apparently even resurrect a dying computer hard drive, just long enough to extract data before it permanently expires.

Multi-task your microwave:

There's nothing worse than a pongy sponge or dishcloth. However, there is no need to throw them away, as they can be revitalised with a quick blast in the microwave; this will not only remove unpleasant smells, but it will also disinfect the items. Similarly, the microwave is useful in disinfecting chopping boards, even those that have been involved in the preparation of chicken. It is also perfect for preparing beauty treatments, such as hot oil, face masks and wax; and if you feel a headache coming on, heat a gel pack, and soothe away pain in no time.

Give your hair-dryer a blast:

These little gems have untold uses, so don't just limit them to styling your hair. Blast dusty areas that are hard to reach, such as behind sofas or on high shelves, and this will quickly get rid of unsightly dust. If you've ever had problems re-arranging snap-shots in a sticky photo album, then use your hair-dryer (on a warm setting) on the back of the page, and photos will lift off a lot easier. Stickers are the bane of parents' lives; children love them, but have a habit of sticking them in the most inappropriate of places, such as your new dining table. They are frustratingly tricky to remove, but a hot blast of your dryer will get them off in a jiffy. In keeping with the child theme: unless you have wipeclean paint, wax crayons are the enemy. If you discover a vandalised wall, don't panic! Hot air will melt the wax, allowing you to wipe it away simply. Find more stain tips on the Crayolawebsite. If that's not enough, hair-dryers can also be used to remove wrinkles from clothes and shower curtains, and de-mist your steamed up bathroom mirror.

Forgotten fads:

Let's face it; many of us have bought newfangled kitchen appliances, only for them to be shoved to the back of a cupboard gathering dust. Dig out your fondue set and create a tasty broth or Chinese hot-pot. Sizzle some burgers, bake cookies or rustle up a pizza on your neglected waffle iron. There are tons of inspiring ways to use those forgotten appliances, so get creative!
Beth Sachs
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Meal Plan 30th December 2013 ~ 5th January 2014



Its an eating out/leftover kind of week here. Today we off to a pub for dinner with extended family, New Years Day we are at the in-laws and we are at my parents for a meal on the 2nd Jan. In between I will be using up all the  leftover cheeses, meats and vegetables and hope to run down my stocks during January so its a cheap month grocery wise!

Monday 30th December
HM Chicken Kievs, Roast Potatoes, LO Sweet Potato Mash, LO Cauli Cheese, Peas

Tuesday 31st December
Creamy Sausage Pasta for lunch and party food in the evening at a friends house.

Wednesday 1st January
Roast at In-Laws

Thursday 2nd January
Meal at Parents

Friday 3rd January
Homemade Pizza using up leftover cheese and meats.

Saturday 4th January
Spaghetti Carbonara

Sunday 5th January
Prawn and Smokey Sausage Jambalaya
Beth Sachs
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Dress Your Table For Christmas


I was kindly asked to take part in the Debenhams Dress Your Table For Christmas campaign and was given a voucher to spend in their online home and furniture shop on items to decorate my dining table ready for the Christmas season.

After many hours spent perusing the website I opted for the following:

Gold Bell Christmas Tree
2 of these Angel tea light holders, also in gold
Some festive red placemats and a ribbed red runner
I also bought 6 large wine glasses, which are lovely and chunky.
Thanks to Debenhams for letting me take part.

I am busy preparing some make ahead desserts for Christmas today including this no bake Choc Orange Cheesecake. Will be back later in the week with more festive recipes.
Beth Sachs
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Chocolate Mallow Crunch Bars


Chocolate Mallow Crunch Bars
A very naughty treat.... but oh so nice!

If you make this in a foil tray it's an ideal traybake to take to your childrens Christmas bake sale at school or to serve at a Christmas Party.

print recipe

Chocolate Mallow Crunch Bars
A naughty chocolately treat.
Ingredients
  • 150g Dark Chocolate
  • 150g Milk Chocolate
  • 125g Unsalted butter
  • 3 TBSP Golden Syrup
  • 220g Digestive Biscuits, crushed
  • 4 Crunchie Bars, crushed
  • 3 heaped TBSP Mini Marshmallows
  • 50g For the topping -White Chocolate, melted
  • 50g Milk Chocolate, melted
Instructions
Step 1: Use a foil tray or line a 20 x 30cm tin.Step 2: Break up the chocolate then place in pan with butter and syrup and melt on low heat.Step 3: Crush the biscuits and crunchie bars then add to the mix along with the marshmallows.Step 4: Press into try, chill then drizzle with the melted milk and white chocolate. Cut into squares when ready to eat.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20 bars
Beth Sachs
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Banana and Baobab Breakfast Bars


Banana and Baobab Breakfast Bars

On weekday mornings I need a quick and easy breakfast I can eat at my desk. I often turn to flapjack based bars as they tend to keep me full until lunchtime  - my favourites being these Honey and Peanut Butter flapjacks. As I had a couple of black banana's to use and an intriguing packet of Baobab powder (thank you Eden Project) to experiment with I though I would develop a high energy Breakfast Bar, using a flapjack recipe as the base.

Baobab Tree's in Africa are known as the 'tree's of life' because their fruits contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain:
  • Three times more calcium than milk
  • Twice the Vitamin C of oranges
  • Six times more antioxidants than blueberries
Not only do the fruits provide health benefits, but trade of baobab fruit helps to relieve poverty by supporting harvesters and their families. Eden project baobab is sustainably harvested and bought from rural harvester groups in Malawi. Money from every sale of baobab powder (and baobab chocolate bars) at the Eden project goes to Phtyotrade Africa, who help support local harvesters and producers across southern Africa.

These bars turned out really well. The powder gives the flapjacks an extra fruity zing and next time I would be inclined to add some dried apricots to the mix too. The bars provide a high energy, nutritious breakfast for people on the run!

print recipe

Banana and Baobab Breakfast Bars
High energy and nutritious
Ingredients
  • 150g Butter
  • 50g Honey
  • 50g Demerera Sugar
  • 2 Black Banana's, mashed
  • 250g Oats
  • 25g Baobab Powder
Instructions
Step 1: Line a 20cm square tim with baking paper and preheat oven to 190c.Step 2: Melt the butter, honey and sugar over a low heat then mix in the other ingredients. Press into tin and bake for 20 mins.Step 3: Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into bars.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12
Beth Sachs
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Christmas Menu Planning Ideas


Christmas Meal Planning

Christmas Meal Planning has well and truely started in this house. I love pulling Nigella and Delia off the book shelf to help inspire me and this year I thought I would put together a list of my favourite festive recipes in a blog post. Some of the recipes are my own, some are from external websites and some are from books (I will include book and page number for you). There will be recipe ideas for the 'main event' but also recipes for the run up to the big day including freeze ahead meals, gifts and edible presents, sweet treats, buffets and 2 menu options for Christmas Eve. To be helpful I will also mark any recipes that can be frozen.

If you have any tried and trusted favourites then leave a link in the comments section and I will add it to the blog post.

Christmas Cakes

Sweet Treats
Star Studded Mince Pies (Nigella Christmas p186)

Desserts

Christmas Eve
I love Christmas Eve, in fact I think I prefer it to Christmas Day. I really enjoy the build up and seeing the excitement on my children’s faces in anticipation of Father Christmas coming. Our day goes something like this……..

The kids go downstairs on Christmas Eve morning to find an Elf Hamper has appeared under the tree. The hamper contains new Pj’s, a Christmas DVD (whilst I get on with last minute preparations), Reindeer Food, a miniature bottle of Whisky or Baileys for the big man and a secret key as we don’t have a chimney. They also open their advent calendar and advent stockings.

We go for a long walk in the morning, dropping off any last minute cards and gifts around the village, coming back for a lunch of Chestnut and Bacon Soup with homemade bread rolls. After lunch the kids sit and watch the new DVD then at 4pm its time to walk over to Church for the Christmas Crib Service. All of the children dress up and the newest baby born in the village is Jesus. The service is done by candlelight and is magical. 

Handily the village pub is almost next door to the Church so we pop in for a quick drink with the kids, family and friends then head back to our house for a Christmas Eve meal. This year there will be 9 of us. I tend to alternate what I prepare between the following two menu plans – this year it will be curry which I will make the day before.


Menu 1
Chip Shop Chicken Curry (double quantity (F)) with Rice, Naan Breads, Poppadum’s, Pakora’s and Onion Bhaji’s, Mango Chutney and Raita.
Dessert = Self Saucing Jaffa Pudding (in slow cooker) with Cornish Clotted Cream Ice Cream

Menu 2
Slow Cooker Gammon in Pineapple Juice served with Macaroni Cheese (double quantity (F)) and Buttered Peas

After dinner the kids get in their new PJ’s, we track Santa on the laptop and put out the reindeer food and a drink and mince pie. The kids go off to bed then hubby and I sit down with a glass of wine and watch a bit of telly…..before Santa arrives

Christmas Day Breakfast 
Christmas Morning Muffins (Nigella Christmas p214) (F)

The Main Event
Roast Potatoes
Bacon wrapped Chipolatas
Gingerbread Stuffing (Nigella Christmas p124)
Parsnips with Parmesan (Delia Happy Christmas p193)
Christmas Sprouts (Nigella Christmas p132)
Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce

Boxing Day Buffet
Cold Turkey and Ham
Christmas Coleslaw (Delia's Happy Christmas p93)
Selection of Cheeses with Biscuits
Fresh Bread
Dips and Crudites

Drinks 
Poinsettia (Nigella Christmas p3)

Edible Gifts
Christmas Puddini Bonbons (Nigella Christmas p247)
Chilli Jam (Nigella Christmas p241)

Freeze Ahead Meals
Curried Mince and Peas (F)
Lamb and Date Tagine (Nigella Christmas p72) (F)
What festive recipes do you make year after year?
Beth Sachs
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Meal Plan 4th November - 10th November 2013


Back to School and work this week...Boo. Despite the changeable weather we managed to get out and about locally visiting Trerice House and Gardens near Newquay, Cardinham Woods near Bodmin - where I had a yummy Pulled Pork Ciabatta from Woods Cafe and also a walk on our favourite local beach, Sandymouth on Rorys 4th Birthday. I managed to make a few meals for the freezer too which I will use this week- always a lifesaver to have something in the freezer to call on after a busy day at work and 2 hungry kids and a husband to feed. So this coming weeks meal plan goes something like this...

Monday 4th November
Curried Mince and Peas with Rice

Tuesday 5th November
Jackets with leftover Curried Mince

Wednesday 6th November
Chorizo and Pea Risotto

Thursday 7th November
Creamy Sausage Pasta - scroll down the blog post for the recipe

Friday 8th November
Homemade Pizza

Saturday 9th November
Spinach and Bacon Carbonara

Sunday 10th November
Chicken Kievs, Rice and Steamed Vegetables



Beth Sachs
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American Style Pancakes with Maple Syrup


Pancakes aren't something I get to make very often for breakfast due to rushing out the door at 7am on a weekday. As it is half term though and with both the kids and I at home I thought I would give them a treat.

I seem to forget how quick and easy Pancakes are to actually make and you could probably make up the batter the night before and leave it to sit in the fridge overnight before cooking the pancakes in the morning.

Pancakes also freeze suprisingly well too. Just cook them and leave to cool before  placing between pieces of baking paper and freezing. When you fancy some pancakes pull them out and warm up in the microwave. I made a double batch and have frozen some for a wet and wintry weekend breakfast!

I tend not to put fruit in mine and instead serve them with sliced banana's on top but a couple of handfuls of blueberries or raspberries in the batter would work well here. Maple syrup is a must and I always like some crispy bacon rashers on mine...but the kids prefer theirs plain.


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American Style Pancakes
A perfect weekend breakfast treat
Ingredients
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 TSP Baking Powder
  • 2 TBSP Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1 Egg
  • 300ml Milk
Instructions
Step 1: Put the flour, baking poweder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and make a well in the middleStep 2: Whisk together the milk and egg then add to the flour and whisk togetherStep 3: Heat a knob of butter in a large frying pan and dollop TBSP of the mixture (you can do 2 at a time) into the pan and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles start appearing on the surfece of the pancakes. Flip the pancakes and cook for a further 2 minutesStep 4: Serve with sliced banana and maple syrup or freeze!

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10

Beth Sachs
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Spiderweb Millionaire's Shortbread for Halloween


Spiderweb Millionaire's Shortbread for Halloween
I saw Ruth make these a few days ago over on her blog The Pink Whisk and thought they would be a good half term Halloween bake for a rainy day....and today has definitely been rainy....and windy!

Millionaires Shortbread used to be a favourite of mine when I was younger and if Mum was making them for a special event or bake sale she would cut off long strips in the baking tin and let my brother and I eat the offcuts...if she didn't get there first!

I used silicone cupcake cases as Ruth suggests as they keep their shape better. Once the chocolate layer has set, just peel off the silicone cases and store in a cool dry place.

For a more in depth photo tutorial on how to make these then please see Ruths blog. Below is the basic recipe and method.

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Spiderweb Millionaire's Shortbread
A perfect Halloween treat for kids
Ingredients
  • For the Shortbread
  • 80g Butter, softened
  • 40g Caster Sugar
  • 140g Plain Flour
  • For the Caramel
  • 90g Butter
  • 90g Light Muscavado Sugar
  • 315g Condensed Milk
  • For the Chocolate
  • 200g Milk Chocolate
  • 50g White Chocolate
Instructions
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with silicone cases.Step 2: Cream together butter and sugar for the shortbread then stir in the flour until you get a crumbly dough.Step 3: Press spoonfuls into the silicone cases and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 12 minutes then set aside to cool.Step 4: For the caramel layer place the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a heavy bottomed pan and melt on a lowish heat. When the butter is melted turn up the heat, let the mix come to a low boil and stir continuously on the heat for 5 minutes. Take off the heat then spoon on top of the shortbread. Leave to set.Step 5: Melt the milk chocolate in a bowl in the microwave and then melt the white chocolate in a separate bowl and spoon into a piping bag with a fine nozzle.Step 6: Spoon the milk chocolate on top of the caramel layer then pipe three circles of white chocolate on each cake and use a cocktail stick to feather the chocolate to the edge - to make it look like spiderwebs.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12

Other Halloween recipes you might like
Halloween Cupcakes 
Hubble Bubble Pumpkin Fishcakes
Gingerbread Skeletons
Beth Sachs
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Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cake


Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cake
Sometimes the simple things are the best and this cake is so easy to make. Its lovely and moist and if you use really good quality cocoa and vanilla bean paste it tastes fab. There is no faffing with icing or glazes and because of this it makes an ideal lunchbox cake as there is no sticky mess to deal with afterwards!

The mixture is a simple madeira cake recipe (hence why it keeps so well) which you split into two bowls, cocoa powder folded into one and vanilla paste into the other. The two mixtures are then swirled gently together in the cake tin - I usually use a long skewer. 45 minutes in the oven and you have a pretty marbled cake to enjoy. The kids call it the cow cake......

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Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake
A super easy moist cake perfect for lunchboxes
Ingredients
  • 225g Butter, softened
  • 225g Caster Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 2 TSP Baking Powder
  • 50ml Milk
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Paste
  • 50g Cocoa Powder, sifted
Instructions
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c and grease a 20cm springform tinStep 2: Cream butter in a bowl and add sugar until mixture is light and fluffyStep 3: Whisk eggs and gradually add to butter mixture, beating all the timeStep 4: Fold in the flour, baking powder and milk then divide the mixture between 2 bowlsStep 5: Add the vanilla bean paste to one bowl and stir gently through and add the cocoa powder into the other and fold in until combinedStep 6: Place alternating dollops of mixture into the tin and then with a skewer gently marble itStep 7: Bake for about 45 minutes.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 slices
Beth Sachs
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Meal Plan 28th October - 3rd November 2013







Half term is here and being off work with the kids I hope to get a bit more cooking, baking and blogging done than I have during the past few months.

Monday 28th October
Kid Friendly Tuna Meatballs with Spaghetti

Tuesday 29th October
Chicken Kiev’s, Rice and Broccoli

Wednesday 30th October
HomemadeLasagne with carrots and peas

Thursday 31st October
Leftover Lasagne, Salad, Coleslaw and Homemade Garlic Bread

Friday 1st November
Rorys 4th Birthday. He had his party last week so a birthday tea for family including homemade pizza, chips, dips and these choc crunch bites.

Saturday 2nd November
It’s Fireworks Night at our local Rugby Club so hotdogs I expect

Sunday 3rd November
Out for Sunday Lunch

Beth Sachs
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