Thursday 30 January 2014

12 Month Baking Challenge: JANUARY -Viennese Whirls

The first baking challenge of the year was to make Viennese Whirl biscuits - these are

one of my favourites, but I've never made them from scratch before, and I must say - WOW- these are the BEST biscuits I've ever eaten. Totally worth the effort to make them - they are real show stoppers, and literally melt in your mouth. I'm so glad I took the time to make these (thanks to the challenge) - I've made them a handful of times already - and given them away as gifts also. 

I used the Hairy Bikers recipe from the BBC Food website here. I found it worked perfectly! 


For the filling

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the butter, icing sugar, plain flour, cornflour and vanilla extract in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape the mixture down a couple of times with a rubber spatula.
  3. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe 16-18 x 6cm/2½in rosettes of the dough, spacing well apart.

  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 13-15 minutes or until pale golden-brown and firm. Cool on the baking tray for five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 32-36 biscuits.
  5. For the filling, put the butter in a bowl and sift the icing sugar on top. Add the vanilla extract and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk until very light and smooth. Spoon into a clean piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Put the jam in a bowl and stir until smooth.
  6. Spoon a little jam onto the flat side of 16 of the biscuits and place jam-side up on the cooling rack. Pipe the buttercream icing onto the remaining biscuits and sandwich with the jam. Put on a serving plate and dust with sifted icing sugar. Serve.

    And here is a finished whirl….yum yum yum….

    Sooooooo good! 

    Why not try them yourself?

    Mrs B 


Wednesday 29 January 2014

Learn to Love Sleep with Pampers *Tips from Baby Sleep expert Jo Tantum*

Parents up and down the country all know how vital a good nights sleep is. When you're up all hours of the night with a new baby it can be extremely challenging - having a huge knock on effect to your days as well as nights. That first time your baby sleeps through the night feels so amazing, but you still wake up with a jolt "oh my god, are they okay?" and there they are sleeping, like a baby! :-)

My little Batman; sleeping like a baby...

There's loads of advice out there for parents - and today I want to share some top tips from Pampers' baby sleep Expert Jo Tantum on how to teach your baby to love sleep as much as we do! 

Bert & Pampers...

For me, the key to a 12 hour sleep for Bert is wearing the right nappy - a leaky or uncomfortable nappy means that Bert will wake in the night and need a change. Bert and I have been testing out Pampers nappies once again (read our last review here) This time we've been trying the new Pampers Baby Dry, and they've been fab! Bert has been sleeping through, and has a dry bum each morning.

Since our last test packs we've stopped using any other nappy - as we found other brands generally leaked and were unreliable. We also didn't think other brands seemed to fit Bert as comfortably as Pampers do. 

As usual, we've been thrilled with Pampers' new Baby Dry - Bert's been sleeping through for a long while now (we feel SO lucky!) and I'm pretty sure that it is partly due to a nappy that keeps his bottom dry even for 12 hours. We've not had any leakage, and Bert has never had nappy rash when using the Pampers nappies - if he's happy then I'm happy!

Happy Bert and Happy Mummy! 

Here's whats new with the Pampers Baby Dry nappies...

This week I was lucky enough to have a Skype meeting with the lovely people from Pampers as well as Jo Tantum, a baby sleep expert. I asked her some questions about my little Bert's sleep routine and how to transition him successfully from sleeping in a crib in our room to his cot in the nursery...she gave me some sound advice. 

Top Tips from Jo 

1. Start to put Bert down for naps in his nursery during the day time to get him used to the room. Pull down the blackout blind, and pop on a white noise sound to help soothe him (he LOVES this).

2. I should sleep in the nursery with Bert (we have a double bed in there) for the first few weeks of transitioning him from our room to the nursery, he'll feel more relaxed knowing I'm in there, and after the 2 weeks should be ready to sleep in there alone. (eek!)

3. Put a muslin blanket down your top for 2 hours before Bert's bed time then tie a knot in it and give it to him as a comforter when I want him to sleep alone in the nursery (it will smell of me, and so hopefully soothe him). 


Learn to Love Sleep Tips by Pampers Sleep Expert Jo Tantum

Set the scene
Try to set a scene that is appropriate for bedtime such as ensuring that lights are switched off or dimmed and that the room is neither too cold nor too hot. Creating a tranquil environment will help baby understand when it is time for sleep.

Routine is key
Routine will help your little one to know when it is night-time. By doing the same things before bedtime such as giving your baby a bath, cuddle, lullaby, and fresh nappy, she will begin to associate these activities with sleep.

Keep to a schedule
As with establishing a sleep routine, the daily cycle is also important. By having ‘active times’ and ‘quiet times’ your baby will become familiar with when it is time to play and when it time for sleep.

Distinguish between night and day
Ensure that your baby’s environment is different between night and day so that your little one recognises that light means it is time for play and that dark is time for sleep. Also try to be quieter and less interesting when it is night time so your little one understands that it is not playtime.

All babies will wake in the night but they will need to learn how to self-soothe. If you hear your baby stirring try to refrain from going in straight away to settle her. Instead, pause a moment and give her a chance to send herself back to sleep. Eventually she will be able to nod off without your help. 

Sleep changes and development are linked
Your baby will move considerably in the night so ensuring that she remains comfortable is essential. It is advisable to use a nappy with superior leakage protection such as Pampers Baby-Dry with Double Dry-Zones which absorb moisture and lock it helping to provide your baby with up to 12 hours of Golden Sleep.

Your baby will have growth spurts. During these times, she will likely want to feed more, day and night so try to be aware of when your little one is going through one of these phases. Similarly, teething may cause your little one some discomfort and thus disrupt her sleep. Teething rings can help ease the pain and distract baby. You can also try rubbing the gums with infant teething gels which contain a mild anaesthetic.

Be realistic
Stay positive and trust your instincts. Keeping a diary of your baby’s sleep patterns may also help you understand when and why she wakens and remember that every baby is different so what may work for another baby may not work for your little one.

I hope these tips help any new parents out there to settle their little ones into a routine. 


Mrs B 


Disclaimer: I was sent a sample packet of Pampers Baby Dry nappies, and was given expert advice over a Skype meeting from baby sleep expert Jo Tantum in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own however, and I genuinely love and only use Pampers nappies. 

Thursday 23 January 2014

Neckerchew Review from Cheeky Chompers

This is SUCH a genius idea! 

I'm annoyed I didn't come up with it first - it's so simple, yet so effective - a bandana style dribble bib with a built in teething chew on the end! 

The Neckerchew is from Cheeky Chompers, and retails at £11.99 - the bib comes in lots of lovely colour ways and patterns, all of which are reversible, washable and super absorbent. 

The lovely people at Cheeky Chompers sent Bert a fab blue striped Neckerchew to review, and both he and I absolutely love it. Not only does it co-ordinate with his many stripy outfits (I am obsessed with stripes and anything nautical), the bib is so soft, comfortable for baby, and definitely does the job. 


The Cheeky Chompers Story…

The Neckerchew was dreamt up by two Edinburgh ‘mumtrepreneurs’, Julie Wilson and Amy Livingstone while on maternity leave with their first children.
The idea came out of necessity after countless catch ups with friends and numerous dropped, dirty or lost teethers as well as a gaggle of dribbling babies!

It was the simplicity of the idea that was so appealing: why not create a teething product that is attached to the baby as well as being super absorbent?

The Neckerchew idea was born!  Over the next 9 months they set to work designing, sourcing materials, safety testing, quality testing and appointing a locally based UK manufacturer and after lots of hard work and late nights Neckerchew is ready to hit the shelves…

The Neckerchew packaging includes this cute little ditty...

Dear Baby

Here's a chewy dribble bib
Made with love for you
To help catch all your dribble
When your toothy pegs break through
A must have in your wardrobe
Cool and stylish either way…
And your special squidgy endy bit
Helps soothe the pain away…

Our little ones love them, we hope yours do too

Julie and Amy xx

Bert and The Bib

Bert has been using the Neckerchew bib this week - and I love it so much I've been hand washing it at night and popping it on the radiator to dry so he can wear it again the next day! 

the teether end 

My cheeky chomper sporting his Neckerchew - in his matching outfit ;-) so stylish! 

Bert gives it the cheeky smile seal of approval!

chomp chomp chomp - its not going to be long until we meet that first toothy peg! 

The Neckerchew ticks every box for me and would be a really gorgeous gift for any new arrival - its so practical while being comfortable and soothing for baby, and aesthetically pleasing for those of us who love our babies to look super-trendy but not at the expense of comfort. 

Check out the Cheeky Chompers webiste here for all the fabric options - I will definitely be ordering some more for Bert, one just isn't enough!

Happy Chomping Little Ones! 

Mrs B


Follow them on Twitter: @CheekyChompers
Or on Facebook: Cheeky Chompers 

Disclaimer: I was sent one Neckerchew bib for the purpose of this review; all words, views and photos are my own, except 'The Cheeky Chompers Story" , the CC logo, and the poem from the packaging - which are all from the Cheeky Chompers website. 

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Oatmeal and Ginger Cookies from Lorraine Pascale's "A Lighter Way To Bake"

This a really easy recipe for scrummy biscuits - they taste like a cross between a hobnob and a ginger nut - they are perfect for dipping, or just by themselves. Kids seem to love their taste just as much as the adults who tried them- and they're so easy to make that even the kids will be able to help make them. 

The recipe comes from Lorraine Pascale's new book called "A Lighter Way To Bake"(thanks to my lovely Mother in Law for buying it for me for Christmas) - in the book she cooks loads of delicious cakes and bakes, all of which are lower in calories than a standard comparison recipe - so you really can have your cake and eat it!



Makes 12 big, or 24 small biscuits


50g unsalted butter
100g light soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp olive oil
125g wholemeal flour
100g rolled oats
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees (150 Fan oven), and line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until combined then stir in the egg and olive oil until well mixed.

3. Add the flour, oats, ginger, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix everything together until a dough is formed. 

4. Using damp hands divide the mixture into 12 or 24 equal sized balls - place on the baking tray spaced out and lightly press them down slightly so they're about 1.5 cm thick. 

this pic shows half of a batch of 24, if only making 12 they would be larger

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through but soft to the touch (they firm up as they cool). 

6. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely. 

7. Eat still warm, or store in a air tight container to enjoy at any time. 

143 calories per biscuit if you make 12
71.5 calories per biscuit if you make 24

I made these for family who were visiting on Thursday - they were soooo good that I couldn't wait to make another batch, this time with my little cousins on Saturday morning after they'd had a sleepover at my house. 

They found the cookies easy to make with my help and really fun to cut into all sorts of shapes with my (rather large) collection of cutters. They devoured the cookies quicker than lightening, but did manage to share a few, and had a couple left to take home to their Daddy! 

my gorgeous cousins all proud with their cookies!

the girls' fab cookies! cut all by themselves without any help 

Why not give them a try?

Mrs B


Monday 20 January 2014

Moments That Mattered 2013

This month I've been looking back over last year and reminiscing about all the moments that really mattered to me. 

It was an awesome year and I want to share with you the most special moments and photographs that went with them...

all of my Scone Roses WI nights - which mostly involved eating cake, gossiping and lots of crafting! 

all of the many bakes I created - including this fun giant fondant fancy cake which I made for my mums birthday last May - baking makes me so happy, and I was proud that I managed so many creations despite being heavily pregnant for a lot of 2013.

Our fab holiday to Looe in Cornwall with my husband, mum, stepdad, sister and auntie last Easter (which you can read more about here)

Having the amazing (and reassuring) scans during my pregnancy and finding out we were having a boy! It felt amazing to see his little heart beating, and watch him kick his legs and move his arms. It made it seem so real. 

Crafting homemade items for my baby son like this reversible change/play mat using this fabulous cockatoos fabric! Proud of myself, and I use it sooo much! I also made a stripy knitted pram blanket, and cushions for his nursery in the cockatoos fabric. 

Carrying around my amazing (and huge) bump - I did this for a lot of 2013 :-) 

The birth of my amazing baby boy Albert - although the birth was horrendous, scary and very painful - that moment when he arrived and I knew he was safe, heard his cry and saw what he looked like for the first time was absolutely the best moment in my whole life, let alone year. 

My press night at Biscuiteers in Notting Hill - it was amazing fun to get out and about just as 'me' rather than as Mummy - it was a really fun night, I met some lovely people, and enjoyed a spot of shopping at one of my favourite shops on the way there (Joules) and a glass of prosecco on arrival. You can read more about the Biscuiteers press night here

My fun afternoon/night out with my lovely friend Liz - we went to Biscuiteers in Notting Hill for afternoon tea, followed by an art lecture at The V&A Museum by the amazing paper cutter Rob Ryan. (You can read all about it here)

Watching my cheeky boy enjoy his first Christmas!

What a year! I wonder what 2014 has in store?

Mrs B


Disclaimer: This post is my entry into the Moments That Mattered competition to win an iPad Mini in association with Lloyds Bank

Dentinox Eye Wipes Review

 Dentinox Eye Wipes are a new product available for parents from the Dentinox baby range. In the past we have used Dentinox colic drops with Bert, which were fab, so I was more than happy to give these eye wipes a try. 

Each wipe is sterile and comes individually wrapped in a foil packet. There are 12 wipes in each box, and they have a fresh clean smell - they aren't fragranced with any form of perfume, which makes them gentle on baby's sensitive eye area. The wipes are suitable to use from birth onwards. 

I was really impressed with the softness and thickness of these wipes - they actually feel like a soft piece of material rather than a disposable wipe. They are like soft little cloths however are super strong too and are just perfect for quickly wiping those sensitive areas.

Poor Bert had a dreadful cold over Christmas and the New Year, and these wipes came in so handy for cleaning his eyes each morning. His cold meant he was waking up each morning with sticky dirty eyes and a nasty snotty nose - so I used one of these wipes each morning to gently clean away the nasties. Bert didn't complain about having his face wiped, probably because of the softness of the wipe itself. 

Even after his cold, like most of us, Bert sometimes wakes up with sleep in his eyes, and eyelashes, and so the wipes come in handy yet again. They are far easier than using a warm flannel, and have just the same effect - no stinging, no irritation. 

sleepy dirty eye

sleep in his eyes and eyelashes

lovely clean face after using a Dentinox wipe

What I like most about these wipes is that it is so easy to pop a few individually wrapped wipes in your baby bag/handbag, which makes them perfect for when you're out and about. I've also popped a few into my baby first aid kit, as they will be great for wiping any scratches and scrapes as Bert starts becoming mobile! 

A must have for your essential baby care kit!

Disclaimer: This review post is in association with BritMums. All pictures and opinions are my own. 

Sunday 12 January 2014

Chocolate Pasta * Round 2 *

Some of you might remember when I tried cooking a scrummy dessert with Hotel Chocolat's cocoa penne pasta back in November 2012. I wrote all about this dessert pasta with butterscotch and pecan sauce here. It was super-tasty and a really different way to cook/eat was hard to get my head around eating pasta for a dessert, but cool all the same!

For Christmas this year Liam and I were bought a bag of Cacao tagliolini from Carluccio's, and I couldn't wait to try it! This time however, I thought I'd try this chocolatey delight in a savoury recipe, instead of sweet.

I paired the pasta with venison meatballs as I've heard cocoa and venison go well together. I made a gorgeous sauce full of tasty ingredients to compliment the cocoa and venison flavours, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you guys….

Cacao Pasta


serves 4 people

Ingredients for the meatballs

500g venison mince
fresh thyme, finely chopped
small shallot, finely chopped

Ingredients for the sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
2 rashers smoked bacon, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium brown onion, chopped
jar of tomato passata
tin of tomatoes
200g chestnut mushrooms
150ml good red wine
beef stock
30g good quality dark chocolate (70%), grated
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
fresh thyme
bay leaves

250g cacao pasta


1. Combine the fresh thyme, shallot and venison mince together then roll into 24 equal sized balls. Pop in the fridge to firm up while you chop the onions etc. 

2. Brown the venison meatballs in a little olive oil with the onions, garlic and bacon - once the meatballs are brown remove them and set aside while you make the sauce. 

3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sweat it all for a few minutes. Add the red wine, let it deglaze the pan (stir the whole time), and simmer until the mixture has reduced down a little.

4. Add the tomato passata, tinned tomatoes and beef stock to the pan - heat until the sauce is really simmering and then add the thyme, bay leaves, redcurrant jelly and grated dark chocolate. 

5. Let the sauce reduce right down, stir regularly. 

6. Once the sauce has reduced by half, use a hand blender to blitz the sauce until it is a smooth consistency.

7. Add the meatballs back to the sauce, and heat on a low flame for 15 minutes. 

8. While the meatballs are cooking add the pasta to some boiling water, and stick some garlic bread in the oven. 

9. Drain the pasta, dress with a little olive oil, and pour over the meatballs and sauce. 

10. Serve with garlic bread for dunking! 

The dish was lovely - the sauce really was the star of the show, and I loved the earthy backnotes the cacao pasta provided. Honestly, you could easily swap the venison for beef, and the cacao pasta for would still be delicious. The venison and special pasta just make the meal extra special. 

Have you ever eaten pasta made with cacao or cocoa? 

Mrs B


Friday 10 January 2014

Griddle Pan Waffles and EPIC Hot Chocolate Recipe

For those of you who, like me, watch every festive cookery programme going, you've probably already discovered this amazing hot chocolate and waffles combo - the recipes were featured on Jamie Oliver's festive food programme this Christmas, and as soon as I saw it I knew I just HAD to make them. 

Jamie's recipe means you can make delicious waffles at home without a waffle iron - you just need a griddle pan or frying pan - hooray! The waffles can be served with maple or golden syrup, fruits, or the classic bacon/syrup combo! Alternatively, you can make his awesome "epic" hot chocolate, slice up the waffle and dunk the waffle soldiers into the thick choccie mix! *heaven*

I really loved the idea of making your own hot chocolate powder - I've now made a giant jar full of the lovely stuff. I think it would make a lovely gift - stored in a pretty Kilner jar with a ribbon and a nice label! Liquid Happiness i'd call it. Although, I'm not going to be able to give away this batch - it's just too good to share. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe - and do have a go - it makes an amazingly luxurious weekend brunch, and most of us are likely to have the majority of the ingredients in the store cupboard. :-)

Griddle Pan Waffles


2 free range eggs
300ml milk
225g self-raising flour
2 1/2 level tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g unsalted butter - melted and cooled plus about 1 tbsp extra


Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and whisk to combine. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt then whisk until fully combined. Add the cooled melted butter and gradually stir it through the mixture. It's important not to stir the mixture any more after this or your waffles may be tough.

Place your griddle pan over a high heat, add the extra teaspoon of butter and as soon as it's melted pour in the waffle batter and spread it around to fill the pan. You could also make smaller waffles, if you prefer – you'll need to do 2 at a time.

Lower the heat to medium and cook the waffles for 8–10 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Flip over and continue to cook for 8–10 minutes, until golden and cooked through. (It can be tricky to flip a whole waffle, but be bold and go for it – if it breaks, don't worry, you can rock the rustic look.)

Give the waffle an extra couple of minutes on each side to crisp up, then serve them with your toppings.

1/4 of the waffle mix is 507 calories

"EPIC" Hot Chocolate

for the powder…

2 tbsps Horlicks powder
2 tbsps cornflour
3 tbsps icing sugar
4 tbsps organic cocoa
100g good quality dark chocolate (I recommend Menier, 70% ) finely grated
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch of sea salt


Mix together all the powder ingredients and store in an air tight jar.

When you're ready for a delicious mug of this amazing chocolatey treat just heat up 2 pints of milk to almost boiling, add 10 heaped teaspoons of the chocolatey powder and whisk for 1-2 minutes until it forms a thick, glossy and unctuous texture. 

a 300ml mug full is 352 calories

my "rustic" waffles and epic hot choc

I found it impossible to flip as one super-large waffle, so mine broke up a bit, next time I'll divide the batch into 4 smaller waffles and cook them in two batches - hopefully then they'll look a little prettier! Trust me though, they tasted insane! 

my "epic" hot choc

My jar now sits on my dresser just waiting for a cold night when only a big mug of this liquid chocolate happiness will do! 

Mrs B 


For more of Jamie's amazing recipes visit his fab website here