Party Planning for a 6 Year Old (eek)

So this week is my little lady’s 6th birthday, excuse me whilst I fan myself down, knock back a bottle of gin and lay down for a while, but yes, she is growing up (runs away and weeps).  Ok, ok I’m pulling my self together.  I have to say I’m not the biggest fan of these packaged birthday scenes everyone seems so into these days, or is that just Solihull?  I know the kids love them. in fact I have been to some pretty awesome ones this year.  And look life is busy, life is hectic and if it pleases your child and makes your life easier, then go you, in fact, maybe I should have done that, no really *quickly wipes beads of sweat from brow*.  However, I really like that I can, just about, still string a home made, home based party together and M will still have an ace time.  A couple of classic party games, a bit of cheese and pineapple, a bowl of ice cream and a party bag, you can’t fault it can you?  Anyway as always the anxiety has begun, ha ha, I told you I’m not knocking your pre made parties, you seem like fun but I love a struggle!  So I’ve pinned, see here.  I’ve planned, see mad sleepless night’s mind map below, and I think I’m nearly there.

mind mapSo to start with, I had plans of buying invites, of course I forgot and ended up having to make (this aint as glamorous as it sounds) and print them myself. Canva is brilliant for this stuff, fling together a background and some text and it looks like you’ve had the invites designed for you, well I hope it did?

Megan's Birthday

So onto entertainment, party games are where it is at, so the plan is fairly simple:

When they (the small ones, beware) get there, whack on the bubble machine, a little inane music and let them run wild, whilst children assemble offer face painting. a skill you may have picked up on Pinterest and now realise is something you could possibly do as a career should something awful occur at work and you be forced to set up your own business, just saying.

Once all the guests have arrived, commence the schedule (there is precision here, I am a teacher you know).

1.  Activity – Design your own party bags (previously ordered 10x canvas drawstring bags and 3 packets of fabric pens)

2.  Wind it up – musical bumps

3.  Classic, can’t be missed – pin the tail on the donkey

4.  Treasure hunt – preparation well and truly delegated to Grandma, she did them so well when I was a child it would be rude not to

5.  Gather the children for the finale, party would not be a party without, PASS THE freaking PARCEL – it’s always a winner, well it is if you wrap interim presents right?

6.  The FOOD – last year we delegated well, again, to Grandad, it was ace but under appreciated (aka he made so much we wasted half of it) so this year we are pairing down and simplifying, the dinner this year is simply pizza and ice cream.  Slices of warm cheese and tomato doled out to all, a notional offer of crudites and hummus to make me feel ever so slightly virtuous.   And then for pudding, ice cream, I have dreams of going all Pinterest (I know I’m obsessed) and providing individual jars of the stuff with an array of sprinkles but inevitably the paper bowls will be out and the kids will still love it.

7.  Cake – candles burning, wax melting, clanging chorus of  ‘Happy Birthday’.  Cake generously provided by amazeball chef Grandad or bought from local supermarket, equally pleasing birthday girl.  Sliced, packed in party bags with essential bubbles, balloon, toys (Amazon has been a hero here with multi buys of springs and finger puppets for bargain prices) and sweeties/chocolates (of course).

8. Children slowly depart.  Daughter runs round in circles for next hour on sugar high.  Mother collapses, only intravenous drip of wine will revive her now.

Done! Well that’s the plan anyway…

Maybe Mcdonalds wouldn’t be frowned apon for next year?  What do you do for your children’s birthdays?

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Marks and Spencer’s Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins

Marks and Spencer’s Gluten Free Chocolate Muffin

Marks and Sparks are doing pretty well at this whole gluten-free lark, I happened to be in need of a little respite in the Croydon branch today so decided to have a little nosey at what one might purchase for elevenses in their Cafe Revive and what did I find? Choice, that’s what.  There were not only these pretty damn delicious and intensely chocolatey muffins, there were fruit cakes, sandwiches and the offer of a wrapped gluten-free roll with their soups.  Yes that’s right, you are not hallucinating, as well as the usual standby of jacket potatoes there was quite a selection of both sweet and savoury offerings for us gluten sensitive coeliacs.  So I salute you M&S, well done, and I think I shall be returning around lunch time next week for a taste of one of the more substantial savoury offerings.

I’ll keep you posted dear readers but in the mean time, what about you?  Found any more new and exciting gluten-free morsels on the high street?  Let me know!

My Instagram Feast

So I’m still quite addicted to this Instagram lark, I check my feed daily to nosey at other people’s pictures, it’s like little windows into other worlds and I love it.  In an attempt to showcase some of my food and feeds over the past month or so I’d like to introduce you to ‘My Instagram Feast’ which will hopefully be a regular (ish) feature on this blog (if i can manage to take a picture before guzzling down my food – it’s a serious problem you know?! all too often I find myself out and about devouring the most exquisite gluten-free treats only to realise at the last mouthful I’d forgotten to take a picture – doh).  So anyways I was talking about my feast  yeah? Well you’re all invited to join the feast and if you want to keep up to date with my Instagram food fetish then follow me at @whatislaate.

From top left, picnic in the woods, Natural History Museum's mammoth salad selection, Sunday tray bake, Lindt Carrot (oh my), Aubergine Bake, new season British asparagus with tarragon beurre blanc, rather hazy gluten-free fish and chips (I was too excited at the prospect of batter to take a good shot!), victoria sponge (gf) and my dad's gluten-free Chinese spread (oh yeah)...

So whats your Instagram name?

Spiced Pineapple and Rum Loaf (Gluten Free)

It’s getting chilly, the snow is starting to fall (well in Scotland and on WordPress!), decorations are going up and I’m getting all festive! Now is the time for warm spices, mulled cider or wine, clementines and all things cuddly and sparkly.

I had this pineapple that was starting to look a little sad in the corner of the kitchen and had somehow managed to let a bottle of rum fall into my shopping bag this morning, oops, so what better combination for a festive loaf thought I.

Not the prettiest of pictures, but pretty damn tasty...

Ingredients:

  • A whole pineapple
  • 4oz of sugar
  • 4oz of butter
  • 8oz of Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising Flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice
  • A big handful of sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons of rum (I used some Gingerbread Rum, but a nice spiced one would be good too)
  • Some extra butter and brown sugar for greasing and the topping

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan oven).  Grease a loaf tin and heavily butter the base. Sprinkle the bottom with brown sugar, if you have muscovado use that, I just had some crappy granulated demerara and couldn’t be fecked to go out again.  Peel and core your pineapple.  Finely chop half the pineapple.  Slice the rest thinly, you won’t need all of it so help your self to a slice or three!

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the eggs, then the chopped pineapple, flour, sultanas, spice and rum.

Line the base of your loaf tin with pineapple slices, in an ideal world this will look pretty, in my world it will be a little bit of a mess.  Pour your batter on top and smooth down.

Pop into the oven and cook for about an hour, check with a skewer or knife and when it comes out clean it is done.

Serve warm with ice cream, custard or rum spiked cream or butter or cold with a nice cup of chai or a hot toddy.  I know what I’m having.

Carrot, Apple and Ginger Loaf (gluten free)

Well hello there.  No more apologies, I’m just slack ok? ...and, well, I do have a quite demanding day job too, so yeah… let’s just leave it there.

This is the perfect cake for cool, blustery, drizzly days, it warms you, settles you and is practically a health food (ok it is a cake).  I was a bit poorly yesterday and was researching looking up all things ginger on the internet in search of something to settle my stomach.  However I was a bit too sick to actually get up off my arse and cook something so, today, feeling better, having done some work (got to get that in there!), I felt it was time to experiment a little in the kitchen again. I’m a big fan of this combination of flavours in a juice, but after ordering one of those juicing contraptions a couple of  years ago (well, actually I bought one twice, once when I was a teenager, insisting it would be used every day and I would clean it meticulously, in fact I think it’s still in my parent’s cupboard, coated in dried up vegetable mush) I hastily sent the second one back after switching it on and realising it sounded like a Mitsubishi motorbike revving in our kitchen, not necessarily what you want as your invigorating wake up call of a morning.  Anyways cake is much better isn’t it, juice is for namby pamby health freaks, cake however is a health food of the more sophisticated mind, you have to think about it a bit harder, but yes, it is good for you in so many other ways.

Right enough of this clap trap, onto the cake.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small apples, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 3 nuggets of stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 6oz of gf self raising flour
  • 6oz of butter
  • 6oz of caster sugar
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 3 eggs

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree (fan) or 200.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (nuke a little if solid from the fridge).  Add the eggs, one by one, and beat in.  Add flour, stir.  Add ground ginger, apples, carrots and chopped up stem ginger and mix (try to sprinkle the stem ginger around the bowl a bit to stop it clumping together).  Turn mix into loaf tin and bake for about an hour (or until a knife comes out clean). Serve however you bloody fancy, I’ve already tucked into mine warm from the oven – it’s good.

Citrus Drizzle Fairy Cakes (Gluten Free)

Interesting day today, I’ve  been trawling round the charity shops of West Wickham and found a lovely set of teacups, a pretty plate, a kite, a set of glass bowls, a Polaroid camera and a couple of bargainous children’s books. Good day.  So to top it all off with a sparkle I (well I had a bit of help, elbow grease provided by P. Curtis, thankyou!) we made some very gorgeous and delectable fairy cakes.  Yes you heard me right, FAIRY cakes, not cupcakes (as lovely as they are) but good old fashioned fairy cakes, WITH sprinkles, mmm yeah.  These are moist, sweet and moreish little numbers that you would be proud to provide at a children’s party and even damn prouder to produce for grown ups even if you are having a glass of cider on the side(!).  I used the basic recipe from the side of the Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour packet and adulterated it with zest, drizzle and sparkly bits.

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of milk

For the drizzle:

  • Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • Icing sugar
  • Zest of one lemon

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees (fan oven).

Cream the butter and sugar together until while and fluffy (if anyone asks if they can help at this point say yes and hand it over, this recipe is not hard but this is the most labour intensive part!).  Grate in the zest of the orange and lemon.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the flour and milk and mix together.  Spoon into paper cases (half full). Then bake for 10-15 min.

Whilst baking put together your drizzle.  Squeeze the juice of an orange and lemon into a bowl.  Add icing sugar until you have a double cream consistency syrup.  Zest a lemon in and stir. Taste and add more sugar or juice if necessary.

Once the cakes are baked spoon the drizzle on whilst warm (to allow it to soak in).  Sprinkle over the best sparkly bits you can find (there is no shame in hundreds and thousands) and serve.

Happy Birthday!

It is my little lady’s birthday today.  She is 3.  So I couldn’t really let it pass with out a picture of her cake.  Granddad made this one, it’s a frangipane cake with Italian butter cream icing and fresh raspberries.  She’s got another one too, Peppa Pig! But that one is not quite as personal but it does fulfill the Peppa Pig quota for the day.

Then just as she is about to put her foot in it….

Saved from a trampling, with pretty candles in….

and finally, inside…