What we eat and how we make it

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Happy birthday to me!

It’s my birthday!

Sorry I haven’t been posting for a while – I am the queen of starting things with good intentions and then giving them up. But I’m not giving up on this – I was just on a break 🙂

Anyway, did I mention IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!??

When you reach a certain age (over 30 but I’m not saying how much over) birthdays become a bit of a non-event. Especially when they are on a Wednesday and there are the usual school runs and after school activities to be done. I did go for a lovely lunch with my mum at McKees in Craigantlet and ate far too much, resulting in an afternoon of being very unproductive but I don’t care because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

And I got presents!

From my mum, I got these MTNG sandals from TK Maxx but in a pewter colour instead of gold (I’m wearing them as I type – I’m never one for keeping things for a special occasion)


From Dave – well, this is quite a long story

During the Easter holidays, my sister in law and I saw a girl wearing yellow jeans and a breton top pretty much exactly like this and it made me lust after yellow jeans. So I bought myself these ones from Boden


Now the fact that they were in the kids department should have made me think the sizing was not going to be generous but when they arrived they pretty much wouldn’t go past my knees – back they went!

So my lovely husband took it upon himself to get me a pair and for Mother’s day – these Replay ones appeared, which were the perfect colour the perfect length but only just made it over my childbearing hips – back they went!


So, today – another pair of yellow jeans – these ones from Hilfiger Denim. Great colour (a bit brighter than in this picture) and they just about buttoned up, but were VERY low rise and were about 3 inches too long – so they are packaged up and ready to go back tomorrow!




Lessons learnt:

1. I am not a size 28 in jeans – stop kidding yourself, Janine!

2. Always get the receipt.

3. I’m not sure I actually want yellow skinny jeans anymore.

But the good news is we are going on a birthday trip to Dublin (including an overnight stay – yippee!) next weekend so maybe he gets to try and buy me another present then!



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I visited a friend yesterday afternoon and had some yummy brownies from True Food Cafe (yeah, I know – the diet!). They were so good and reminded me that I used to make brownies quite a lot but haven’t for ages.

So today I made brownies 🙂

I use a recipe from a Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall book called The River Cottage Family Cookbook which I think is out of print now but you can pick it up second hand – I think it’s a great cookbook.

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However, as usual, I didn’t have quite the right ingredients so here are my alterations!

Ingredients (with my substitutes)

250g dark chocolate (I used a mix of dark and milk but the dark was very dark – 90% – purchased by my husband to prove how tough he was – seems 90% chocolate is too baddass for him!)

200g butter

200g caster sugar (not a drop of white sugar in our house so I used demerara – figured it might give them a caramel flavour)

3 eggs (I buy my eggs in mixed sizes and the ones left seemed a bit tiny so I used 4)

125g plain flour

50g cocoa powder (The whole mix seemed chocolately enough so I just added an extra 50g of flour instead)

100g broken walnuts (I’m planning on breaking the healthy snack rule and sending these into school tomorrow so had to keep them strictly nut free!)


Melt together the chocolate and the butter.

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In another bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until creamy.

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Add the chocolate to the eggs and mix well. Sieve in the flour (or don’t sieve if you are lazy like me) and stir well.

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Pour into a tin foiled lined baking dish and bake at 160C for about 25 mins or until set but still squidgy (I overcooked mine a bit as I forgot about them!)


Obviously I will eat none of these (teehee!) but I’ll let you know what the kids thought of them 🙂

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Things other than food

The culinary treats in our house today are very limited. It’s Wednesday and I’m fed up cooking so the kids are having chicken nuggets and chips. My food is going to be more virtuous but equally boring as I purchased a new bikini the other day so, of course, immediately put myself on a diet – Blah.

So what shall we talk about?

How about the conversation I have just eavesdropped between Becca (age 2 1/2) and Sasha (my mother in law’s 15 year old dog, who has just arrived for her holidays)

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca  – ‘Are you sad, Sasha?’

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Do you miss your mummy? She’s on her holidays’

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Do you want a doggie treat?’

 Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Go away Sasha – there is nothing more I can do for you!’

Hmmm – I suspect she may have picked this particular parenting skill up from me!




Or how about this delightful piece of art which came home in Matthew’s bag today


If you can’t read it clearly, it says ‘To Dad – here’s your bum cheeks’

Now I’m all for the kids having the freedom to write and draw whatever comes into their mind but what train of thought could Matthew’s mind possibly have been following to lead to that picture? Definitely one for the fridge I think 🙂

Have your kids made you laugh today?


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It’s Tuesday – can only mean one thing :)


There is not much to be said about the preparation of tacos – fry mince, add seasoning, heat shells, cut veg and serve!

The only quirk today was that I didn’t actually have any taco seasoning so I used half  a pack of jalfrezi spices which has been lurking in the cupboard – tasted grand.

Here is the photographic evidence

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This afternoon has been a bit hectic and I was going to come on here and have a rant about it but I’m not because I actually had a lovely morning and lunchtime catching up my some of my friends – it’s amazing how quickly we forget the good things in a day once something a bit hard or challenging happens! (Remind me of that when I’m ranting another day!)

How was your day 🙂


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Take two on leftover egg yolks.

But before I start with the food – is anyone else collecting these free Lego models from the Daily Mail?  You get one free each day you buy the paper and take the voucher into Easons (here in Northern Ireland – or WHSmith in the rest of the UK)

My kids were so excited about getting them, as they are with most things Lego, so like a good wee mummy, I’ve been waiting outside the door of Easons every morning so make sure I get one – don’t think I need have bothered as they always have loads of them but it gets me up and about early!

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They are cool aren’t they 🙂 My only problem now is how to divide 7 free models between 4 children!

So…the egg yolks!


I made two more pavlovas at the weekend for a party so had 12 (gulp!) egg yolks to use up – 6 were used to make french toast for lunch which didn’t taste a lot different to french toast made with whole eggs.

The other 6 are being turned into carbonara tonight following this recipe (with a few little alterations – I’m adding some cream cheese as it needs used up)

I started by putting the egg yolks, chopped parsley (my parsley plant was a bit sparse – hence my sad looking parsley), cream cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese in the bowl that I was serving the dish in and mixed them altogether. The only thing that cooks the egg is the heat of the pasta so this recipe probably isn’t for you if you are pregnant.

I fried the bacon and onion in a pan and deglazed with some white wine (you could just use some water or light stock)




Once the bacon mix is cooked and cooled, add to the serving bowl with the egg mix – I know this looks awful but bear with it – it really tastes good!


Cook your pasta and, before draining, keep a cupful of the cooking water. Once drained, add the pasta to the serving bowl and stir until the bacon/egg mix is well combined with the pasta. If it seems too dry, add some of the reserved cooking water which will make the dish lovely and creamy. Serve immediately – don’t decide to go and try and find the kids now – if they didn’t come when you first called them, it’s their loss –  just eat the whole thing yourself 🙂

I served this with garlic and rosemary bread made from a packet mix which is truly yummy and makes people think I’m a baking maestro even though all I do is throw it in the food mixer  – Brilliant.

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What are you having for dinner tonight?


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Giro Fever

Today is the start of a pretty big weekend here in Northern Ireland – the Giro D’Italia is starting here and we went to watch it.

I have to confess to having a severe lack of enthusiasm for all things cycling related, mainly because my lovely husband spends 5 hours most Saturday mornings out on his bike (don’t feel too sorry for me – he gets sole custody of the kids most Saturday afternoons!)

However, after a dull start this morning, the sun came out so we decided to head up to Stormont where Dave’s cycle club had arranged an event to watch the time trials. The dress code for the day was pink so we painted our nails (well, the girls did) and found whatever pink clothes we could find and headed up.


We drove as far as the Harbour Estate, just outside Holywood, and took advantage of the free park and ride service from there. So much more relaxing then trying to find a parking space nearer and a fab view from the top of a double decker bus.

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When we got to Stormont, the club had arranged lunch at Storm in A Teacup, a bistro type place just outside the gates of the estate. Great food (I had a spicy sausage stew with mash) and a really good atmosphere. The weather was great for most of the afternoon and even when it did start to rain, there were lots of trees to shelter under.

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A really great afternoon and so nice to see the people of Belfast out in force supporting this event – may there be many more of them!

Were any of you there?



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