Thursday, 29 January 2015

Cured Beef & Avocado Toast Lunch

There's definitely nothing better than a refreshing lunch after a busy morning. This week, I bought some air-dried wafer thin beef. I first tried this when I lived in Italy. Typically served with plenty of lemon juice, it was the simplicity of the dish that was inspirational! I thought I'd treat myself and use this delicate wafer beef on a piece of toast.
I toasted my seeded bread slice and added half an avocado, topped with beef and a slice of Camembert cheese it looked mouthwatering. Quick, healthy and as always, simple. I accompanied my toast with a fresh and nutritious Greek style salad. Not your typical Greek salad as I added black eyed beans to give it texture and extra nutrition. (Not to mention they are very filling)! To make my salad I used an iceberg lettuce, a tomato, few slices of cucumber, black eyed beans and feta cheese. A drizzle of E.V.O to finish with and plenty of cracked black pepper.

Lunch, done.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Too Many Yorkshire Puds?

This can only mean one thing. Pancakes! Sunday Roast's usually end up having leftover's for the next day or even the day after that! Unfortunately I made far too many Yorkshire puddings yesterday so kept the batter left in the fridge overnight. Luckily I had some white chocolate chips left in the cupboard, I know I usually go for healthy however tomorrow is going to be a busy day at the zoo with my son and his friend so I thought I'd prepare some white-chocolate chip pancakes as a snack/dessert after all that running around!
Customise your pancakes! Plain? Blueberry? Pecan & Berries? Lemon & Sugar? Go on, indulge!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Irish Inspired Whole-Wheat Potato Cakes

The humble British potato. So versatile yet mostly steamed, boiled or mashed! Do you have left-over potato's that never get eaten? Have you got a bag of potatoes sat in the pantry? This Irish inspired recipe also eaten in Scotland (usually served for breakfast) got me making some simple, quick potato cakes. Low in butter and using whole-wheat flour, they are perfect for a healthy lunch or even for your little one's to enjoy!

Here is my healthier version of potato cakes which I served with Avocado, tomato and spinach leaves. The rest will be eaten by my son!


250g potatoes, I used Maris Piper potatoes.
20g unsalted butter
70g whole -wheat flour
1 tablespoon oil (I used vegetable but you can use sunflower)

Any topping to serve!

Firstly, I boiled my potatoes for 20 minutes on simmering heat. Make sure you check them if they need another 5! I then strained them and put them back into the pan to eliminate any excess water. After this I put them in a bowl to cool for the next stage.

Once the potatoes where cool enough to work with, I added them into my mixer. You can also do this by hand! I added my butter and mixed well, followed by my seasoning. I then added my flour until well combined, it should look like this:

Once your happy with your dough mix, you want to flour your work surface/board to roll out the dough. Make sure you also flour your rolling pin! I rolled my potato cake into a circular shape then took a cutter so make individual sizes, however this is only optional! I did mine about 1cm thick.

With an oiled pain hot pan, add your potato cake and leave it took on medium heat for around 4 minutes each side. Depending on the thickness it might need longer so keep an eye out. Place them onto a plate until all of your cakes are done. The house should be smelling lovely by this stage!

I added a few spinach leaves with tomato and avocado for my potato cakes, it's your choice what you add! I hope you enjoy this healthier version, served for breakfast, lunch or a snack!

Mama Bee

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Use Once Again

There is nothing more satisfying then seeing your child light up when you have made something for them. It is very true that making something or restoring an item is much more meaningful than purchasing from a shop. This is exactly what I did. I was kindly passed down a 'kneeling chair' almost 100 years old from Grandad Mo. He told me I could repaint it if I chose to. Originally this chair was used to change nappies for when the mother sat down so she could place the baby on her lap. (It is very low for this purpose). It was dark wood stained so I found my Annie Sloan chalk paint, perfect for the project to brighten it and give it some life and use again - this time for my son to enjoy!
If your not familiar with 'Annie Sloan' chalk paint and you like to restore, repaint or make projects using paint, I highly recommend this one. I was actually told by one of my friends who also likes to restore furniture to give this a go, the results really where great especially after using the clear wax to protect and polish the chair.
To get this chair bright and fresh looking comes with preparation and patience. Firstly I got some very fine sand paper, as the last thing I want to do is damage or sand down too much for something so old and fragile! Once I got the wood sanded down, I got a fine brush to get rid of any fine dust. Finally, time to paint! If you are using 'Annie Sloan' make sure you mix your paint well as there will be a layer of oil at the top.
This chair took me only 2 coats considering the wood was very dark that was great! Once the paint totally dried, chalk paint doesn't take too long but I left it overnight to make sure! I then got my clear wax and used a lint free cloth to buff the chair. It was wonderful to see the outcome! Leon loved it and was really simple to do! I found some lovely wooden letters that where a very reasonable price, very tempted to place them on the top on the chair with LEON written on it!I hope I have inspired you to restore something you think needs it's life back again.Mama Bee

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Today's Famous Food Quote

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” -Julia Child

Monday, 19 January 2015

Misconceptions About Rice

With all foods in our diet, we always hear the potential 'risks', 'dangers' and 'avoids'. Well it's up to you how you feel with facts and statements however, it's always worth a read. How safe is our rice?

Image source:

As a consumer of white and brown rice in my family, I wanted to know exactly what all this talk was about. Recent studies have shown concerning results of arsenic containing rice products. These include rice cakes, white and brown rice, baby rice cereal and rice cereals. When you prepare rice, do you do it the correct way? If at all? Do you remember to wash your fruit, vegetables and other items that have not been sourced from your home? As we are on the subject of rice, we need to understand the importance of washing/preparing food properly and consuming the right amounts.

What is Arsenic and what are the dangers?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in water and soil. As rice is grown in paddies surrounded by lots of water, it is easily targeted than plants grown in drier soil. Farmer's use arsenic-based pesticides to control bugs. Arsenic is mistakenly absorbed by plants because of it's structure so this means it is replaced by necessary nutrients. Other heavy metals such as lead or mercury can stay in soil for years once applied on crops.
The most concerning thing I found whilst researching arsenic is that it is a potent carcinogen which can affect and harm a child's developing brain.

Important Facts

Rice cakes and other rice products are marketed as 'health foods', a natural reason why I purchase rice cakes for the family. I understand that we are told many health risks however, arsenic being a highly dangerous element for the human body I will most probably avoid. This said, you don't have to change your rice consumption as long as you vary it in your diet.
High levels of arsenic exposure can lead to serious health risks such a cancer and lung disease.

Confused, do I give up rice?

Simple answer, no. This post is to understand the dangers of arsenic and the potential risks. As long as you realise that preparing rice (washing), cooking then pour boiled water over it, you have decreased the risks of arsenic in your body. The levels are relatively low (adults) however if you have children like myself, I would recommend to avoid rice based products that contain high levels of arsenic, or none at all. Another important factor is that introduce varied grains especially if you eat rice often. Note that oats and wheat have lower levels of arsenic in them.
If you are pregnant I would also recommend lowering the amount of rice products in your diet.


In my family we are always trying new foods, mainly vegetables, meat and potatoes. In regards to grains, we will continue to use them however prepare properly and little and often just like with anything else. My son will no longer be eating rice cakes as I can simply replace these with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit.
I hope you can take some of this information with you and understand the dangers around us that can be avoided using proper instructions.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Forget Food, Think Felt

Are you trying to constantly find something new for your little one to play with around the house? Are they bored of their own toys already? Do they always touch things they shouldn't? Wouldn't it be nice to have a bit of quiet time play? Today I discovered how we can introduce play and imagination through low budget items and most importantly are safe.
Finding a pack of felt sheets from my sewing room, I instantly thought of my son playing with it. What to do with it? Well they are so colourful and versatile it's hard to choose! As he already has a wooden pizza set, I simply took my nearest pair of scissors and cut out some chips (fries), peas and ketchup. I know it's not the healthiest option but for play food it was great fun. Not only did he enjoy it but he was having a quiet time exploring on the plate. It would be great for counting too...

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Toddler's Pea Risotto

It might seem quite a fuss to keep cooking main meals for your toddler, especially if you have never made it before or even tried it for yourself. I can assure you that this recipe is basic, simple and hearty. I adore peas, in fact frozen peas are the ideal thing to have in my household. Always add it to certain recipes for extra goodness and so that they are not ignored! There will be plenty more pea recipes coming up so we can all enjoy them again!

To make this pea risotto you need some chicken or vegetable stock. (In my case chicken). When it comes to making stock fresh is always better, however when you have little time a stock cube can be used. You want to make sure you are very careful buying a quality stock cube as they can contain an extreme amount of salt. As this recipe is for your child, I advise 'Kallo' stock cubes. They are organic, low salt & no junk. - Not to mention full of flavour!


1 white onion
1 cup & half of frozen peas
3 and half cups of water 
1 low salt stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
1 and half cups arborio rice (risotto rice)

To begin with, add a teaspoon of butter in a pan followed by your diced onions. (Finely diced). You want them to be nice and small so your toddlers don't choke! Stir them for about 5-7 minutes until nice and golden. Then add your rice (making sure you wash them before hand). Stir the rice for 1-2 minutes with the onions soaking the flavour and the butter. If you add a little olive oil this will also give it extra flavour. Make your stock and add a splash at a time to the rice so it absorbs well. Stir for about 20 minutes until all the stock has gone. Finally add your peas and stir for another 5 minutes (add a little extra water if needed). 

Finally serve! 
Warning: Will be piping hot so wait least 5-7 minutes before your child eats it!

Enjoy :)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Fulfilling Quiche Lorraine

Comfort food, utter bliss on a cold January day! Made from scratch but don't be afraid, this took under 2 hours to make start to finish. The whole family enjoyed this so much it was gone within 20 minutes! I served my quiche with a simple spinach salad on the side. My inspiration to this recipe came from a series on Food Network by English chef 'Rachel Khoo' who covers classic Parisian recipes. Her series "The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking by Rachel Khoo" is just perfect if you want to cover some classic French dishes. Although it's advised to chill shortcrust pastry for 24 hours, in a rush an hour is just fine.
You want to make sure when cooking this recipe, don't be tempted to open the oven door halfway through cooking as this will only deflate the quiche and not look as appetising!

Vegetarian? (Salmon & asparagus would also be just as delicious)!


Shortcrust Pastry

90g softened unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
180 plain flour
2 egg yolks (don't throw the whites)
2-4 tablespoons of cold water

Quiche Lorraine Filling

300ml of double cream (or milk as alternative)
150g of good quality bacon or Pancetta
4 eggs & 2 egg yolks
Seasoning - to taste

For the Shortcrust Pastry:
Cream together the unsalted butter, sugar and salt until light and well mixed, followed by adding flour and the egg yolks. Slowly add your cold water to form into a dough. You want to cover this in either cling film or baking paper to chill in the fridge. (Chill for at least an hour , or overnight for a firmer base).
Prepare your 23cm Quiche/Tart tin and find your rolling pin and baking paper! Take your pastry out of the fridge and place it between two sheets of baking paper to make it easier to roll out. Gently place the pastry into the tin and using your rolling pin, roll along the top of the Quiche tin to trim away any excess. (You can also patch with this if need be). Place your pastry back into the fridge whilst preparing your filling.

Quiche Lorraine Filling:

With your frying pan on a medium to high heat, add your bacon/pancetta stirring occasionally until a lovely, crispy golden brown colour appears. (Place them on a kitchen towel to soak up any excess fat).
Whish together all your eggs including the two egg yolks, cream/milk and salt & pepper. Take your pastry out of the fridge, wash your egg white you saved across the pastry to prevent a 'soggy bottom', sprinkle your bacon/pancetta and pour your egg mixture on top.
Bake for 180 degrees at 40-45 minutes until risen and golden on top.

Served with a simple side salad and served straight out of the oven, it can also be eaten cold and stored up to 3 days in the fridge.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Simple Low Salt Whole-Wheat Family Loaf

This whole-wheat loaf was super quick and easy to make. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who likes to cook from scratch but hasn't always got the time to dedicate the afternoon baking! Not only does it require minimal ingredients, your house is smelling like a bakery!
If you have made bread before or made a simple dough recipe, you will know that the key ingredient is yeast. You can buy fresh, or dried fast active yeast. In my household with a one year running around, I don't have full attention in the kitchen at times so fast active yeast is mainly used. Perfect if you don't like waiting a long time for the proving process!

(Can be done with or without mixer)

500g whole-wheat flour
300ml water (luke warm)
7g sachet dried fast active yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt - (optional to taste can add more)

To make my loaf (by mixer or by hand) I firstly tipped my flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl making sure everything was mixed together in preparation for the wet ingredients. I then measured 300ml of luke warm water in a Pyrex jug stirring in my honey and olive oil. As I used a mixer I let this do the work otherwise just keep mixing until you have formed a soft dough. At this stage if your dough feels sticky place some flour on your hands to prepare the kneading process. Make sure you have floured your work surface to knead the dough, (good 5-8 minutes) adding a little flour to prevent the dough going sticky.The more you need, the better the yeast activates, the better the bread! That's it! Let the proving commence:

Grab your bread tin, shape the dough to an oval shape and let it rise for an hour. Make sure you cover the dough to prevent the top drying out. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees 5 minutes before you are ready to bake!
Simply let it bake 40-45 minutes and you have a perfect healthy loaf for the family. Rest it on a cooling rack and butter it up! My son loves this, low salt, healthy and tasty!
Enjoy :-)

Mama Bee

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Blending Healthy Vegetables For Your Child

Is your child a 'fussy' eater? Do you feel like you've wasted good food, money and time? Does their bowl end up pushed away? Do you try to create that wholesome meal that has most probably taken you all afternoon to make and they won't even touch it? Are you struggling to get your child to eat properly? If any of these questions apply to you, I have some useful tips that hopefully you can take on-board and influence more nutritious vegetables in your child's diet.
If you asked me whether my son is a 'fussy eater' I would most likely say yes. Fortunately he eat's most of my food but if there is a plain old broccoli on the side it's likely to end up on the floor. As adults we like different flavours and textures. We add our own seasoning or sauce to suit to our taste, so why not do that for our children? Do we assume they will eat what you give them? Weren't they born with the same taste as you? Of course not! A big mistake I feel is that we teach our children some bad habits when it comes to food - and not realising it! For example, if I didn't like peas and made it obvious, my son could get the same idea and resent. (They are quite clever in copying!)
So let's be clever and take control. My experience? The Blender!

I steamed some Broccoli this morning and even added a handful of Kale leaves, (same colour, super-food) I figured let's push the boat out and see what happens... I had found a similar recipe on-line that inspired me to give it a go!
I plugged in my hand-held blender and took out my other ingredients. Cheddar cheese, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs, (I don't salt but you can), pepper and mixed herbs. As soon as the broccoli and kale finished steaming, I blended them into a purée. I then added the breadcrumbs, seasoning, cheese and eggs until well combined. The texture was a sloppy green mess (in all honesty). With a griddle pan on medium to high heat (lightly oiled), I added a dessert spoon amount to the pan 4-5 minutes each side. (Flattened shape). Once the whole batch where made it was time to test the recipe to my 1 year old...

Overall, he left me one for myself because his stomach was about to pop! He loved it! Who would of thought even kale? For me that was a first! Excited to create more recipes using my blender. Definitely give it a go, just think about puréeing and hiding the unwanted vegetables until their taste palette develops! Good luck please let me know how you get on!
Inspired recipe please visit

Mama Bee

Monday, 12 January 2015

White Chocolate Whole-Wheat Banana Brownies

My intake of these soft, chewy Banana Brownies are great for any occasion at the table. Not only will they impress but they are so versatile you can add your own twist on them. Maybe chopped banana's on the top of a spread of Peanut Butter for indulgment? I came across a similar recipe from "Back for Seconds" that was trying to incorporate Banana's in bakes. Well, with the simple ingredients already stored in the Kitchen, I figured why not give it a go.
I read that all purpose flour was included in the recipe however as a lover of switching to healthier ingredients I decided to use whole-wheat flour instead.

To make these brownies you need to have a really good quality vanilla pod or rather seeds like I have used. The reason being it that the flavour is incredibly powering and smells beautiful. It works so well with the Banana mix & white chocolate.

I started by preheating my fan oven to 180 degrees. Using a Pyrex jug I simply added my butter & white chocolate (in chunks) to the microwave with 30 second bursts to mix well. I then added this to my mixer followed by adding the sugar mixing well. Next I added my mashed bananas, egg, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavour. Finally, adding my whole wheat flour to combine into a glossy mixture and a heavenly smell!
I added the mixture straight into my square tin and popped into the oven for 15-20 minutes. Once out of the oven I cooled, and then dusted with a little icing sugar. Presto!

1/4 cup butter
100g chocolate
2 medium bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Vanilla pod/seeds (teaspoon)
1 cup whole wheat flour (altern) all purpose flour

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Indoor Sensory Play

At this time of year it can get pretty boring having to stay indoors whilst there's a heavy storm outside! For little one's it is probably even more boring than you thought. In my experience children constantly want to touch things they shouldn't, from a remote control to the plug sockets to dirty nappies! It can at times be a vicious circle, it's not fun saying no all day is it? Today was one of those days, yes it was a lovely morning so we went for some fresh air but the afternoon was nap time and then it wasn't so nice after all. The temper tantrums had started as if to say his toys weren't good enough. What to do? Same old toys? Same old books? I thought I'd search my cupboards and see what I could do for Leon. Basmati rice, perfect! It's cheap, always in the cupboard, pourable, and has texture. Best part? Take's 5 minutes to prepare!

Baking tin & plenty of colourful scoop objects.

Silicone cupcake tray

"Look at me!"

"Where shall I put this?"

 "I won't eat it!"

"Dried pasta tastes horrible"

"I'll cook it!"

"All done, tidy up time!"

This activity lasted for nearly two hours which was perfect for Leon. He loved scooping and pouring and touching the rice. He even loved cleaning up after himself, not only is this easy to prepare and you're most likely to have rice in your pantry, it's educational and an excellent quiet time!
Enjoy and let me know how you get on too.

Mama Bee

Personalised Recipe Book

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Is that the time? Not even 6 o'clock in the morning yet, Leon's up and I'm writing a post now. Dedication. Leon you are such an early bird this week, I hope this cough goes away. Luckily it sounds slightly better now so an improvement!

This made me laugh, I literally am dreaming of a nice rich dark coffee, about 1 litre will do! You can buy this print online at Etsy. Or visit the Facebook page.

It seems like there are hundreds, thousands even millions of different prints online. Which one do we go for? If at all? It's like searching the menu with 10 pages, not including the dessert! What on earth do I go for? Well personally this particular print describes myself and I'm very tempted to purchase it! I think it's all about what appeals to you, what describes your personality and in general what feels right! It can change the mood in your household just buy placing it on the wall especially those interested in interior design and modern living. I know it sounds pretentious but it's true! Maybe you don't own a print at all? Would you buy one? Maybe now's the time?