We Came, We Saw, We Conker Pie’d…

Sorry, terrible pun. If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll see we’ve done a few bits with Higgidy pies, the latest being to let you know about their latest competition, to design a pie for them, as part of the Higgidy Recipe Hunt. Obviously we don’t get out of it, and lucky for us we were sent a Lakeland pie dish and blackbird, as well as a personalised rolling pin. So I can now officially reveal, our pie is a conker pie!

A conker pie?!” said most people, as we all know conkers are poisonous. So my disclaimer is, this pie does not contain conkers anywhere AT ALL. But H liked the name, and I’m sticking with it and it’s meant to look a bit like a pie which resembles a conker rather than actually being one.

Shaun is currently doing things dairy free, so you can adapt the Conker Pie recipe accordingly.

Conker Pie

For the pastry –
250g Plain Flour
110g Trex
a pinch of salt
some cold water.

Put the flour and salt in a bowl, and add the Trex (or butter) to the mixture, getting it into a breadcrumb-like consistency. Once you’ve achieved this, add the water to bind it all together, roll into a ball and wrap with clingfilm. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow it to rest.

For the filling –
2 sweet potatoes
3 carrots
one bag of chestnuts – I got Gefen whole chestnuts which come roasted and peeled.

peel and dice the sweet potato and carrot and lay on a baking tray. Roast for around 15-20 minutes. I sprayed them lightly with some Frylight. Slice the chestnuts and put into a frying pan, adding some light curry powder, some cumin and a bit of garlic. Stir together, and once the other vegetables are finished in the oven, add those to the mixture. Finally, get a tin of lentils and add to the mixture, making sure they’re well drained. (you could also use split peas – I forgot to soak them, so I’ll try that next time)

Roll out the pastry. I found it was quite crumbly, possibly due to using Trex instead of butter. Paul Hollywood would not be happy. Actually, we found ourselves saying many times “what would they do on Bake Off?” and remembering. I rolled it to around 0.5cm thickness, with a lot of patching together as it was fairly dry and crumbly.

The filling is ready, but don’t forget the blackbird – put it in the middle of the pie dish to let steam out while cooking, and add the filling around it. Place the rolled out pastry on top, and carefully trim the sides to fit the dish. We also did the fork pattern around the edges for extra conker pie prettiness.

Conker PieFinally, brush the top with milk (we used soya milk) and for the conker-like appearance, lightly fry some pine nuts in the frying pan used for mixing the vegetables until they’re slightly toasted, and put them onto the top of the pastry. Some stuck up and some fell over, but they had the spiky conker-like effect we were looking for.

Pop into the oven for 25 minutes at 180 degrees.

The Conker Pie should be a nice mixture of flavours and crunch without being too overbearing. The only thing I’d say went wrong with ours was the pastry – next time I’ll buy ready made which should make things a bit simpler. But overall it was a delicious pie, dairy free, and full of vegetables! Oh and it made for a nice Sunday dinner too… and there’s enough left for more tomorrow.

Conker Pie

We received some goodies from Higgidy for taking part in this challenge.

SCREAM! It’s Soreen!

It is always a good day when a box arrives in the post which has the word ‘Soreen’ printed upon it – I used to eat the regular malt loaf when I was a little one, and now H also loves the stuff. Even better, Soreen is low in fat and high in fibre, plus some are low in saturated fats – ideal if you’re like me and need to keep an eye on them due to cholesterol problems.

Soreen Scream

We’ve been sent a few new varieties, including the Toffee Apple Scream variety (which is also available in chocolate from most Asda stores) and the new Orange loaf, which is available from most Sainsburys stores (see link above).

I’ve never seen the Scream variety before – they’re in handy lunchbox size, and perfect for those snacks between school and heading out for an activity – and of course perfect fun for Halloween.. I’m now trying to think of a good way to use them on the big night… I quite fancy trying to coat the Orange Soreen in Milk Chocolate for Christmas… mmm!

Soreen Scream H

I allowed myself a whole slice of the Orange Soreen (well, I have pilates tonight so I won’t be eating until 8pm!) – I love that the loaves contain slow-release carbs, so I tend to stay fuller for longer – seeing as my rumbly stomach tends to sound like it’s singing…

Scream Soreen and Orange Soreen are available in stores now. Having been allowed to taste both by H (so kind…) I can confirm both are damn fine too – don’t leave it too late!

We were sent a selection of Soreen products – this review is just me letting you know they’re available, and is our own opinion.

After School Chefs with Birds Eye

Year 1 has kicked in properly now, which brings afternoons rushing home from school then heading out to various activities – and also that mad rush between finishing school, having a snack, going to an activity then having no more than twenty minutes to get the evening meal ready. We’ve always made a point of eating together as a family in the evening, so when Birds Eye started an After School Chefs challenge, I knew it was right up our street.

We’re lucky that H isn’t a fussy eater – she will generally eat whatever is put in front of her. I have a fairly set routine of food I cook which could do with a tweak. Fortunately Birds Eye are here to help. I was having a browse around the After School Chefs recipes and came across this one for Waffle Nachos – so simple and the perfect food when you’re in a rush. Even better, we have everything in our food cupboard. Here’s the recipe :

birds eye after school chefs waffle nachos

So how did we get back into our routine? It helps doing activities every night – the earliest one starts is 4.15, the latest 5pm. School dinners are on a three week rotation, so I need to make sure our evening meal is properly planned – I have three ‘meals not to cook’ lists so I can stay on top of things as last year I’d often put the food on the table only to find H had it during the day as well.

Towards the end of the week I have more time, so cook things which take a bit longer, for example, a risotto. The start of the week is quicker foods like stir fry, soup or spaghetti bolognese. I’ll often mix vegetables that cook quickly (like courgette) with frozen vegetables when I’m pushed for time.

We were given £20 in vouchers to try some Birds Eye foods to take part in the After School Chefs challenge – and from that I chose both types of potato waffles (large and small) – they’re low in saturated fat which is good for me with my cholesterol issues, plus they cook quickly. I chose some soya beans, petits pois and sweetcorn, as well as some field fresh vegetables which all come in resealable bags – handy as our freezer drawer often has stray vegetables tucked in the bottom thanks to badly fastened bags!

Birds Eye After School Chefs

Shaun chose some chicken and fish dishes from the Inspirations range for him and H to share. Being vegetarian I was disappointed that Sainsbury’s Cheam didn’t have any of the Birds Eye vegetable options in-store, considering what a huge store it is. The chicken cooked quickly and both Shaun and H ate it all, and confirmed it tasted delicious!

My top tips for quick meals after school –
– if you don’t have long to cook and get your meal to the table, don’t rule out frozen food. Frozen vegetables cook quickly – you could probably knock up a quick pasta dish in less than ten minutes. Even better, get your child to become one of the After School chefs and help! (supervised, of course)
– pre-bought food to prepare is always a quick option – pad it out with fresh vegetables if you feel like you need to add more. I often do that with my stir fry kits.
– If you have a few vegetable leftovers in the fridge, make a chilli – I always have some Taco Shells in the cupboard for chilli leftover emergencies!
– trying to fit in reading for school as well as making the meal, after getting in from some activity? Get your child to read at the table, where you can hear them – we have a hatch from our kitchen to the main room and will often do our daily read there. See also : practising recorder… that’s always handy when the dishwasher is on 😉

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page.

Crisp Sandwiches

It is National Crisp Sandwich week. This is a big deal for me, as a crisp sandwich is something which the Brooks family have as a tradition. Seabrook Crisps, my favourite ever brand of crisps have sent packets to bloggers in order to show off their own fabulous creations. This is mine.

Crisp sandwiches are for Tuesdays. This may sound a bit odd, but that’s how it is. We had a kind of routine with our food, passed down through the generations (well, two that I know of, anyway). These days Tuesdays are stir-fry days and I’m letting my northern roots down big time.

However, talk to me of a crisp sandwich and I’m taken back. My grannie (who died in 1985) used to swear by them, and indeed my Auntie still carries on the tradition. I think they’re both brilliant, and so while this doesn’t win any prizes, really, truly, this is the only way to make a crisp sandwich.

So what do you need? Simple. Two slices of freshly made bread, buttered. Lay the crisps on top evenly, and squash together. That is your sandwich. You don’t need more or less of that. It’s the simplicity of the crisps and butter and bread, the crunch. If you want flavour, choose Cheese and Onion. In my world there are no additions to this sandwich, as tradition dictates. If your crisps are a bit squashed that makes it even easier to cram more on to the bread as well.

crisp sandwich

Seabrooks were our main source of crisps back in the seventies in York. Sure, there were other brands, but us northerners knew which way our bread was buttered (and which potato snacks to put in them).

When a group of us from York moved to Bristol with work back in 1992, we ensured our vending machine had a supply of Seabrook crisps too, so I was able to continue the traditional crisp sandwich at work – you couldn’t buy them in shops in Bristol back then.

I remember being taken to a Cash & Carry in York by my mum and being greeted with a wall of Seabrooks. Obviously I bought a box, and my crisp sandwich addiction continued for as long as they lasted (so not very long at all). While some people are trying to modernise the humble crisp sandwich (by adding cheese and lettuce, guilty as charged), I feel it should be taken back a step, that tradition should continue as it was meant to be. Let the young ‘uns carry it on however they choose, but let them know where it began.

crisp sandwich

So here is my humble crisp sandwich. Unchanged over the years, probably kept the same since 1945 when Seabrooks first existed. No frills, no fuss, no fancy, but plenty of taste. The bread was freshly made this morning – you need your bread to be soft and fluffy and fresh for the maximum crisp sandwich experience. Yum! Oh, you could always serve it with some hummous, carrot and cucumber if you’re aiming for something a bit gourmet… maybe?

crisp sandwich

Happy National Crisp Sandwich week!

We were sent a pack of Seabrook Crisps for the purpose of this post. Everything written is completely true, much to my husband’s disgust. Tsk.

The Camping Cookbook

The Camping Cookbook is the latest book we’ve received from Parragon’s Love Food range.

The Camping Cookbook

The Camping Cookbook has over 70 recipes which are designed to be cooked when you go camping.

That’s our first stumbling block – with my back camping has been something we haven’t considered at all. Actually, next year I fully intend to do a festival – maybe Camp Bestival if I can get my act together (there was no way we could do it this year). My previous camping experiences have been the Reading Festival, so I’m no stranger to doing it – I just haven’t with a child.

Which is where this book comes in handy – Spicy Fried Eggs? It doesn’t look too tricky, though you need the right ingredients – whereas Campfire Quesadillas are fabulously simple and straightforward. If you want to get a bit more adventurous, how about Parsnip & Potato Rosti? Oh, and don’t rule out desserts either – Crunchy Ginger Apples have already caught my eye.

The Camping Cookbook - Campfire Quesadillas

All the recipes I’ve looked at involve a frying pan and gas stove – camping essentials which you’ll have anyway – they don’t take long and they’re that bit more adventurous than plain old fried egg with beans on toast. I have never made S’Mores, but looking at the Banana and Dark Chocolate S’mores recipe, I think even I could do it… that’s the beauty of this book – the recipes are nice and easy to try.

Would I use these for a festival? The more basic recipes, definitely. Would I use these if I was camping somewhere on a proper campsite? Definitely.

I love the shape of the book -plus it is packed with tons of ideas for breakfasts, mains, sides and desserts which is going to inspire me most of all. There is also guidance on meal planning, as well as camping advice such as essential equipment and where to pitch your tent. I know this is a book I’ll be turning to next year anyway!

The Camping Cookbook is available now!

We were sent The Camping Cookbook for the purpose of review as part of the Parragon Book Buddies group – all opinions are our own.

Chocolate Soreen Flapjack

As we’ve previously said on here, we’re big Soreen lovers in this house. Now school is almost up and packed lunches will be made for Holiday Club for H, I know we’ll be buying a lot more.

There’s one thing though. Soreen and I haven’t worked together creatively enough. (I do realise I need to instigate this, as Soreen is just a mere humble malt loaf whereas I am someone who makes and bakes things when I feel like it)

Fortunately, when the mood takes me there are often handy videos which make it seem like the kind of thing that anyone can do – and this one is no exception!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present a video for Chocolate Soreen Flapjack!

I’ve found Chocolate Soreen in my local Sainsburys and Tesco, but not the Local type stores unfortunately. As soon as I get some, Chocolate Soreen Flapjack is on the menu, oh yes indeedy.

For more Soreen recipes, head over here.

Loving my Salad Zinger

I recently bought a Salad Zinger on Amazon. I’d first come across them late last year when visiting the Science Museum and wished I’d bought one there and then. Now Summer is here and we’re eating lots of salads thanks to our Sarah Raven salad, so I splashed out!

Salad Zinger mint and lemon dressing

The Salad Zinger is very easy and straightforward to use, with several salad dressing suggestions included. I decided to go for the Lemon and Mint dressing as we grow our own mint, and I do like it in a salad.

You need (1) –

One Salad Zinger
Half a cup of fresh mint
One lemon
A cup of Olive Oil

You carefully take apart the salad zinger, remove the rind from the lemon and chop into cubes. Put into the grind cup and watch out for the blades as they’re sharp. (2)

Now, Shaun and I disagree on this next bit – I like my mint leaves solid, he’d prefer them chopped. I placed them onto the top of the grind cup, once the lid was safely on. (3)

To mix up the lemon simply screw the top of the Salad Zinger to the grind cup. The motion means the blades turn, mixing up the lemon (in this case). (4)

Finally, remove the top of the Salad Zinger and add the olive oil and salt. (5)

Give it a really good shake – don’t forget to put the stopper on the bottle though!

Leave to infuse for around half an hour – more than enough time to pick some salad leaves and get them washed and spinned. (6)

The verdict? It was good, so much nicer than shop-bought and didn’t take long to make. We’re going to get adventurous, as I can see a Caesar Salad recipe – hopefully we can make a vegetarian version. You’re not limited to salad dressings – dipping sauces, marinades or flavoured oils are easy to make too.

You can buy a Salad Zinger for around £25. They’re dishwasher friendly (top shelf) though Zing Anything recommend handwashing to maintain longevity of the product.

The Salad Zinger had a good seal on it, keeping it leak-proof as well. So far we’re impressed. So much so I’m going to be buying an Aqua Zinger as they look pretty special too!

this post contains an affiliate link

A Morrisons Summer Pudding

Morrisons have a price checker tool on their website, which helps identify low-priced everyday goods in-store. We got the ingredients together for a meringue treat for Shaun’s Fathers Day meal, so here are our Morrisons Summer Sweet Treats!

Fathers Day Meringue Sweet Treats

You need – Small meringue nests

Creme Fraiche

Fruit of any variety (we had cherries and blackberries as well as some tinned raspberries)

A chilled banana (important!)

sweet treats meringue nests

It’s a simple one to make, and one which Shaun took over what with it being his day, him being Australian and loving anything pavlova-esque.

Simply wash and prepare your fruit. We used the cherries and blackberries (which were on a multibuy deal) for the meringue decoration, so washed these. TOP TIP – to remove a cherry stone, use a piping nozzle – the larger the better and twist it into the cherry. It comes out every time and your cherry stays intact.

removing a cherry stone The creme fraiche doesn’t need any preparation as it’s nice and thick. We chose the Morrisons NuMe Less than 5% Creme Fraiche which comes in at 90p currently on the price checker. Spoon it onto the meringue nest carefully.

Add the fruit – we did two cherries and two blackberries, with the puree on top.

No meringue nest is complete without a fruity sauce to drizzle over the top, so I put the majority of the raspberries from a tin of Morrisons Raspberries in Juice into a blender and gave it a good whizz around. (which comes in on the price checker at £1.14) I like my purees to have a kind of ice cream type of texture, so added half of the chilled banana – it makes such a difference cold rather than straight from the bowl too. Blend again. Sweet Treats - meringue nests

Chill in the fridge until it’s time to eat.

Prep time is around five minutes, chill time as long as you want (though I’d make it as close as possible to when you plan to eat it), the meringues also lasted approximately five minutes too!

Morrisons Meringue Nest


So that’s our Morrisons Summer pudding.

I was quite pleased to see that Morrisons intend to start deliveries in London by the middle of this year – I’m signed up and ready for the alert – hopefully it’ll be soon!

This post is an entry for the #MorrisonsMum Summer Recipe eBook Challenge sponsored by Morrisons, which has recently cut prices on over a thousand every day products. Find out more here: price checker tool

belVita – Because Sometimes I’m a Bit Too Busy.

I seem to be constantly rushing around and finding I’ve run out of time to get things done – such as remembering to bake some bread for toast for my breakfast. It’s good to know there’s something out there which can help; belVita Breakfast Biscuits is their name, and you need to know more.


belVita breakfast biscuits come in thirteen flavours, which all release carbohydrates slowly over four hours. Slow release. I know a bit about that, having followed the GI diet a couple of times – one of those being when I had Gestational Diabetes. I had to look foods that release carbs slowly to help keep my blood sugars level – so a quick croissant is a no-no due to the sugar crash you’ll get. Slow-release carbs also make you feel fuller for longer too.

When you’re rushing around constantly from around 6.30 in the morning until 10 at night such as we often are, you often need a bit of help, which is where belVita comes in. I have a fine selection on my desk thanks to being sent some; some even have chocolate in – which is important when you crave chocolate as often as I do. To stop me going overboard the biscuits are wrapped in individual portion sizes. Too many people skip breakfast, and it’s probably the most important meal of the day.

Here’s a sample day in my week:

2.55pm arrive home from work. Leave bags at home, fill washing machine, set wash off, head to school pickup.
3.30pm – home from school, snack time. Read schoolbooks and get H changed out of her uniform and ready for her swimming lesson. Make sure we eat no food an hour beforehand.
4pm – The washload has finished need to get it out on the line. Put in another load. Check some work I needed to keep an eye on.
4.30 – Head out for swimming lessons. Forget to put talc in H’s swimming hat so rush inside and do it quickly.
5pm – swimming. H gets a couple of awards so we hang around afterwards to pick them up from reception.
6pm – back home again, washing done. Make dinner. Go upstairs to switch on water. Switch it on. Do something else. Think “I really must switch on the water” so go to switch it on, realise it has already been done. Go downstairs again. Curse myself for forgetting to switch on the water, so head back upstairs. Realise I’ve done it and I am losing the plot. Remember to cook dinner though.
6.30 – Shaun arrives home, I head out for a swim.
7.15 – get home again, put H and my swimming things in the wash. Eat the dinner I made at 6pm. Read emails for the day and reply to what I can in around ten minutes.
7.40 – dry H’s hair, get her into bed, cuddle with her for a bit.
8pm – Forget about dessert.
8.45 – watch The Amazing Race on YouTube via our new Chromecast. It’s much easier and nicer than cables from the laptop into the tv too. Too tired to think about anything else. Shaun is also too tired to think about anything else. Remember I forgot about dessert.
10pm – write up some blog posts I need to do.
11pm – bed.
6.30am – wake up and get ready for work.
7.15 – realise we have no bread as we’d forgotten to make some the previous night. Feel kind of relieved I have a good supply of belVita at my desk at work; the sensible place to leave them as otherwise Shaun would eat them all at home (in fact, just tonight he asked why I didn’t bring them home – for that VERY reason!)
8.10am – get into work, settle with a large cappucino from Costa and a belVita biscuit portion.
8.30 – start work, and I don’t feel hungry.
11.00am – I usually have my morning snack around now, but still feel full – result!

Belvita and Costa

This represents a typical day, where I’m constantly forgetting things in our daily lives (as is Shaun). Having belVita handy means I’m not buying croissants or sticky buns – which are always the till options when I’m buying my lunch.

belVita’s balanced breakfast would include the following – a belVita breakfast biscuit portion (they’re individually wrapped), a portion of fruit, a serving of dairy and a drink to hydrate. See? Not too tricky at all really!

You can follow belVita on Facebook. If you fancy trying them, they’re available in all supermarkets.

This post is an entry for the #morningstories linky challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at www.facebook.com/belVitaUK

We were sent three packs of belVita Breakfast Biscuits to try, all opinions are our own.

A Big Morrisons Shop

In the last few months a new store has opened near us on Fiveways Corner, Croydon; Morrisons. They’re a store I’m familiar with being northern, “More reason to shop at Morrisons” being the song which immediately comes to mind. They’ve never really existed down south until fairly recently, but now they do. They’ve also cut loads of their prices to make a shop more affordable for families with healthy basics. We were sent £80 in vouchers to try it out!


Morrisons at Fiveways Corner is huge! We decided to go on a Saturday morning – and I have to say, going to the supermarket is not something I do very often. I generally order my food online via Ocado, and have my weekly shop delivered – a lot of this is due to working five days a week so I don’t want to spend my time in the supermarket. Ocado recently went into partnership with Morrisons, and while they’re not yet offering online delivery in our area, it should happen soon.

shopping list

I wrote a list – mainly so I wasn’t led astray by food, as that tends to happen every time I enter a supermarket. It can be so distracting sometimes! That and I wasn’t sure exactly what Morrisons had in-store and whether I could get it.

As we entered the store we arrived in Market Street – and wow! My favourite supermarkets are ones where the food is fresh, well stocked, well replenished and kept fresh (by misting) – like what I’ve seen in Australia where you want to try everything on offer as it looks so good. Market Street reminded me so much of this, and we easily spent the most time here. H chose a yellow courgette and a purple pepper to try – and I was impressed with a wide selection of fruit or veg being 69p or three for £1.50 – without skimping on quality. Comparing that to my weekly shop, I’d say it’s a better price. You need to look out for the yellow markers in-store, which clearly mark the permanent price reductions – or just check the price cuts here.

Morrisons Market Street

The aisles were spaced out well with plenty of room to see what was on offer – there was an entire banana row! We liked the fresh herb section, and had mint and basil on our list, though there was no basil out. I could have asked a member of staff but chose to go for the planted herbs instead.

There were recipe cards around the Market Street for various things (including cheese straws with cranberry) which we’re going to try – I do like these kind of things as if they’re easy enough I’ll give them a try.


Shaun and H chose some meat – and we’re planning a barbecue this weekend so chose accordingly – some chicken drumsticks and a rump steak on offer at half price (I wouldn’t know where to start having been vegetarian for over 30 years but there were plenty of staff who would have been able to help me).

We wanted a pizza night on Saturday night, and H was able to create her own – with a multibuy deal on offer. It was so much quicker than making it ourselves plus she loved choosing her own toppings – meaty ones of course; “you can have some of mine mummy” she told me, until I reminded her I don’t eat meat.

Morrisons pizza counter

When we got to the wine section we were on the hunt for Western Australian wine which proved difficult to find – though the other regions are well covered. This is a common problem in British supermarkets, so not unique to Morrisons! We settled on a couple of bottles, one red and one white which were reasonably priced at £4.99 each and were good quality. I would have preferred the wine to have been broken into countries as they were all mixed up, but ultimately we found something we liked anyway.

The frozen aisle had a good selection – especially in the vegetarian part. We don’t buy a lot of frozen food apart from Quorn products, and Morrisons had a fine selection.


After that it was general groceries – and see if what we wanted had multibuys available. We followed the list faithfully and ended up with a few items we couldn’t locate. A pleasant surprise was having bags of compost at the checkouts – which was on the list! (wish we’d done the deal though as Shaun had to buy more today)

morrisons gardening

There was a good selection of clothes for all ages, and toys – we were able to get two tubs of Playdoh for 99p each (as H seems to love leaving the lid off hers… sigh!). The clothes area had a handy size chart – when you’re tall like H, a lot of brands have clothes which come up way too short, and remembering how tall she is as well as everything else is another thing my memory refuses to retain, so this was really helpful.

So… how much did our massive Morrisons shop come to?

Morrisons checkout

This much!

final price

Which is one of the reasons I don’t go to supermarkets too often – I spend more than I intend to! Having said that, we got things we need, and we’d have bought wine from a different store so it was a similar amount to what we’d spend on our weekly shop (as I don’t buy meat – that’s up to Shaun as I won’t cook it and we’re not going to be buying compost any more).

My overall opinion of Morrisons? I would shop there again. One thing I forgot to add to my list (and look for) was Seabrook Crisps. I can only hope as a Leeds-based company they have an entire aisle of them! For me, spending over an hour of my family time at the supermarket is something I probably wouldn’t do very often, however, once Ocado/Morrisons online shopping becomes available in our area I would definitely consider changing – the cost is lower than what we currently pay at Ocado.

We were really happy with the food we bought and have had some tasty meals this weekend.

We were sent £80 in Morrisons vouchers to do a weekend shop. We certainly did just that, and all opinions are my own and honest. Thank you Morrisons and Britmums for the vouchers!