Friday, 27 February 2015

'Creamy Eggy Goodness' - Pasta Carbonara

If your a pasta fan you probably have tried a typical Carbonara before. I must admit, the first time I have ever tried a real Pasta Carbonara was in Napoli - and I still rememeber the taste! - Fantastico 
As #Week2 of Mama Bee's Link Party is hosting a 'Culture' theme - I thought I'd give this a head start.

Theme: Food, Cooking, Culture, World, People, Language, Nature

Making a true Carbonara really comes down to a good quality pancetta or bacon (and not scrambling the eggs!) The flavour from the meat is where this dish comes alive. The eggs provide the creamy texture and plenty of black pepper is also used. If you like Parmigiano Reggiano (which is my favourite) Never did I understand the passion of pasta and different shapes, sauces and exactly what matched. When I lived in Italy it took a while to learn all of the different techniques (what was popular) and what was simple.

Typically Spaghetti is used in this dish however I used whole-wheat & oat animal shaped pasta for my son. He LOVED this which always makes me happy to see!

300g Spaghetti OR any pasta of your choice
3 Garlic cloves
40g Parmesan OR Cheddar Cheese (if not a fan)
3 eggs
Ground Black Pepper

(No salt as plenty in Bacon)


Firstly you will need to boil some water in a saucepan for your pasta. Meanwhile chop your bacon/pancetta into small sized squares. (Removing any rind that may be left).
Crack your 3 eggs into a bowl and beat them well. Season with plenty of fresh black pepper - really important as this works so well in the dish! You want to grate your cheese and mix with the egg mixture. Set aside.

Once your pan has hit boiling point, add your pasta and let it cook (until al dente).
(Meanwhile) start by cooking your Pancetta/bacon in a pan (no oil required) as this already contains fat/oil. Get your gloves of garlic and just bruise them (skin off) and add into the pan. With the Pancetta & garlic frying together this will really bring out lots of flavour and the pasta will soak this all up. (when your happy the garlic has infused all of its flavour, remove and discard. (Turn off the heat or else the next step will scramble!)
Your house should be smelling wonderful by this point!

Your pasta should be ready to drain, keep a little water as I learned from an Italian friend it is important as it also has flavour (so maybe 1-2 tablespoons).
Add the pasta to your pan with bacon and add your egg mixture. - The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs gently and create a glossy texture. (Keep mixing on a very low heat) - 3-4 minutes.
Top with a little more cheese if you prefer (I did without).

There you have it, a creamy Pasta Carbonara for all to enjoy.
I would love to hear your version of this dish!

Mama Bee Simple

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Feature Wednesday 'Inventor's Box'

Thank you for everyone that got involved in yesterday's 'Feature Wednesday' Linky Party.
I have gone through all of the links and thought they where all great and fitted the theme.

As always there can only be one winner & as hard as it was to choose, I have chosen Ann over at Little Worlds.

I loved Ann's idea of an  'Inventor's Box'.
Not only does this activity include everyday objects, it is a form of recycling, reusing and keeping young minds active!
Full of craft fun and letting the children create anything they like, it is lovely to see just how creative children can be - without anyone's help!

Please visit the following link for the full post.

Well done to everybody who entered, please come back again next Wednesday for #Week2 of Mama Bee's Linky Party.

Theme: Food, Cooking, Culture, World, People, Language, Nature
Preview for something to think about!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Feature Wednesday - Linky Party!

Want to be featured on Mama Bee Simple? Simply add your link at the bottom of this post for me to review and choose to be featured.

Looking for: Kid's Activities, Recycle, Cook, Explore, Art, Education, Sensory

Mama Bee knows that you all have some wonderful creations and spend so much time wanting to share so here is a lovely opportunity!

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Crumbly Honey Oat Biscuits

Oats are a great energy source and I really wanted to master my own version of an oat biscuit.  My 'Tot Friendly' honey oat biscuits are perfect snack box treat! If you like to watch what your child eats this is a lovely simple, healthy and low budget recipe to use.

Yesterday I took my 1 year old to a lovely play group that included lots of toys, lots of running around and a very hungry boy afterwards! As I mentioned before, oats are a lovely energy source and great for children. Packed full of flavour with a pinch of ginger and honey to combine these biscuits are a lovely treat after a busy day! Your house will smell wonderful once you have made these, (Trust me!) Try them with a cup of coffee for yourself to enjoy too.


Mama Bee

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Frosty Morning

With early starts from a 1 year old it can get tough on finding plenty to do! Sun was out again this morning and we where ready to go to the park! It was frosty and icy where the sun hadn't been however it was a lovely walk. We live close by to a well known park called 'Kearney Abbey', this is where we decided to visit. - Not to mention Nanny lives next door.

Here are some photo's of our morning:

I hope you all have a lovely day too!

Mama Bee

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ceramics Café

This morning Leon was awaiting a very crafty day. Little did he know it was going to involve ceramics... "Don't forget your 10 o'clock appointment!" where the exact words from Nanny.
I was invited by the family to the new "Ceramics Café" which has recently opened and only a short walk away from home! I have always walked past it thinking I'd give it a go and it was definitely a treat to finally be able to try!

When we arrived, we where greeted and shown all the different paints, tools, stamps, effects and the basic how - to's. Around us where different ceramic items, from piggy banks to plates to jugs. Plenty to choose from and definitely the hardest part.

We where each given an apron and one for Leon which was very handy! The paints are water based to easy to wash away and safe to use for little hands.
We had a two hour session and that went by so quickly but we all finished and loved every second. Leon was enjoying himself and made a present for Daddy. The lady has put it in the Kiln and will glaze it to finish for Saturday. Can't wait to see the result!

If you are lucky to have a shop similar to this definitely go especially when you've made something unique too!

Mama Bee

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

'Pastel Pebble'

Today the sun is shining, not a cloud in sight and absolutely no excuse to stay indoors! With this very rare day and probably the first lovely day since 2015, Leon and I decided to visit the beach.
Daddy went back to work again for another week so we always need something to pass the time with plenty of activities to show off for when he gets back!
We decided to pack a picnic seeing as collecting pebbles was going to be hard work for a 1 year old! Pasta with peas and creamy sauce (Leon's favourite picnic pasta). With a 40 minute walk to the seafront we decided to pack a bucket & spade to help collect and explore!

The beach was windy but lovely and we saw Daddy's ship so we waved (even though he was sleeping in his cabin). We still waved him bye bye and then began to explore and scoop some wonderful and odd shaped stones. (Flat ones where ideal for our project later on!)
After exploring and having finished our pasta, we decided it was time to go home.


I have kept some wonderful Italian oil pastels from college and they where perfect for this little quiet time project! I prepared Leon's 3 favourite pebbles and gave him his oil pastels - the great thing is he doesn't have to press very hard as they are so vibrant and easy to draw with!
He was doing this for a good 15-20 minutes which is still a great amount of time to learn and explore colour and as a beginner in colouring in and realising his crafty side this was still a great activity.
And here it is, Leon's Masterpiece. We called it, 'Pastel Pebble'.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Pancake Day

Happy Pancake Day! We just had our crepes and they tasted delicious! What did you have with your pancakes? Did your children cause a mess? It's the taste that makes it all worth it!

All the best,
Mama Bee

Monday, 16 February 2015

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Weekend!
Mama Bee

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Chocolate Blueberry Bites

Low in sugar, high in fruit content & toddler approved! If you don't have children this is a great quick recipe to enjoy with a cup of tea or on the go.
With so much fruit in our household it's hard to eat it all without them going off or becoming too ripe. One solution we all love at home is my famous surprise moist fruit cake. It take 10 minutes at a push to prepare and a great surprise to see what fruit you used! It can literally be any fruit you like - the best kind are the ones with lots of juice! (peach/berries/pears). They come out really fresh and moist!

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I sometimes use brown)
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder (Bournville)
Vanilla (extract or seeds) -optional
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 cups of flour
Blueberries (2 cups) - or any fruit you like (as much as you like!)

I use my mixer when making this recipe however of course you can do it by hand. Like I mentioned before, this is so quick the instructions are going to be basic!

Firstly, add your eggs and sugar into a bowl and mix well. Sieve your flour , cocoa powder and baking powder into the egg mixture. Depending on how chocolatey you want your Blueberry bites, adding a little more cocoa powder will create that. Now you want to start pouring in your milk until a cake like consistency is formed. When your happy with your mixture, wash, cut or peel the fruit your adding. (In this case blueberries) , and fold in the mixture.

Add your mixture into a cake tin or a square tin and bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.
Let it cool and rest before cutting (I use a Pizza cutter and make miniature bites for a packed lunch dessert). Children love these!


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Home-Made Breaded Cod & Chips

Shoes off, coat off. Get me that dressing gown & slippers!
Bliss, nothing better than a nice warm house after a long day outside in the bitter cold. It's dinner time and with a rumbling stomach I'm craving some fish and chips. The classic British meal we are famous for but can it be made quickly from scratch? Answer, yes if you know your kitchen down to a T! (And a glass of cider down your neck to get you in the mood).
This meal was surprisingly cheap and contained more fish than a traditional battered cod from frozen. (Or even a takeaway).

I went on my weekly shop and found several cod fillets from frozen that where so reasonably priced. I notice how frozen food can be really important when you have a busy lifestyle and still want to achieve excellent healthy meals. One idea that came into my head was to cut one of the fillets and make fish fingers for my 1 year old son. Plenty of fish with baked breadcrumbs, perfect. Do the same for the fillet for an adult sized fish & chips meal?

To create this breaded fish I did use a pre-made natural breadcrumb mix. Now, that might be a shock horror to you that I used something from the store this way however usually making breadcrumbs from leftover baguette & sometimes a pinch of parmesan cheese for extra flavour, I didn't have any left and I needed to eat this meal! So with that I sprinkled some breadcrumbs on a separate plate, on another plate whisked egg and the final plate some flour. I defrosted my fish half way so it was durable to coat it in egg wash, flour, egg wash again and coated in breadcrumbs. Simply placed them onto a baking tray and seasoned with black pepper. (180 degrees for 20-25 minutes)
For my chips, I simply peeled some potatoes, cut them into fries and parboiled them for about 3 minutes. I then fluffed them up in a colander and added 2 tablespoons of flour to get them dry and added olive oil & seasoning. I like to add smoked paprika as an extra kick of flavour.
I then added a simple leaf salad on the side & served with lime rather than lemon for another extra punch of flavour. (180 degrees for 40 minutes stirring halfway).

Simply heaven!

Mama Bee

Sunday, 8 February 2015

'Valentines' Pizza

Valentines day is around the corner and with time on our hands, budgets and finding that perfect gift it gets a little stressful to organise! Some people love to dress up and dine out (easy option) but I find it is always so busy. Don't get me wrong it is a lovely treat at times but we can do that any day! This year we decided to stay in and watch a film with some cocktails & chocolate! So what's the plan for dinner? I thought of making a simple, tasty & healthy Pizza. Heart- shaped of course! Home-made is always romantic and fun. You can be as creative as you like and if your on a budget this is the perfect way of sending your love to someone.
This has got to be the most basic pizza I have ever made, every Saturday night is pizza night in our family. Toppings usually consist of plenty of vegetables, meat & sometimes capers or prosciutto and rocket leaves. The variations are endless...
As this is a simple recipe your children can easily get involved. I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut heart courgettes. The topping was literally 3 basic ingredients, passata for the base, cheddar cheese and courgette.

To make this pizza you need to create a basic pizza dough.

350g Plain flour
Fast action yeast (sachet)
200ml Luke warm water
Pinch of salt
glug of E.V.O

In a bowl, add your plain flour, salt and yeast. Mixed well, slowly add your water making sure your watch the dough combine together. If it's too dry add a little more water otherwise if too wet, add as little more flour. Adding olive oil, this will soften the dough and make it durable when rolling out. Leave your dough to rise for at least an hour or until doubled in size.

When your ready to roll out your pizza dough, get a pizza cutter ready to create your heart shape. It doesn't have to be perfect - remember its the thought that counts! Once your settled with your heart shape add your topping! It can be anything you like but this recipe I spread passata  around the base followed by my courgette hearts and grated cheddar cheese. Cracked black pepper to finish with!

180 degrees in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and hey presto!
Pizza for two!

(If you have any left over dough from the trimmings you can make mini bread sticks with grated cheese on the top!)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Pinwheel Bites

My 'Pinwheel Bites' are great for any occasion. Half chocolate, half lemon, these biscuits are loved by the whole family! Moist in the middle and a crisp-snap on the outside, this recipe will give you 20 biscuits that can be stored in an airtight container to keep it's freshness. (They will probably be gone before you even think to store them!) Really simple and really quick, time to pop the kettle on!


85g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
180g plain flour
20g dark chocolate (melted & cooled)
Grated rind of half a lemon

Making these biscuits are really fun to do and even your children can help you! Grab your nearest mixing bowl. With your mixing bowl, cream together your butter and sugar. Once the mixture looks light and fluffy, add your egg and mix well. Sieve your flour into the mixture and mix until you have formed a soft dough.
Separate half the mixture into another bowl and add your melted chocolate. (Make sure it has cooled so the egg doesn't cook!) I melted mine using my microwave at 20 second bursts. Mix well until your dough is a brown colour.
To make the 'Pinwheel' effect, return to your original dough and add lemon rind. (mix well). Lightly flour your surface and roll out your lemon dough into a rectangular shape. Do this also with your chocolate dough and place on top of the lemon. You want to roll this dough into a sausage shape, making sure your using your time. Place in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Find your baking tray and add some baking paper. Carefully cut your dough until you have cut around 20 biscuits. Place in the oven for 12 minutes but make sure you keep an eye at the oven as all ovens can be slightly different!
When they are done, cool them on a cooling rack and store in an air-tight container.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Old English Apple Pie

Bramley Apples, the sour fruit we all love to cook with. Commonly used in desserts like pies, crumbles and tarts, the Bramley apple is the most important cooking apple in England and Wales. The traditional 'Apple Pie' has been going since 1381! Eaten hot or cold, this classic British and popular dessert can be served with custard or ice-cream.
If you have ever cooked with these dessert apples, you will know that preparing them are extremely simple and mostly cooked this way. You start off by peeling and coring the apple, followed by slicing them and adding lemon juice to stop them from browning. Finally, you add sugar. Depending on which recipe you make, I would add cinnamon to my apples for my Apple Pie. (Also raisins or sultanas would be included in this recipe however in our family we prefer without).

Here is my take on this recipe. Simple, quick and ready to serve:

You will need an apple pie dish tin, or a quiche tin will do.

Pastry ingredients:
250g plain flour
2 tsps of caster sugar
100g of butter (softened)
3-4 tbs of cold water

Apple Pie Filling:
2 large Bramley Apples (can use 3 if you like it packed!)
(Peeled, cored & sliced).
150g soft brown sugar
2 tsps of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon

To finish: Milk or Egg White glaze.

To make this simple pastry I used my mixer, however by hand is just as good. Firstly, sift your plain flour and salt. Add your sugar until everything is mixed well. Once you weighed out your butter, gently with your fingertips rub into your flour mixture. Mix well until the butter resembles fine breadcrumbs. Carefully (so you do not over do it), add your cold water to the dry ingredients. Keep adding the water until the mixture has formed into a smooth dough ball. Finally, wrap into greaseproof paper or cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

For the apple pie filling, as I explained earlier it is very simple. Peel, core and slice your apples into a mixing bowl. Followed by your sugar and spices and squeeze of lemon juice to stop the apples from turning brown. Let is rest until the pastry is ready to come out of the fridge.

When your pastry is ready, divide them into two. One for the top, one for the bottom of your pie. The best part about apple pie is that really, there aren't too many rules how you decorate the topping! On a floured work surface, roll out your bottom part of the pie, simply place into your tin. Add your apples and spread them around the base of the tin. When your happy, roll out the top part of the pastry and place on top of the apples. You can crimp the edges together or fold over the bottom and top together to create a ribbon effect. This will seal the pastry completely. Finally with a brush, add milk on the top to give the pie some colour or egg whites work just as well. I like to cut 2 holes in the middle of my apple pie to let the steam come out, these apples cook really well in the oven and it's important you let them some air to cook! If you feel you have more dough left over, make some leaves or maybe a message on top as an additional take or maybe to impress someone!

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes, then 180 for 20 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. You can serve this with custard or anything you'd like. We sometimes use Greek yoghurt on the side, delicious! Also served cold is really lovely, maybe bring it along to a picnic in the park!