Tag Archives: cooking

Lunch Playdate.


M is growing in confidence. There is no denying he is at last beginning to feel more confident with some people. Now, I’m not saying he’s able to hold a conversation with somebody he doesn’t know, but he can now make occasional eye contact with people he sees me with on a regular basis – I am talking about the Mums, and Grandmas we see at the school. There are a chosen few, that I talk to regularly that he is at last coming out of his shell with, and it is beautiful to see. One in particular, he has been happy enough to walk home with, and even stop into her house. It is a major leap forward in his development. One that being honest we were wondering if would ever happen!

A few weeks ago, the Mum of one of D’s friends suggested her son and his chums had a boys night at her house – tea and playing. D was very excited at the prospect. M looked put out, and as usual we explained to him that when D gets an invitation, it doesn’t always include him – he sometimes gets quite upset when not being included on party invitations, which is why for D’s impending party I have made sure siblings have been invited. He wasn’t having that, he knew the boy to speak to and his Mum was in his circle of adults he was learning to trust, but it still came as an amazing shock when he out right asked her if he could go too!!! I was horrified that he could be so forward as to invite himself, but my over-riding feeling was one of great pride that he had wanted something that he knew was attainable and just went for it. He had spoken to an adult unsupervised, and it was wonderful to see. The Mum said he could go, and hadn’t invited him as she wasn’t sure he would cope – they only live at the other end of our street, so I said if he was finding it difficult, just send him home! They both had a lovely time, and came home well fed!

My boys then asked if they could have some friends over during the holidays. Of course they could. To be honest, I would rather people came here to play as it give M the freedom to have a familiar safe spot if it gets too much for him, and therefore we pretty much have always had an open door policy for kids popping in – I do however have to know their Mums before I let them in as I don’t want any trouble!

The boys though didn’t just want a playdate, they wanted a play day! They invited four – 3 boys and 1 girl,  of D’s chums – M is more comfortable with them than his own peers, and their Mums/Grandmas – I thought if they are going to wreck the house I at least want a gossip and a coffee!! The boys then went ahead with planning the day! Everyone was to come over midmorning so they could play before having lunch – lunch was going to be pizza, and then they could play again afterwards! It sounded a perfect plan. I suggested that if we made dough then everyone could make their own pizzas. The boys like the idea.

I then threw a spanner in the works, and said they had to tidy their bedroom and the toy shelves if they wanted visitors!!! After much grumbling, they did it, and did a brilliant job of it on Monday.

Yesterday morning, I was in the kitchen making the dough – I had to make different sorts as D’s best friend has wheat and milk allergies, so I am learning how to adapt recipes, and I heard the cleaner going. I thought Old Person was putting it round – I know hard to believe, but no, M had decided he should clean before his guests arrived, and D had the polish and was cleaning the table! I should definitely invite people over more often if it gets this response from them!

The day was great fun, and all the kids were so well-behaved.   The pizzas all looked lovely, and were consumed with gusto.      Luckily the weather was good, so they were in and out to the trampoline as well as the little play area just out of our back garden.    Much time was also spent playing The Lego Movie Video game, and they all agreed it was awesome!

The house was a bomb site after they left, but no more than it is usually with my two, and it was just toys that needed putting away, and nothing more disastrous!

The boys were good hosts, and played nicely letting others play with their stuff – M has sometimes in the past had to be told to let others use his toys, but not today.       I think the only time I had to raise my voice during the day was when they were all at the dining table eating, you’d have thought they were each a mile apart that they had to scream a conversation!!!

My boys of course want to do it again, and will definitely during the next holidays.       I am very proud of how well they behaved, not just with the children, but with the adults, as M was very gracious when complimented on the flapjacks he had made!

It is lovely to see the hard work of teaching social skills does sometimes pay off.     D was overwhelmed by everything from the day, and I do think it was possibly sensory overload for him, as he spent an hour sobbing his heart out in the evening, for no apparent reason.   I think he just needed to release all the controlled emotion from the day, and crying is a lot safer than his usual thrashing and screaming.       He was asleep within minutes when he settled down, and hopefully had sweet dreams about his successful day.

Lemon Drizzle Cake saves the day.


About a week ago, a friend of mine shared a recipe from a site she follows on Facebook.    It was for Lemon Brownies, and they looked delicious.      I had never come across a Brownie recipe that wasn’t chocolate before – let’s be honest when you get as far as chocolate you don’t go out of your way to look much beyond it!         The recipe was from an American site, but the measurements look easy enough, and so I decided to give it a go.

What can I say?    They were awful!     I followed the recipe exactly, with the only translation I needed to do being the oven temperature was in fahrenheit and I needed it in celsius, but other than that, I did what they told me.    I used my faithful measuring cups – but I  do think weighing things is far more accurate when baking, and mixed it as they told me.    It was a beautiful looking batter that I put in my brownie tin – everyone should own a brownie tin, as its such a great size when you don’t need a huge baking sheet in the oven – mind was perfect from the day I got it, but that was because it was a freebie with some butter I bought!        I baked it for exactly the time stated at the temperature they said.    The recipe said don’t over cook or they will be dry, so after they had cooked for the specified time I removed them from the oven – I should have switched on common sense at this point and realised they could do with longer, but a new recipe needs following before tweaking.     I poured over the glaze once the cake had cooled and set aside.       When I went to cut them to serve, it was like going through treacle they were so sticky, but brownies are meant to be gooey.     Then I bit into it to try it, and spat it back out as quickly.    It was like eating a soggy bath sponge and what was worse was they weren’t really lemony enough!      I asked everyone to try them and they opinion was the same, they were terrible!        I threw them out for the birds this morning, and they are still sat in the garden, not even the seagulls have cleared them!!!

I wont be trying that recipe again!      It is however a lesson learned – a mistake is only a failure if you don’t learn from it has long been a motto of mine, in that following a recipe exactly is all well and good but it can’t deter from years of experience!

I had promised the kids lemon cakes and they weren’t happy not to get it.    I therefore had to look out my faithful recipe for Lemon Drizzle cake.   This recipe has never failed me.   It is great for a quick cake, as its great served warm or cold, its great as a pudding as works really well with custard, and it also holds up well enough to be a base of a birthday cake as its so moist.    It’s also great for a change to make it with oranges or limes, or a combination of fruit!

175g butter

175g caster sugar – or the alternative in sweetener

2 eggs

3 lemons – juice and zest

175 g self-raising flour

260g icing sugar – well sifted

Prepare your tin by lining it with greaseproof paper – this helps with the soaking after its baked.    I use a 2lb loaf tin, but make it any shape you like!

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and 2/3 of the lemon zest – I do mine really fine as the kids don’t like the pieces but if you like texture use a larger grating.

Fold in the flour.

Pour into the tin and bake at 180c for 35 minutes, until the cake is springy.

While the cake is cooking heat 2/3 of the lemon juice with 100g of icing sugar in a pan, and simmer for a couple of minutes to make a syrup.   Allow to cool.

When the cake is cooked remove from pan and place on a cooling rack with a tray under it.     Using a skewer or fork make lots of little holes all over the cake – but not too many you damage it,  and carefully spoon the syrup over the cake allowing it to soak in – work carefully to make sure all of the cake gets some of the liquid.       Allow to cool.

Remove the lining paper, and place cake on a serving plate.

Put the remaining icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.   Add water a tiny drop at a time until you get a runny – but not too runny, icing.     Pour over the cake, allowing it to dribble down the side a little – no reason other than it looks really nice!

Decorate with leftover lemon zest.



While you can substitute the sugar in the cake for sweetener, you really need the sugar for the syrup and the icing, so this isn’t one for the diabetics or those watching their weight.

This is the recipe I will stick to in future as it always works, and it stopped my boys being grumpy creatures after my previous disaster.

Fat-free Fruit Loaf


I’m told my post yesterday was a bit yucky, and so today I thought I would go for something a little bit nicer!

One of my New Years resolutions was to sort out my huge file of recipes I keep cutting out of magazines, and either make the food, or bin the piece of paper.     I haven’t got very far with this with everything that has gone on in the last couple of months.   I did however manage to pull the file down off the shelf, and knock some of the inch of dust off it!       I got myself some plastic pocket files, and labelled them with different categories of food, and made a start.     I think so far I have thrown out more than I have kept, wondering why I would have thought the recipe was something we would enjoy!

One recipe I did find that I decided to make straight away was for a Fat-Free Fruit Loaf.

I don’t like D to miss out on a treat, but we are having to watch what he does eat.   It is therefore important that the snacks and treats he has are as healthy as possible.   I think if I just banned sweets and cakes from the house he would just end up craving them and when he had a chance he would binge.   My way, means he doesn’t feel deprived and is eating a healthier alternative.

This cake is really easy to make, and I have now tried it in a few different ways.    The first time I followed the recipe as it was written, and then I started tweaking it!     I replaced the sugar with sweetener – I have been using the green canderel –http://www.canderel.co.uk/our-range/green , which is made with stevia, a plant-based sweetener, so have gone a step further to removing chemicals from the mix – many artificial sweeteners were making D have a very upset stomach, but this seems to not have that effect.      I also started making it as a loaf, then made it as a square cake, so it could be cut into bars, and then ended up doing it in muffin cases which are perfect for the lunch bags!

You will need –

1 teabag – I used bog standard but I guess a different variety would give a different flavour.

200g sultanas

100g dried apricots – chopped – my boys “don’t like” dried apricots, but once they are chopped they look just like golden sultanas and they are happy to eat them!

175g soft brown sugar – I used 17.5g of sweetener but check the comparative amount needed of the one you use.

2 eggs beaten

225g wholemeal plain flour –  I can’t always get the wholemeal, so I use white and add a handful of wheat germ

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice – use more if you prefer a stronger flavour.

Soak the teabag in 300ml of boiling water for 5 minutes.     I differ from the original recipe at this point, by adding the sweetener and the spice to the tea, I think it gives the fruit a better flavour!        Add the fruit and give it all a good stir – just be careful not to burst the teabag!      Leave this at least a couple of hours so the fruit soaks up the flavours.   I do this the night before I’m going to make the recipe.

Remove the teabag, and add the eggs to the mixture.

In another bowl, mix the baking powder and flour.   Stir in the wet mixture.    It should be a sticky goop!

Poor the mixture into a prepared 2lb loaf tin, or divide equally between 12 muffin cases.

Bake at 180c for 45 minutes if a full loaf, or 25 minutes if making muffins.

Now, anyone that has seen my recipes before, know I don’t do dried fruit, but the boys and the Old person yum these up.      D thinks he is getting a treat, and M doesn’t realise it’s a healthy option.    It’s a win win for me!

I will continue to sort through my box of recipe clippings, and if I find anything else exciting, I will be sure to pass it on.   Because most of the recipes have been cut out, I am not sure of their origins, but if I know them I will let you know.