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Copyright Beth Sachs 2018. Powered by Blogger.

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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. This simple 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 Crayola website. 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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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.

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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!

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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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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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Spanish Chicken, Chorizo and Bean Casserole


There was a definite chill in the air this weekend. Autumn is well and truly here in Cornwall and I for one am glad  - its my favourite season. I love the bonfires, the quiet beaches, cosy evenings in front of the fire, long walks picking blackberry's, crumbles with lashings of custard and warming comfort food such as this dish. 

I really like the smoky flavour that the chorizo and smoked paprika bring to this casserole and the chilli flakes add a subtle heat. If you preferred something a little milder leave out the chilli flakes and use just 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. 

SPANISH CHICKEN, CHORIZO AND BEAN CASSEROLE
By Beth Sachs, 9th September 2013

Ingredients: serves 4
  • 1 Red Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • Sprig of Thyme
  • 150g Chorizo, sliced
  • 1 heaped TSP Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 TSP Chilli Flakes
  • 4 Chicken Breasts, chopped
  • 400g Tin of Tomatoes
  • 200ml Chicken Stock
  • 400g Tin of Kidney Beans
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parsley to serve

Method:
  • Step 1: In a large casserole, heat 2 TBSP of oil and gently fry the onions for a few minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, chilli and chorizo and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Step 2: Turn the heat up and quickly brown the chicken, then add the tomatoes and stock and salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Step 3: Add the kidney beans and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
  • Step 4: Serve sprinkled with parsley with some crusty bread.
Beth Sachs
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Courgette, Feta and Leftover Spaghetti Frittata


Courgette, Feta and Leftover Spaghetti Frittata
My in-laws allotment is making up for last year. They are literally drowning in produce - this weekend they had a bit of a courgette sitiation so kindly donated some to us, along with beetroot, broad beans and french beans!

As I had some spaghetti leftover from the night before I decided to make a spaghetti frittata with the courgettes and some feta I had in the fridge. Frittata's are so easy to make and I often take leftover slices to work for lunch the next day.

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Courgette, Feta and Spaghetti Frittata
A summery light lunch
Ingredients
  • 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
  • 2 Courgettes, sliced
  • Handful Cooked Spaghetti
  • 150g Feta, cubed
  • 6 Eggs, beaten
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
Step 1: Preheat the grill. Fry the garlic and courgettes in a 20cm frying pan.Step 2: Add the cooked spaghetti, feta and pour on the eggs. Season and leave to cook for about 6-8 minutes.Step 3: Transfer to the grill until golden and bubbling on top.Step 4: Serve with Salad.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 slices

Beth Sachs
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Luscious Lemon Shortbread Bars


Luscious Lemon Shortbread Bars
The combination of buttery shortbread and tangy lemon is very moreish. In fact just thinking about them makes me salivate. They are so easy to make - perfect for a summer bake sale or picnic. You could even tart them up to serve at an al fresco dinner party - just serve larger slices with a little more grated lemon zest on top and finish with a dollop of clotted cream.

Be warned, you can just keep eating these!

LUSCIOUS LEMON SHORTBREAD BARS
By Beth Sachs, 16th July 2013

Ingredients
  • 280g Plain Flour
  • 80g (plus more for dusting at the end) Icing Sugar
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 225g Cold Butter, cubes
  •  For the lemon topping
  • 350g Caster Sugar
  • Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 TSP Lemon Zest
  • 100ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 35g Plain Flour
  • 1 TSP Baking Powder
Instructions:
  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 170c 
  • Step 2: Blitz the plain flour, icing sugar salt and butter in processor then press into a 30x20cm tin and bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Step 3: Whilst the shortbread base is cooling mix together the lemon topping ingredients and pour onto base. Cook for 25 minutes. Cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into bars.
Details:
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Yield: 16 slices

Beth Sachs
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Tangy Courgette Couscous


Tangy Courgette CouscousI picked up some lovely little courgettes from the farm shop today and decided to make this summery couscous salad, perfect for lunchboxes or barbeque's.


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Tangy Courgette Couscous
A lovely light summer lunch
Ingredients
  • 300g Couscous
  • 2 Courgettes, sliced and griddled
  • 100g Feta, crumbled
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • handful Parsely, chopped
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
Cook couscous in water or stock according to packet instructions.Add all other ingredients and refrigerate until needed
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8




Beth Sachs
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