Moose loves to cook and so do I. Here is where you will find our kitchen adventures

[Ad] Spice Up Your December With Schwartz. 3 Ways With Cinnamon and Christmas Stollen Cookies Recipe

This is a paid post in collaboration with Schwartz.

I don’t know about you but even though I love the pretty lights and the decorations at Christmas, it is the smells and tastes that make me feel festive. Nothing beats cinnamon when it comes to christmassy smells! 

Food is such a huge part of our festive season. Whether it’s curling up with the Supermarket food catalogues and planning out our food selection – just me? or perusing the Christmas markets. It really is all about the smell and the taste at this time of year!

3 ways with Schwartz cinnamon 

The king of the cinnamon recipes is of course, the cinnamon roll. They always feel like an indulgent treat. I love them with a nice frothy coffee. Admittedly I eat these all year round but I do like to make them too! My favourite recipe can be found here at This Farm Girl Cooks

Cinnamon can be used in savoury recipes too – and it is beyond great! Not your usual festive fare but you can only eat so many roast dinners, right? I love these Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs. So good for warming you up on cold nights! 

My Mum did lots of baking when I was a child. With 5 children to look after (plus all of our friends of course) I suppose it must have worked out lots cheaper to make rather than buy our snacks. Sadly I don’t bake very often but when I do, I like to involve Moose. It’s usually good fun and keeps him busy.

So, last but not least and one of our favourites to make at this time of year is Stollen Cookies. They are really yummy and definitely make my house smell wonderfully Christmassy while they are baking. Double win! 

stollen cookies

Makes approx 24 


150g salted butter
80g light soft brown sugar
80g granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
180g plain flour
60g ground almonds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp (or a big pinch) salt
80g marzipan (chopped)
50g sultanas
50g dried cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice


  1. Heat your oven to Gas 4/350F/180C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a bowl pr using a mixer, cream together the butter and both types of sugar. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and bicarb, add the salt, ground almonds, cinnamon and mixed spice, and stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Fold in the cranberries, sultanas and marzipan.
  5. Put equal sized amounts on the baking trays and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.


Meal Plan #96

After a nice and very chilled half term break we are thoroughly back into our school routine. Halloween was great fun. We did over an hour of trick or treating so my step count looks great this week! It does mean that we have a house full of sweets now which is a bit of an own goal. Everything in moderation though, eh?

One of the things I love most about Autumn is that the weather lends itself to the sorts of meals I enjoy cooking. I think that this week’s meals will reflect that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salad (not that you can tell by looking at me) but is there anything better than arriving home after a soggy walk back from school or the shops and having a bowl of warming soup and crusty bread? I think not.

cream of tomato soup

This week in food

Friday: Spaghetti and Meatballs with half a ton of cheese on top. Probably.

Saturday: Chicken and ribs served with jacket potato and coleslaw

Sunday: Roast pork with mashed potato and roasted veg.

Monday: Chicken pasta bake. I will be going out so has to be something I can easily prepare earlier.

Tuesday: Sausage casserole and dumplings with broccoli

Wednesday: Going to have a cooked lunch so will be something simple like a wrap as I am off to London.

Thursday:  Chili Con Carne with rice and tortilla chips

I would love to hear what you and yours are tucking into this week. Please feel free to comment below and if you are a fellow blogger then link up on Katy’s meal planning linky. I love reading the posts as I am very nosey and frankly still struggle with what to feed my family even after 18 years as a Mum – seriously, if I don’t know what I want then how can I be expected to know what they want?!



Meal plan #94

Another week has flown by and I really need to get back into meal planning. So, here we are! We have been eating really poorly just lately and it has to stop. Now that wedding season is over I have to be more budget conscious. A lot of my money is spent on food so meal planning seems like the obvious first step in an overhaul of our spending habits. 

The children have their last day of school today so next week they will be home for half term. It will be so useful to have a plan for that!

I don’t know about yours but my children always seem to be constantly raiding the cupboards during the holidays and with this one being colder (and therefore more indoorsy) I have a feeling it will hit the wallet hard!

I am planning on having a baking day on Monday so we have lots of vaguely healthy and fast snacks for them to reach for during the week. The plan is to make a rocky road style tray bake as well as some cupcakes I think. Moose enjoys it when we bake together so I thought it would be a good way to fill a day really. Plus we save a bit of money because there won’t be lots of trips to the shops! 

This week in food

Friday: I am off to see my StepMum so dinner will be a surprise. Yay! 

Saturday: M&S posh dogs in brioche buns with thin cut homemade chips and either beans or coleslaw or both

Sunday: Roast pork with yorkshire pudding, mashed potato and green veg

Monday: I am going out so it will be something quick like pesto pasta 

Tuesday: Barbecue chicken lasagne with green salad

Wednesday: Sea bass with roasted veg and green beans

Thursday: Bang Bang chicken with vegetable chow mein and prawn crackers




Back To School And Cream of Tomato Soup Recipe With Piccolo Tomatoes | Ad

This a paid collaboration. All opinions remain honest and my own. 

Moose isn’t keen on vegetables. My two eldest lulled me into a false sense of security by eating pretty much anything I put in front of them. I thought I had it all worked out as I watched my darling little ones gobble down salads or curries or the odd stir fry.

Then Moose came along to humble me.

He has shown me that just because you think you know what you are doing as a parent. Just because something worked for one child (or two) it definitely does not necessarily mean it will work for all.

So. With Moose I have had to be crafty with veg. I have had to plan out how to hide vegetables in meals. How to pack as many nutrients into a meal as is possible – and also how to just accept that he will eat vegetables when he is ready and in his own way.

When I was approached recently by Gautier Semences, the providers of piccolo tomato seeds to British nurseries and asked to write about Piccolo tomatoes I took it as a challenge.

How could I best use them in a way that Moose would eat them.

Piccolo tomatoes are a small vine tomato, they have a sweet taste which means that they appeal to younger palates – and older ones with a sweet tooth like I do! They are originally from Latin America and were introduced to Europe during the 16th century. The French called it the “apple of love”.

Piccolos are low in calories but high in nutrients such as vitamin C and Lycopene which is an antioxidant said to help prevent heart disease and certain cancers!

My delivery of Piccolo tomatoes was sent from Glinwell Nurseries which are not too far from us. Although I am far from green fingered I do still prefer to buy British fruit and veg where I can to keep my carbon footprint low and to be able to watch Panorama specials with a clear conscience because I know I am doing what I can.

Piccolo tomatoes are so versatile.

My delivery arrived while the children were at school. I couldn’t wait to get started though! The first meal I had with the tomatoes was a simple cheesy pasta dish which I added a few roasted piccolo tomatoes to. A really easy way to add nutrients to a lunch and what goes together better than cheese and tomato? In my opinion, pretty much all veg taste better when roasted.

After school I showed Moose the tomatoes. He wasn’t quite brave enough to try one raw but he was excited to help me make soup!

We had so much fun getting all of the ingredients together and making a lovely cream of tomato soup which was packed full of vitamins. Moose scoffed the lot! I can’t think of anything more enticing after a day back at school than to sit down to cream of tomato soup and fresh bread. Knowing that this was my own take on a classic and didn’t have any nasty additives in it was even better!

I prefer to remove the skins from tomatoes before making soups or sauces with them. There is a really easy trick to this (thanks Mum). You have to score an X into each tomato, pop them into a pan of boiling water for 1 minute and then transfer to an ice bath or very cold water. The skin comes away really easily.

Cream of tomato soup


  • 800g Piccolo tomatoes
  • tbsp butter or some spray oil
  • 1 red onion (I used ready chopped frozen onion)
  • Carrot (I used a tin of sliced carrots I found in the back of the cupboard. Drain them though)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Basil leaves to taste (I used 3)
  • 400ml Chicken stock

You could also add roasted peppers but I didn’t this time.


  • Fry off the chopped onion in the oil/butter for a few minutes until softened- add the carrot if not using the tinned variety.
  • Add the squashed clove of garlic (don’t bother chopping it, it will be whizzed up later anyway)
  • Add the tomatoes and basil leaves and simmer on a low heat. I left mine for around 20 minutes. You can cook down a bit more but I know that nutrients are lost with a longer cooking time.
  • Pour in the chicken stock
  • Simmer for a few more minutes
  • Use a stick blender to get rid of all of the lumps (aka evidence)
  • Season and add a dollop of cream or creme fraiche if you forgot the cream and your rubbish corner shop only stock creme fraiche <fume>
  • Present your finished soup to your darling child and rub your hands with glee while they eat up all of their veg without complaint.
  • Help yourself to some yourself because you made it with spray oil so it is very Slimming World friendly. Hurrah!








Time to begin again, again. My Slimming World update.

I look pretty happy in this photo, don’t I?

Well, the truth is that I was happy. I had just joined Slimming World and I had decided that I was going to do something positive for myself and try to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Years of ignoring what I had been putting into my mouth had taken their toll and that it was time to make a change.

I didn’t have a weight target in mind. It wasn’t really about weight. I do of course want to look my best. However, I have found that since turning 30 my worries about what others see when they look at me have diminished at a pretty stealthy rate!

For me, my focus was on my health.

I already knew that 2 litres of cola each day and a penchant for drive thru food was costing me an arm and a leg. My habits needed to change. For my health and my purse!

So, the planets aligned and off to Slimming World I went. Determined that I was about to commit properly to something which would improve my life.

Fast forward nearly 6 months. Drum roll please..


To say that I am not where I thought I would be by now is something of an understatement. I cannot pretend I’m not disappointed. I’d imagined I would be at least 3 stone down by now. Admittedly I am amused by it all too. But…

I was supposed to feel more like me

Because that’s it in a nutshell. I don’t really know the person I have become. She is certainly not who I was or who I imagined I would be. Maybe that’s just what nearly 40 feels like? Does 40 feel like giving up?

The fact of the matter is that I was ready to give up. On Slimming World. On myself.

Slimming world works. I know it works. I have seen the numbers in my book going downwards each week when I was making an effort to stick to it. The problem isn’t Slimming World. The problem is me. I have been sabotaging my own lifestyle. I wish I could say why but it’s not going to be that simple, is it?

I got a phone call on Friday night. It was my local chinese takeaway calling ME to let me know that their loyalty discount was ending that weekend and did I want to order food so I could use my discount? I shit you not. My takeaway phones me. That’s a problem.

Did I order food? Obviously I did. I enjoyed it too.

Actually though, I deserve better. So, today I will take a deep breath and walk through those doors into group. I will set aside a couple of hours for me. When I get home I’ll curl up with a cuppa and my Slimming World books and I will read through them again.

I will treat myself like a friend.

Hopefully this time around I will be able to make better choices. In a few months time maybe I will start to see a change. Not just in my body but my health too. Who knows. I will try to give myself a chance though. Wish me luck!