Friday, 16 September 2016

Imposter syndrome and me: The MAD Blog Awards



Imposter syndrome - all but the most confident of us get it, right? The feeling that everyone must be better than you. In blogging, that the event you've been invited to by The Soil Association, Sainsburys or Asda must really be for other bloggers and that you're just there to make up numbers. The feeling that you should turn down offers because "you probably want someone with a bigger readership" Where does all of this come from? Why do these words spring so easily from my lips?

Tonight I'm going to the MAD Blog awards, I'm not nominated but am there to make up the numbers - which is exactly what I keep telling people. And it is true, but why can't I just beam at people excitedly, tell them how grateful I am for the opportunity to celebrate others' success, and (as I was reminded half an hour ago) to network the s*** out of it?


I think what terrifies me the most is that I'll be there without my armour - the pushchair and Harry, or M. Those things I rely on, that enable me to be that bit more confident. They cement two of the key parts of my identity, as someone's Mum, someone's wife. But there's so much more to me than that, I'm a good blogger, especially when it's my writing that's the focus; my post about Breastfeeding is recommended by people from breastfeeding support groups all over the UK as well written, really useful and important, my dairy, egg and soya free fish pie recipe garners thank you emails regularly, and my broccoli pesto recipe gets pinned daily. And yet, I still looked longingly at the buggy just now and thought about how safe it makes me feel.

So this afternoon I'm going to forsake my daily dose of dry shampoo and a messy bun for a sleek blow-dry, my bare face for red lipstick, and my mummy uniform of skinny jeans, converse and a breton top for a beautiful skirt from Lindy Bop and a pair of gorgeous heels. And I'm going to celebrate others' success, beam at everyone I speak to, and pop these awards in my daily list of blessings to say thank you for.

If you're going and feeling a bit like me, don't. Have confidence in your abilities, and lets all shove that imposter syndrome to the side. Because like so much in life, if we don't let it in - it can't take hold.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Oaty banana cake: dairy free, egg free recipe





Oaty banana cake - not the world's snappiest title for a bake I'll admit. But sometimes you just have to work with what you're given. And this is one of those times. Much like my Blueberry and Banana Oaty bites these could be described as a cross between a cake and a flapjack. The prompt for making these was as unpoetic as the name - we got to the end of the week, unusually with a hand of overripe bananas languishing in the fruit bowl. I'm not sure what we'd done, but clearly it didn't involve eating bananas.

Initially I'd planned to make a banana flapjack, but between one thing and another this is what happened. And we really liked it - sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of a lunchbox, yet not too heavy that it felt like old fashioned health food. Spiked with sweet mixed spice, the combination of apricots and sultanas makes for a chewy treat. what I particularly like about these is that you could absolutely tailor them to your likes or what you've got in the cupboard.  The second time I made these I was a bit short on apricots so I made up the weight with a handful of dairy free chocolate chips I had in the cupboard.



Oaty banana cake
Dairy free, Egg free, vegan
Serves 16

50g Dairy free spread - I used Pure Sunflower, but Vitalite, or Flora Freedom would work just as well.
2 Tbsp Almond butter
3tbsp Date syrup (Maple syrup would work well too)
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1 apple grated (I used a cooking apple as I had some that we'd picked, but an eating apple would work as well)
250g porridge oats
100g sultanas
85g dried apricots, quartered
35g chia seeds
50g linseeds
1 tsp sweet mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C
Grease and line an 8 inch square brownie tin
In a pan or the microwave melt together the dairy free spread, almond butter and date syrup
Mix this with the mashed bananas, grated apple, and porridge oats. Beat well until blended
Add in the sultanas, apricots, chia, linseeds and sweet mixed spice
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes
Leave to cook and cut into 16 squares

Serve with tea for a grown up and milk for a toddler.

For the ingredients in italics you can swap and change any of these for things you have in, or like more. This isn't the sort of recipe you should go out and buy things for - use what you have in the cupboards on a Sunday and pop the pieces in your lunchbox as you go through the week.

Why not save this recipe on Pinterest to make later


Saturday, 10 September 2016

Apricot and Cherry banana bread: dairy free recipe





Making this Apricot and Cherry banana bread was a bit of a spur of the moment decision. M had commented yesterday that we had no cake, knowing that I'd baked a massive lemon drizzle traybake the day before (I hadn't eaten it all, it was for the birthday of one of ladies in my Bible study group). I felt that this should be remedied.  This had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I've had two overripe bananas looking hopefully at cake tins all week. However, trying to pair said bananas with the contents of our cupboards and fridge I had one of those dawning realisations that I had some of the ingredients for most of our favourite cakes, but all of the ingredients for none. Typical.



Necessity being the mother of invention and all that I cobbled together a somewhat experimental cake which turned out to be rather yummy. So I thought I'd blog it. Of course I had to take pictures which I was helped with by my 2 year old assistant.



Apricot and Cherry banana bread
Dairy free, soya free
Serves 16

400g overripe bananas - weighed in their skins (this was 3 largish bananas)
125g Flora Freedom spread (any Dairy free spread would do but this is what I had)
300g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
125g dried apricots, quartered (I do this with scissors as they tend to be a bit sticky)
125g glacé cherries, rinsed, drained and quartered

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C
Grease and line an 8inch square cake tin
Mash the bananas, beat in the butter (you can melt this first, but I don't)
Add the flour, sugar and baking powder and beat in until you get a thick batter
Beat in the eggs one by one
Stir in the apricots, then the glacé cherries

Pour the cake batter into the tin and level off the top
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes

Allow to cool then serve, sliced thickly (buttered if you want) with mugs of tea.

Why not use this picture to save this recipe for later on Pinterest.



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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Slow cooker gingerbread spiced apple butter




Apple butter is a largely American preserve - Pinterest is full of recipes at this time of year. For me it's an ideal way to use up apples from our tree, we love it. Put simply it's a cross between a very soft jam and a thick apple sauce. Oddly apple butter is completely dairy free - the butter is a nod to how you use this preserve; spread thickly on toast, heaped onto drop scones, fluffy, American style pancakes or waffles or even dolloped generously onto porridge.

I last made apple butter when I was pregnant with Harry - I spent a weekend making apple butter, chutney and anything else I could use up the harvest from our two apple trees, giving them away to everyone that helped with the mammoth move into our then new home. The last couple of years have found me up to my eyes in a newborn, and then a toddler so apples have been given away. But this year I'm feeling a little more like I've found a balance between my role as Mama and a blogger so it felt like the right time to revisit my love of preserving.  This recipe is ideal when trying to find a balance - once the apples are peeled, cored and chopped all you have to do is add them to the slow cooker and leave it on low for 12 hours. The smell of the cooking apples fills your house like an advert for autumn.

I prefer my apple butter to be on the tart side of things, and this kind of preserve is much more forgiving of an adjustment to the spicing or sweetness without impacting on the final product.



Dressed up sweetly, jars of apple butter make a lovely autumnal gift, or just a glorious addition to your fall breakfast table.



Slow cooker gingerbread spiced apple butter
Yield: 6 half pint jars

6lb cooking apples
1 cup date syrup
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and a half teaspoons ground cloves
1 and a half teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 pint of water

Peel, core and slice your apples - I borrowed this amazing gadget from a dear friend which made the whole process much quicker.
Put the apples into your slow cooker
Add the date syrup, lemon juice, spices and water
Put the lid on and leave on low for 12 hours, to start with stir every hour or so, to mix everything up. I did this every time I remembered so it's not something to set an alarm on your phone for.
Use a stick blender to puree the now thick, fragrant apple mixture
Take the lid off the slow cooker and leave on high for another hour to thicken up - you want the apple butter to be spreadable rather than pourable.

Sterilise some jars, I needed 6. I pop the jars into the oven on low for about 10 minutes, then add the hot apple butter before putting on the lids.
Then, if you're me, it's time for labelling and generally prettifying any you want to give away.

Apple butter doesn't keep like jams or jellies so you're looking at a month or so, kept in the fridge, once opened.

I'm adding this to  Farmersgirl Kitchen and BakingQueen74 monthly Slow Cooked Challenge.


I'm also adding this to A Mummy Too's Recipe of the week link up


Link up your recipe of the week

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Meal Planning Monday: 4th September 2016



It's that time of the week again - I'm staring hopefully at the screen, hoping for inspiration to strike. The Aldi super 6 webpage is open, my glasses are perched on my nose and somewhere around me is my notebook and pen. Meal planning Monday is go.

I'm admitting defeat this week and rejoining Slimming World - for lots of reasons my focus just has not been there of late, and whilst I can do the programme from home, I need the drive of a weekly weigh in to keep my focus. I just wish it was cheaper!

Breakfasts - I'm going back to yoghurt and fruit - I've got some lovely muesli to sprinkle on top but am aiming to keep the balance with the fruit.

Lunches - we're shopping tomorrow so I'm thinking of making minestrone soup for this week.

Suppers -

Monday: Breakfast for dinner, so bacon medallions with mushrooms, scrambled egg and tomatoes.

Tuesday: Parsnip pasta - I've been promising to blog this for ever, but might just get around to it this week. Stop laughing at the back there.



Wednesday: Chickpea and sweet potato curry

Thursday: Leftovers



Friday: Courgetti spaghetti

Saturday: Sausages, baked potatoes and veggies

Sunday: Possibly a roast? Depending on what's on offer tomorrow really.

Baking wise, I'm using up a veritable hundredweight of overripe bananas so we have Fruited banana bars which are a lovely egg free bake. Recipe is scheduled to go up on Friday. I'm also working my way through our stash of Apple butter so tonight made Harry some dairy free Apple whirls - recipe up next week I think.

That's our week, now to check the cupboards and write that list. No more procrastinating here!


Meal Planning Monday: 4th September 2016



It's that time of the week again - I'm staring hopefully at the screen, hoping for inspiration to strike. The Aldi super 6 webpage is open, my glasses are perched on my nose and somewhere around me is my notebook and pen. Meal planning Monday is go.

I'm admitting defeat this week and rejoining Slimming World - for lots of reasons my focus just has not been there of late, and whilst I can do the programme from home, I need the drive of a weekly weigh in to keep my focus. I just wish it was cheaper!

Breakfasts - I'm going back to yoghurt and fruit - I've got some lovely muesli to sprinkle on top but am aiming to keep the balance with the fruit.

Lunches - we're shopping tomorrow so I'm thinking of making minestrone soup for this week.

Suppers -

Monday: Breakfast for dinner, so bacon medallions with mushrooms, scrambled egg and tomatoes.

Tuesday: Parsnip pasta - I've been promising to blog this for ever, but might just get around to it this week. Stop laughing at the back there.



Wednesday: Chickpea and sweet potato curry

Thursday: Leftovers



Friday: Courgetti spaghetti

Saturday: Sausages, baked potatoes and veggies

Sunday: Possibly a roast? Depending on what's on offer tomorrow really.

Baking wise, I'm using up a veritable hundredweight of overripe bananas so we have Fruited banana bars which are a lovely egg free bake. Recipe is scheduled to go up on Friday. I'm also working my way through our stash of Apple butter so tonight made Harry some dairy free Apple whirls - recipe up next week I think.

That's our week, now to check the cupboards and write that list. No more procrastinating here!


Meal Planning Monday: 4th September 2016

It's that time of the week again - I'm staring hopefully at the screen, hoping for inspiration to strike. The Aldi super 6 webpage is open, my glasses are perched on my nose and somewhere around me is my notebook and pen. Meal planning Monday is go.

I'm admitting defeat this week and rejoining Slimming World - for lots of reasons my focus just has not been there of late, and whilst I can do the programme from home, I need the drive of a weekly weigh in to keep my focus. I just wish it was cheaper!

Breakfasts - I'm going back to yoghurt and fruit - I've got some lovely muesli to sprinkle on top but am aiming to keep the balance with the fruit.

Lunches - we're shopping tomorrow so I'm thinking of making minestrone soup for this week.

Suppers -

Monday: Breakfast for dinner, so bacon medallions with mushrooms, scrambled egg and tomatoes.

Tuesday: Parsnip pasta - I've been promising to blog this for ever, but might just get around to it this week. Stop laughing at the back there.



Wednesday: Chickpea and sweet potato curry

Thursday: Leftovers



Friday: Courgetti spaghetti

Saturday: Sausages, baked potatoes and veggies

Sunday: Possibly a roast? Depending on what's on offer tomorrow really.

Baking wise, I'm using up a veritable hundredweight of overripe bananas so we have Fruited banana bars which are a lovely egg free bake. Recipe is scheduled to go up on Friday. I'm also working my way through our stash of Apple butter so tonight made Harry some dairy free Apple whirls - recipe up next week I think.

That's our week, now to check the cupboards and write that list. No more procrastinating here!


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