Halloween cupcakes

In my goody bag from the MAD Blog Awards I was intrigued to find a mysterious jar containing, well… exactly what I wasn’t sure. To find out more I had to scan the little QR code on the lid and in an instant I was taken to the new Appliances Online blog, which explained all…

The jar contained all the dry ingredients needed to bake some delicious cakes and take part in their Cakes Win Prizes contest. As you know, I’m a bit of a sucker for a competition, so I just had to enter.

The dry ingredients contained in the jar were:

  • 65g caster sugar
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 25g chocolate chips

I simply popped all this in a large mixing bowl and combined with:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 125g soft butter
  • 2 tbsp milk

And hey presto! There was my cake mixture. This was spooned into a fairy cake tray lined with 12 cases and baked in an oven preheated to 180°C/Gas 4 for about 15 minutes.

Once the cakes were cool, Miss Bangers and Miss Mash helped me to decorate them. Now I know it’s still a little way off, but my girls are already getting into the Halloween mood, so that was the theme for our decorations.

For the white icing, I sifted 150g icing sugar into a small bowl and added a tablespoon of water. This was mixed together, adding a touch more water as necessary, to form a thick smooth paste. We used coloured icing pens to draw on our spooky creations.

A pumpkin by Miss Bangers (the 4-year-old)

A spider by Miss Mash, the 7-year-old

A spider and its web by me, the 37-year-old!

And so I’m linking this post to the competition page on the Appliances Online blog. Do pop over there to check out all the other fantastic creations bloggers have been making with the contents of their jars!

Praise You!

Hit PLAY and read on…

I promise this is the last time I mention it, but you will have to excuse me for making the most of this. In case you hadn’t heard already last week I won an award. A MAD (Mum & Dad) Blog award. And yes, I am still grinning.

This time last week I was in a posh hotel in London with the many of the UK’s best parenting bloggers, dressed up to the nines, quaffing bubbly, and pondering how on earth I’d got here.  And then, I was being invited up on stage to pick up the gong for best food blog. A huge thank you to everyone that voted for me. I owe you one. Big time.

The event was an amazing celebration of what I’m fast learning is a very unique and supportive community, and so this post is in praise of all the winners and finalists of the 2012 MAD Blog Awards. So sit back and listen to a little Fatboy while you look through a few snapshots…

Chris Mosler aka Thinly Spread – my fellow Somerset Frome blogger who drove us to London in our courtesy sexy Skoda. She’s been blogging much longer than me, and I’m indebted for all her words of advice during our journey

And that’ll be me and the Skoda. I’m rather excited as it’s so much shinier than my own car…

The drive took longer than anticipated, so we missed our make up appointments but managed to fit in a hair styling.

Finalists congregating around the large red deer, the unmissable focal point of the hotel’s lobby

With Cathy Winston (Mummy Travels) and her lovely fluffy shrug

The lovely Marleene Klass was there to present an award and look! I got my picture taken with her!

And then the whole of Table 6 (the place to be) were joined by the lovely MK

That crazy Table 6 again giving it some noise… “And the winner of Best Food Blog is… Bangers & Mash!”

That’s me, receiving my award from Aime Southgate of Brabantia – sponsor of the category

There it is. Isn’t it grand?

Liz from Table 6 (and The Baby Wears Prada) collecting her award for Best Fashion Blog

The wonderful Lexi from Mammywoo picking up her award for Blog Post of the Year

Kat from Slugs on the Refrigerator receiving the award for Best Blog of the Year – and very well deserved too!

And finally back home to Miss Mash, who loves this woolly hat from my MAD goody bag

 

Here are the winners of the MAD Blog Awards 2012 in all their glory. I praise you all! Please sit back with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and have a read. I guarantee you’ll be both laughing and crying before  you’re done…

MAD Blog of the Year: Slugs on the Refrigerator

MAD Blog Post of the Year: Mammywoo

Best Family Travel Blog: It’s a Small World After All

Best MAD Baby Blog: SAHM Loving It

Best Blog Photography: Slugs on the Refrigerator

Best MAD Writer: Northern Mum

Best Craft Blog: Red Ted Art

Best Family Fun Blog: Multiple Mummy

Best Family Life Blog: Adventures of an Unfit Mother

Best Food Blog: Bangers and Mash

Best Home Blog: Growing Spaces

Best Schooldays Blog: Actually Mummy

Best Small Business Blog: Coombe Mill

Best Fashion Blog: Baby Wears Prada

Best Thrifty Blog: Frugal in Cornwall

Best New Blog: Mammasaurus

Best Pregnancy Blog: Me, the Man and the Baby

Most Helpful MAD Blogger: Mammasaurus

Most Inspirational Blog: A Boy with Asperger’s

Most Innovative MAD Blog: Science Sparks

And a huge thank you to the marvellous Sally Whittle and everyone behind the scenes at the MAD awards – you guys rock!

Why I can’t stop grinning…

My cheeks are getting really rather sore now. There’s only so much grinning one woman can do. But every time my grin begins to subside, I remember the events of Friday night again and bam! I’m beaming again!

It rather took my by surprise. There I was at the MAD (Mum & Dad) Blog Awards ceremony in London, feeling just so thrilled because I was actually out on a Friday night and what’s more I was wearing the most beautiful dress I have ever owned in my life AND I’d just had my photo taken with the very gorgeous Myleene Klass. And then the name Bangers & Mash was read out as winner of the Best Food Blog category. I almost fell off my chair.

Of course I wanted to win. I’m one of the most competitive people I know. But I had done a really good job of convincing myself I had absolutely no chance as I was up against some very talented food bloggers.

And yet win I did and I am now the happiest mummy food blogger on earth. I owe a whopping big thank you to everyone that voted for Bangers & Mash to win and to everyone who has sent me the loveliest messages over the last couple of days via the blog, Twitter and Facebook.

But my favourite  message of all was the one I received when I got back home the next day, attached to a single red rose…

I hope to bring you some more photos from the awards ceremony in the next few days, but in the meantime you can pop over to Storify for some of the Twitter highlights…

The MAD Blog Awards ‘Create’ Carnival

The finalists in this year’s MAD Blog Awards are a pretty creative bunch. Just take a look through the fabulous posts submitted for this latest MAD Blog Carnival and I defy you not to end up itching to try out some of these delicious dishes or crafty creations for yourself…

Creative Makes

Finally I have a use for all those boxfuls of manky old broken bits of crayon thanks to the wonderful Actually Mummy. Aren’t these crayon hearts clever? But Actually Mummy doesn’t stop there; she has lots of great ideas on how to do Valentine’s when you’ve got kids.

My daughter Jessie is a budding artist and I can’t wait to try out this Klimt-inspired project with her from Red Ted Art. Maggie’s step-by-step guide is so useful, giving you lots of great ideas to develop with your kids without being overly prescriptive.

Hama beads are a firm favourite in our house and I know my two girls will love the ideas over at Little Sheep Learning for some new things to create, particularly those Angry Birds! And I can’t believe I’d never thought of using ice-cube trays before for sorting out the beads. My kids nick my muffin trays, which can be quite infuriating come baking day!

Every child I know is fascinated by shadows and how they are made, which is why this Shadow Puppets post from Science Sparks is going to be popular with kids everywhere. Create clever shadows and some pretty puppets to boot.

Dorky Mum has the perfect craft activity for anyone with too much time on their hands: the champagne cork chair. Come on, you know you want to make one. You do, you really do. And as there will undoubtedly be quite a few corks popping at the MAD Awards ceremony at the end of the month, it’s the perfect time for all the finalists to give it a go. Just remember to bring your little Lego man with you!

Papier mache is a very messy affair. And so of course for children everywhere that equates with great fun. I look forward to trying out these papier-mache animals from Susan K Mann; just so long as I’m in that go-with-the-flow kind of mood, rather than my usual don’t-you-dare-drop-any-glitter-on-the-floor kind of mood of course…

Kitchen Creations

Ice cream making is a truly family affair in Geek Mummy’s house and this video recipe is sure to put a smile on your face. I love the appearance of the cat in the background towards the end. And it’s also lovely to know that other people’s kitchens are as messy as mine!

How about this for a quick and easy treat from Becky at Family Budgeting? With just three ingredients, this easy shortbread is definitely the kind of recipe that appeals to me!

I love the look of this egg-free lemon shortbread with lemon frosting from Transatlantic Blonde. Perfect for little (and large) spoon-lickers everywhere. And just how cute is Blondie Boy?

When Emma over at A Bavarian Sojourn was little, her mum had to trick her into eating gooseberries. Can’t understand that myself as I’ve always loved them. But now she’s living in Bavaria she’s discovered a new-found taste for them and is making up for lost time. And so here she presents her very English recipe for gooseberry crumble – yum!

And finally here’s the Bangers & Mash take on cooking with kids

So there you have it. If there isn’t an idea or two here that gets your creative juices flowing, well I’ll eat my hat. A paper hat festooned with sequins and glitter and feathers and googly eyes and Moshi stickers, naturally.

Vote for Bangers & Mash!

Did I mention I’m a finalist for in an exciting UK parent bloggers award? Well, it’s true!

I’m very, very excited. Only I feel a bit uncomfortable shouting about it. I’m hoping people will just vote for me without me having to do a big song and dance about it. That there are enough people who like what I do on Bangers & Mash.

But the thing is, I’d really, really like to win. So I’m going to have a quick shout if you don’t mind. If you like this blog, would you mind doing me a very lovely favour and vote for me? There’s only one week left til voting closes at 5pm (British Summertime) on Wednesday 6 June.

You can vote for Bangers & Mash in the Best Food Blog category of the MAD Blog Awards here. It only takes a couple of minutes. Please? Pretty please? OK now, I’m begging. That’s more than enough of that…

The aim of the MAD Blog Awards is to raise the profile of parenting blogs and bloggers, so please do take a look at the other finalists’ blogs – there is some amazing writing here – funny, helpful, thought-provoking, moving and inspiring. I’m only just realising how many incredible parent bloggers there are in the UK, and I feel very humble and priveledged to find myself in their company.

Finally if you fancy a laugh, here’s a great video put together by the MAD Awards organisers, featuring many of the finalists – including me. I’m the one in the hammock, paddling pool and trampoline! The theme of the video is parenting isn’t perfect – but blogging it can be.

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 3

Talk about highs and lows this week – more like the sublime to the ridiculous!

I just can’t stop smiling!

I haven’t come down from the ceiling since Thursday when I discovered I am a finalist for a national blogging award. Don’t worry, I won’t go on about it again here. I’ve been doing enough of that already on this blog and on Twitter, so suffice to say I am really rather chuffed.

I’m not the only spod in the family though. Just a few days earlier my daughter Jessie received a Blue Peter badge for a poem she had sent in. She’s already working out how to achieve her next one. I was a huge Blue Peter fan when I was little, so as you can imagine I’m a very proud mum…

But back to the food. I’ll get the hideous low out of the way first.

We had good friends over to stay at the weekend, who have really encouraged me in my blogging antics. There was a lot of good humoured banter in the week running up to their visit about high expectations of the culinary delights in store.

So I thought I’d impress them with a retro feast of posh ham, eggs and chips. While the home-baked ham was very good, my homemade chips were an absolute disaster. They completely disintegrated on attempting to serve. Wrong kind of potato possibly, or was the oven too hot or too cool? Serves me right trying to make my own chips for the first time instead of doing what I usually do and cooking the shop-bought frozen variety. At the last minute I had to send the lads out to the local fish and chips shop in order to salvage the meal. Whoops.

Thankfully though the ham got a big thumbs up. I did Nigella Lawson’s ham in cola again – I last tried it at Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it. I know it sounds crazy but baking a ham in coca cola is fantastic and you end up with a beautifully moist, smokey, almost barbecue-flavoured piece of meat.

My next high point in the kitchen was a potato, cabbage and smoked bacon soup. I accept it doesn’t sound exactly like food porn but it was incredibly tasty and very satisfying.

Another highlight was my oregano and roast tomato pizza. I slow roast the tomatoes for about five hours in the bottom oven of the Aga, giving them an incredibly intense flavour and gorgeously sticky, slightly chewy texture. Simply sublime.


So now time for the detailed meal plans. Oh and if you do have any tips for homemade chips (in the oven rather than a deep fat fryer), I’m all ears!

Monday 30 April
Lunch: butternut squash soup
Dinner: pasta with wild garlic pesto

Tuesday 1 May
Lunch: cheese and chutney rolls
Dinner: sweet potatoes stuffed with cream cheese and spring onions

Wednesday 2 May
Lunch: pitta bread with hummus and salad
Dinner: fish pie

Thursday 3 May
Lunch: wraps with carrot, sultana and coriander salad
Dinner: potato, cabbage and smoked bacon soup

Friday 4 May
Lunch: Thai-style cauliflower soup (F)
Dinner: chilli con carne

Saturday 5 May
Lunch: bread and cheese
Dinner: cola ham, egg and chips followed by raspberry chocolate mousse

Sunday 6 May
Lunch: pub lunch
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 7  May
Lunch: pasta salad
Dinner: oregano and roast tomato pizza

Tuesday 8 May
Lunch: salad wraps
Dinner: wild garlic pesto and spaghetti

Wednesday 9 May
Lunch: pitta bread, hummus and salad
Dinner: cous cous, courgette and broad bean salad

Thursday 10 May
Lunch: ham and salad rolls
Dinner: bangers and mash bake (recipe to follow)

Friday 11 May
Lunch: grilled chicken and rice salad with artichoke hearts
Dinner: mushroom omelette

Saturday 12 May
Lunch: slow roast beef, roast potatoes and vegetables, followed by rhubarb crumble
Dinner: bread and cheese

Sunday 13 May
Lunch: warm bean and potato salad with leeks and smoked bacon
Dinner: bread and cheese

F = from freezer

Thank you very much!

I need to say thank you to lots of people today but I don’t know who they are exactly.

I found out yesterday I’m a finalist in the MAD (Mum and Dad) Blog Awards 2012 in the Best Food Blog category. I was supposed to be working at home yesterday but I guess I was looking for distraction and found myself on the MAD website. When I saw a little screen shot of the Bangers & Mash blog on the MAD finalists page I literally started shaking with excitement and disbelief. Really? Me? But I’m not a proper blogger. I can’t compete with the big boys (and girls) – can I?

I was supposed to do so much work yesterday, my one day at home all week, but that all went out the window.

I called my Nana Barbara straight away because I had to tell somebody. Oh yes, I did call one of my best friends before her but that went to answer phone and I left a very silly garbled message involving lots of squealing. And then I called Nana because I knew she’d be in and because she is one of my food heroes. She’s probably the only person in my family who knows how to bake, and I love our conversations about food. And her reaction was just perfect. I’ll always be the little grand-daughter who loves to make her Nana proud.

But back to saying thank you. People had to nominate the Bangers & Mash blog in order for it to be considered for a MAD award. However I have no idea other than my closest friends and family members who actually did this, so I want to throw a big thank you out there and hope that if you did nominate me this reaches you.

Why oh why though, when I try to think of ways to say thank you, do I come back time and time again to this corny advert from the British 1980s TV vaults? This was an ad for Cadbury’s Roses chocolates and I know it’s cheesy but somehow it remains the perfect way to say thank you.

Those ad men in the 80s knew how to make an advert that would remain with you for the rest of your life didn’t they? My children embarrassingly know the words to the Finger of Fudge (a finger of fudge is just enough until it’s time to eat) and Club (if you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our club!) songs, despite never having seen the original adverts. And only last week I was having a nostaligia-ridden conversation on Twitter remember lyrics to the Um Bongo and Ki-Ora adverts. Ah, they don’t make ‘em like they used to ‘eh?

But as ever I’m waffling on. Thank you whoever and wherever you are for nominating me for the MAD Blog Awards. If you happen to want to show me some support yet again you can now vote for me to win the whole blooming category. But considering I’m in the last five from more than 130 nominations, I’m really rather chuffed with how far I’ve got already. I’ve got a posh awards ceremony in London to go to in September with cocktails and a three-course meal and everything, so to be honest I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!