Friday, 9 October 2015

Review - Thomas & Friends My First Rail Rollers Spiral Station

Both boys are at that age now where they are starting to share - and argue - over toys; though they have plenty to be going along with they always want what the other has, of course! N has only just really started showing an interest in cartoon characters and will play with anything, though he is really into J's old toys now rather than his baby ones - well I suppose he is a fully fledged toddler now rather than a baby!

He was recently asked to review this brilliant toddler toy, perfect for newly instated toddlers! It is part of the Thomas & Friends range from which J already has a couple of toys, but this is N's first rather than J's 'hand me downs'.

We waited for Daddy to arrive home from work before putting it together as it looked a bit complicated for me, but after following the detailed instructions it only took around 15 minutes to construct. I like the fact that once the parts are connected they can't be pulled apart as we have had similar toys where the boys have just kept doing this. It is very sturdy too and can withstand N pulling it around to every room he goes in!

The Spiral Station comes with a Thomas and Diesel Roller but others can be purchased separately. There are many different features for motor skills and investigation, such as the large spiral track leading to a roundabout, the large tower drop, and the tunnel with lift which the child operates themselves by using the lever. The gates move to change the direction of the Rail Rollers toys, and the signs spin too. N loves to drop the Rollers down the tower. It's interesting to watch him try to figure out where he wants to drop them next!

This toy is great for younger toddlers such as N, but J loves it too at 3.5 years old. I must say that even hubby & I have lots of fun playing with it as well so purchase some more Rollers and it's great fun for the whole family! It has pretty much been the go-to toy since it arrived and I think it will last a good while too. It is a little more than we may usually pay for toys but it is definitely worth the RRP for the robustness and the play value. Definitely a great value thumbs up from us.

RRP: £32.99
Age: 12 months +

Our rating - 5/5

We were sent this product free of charge to review. All thoughts and opinions are honest & our own.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Recipe - Peanut butter and chocolate tart #GBBOBloggers2015

You may have noticed I haven't joined in with the Bake Off for a few weeks (the last time was with my rainbow frangipane tart for which I received star baker!). First we moved house and then the following week my father-in-law passed away so I've had a lot going on, plus we have only just had internet installed so I've only had a mobile connection and haven't even opened my laptop until yesterday.

Anyhow, I really wanted to join in with chocolate week and after watching the show I immediately knew I was going to make a chocolate tart. Though I didn't anticipate chocolate pastry not being as easy as normal pastry, which I'm not usually that great at anyway... I am so glad I'm not presenting this one to Paul & Mary as my pastry case is a mess! It's cracked, bubbly, uneven... I will try it again at some point though as I will be determined to get it right.

I had a couple of ideas for this before settling on including an ingredient you may have noticed in abundance in my recipes - peanut butter! I can't help it, I'm in love ;) This tart has a crisp pastry case, with a smooth peanut butter ganache filling, topped with a smooth chocolate ganache, and then peanut brittle on top for a bit of crunch (the first time I've attempted that too!).

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Chocolate pastry base
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2tbsp icing sugar
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water

Peanut butter ganache layer
  • 100ml double cream
  • 200g white chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 75g smooth peanut butter

Chocolate ganache layer
  • 100ml double cream
  • 200g milk chocolate, broken into chunks

Peanut brittle
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g salted peanuts

  • Preheat oven to gas 6/200C/400F. 
  • For the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar, and cocoa powder together, then add the butter and rub in lightly until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. 
  • Mix the egg yolk with the water and use a knife to mix the liquid into the flour. (Alternatively you could do it in a food processor like I did!). When it begins to stick together, gently knead into a ball (remove from the food processor first if using), wrap in cling film and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry big enough to fit a 9 inch tart tin (with a removable base if you have one) making sure to leave some excess to allow for shrinkage. 
  • Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice.
  • Blind bake for 15 minutes then remove the paper and baking beans and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes.
  • Leave to cool then trim away any excess pastry with a small sharp knife.
  • When cool, prepare the peanut butter ganache by gently heating the cream until bubbling, then add the white chocolate and stir until melted, then finally stir in the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth & creamy.
  • Pour over the pastry base then chill until the ganache is set but still slightly soft to the touch.
  • Prepare the chocolate ganache by gently heating the cream until bubbling, then add the milk chocolate and stir until melted and the mixture is smooth & creamy. 
  • Pour this mixture over the peanut butter ganache and again chill in the fridge.
  • Prepare the peanut brittle by heating the caster sugar in a medium pan over a low heat. When it starts to melt gently shake the pan; at first it will clump together, then turn a light golden colour and eventually a dark caramel colour. At this point add the peanuts.
  • Quickly pour the mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking paper, and leave to set but do not touch! 
  • Break into pieces and add to the top of the tart in some artistic way!
  • Enjoy!

As usual, linking up with Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps and the host for this week, Baking Queen 74.

Mummy Mishaps

Monday, 14 September 2015

Slimming World weigh in #32 - the one where I'm losing my mojo...

After my maintain last week I was quite determined that I would weigh less this week. I was on plan more than I was last week but we did still end up having a takeaway or two, though I did pull it right back. I've managed to still lose before when this has happened so I guess I thought I was 'safe' and therefore just kept plodding on amidst being back & forth to our new house, packing, and running after the boys; so a lot of energy being used as well!

Some of my on plan meals from this week:

On to weigh in. I went there hoping for at least half a pound a loss. I would have been happy with that as I would have gained my 2.5st award. So I was honestly a little bit gutted to step on the scales and see yet another maintain. I vowed to myself that I will get that award next time, and get my mojo back!

My stats for this week (week 32):
  • starting weight - 13st 4.5lb
  • previous weight - 10st 12lb
  • current weight - 10st 12lb
  • loss this week - 0lb = maintain
  • loss so far - 2st 6.5lb
  • Club 10 target weight - 11st 13.5lb - achieved 05/05/15!
  • final target weight - 9st 6lb

Is anybody else losing their mojo recently?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Review & recipe - Creative Nature Superfoods

Since I started Slimming World I have been eating a lot healthier - a lot more fruit & vegetables than I did before - but sometimes you just want that taste that feels so naughty but is actually so good for you; that's where Creative Nature Superfoods come in. As the name says, they sell a whole range of natural foods that are super good for you.

I was recently sent some of their products to review, including a selection of these pressed nature bars and some raw cacao powder. Cacao powder is different to cocoa power in that it is sun heated rather than artificially so it is completely organic.

I haven't tried any nature bars previously so I have nothing to compare them to, but I do have to say that they were delicious! They tasted just sweet enough to satisfy that craving, and to know that they are completely natural ingredients is even better. My favourite flavour was Heavenly Cacao followed closely by Blissful Berry (chocolate always wins!). They are a similar price to other brands available in shops; I wouldn't be able to afford them every day but they are great for two or three times a week.

I had a few ideas about what to do with the cacao powder but in the end I went for a yummy easy peasy choco-banana milkshake that the whole family loved - of course made with other completely natural organic ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 1-2)
  • 500ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 large banana
  • 2tbsp Creative Nature cacao powder
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon

  • Place all ingredients into a blender.
  • Whizz up until smooth.
  • Enjoy!

RRP: Cacao powder - £4.49/100g
        Nature bars - £19.80/box

My rating - 4.5/5

I was sent these products free of charge to review. All thoughts and opinions are honest & my own.

*This post contains affiliate links*

Cacao Powder image


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