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Family Time: Review of the Hape Camper Van Walker

It’s never easy to decide what to buy for your little ones to help their development. There is so much available now that inevitably you will end up with some baby-related paraphernalia that is hardly touched or not even used at all.

One of the things that has definitely helped Phoebe with her development is a baby walker. I’m not talking about the controversial kind that you put the baby inside of, I mean a push-along walker that helps with balance and taking steps, as well as pushing and pulling. We received a first steps walker as a Christmas gift for Phoebe but she quickly outgrew it, so when I saw the Camper Van walker from Hape, I knew it would be a perfect replacement as it was a bit more ‘grown-up’.

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Phoebe is a confident walker so the Hape Camper Van isn’t needed to help develop that skill, but she loves pushing and pulling it along, and practising her driving skills with it. Her new favourite noise is “beep-beep” which she recites as she is racing her walker around the house! She also loves putting her toys and teddies inside the wagon which you can see in the photos. Not only does this makes it more challenging to push, it’s a fun way to transport her toys around with her (for mummy to retrieve from random hiding places later on!).

Suitable from 12 months, the Hape walker is beautifully made, as with everything in the Hape range. We absolutely adore their wooden toys in our house (have a look at my blog post on the recommendations from their range) and I also applaud their commitment to sustainability. Their toys are all lovely quality and are fun, colourful and engaging for little people.

You can buy the Hape walker on Amazon – as with most of my links this isn’t an affiliate link, it’s just to try and be helpful if you fancied the look of the Hape Camper Van walker. I would highly recommend it if you do!
Sarah

I was kindly sent the Hape Camper Van Walker for the purposes of this review. As always my reviews are honest and are not influenced by the provision of free products.

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Out & About: The new menu at the Hyatt Regency, Birmingham

If you’ve ever had the pleasure/misfortune* (*delete as you see fit) of working away from home for a large event such as a Conference, you’ll probably understand my next point a little too well. Essentially you see the inside of the conference venue and your hotel room before you peel yourself out of your shoes and into bed, and that’s pretty much it. I’ve spent many a long day running between the ICC and the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham for this very reason, but have never been able to really enjoy the hotel. So when I was invited for lunch to try out the new menu in the Aria restaurant, I jumped at the chance. I love the lobby and atrium area of the hotel where Aria is situated, and couldn’t believe my luck that I would be one of the first to sample the new delights from their kitchen team.

We visited on a rather drizzly day, but once we walked into the bright and airy hotel lobby, our spirits lifted as it is such as lovely space. The new décor is warm and inviting, based on a Secret Garden theme, so think greenery, greenery and more greenery. We were treated to a glass of fizz from their new (very chic) island bar, which was a glass of sparkling English wine from producer Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. I opted for the Rosé, and I was pleasantly surprised. I am normally a bit sniffy about English wine, but this was fresh and delicate, without the bitterness which I tend to associate English wine with.

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Aria Menu Launch Table PlaceWe settled into our seats in the restaurant amongst the foliage, and spent some time looking through the menu. It was a really hard choice as I would have tried everything if I could, it all sounded delicious and right up my street; creative with attention to detail, but not overly fussy or pretentious (I’m sure I sound rather hard to please with this statement!). The revamped menu has used influences from the book, The Secret Garden (which as I mentioned earlier is reflected in the décor) so relies on fresh and seasonal ingredients, and offers interesting and appealing flavour combinations.

I finally decided on scallops for starter and duck for main course, which are two of my absolute favourites. The scallops arrived beautifully presented on a bed of cauliflower puree, and sprinkled with chorizo crumb. I rapidly took a photo so I could get stuck in! They were succulent and meaty, and the robust flavours of cauliflower and chorizo really complemented the delicate taste of the scallops. It was also served with crispy greens which were delicious – overall it was an amazing starter and left me very excited about my main course.

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The duck was served with kumquats and cherries, which were plump and gently cooked, so they still had a nice bit of bite. They worked amazingly well with the richness of the duck. I was also super impressed by the amount of duck that was served; three thick and hearty slices, which were cooked slightly pink, so very tender and juicy. Served with celeriac puree, it truly was a delight.

20180911_134012It would have been rude not to have a dessert, even though I was fit to bursting (this is a good sign for me – sometimes I feel upscale food can actually be a bit stingy with the portions. I know this is the way it can be intended, but if I’m paying for a meal, I expect to at least go home feeling full and not having to scour the fridge for something to fill the noticeable hole in my tum. Anyway, I digress…). I plumped for the blueberry cheesecake which was not only a bit of beauty on a plate, but tasted damn fine too. It was light and creamy, and the blueberry flavour had just the right balance to not be too overpowering or sickly.

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I’m sure from this review readers will be able to tell that I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at the Aria restaurant at the Hyatt Regency, and was very impressed by the quality of the ingredients, as well as the interesting and unique flavours in each dish. I particularly loved the duck as the kumquats and cherries tasted absolutely divine with the meat and I would have that dish again and again on future visits. My husband and I are already planning when we can go for a meal there as I talked so much about the food he wants in on the action!

I would suggest budgeting around £80-£100 for two people, for three courses each and drinks. I think this is comparable and perhaps lower than many of the fine dining experiences in Birmingham, and I can attest to the quality and deliciousness of the food, and say that without a doubt a visit to Aria is worth the money. When you’re next heading into Birmingham for a meal and want something that little bit special, I would highly recommend trying Aria as I’m confident it will delight.
Sarah

I was invited to the Aria restaurant by the marketing team at the Hyatt Regency where food and drink were provided free of charge for the purposes of this review. As always my reviews are honest and are not influenced by the provision of free products. I absolutely loved the food and cannot wait to go back. 

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Enjoying family time outdoors with Anthisan

Phoebe really enjoys being outdoors and playing outside, which I think is lovely and something I want to embrace before she hits the age where TV and computer games are much more appealing! I’ve always worried though that my aversion to bugs and creepy crawlies (particularly spiders) will transfer onto Phoebe, and she’ll grow up with the same phobias I have. My husband is also quite frightened of wasps – which I know lots of people are – and again this is something I don’t want Phoebe to face.

So when I heard Anthisan were running a campaign to get families out and about in the fresh air, and teaching little ones about bugs and more importantly not to be afraid of them, I was really excited to get on board and help promote the idea.

Anthisan is a bite and sting cream so it’s worth popping in your bag when you’re out and about. It’s an antihistamine which essentially inhibits histamine release, the main cause of pain and inflammation from a bite or sting. It can be used for ages 2 and up, so Phoebe is still a little bit young, but it will no doubt become a must-have when she’s older. Being stung is pretty horrible (I’ve encountered two wasp stings) so having something on hand to help is a good idea.

As part of their campaign, we were sent a bug hunting kit and a bug identification guide. This is fab as I really don’t know much about bugs other than your usual suspects, so it will be great to learn together with Phoebe. She already enjoys looking through the pictures in the book which is a lovely thing to do with her. We are off to Devon next week for a little family break, so I’ll be sure to take our kit and get out exploring together.

You can read more about Anthisan over on their website, and they have some really fun activities on there too, such as their Build a Bug game (design your own bug, name it and share it!).

Do you go bug hunting with your little ones?
Sarah

The book and bug hunting set were sent to me as part of Anthisan’s campaign. I was not required to publicise the website but felt it would be useful for readers, as well as sharing the activities and games on their site which I thought were a nice touch.

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Baby-friendly recipes: No-added sugar banana and blueberry muffins

When we started weaning Phoebe (over a year ago, where does it go?!) we felt quite strongly that we wanted to keep her sugar intake to a minimum. That’s easier said than done when healthy and important food groups such as fruit and milk contain sugar, but we were keen to do our best to find alternatives to foods with added sugar. This is how I ended up finding suckies yoghurts (read all about why I love these yoghurts!) and also spent many an hour scouring the internet for healthy, no-added sugar, snack and pudding recipes.

I found some great ideas which I took bits of and adapted for myself (which I usually do, I’m clearly not good at just following instructions!). One of Phoebe’s favourites has been these blueberry and banana muffins. They are easy to make and great for using up fruit which has gone a bit soft.

To make 12 muffins you will need:

  • 2 medium bananas or 1.5 larger bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 160g self-raising flour
  • Approx 100g blueberries (if you’re using up fruit and have a bit more or less that will be fine too)

What to do:

  1. Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases (I have 2 trays with 6 each!) and preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Melt the butter – I tend to do this in the microwave and then use the same bowl for the rest of the recipe, but melting over a low hob heat would work too.
  3. Add the bananas into the melted butter and mash them together. Add the eggs and beat all the wet ingredients together. Now add the flour.
  4. Next, you mix in the blueberries. These can either be left whole as they will soften during the cooking process, or chop them roughly into smaller pieces if you prefer a smoother textured muffin (this might be better for younger little ones).
  5. Spoon an equal amount into each muffin case and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check them with a skewer and if the middle still needs a bit longer give them another 5 minutes.

And that’s how simple it is. Hopefully your kiddies will love them as much as Phoebe does and you can feel happy that you’ve made something so yummy!

What are you tips for reducing sugar intake?
Sarah

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Review & Giveaway: bakerdays letterbox cake

I love gifts that come through your letterbox. No more worrying about whether your parcel will delivered to the neighbours or shoved behind your wheelie bin, or how you will find the time to go and pick it up from the post office.

So when I found out about bakerdays, a company which makes and distributes personalised cakes, I was immediately drawn to their letterbox cakes. A personalised cake sent directly to someone’s door, and through their letterbox – what a fab idea!

My mum has recently started looking after our daughter two days a week since I have gone back to work, and while I know she is more than happy to do it, I also think it’s important to recognise the time she is giving up for us. Grandparents are definitely filling in the childcare needs of many working parents, especially with the astronomical cost of nursery. Even with two of us working full time, sending Phoebe to nursery more than 3 days a week would be simply unaffordable.

To say a big thank you, I thought a yummy cake sent to her door would be a perfect sign of our appreciation.

I hopped onto the bakerdays website and had a look through their amazing range of letterbox cakes. They offer cakes for tonnes of different occasions including birthdays, anniversaries and congratulations. I selected their thank you cake, and opted for the classic floral design, with the personalised message ‘thank you nanny’.

My mum is a fan of lemon drizzle cake, so when I saw that was one of the flavours on offer, I knew it would be a great choice. You can also choose traditional sponge, half chocolate-half sponge, and rich chocolate chip. There are also gluten free and dairy free options, which is great for those with specific dietary requirements.

I placed my order with bakerdays and selected a date when I knew I would be seeing my mum. Under normal circumstances I would have sent it directly to her address, but as I wanted to infiltrate the parcel to take blog photos I sent it to myself. I didn’t eat any of the cake though! I insisted she take it home to eat in peace and quiet as it was her treat.

The cake arrived on the day I had chosen and it did indeed slip straight through the letterbox. I opened the box to find a lovely tin inside, declaring its contents with an ‘mmm, cake’ slogan. I thought this was a really nice touch as the tin can be kept for storing more goodies in the future. There was also a card contained within the package.

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The cake was decorated exactly how the picture showed, with the text I had requested. So once I’d taken my snaps I presented my mum with the beautiful cake, which she was really delighted with. She was very touched and also very happy to have cake!

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She reported back that the cake itself was delicious, not overly lemony but certainly a very pleasant flavour and a nice light cake. She also told me that it is a lovely idea and a very thoughtful present. So a ringing endorsement for bakerdays – keep up the good work!

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Now two pieces of exciting bakerdays news – firstly, you can win yourself (or someone you want to treat) a bakerdays letterbox cake, woohoo! I’ve teamed up with bakerdays to give one lucky reader a chance to win a cake through their door. Just enter below via Rafflecopter before the 10rd June.

Secondly, if you’re not chosen as the lucky winner (who will be randomly selected) you can still win with a 15% off discount code, especially for readers of this blog. Simply use the code FULLFLAVOUR15 when making your purchase. It’s a great way to treat yourself or someone special with a delicious, personalised cake for any occasion.

Click here to enter with Rafflecopter

Thanks for reading and good luck in the competition!
Sarah

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Family Time: Why we love…The Collective Dairy Suckies yoghurts

Let’s face it, being a parent is hard. I’m sure we have all had moments where we question if we are doing a good job, wondering if we are doing the best for our children, and fretting about decisions we have made.

Well that’s me a lot of the time. I’m the first to admit that I’m a natural worrier anyway and since having Phoebe there have been countless times that I stress myself out over even the smallest of things.

One is her food. Will she grow up to be a good eater? Will she be fussy? Is she eating enough vegetables? What about fruit? Too much or too little? You get the picture.

But sometimes there are food brands that I discover that make such a positive impact on our daily lives, regardless of how small, that I feel having a blog is a great place to sing their praises and advocate them to other mums and dads. So I’ve decided to start a new series of blog posts, called ‘Why We Love…’. Today, it’s the star turn of The Collective Dairy and their Suckies yoghurts.

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Phoebe has always loved yoghurt; it’s one of the few things I could get her to eat in the early days of weaning. It also became a really important snack for her when we started transitioning her away from daytime milk feeds as my return to work drew closer. You can find my blog post about snack ideas here. I was fastidious about choosing yoghurts (and other snacks for that matter) that had no added sugar. I think there are going to be so many occasions in the future where Phoebe will end up having sugar, that finding food which doesn’t rely on it for flavour is really important.

Our absolute favourite became The Collective Dairy Suckies range. Here are three reasons why:

  1. They are made with whole milk yoghurt and fruit, with no added sugar. Repeat, no added sugar. After all, why is this needed when you can sweeten with fruit? The ingredients are all natural, which again is a big bonus. And the whole milk yoghurt is filling, and has lots of the fats needed for transitioning from milk to solid food.
  2. The packaging is great. The handy pouches are great for meals away from home, and are perfect for getting some food into Phoebe if she’s in an ‘I don’t want to eat from a bowl or with a spoon’ mood. She’s also enamoured with the dog on the pouch and will gaze at it lovingly while tucking into her yoghurt.
  3. They are genuinely delicious. On many occasion I have ended up eating a spoonful if Phoebe hasn’t finished everything or to show her how it’s done. And I have to say they are really tasty yoghurts. It makes me wonder why so many ‘grown-up’ yoghurts are unnecessarily loaded with added sugar. The blueberry, raspberry and peach flavours are the biggest hits with Phoebe, and you can also choose from banana and raspberry.

Suckies are available in all major supermarkets, we buy ours from Ocado or Sainsburys. They are around 75p each and I know Ocado quite often has a multibuy deal. You can find your nearest stockist with their handy store locator or you can email The Collective Dairy at hello@thecollectivedairy.com to find out where to buy.

As a lovely brand they have a kids page over their website which includes some fun activity sheets for little ones. There is lots of encouragement for getting your kids involved physical activity too, in partnership with triathletes the Brownlee Brothers and their Foundation, which they set up to give children all over the UK a positive sporting experience. By the way, I googled the Brownlee brothers and remembered seeing the coverage of them from 2016, of Alistair helping his brother Jonny over the finishing line of a race in Cozumel, Mexico, even though it meant him losing the chance to win the race. Which is pretty nice, isn’t it?

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So a big thanks to The Collective Dairy for helping me find my feet along the sometimes bumpy path of weaning.

Have you tried The Collective Dairy? Do your little ones love them too?
Sarah

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Family time: Snack ideas for weaning babies

Weaning can be an *interesting* process. I personally found it a little confusing when I was trying to figure out how to transition Phoebe from milk to solid foods, as there is so much information out there. And there are lots of conflicting opinions. A friend recently told me that she attended a class where the advice was that babies need to be on three meals a day two weeks after starting solids! This might work for some babies, but my gut instinct (and certainly evident in my daughter) is it takes time to build up to three meals.

As my return to work approached and I wanted to gradually reduce breastfeeding so I was only doing a feed before bed, I found that it worked well to replace her mid-morning and mid-afternoon feeds with healthy snacks. I appreciate that extended breastfeeding works for some families, but for us my return to work was the right time to finish breastfeeding. So at 9 months I worked on dropping the mid-morning feed, and at 10 months I replaced the mid-afternoon feed. It helped me to pre-plan Phoebe’s snacks so that I knew she would have something she enjoyed, and help to make the transition to no daytime feeds easier.

We were pretty lucky that she adapted quickly to the change in routine, and I feel that choosing snacks wisely helped this process. I wanted to share some of the snacks that worked for us, hoping that they may be helpful for other parents undertaking weaning and looking for ideas to help the process. This post focuses on my favourite shop-bought snacks, which certainly helped us through this crazy journey called parenthood when there just seem to be a million and one pressures on your time.

I appreciate plenty of parents out there prefer to stick to homemade food, and I will be adding some posts on homemade snacks over the next few weeks, so watch this space…

Kiddylicious wafers, veggie and cheesy straws

downloadDefinitely one of Phoebe’s favourite brands, there are plenty of healthy options within the Kiddylicious range. Just make sure you check the age recommendations on them, as they vary from product to product. Phoebe started out on the wafers when she was about six months, she enjoyed both the blueberry flavour and the carrot and apple ones.download

We still offer the wafers to Phoebe from time to time, but generally she wants something more substantial. She now really enjoys the veggie and cheese straws, which are truly yummy (occasionally mummy pinches some for herself!) and she likes being all grown up and helping herself from the packet. You can buy them in packs of four for £2, which isn’t bad value at all as one packet can last 2-3 snack times for her.

Organix

When Phoebe was younger she used to like the Organix carrot sticks and sweetcorn rings, in fact some meals they were all she would eat (the source of much angst for this mama). Now she’s a bit older she seems less fussed by these but it still a huge fan of lots of the Organix range (we have their porridge and cereal).

downloadWhen it comes to snacks, one of her favourites is the Organix Oaty Bar. She particularly loves the strawberry and apple, and also tucks into the carrot cake ones. I’ve also recently been buying the mini oaty bites, which are a great size if she only needs something small (either she had a later lunch or we are having tea a bit earlier).

 

Also in the Organix range are apple and date bars, which again are a big hit with Phoebe.

Collective Dairy Suckies

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I’m a big fan of these yoghurts as they don’t contain any added sugar, the sweetness comes from fruit puree and juice. Phoebe’s favourite flavours are blueberry and strawberry, but they also come in peach, raspberry and banana.

The other benefit of these yoghurts is that they’re made with whole milk, so they contain the important fats that Phoebe needs at this age. They were also a great alternative to breastmilk when I was weaning her, as they seemed to be more filling for her than some other yoghurts. We tend to use these for desserts now instead of snacks, primarily because she likes to feed herself and it gets very messy if she is having a snack in the living room!

Check out more about this progressive brand over on my first ‘why we love’…post.

Ella’s Kitchen 

imagesFor several months Phoebe adored Ella’s Kitchen melty puffs, in all flavours. As she got older she moved onto the melty hoops, which are suitable from 10 months upward. I think she liked the challenge of picking up something smaller and trying out her fine motor skills. I used to put a handful in a bowl for her and she would eat them very earnestly :o).

I haven’t bought anything from the brand lately but I’ve seen they offer plenty for older tots, and given how much Phoebe liked their snacks before I would definitely give them a try.

And some other ideas:

  • Crumpet with butter
  • Toast fingers with peanut butter or marmite (but only a small smattering as marmite is quite salty)
  • Fruit – Phoebe particularly likes blueberries; we cut them into quarters or halves
  • Cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
  • Cow and Gate banana yoghurt; again this does not contain any added sugar only fruit and yoghurt
  • Mini bagels lightly toasted with butter or jam (I only use St Dalfour as it doesn’t have any added sugar, it’s made purely from fruit. This doesn’t mean it’s not sugary – it is as fruit is naturally quite high in sugar – so we only have this very occasionally as a treat).

Every baby is of course different, so what works for one won’t for another. But hopefully this post provides some tried and tested ideas, to help you navigate the weaning process. Best of luck and remember, there will be ups and downs but surely all of us get there in the end :o)
Sarah

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Out and About: Review of The White Swan, Birmingham

The White Swan in Edgbaston is a very well-renowned establishment in these leafy suburbs of Birmingham. I’ve spent many a happy hour there either having a drink or two, or dining with friends and family. I last went there in the summer before my daughter had started solids – since then, we tend to stick to less refined places as I’m sure other diners would not want to witness the complete carnage meal time can be with an 11-month-old.

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When I was invited to check out the place following it’s recent refurbishment, I was intrigued to see the changes that had been made. Not that there was anything particularly obvious that needed updated, but it never hurts for places to have a refresh every now and again.

Roping in my mother-in-law for a spot of babysitting, my husband and I headed off for an adults-only lunch. While we absolutely adore our daughter, there is something nice about just having a few hours to chat and relax, without the need for the constant entertainment of a little one. It was also lovely to head out of the door without having to make sure I had my giant mum-bag filled with toys, nappies, wipes, snacks, and all the paraphernalia required for even just two hours away from home.

Arriving at the White Swan I was pleased to discover parking is now free again. For a while you had to pay to park (only a pound I think, which was refundable with a purchase in the pub) but as someone who never has change, I found this to be a bit of a faff.

We were shown to our table which was in the corner of the restaurant, so I had a good view of the refurbed space. The new decor is very chic while also feeling homely. Overall, a great new look.

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Onto the food. As it’s not very often we get to slow down and take our time over our food, we went for 3 courses. I started with deep fried brie, which was delicious. Oodles of gooey cheese wrapped in crispy panko breadcrumbs, with an apricot and cumin chutney which offset the buttery richness of the brie.

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I followed up with the lobster and crab fishcakes teamed with a side of sweet potato fries. On reflection I didn’t really need the fries as the fishcakes were filling enough, although I still managed to tuck into them as they were cooked beautifully – super crispy with a sprinkling of parmesan. The fishcakes were very tasty, perhaps a bit heavy on the potato for my liking, but very enjoyable and I would have them again.

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When it came to dessert I was pretty stuffed so I opted for one of their mini desserts with a coffee. I chose their chocolate brownie with a decaf latte, and personally I think it’s still a generous portion. I was also pleased the decaf latte was enjoyable, as decaf coffee drinks can sometimes be a bit tasteless compared to a fully caffeinated version.

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I was happy with my choice but I do have to say my husband’s dessert was a showstopper. Being a chocolate lover, he was instantly drawn to the melting golden chocolate orange bomb. It’s teamed with praline ice cream and chocolate popping candy, and the server pours hot Belgian chocolate sauce over the bomb at the table. It is spectacular to watch it melt and reveal the inside of the chocolate bomb! The perfect food theatrics without being too pretentious. I didn’t manage to get a before shot, but here it is in all its melty glory.

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Having had the lobster and prawn pot followed by a steak, James said this was his favourite course. While it wouldn’t have been for me, I can see why he loved that dessert so much.

To sum up, we had a lovely meal; good food in a relaxing and welcoming environment. I really liked the new decor and look forward to visiting again soon.
Sarah

Thanks to McCann Erickson for inviting me to sample the menu at The White Swan, where food and drink were provided free of charge for the purposes of this review. As always my reviews are honest and are not influenced by the provision of free products. 

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Baby-friendly Chicken Casserole

At nearly 9 months Phoebe has certainly become more adventurous with her food, as well as dropping more of her milk feeds so she is hungrier for solids. As I mentioned in my Vonshef slow cooker review, I want to get her used to eating the same as us so once I’m back at work we can all eat together. It will also be easier if I can just prepare one meal for the three of us instead of two different meals.

So I put together a baby-friendly chicken casserole recipe based on my previous experience and some ideas I found in a slow cooker recipe book. It’s very low in salt so it is ideal for babies up to a year old. I didn’t try Phoebe on this until she was over 8 months, but each parent knows their own baby best and can judge when they are ready for something like this.

These quantities made two good dinner portions for me and my husband, a smaller portion for Phoebe and a leftover portion which was another lunch.

You will need:

  • 6-8 portions of chicken, dependant on your appetite. I used one and half chicken breasts for my husband as he’s not that keen on other cuts, and for Phoebe and I, I used 6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large potatoes or 4 smaller ones
  • 200g pack of mushrooms
  • 1 onion (I personally prefer red but white would do fine)
  • 250ml of chicken stock – I used a Boots stock cube suitable for babies, which contains limited salt
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs, alternatively you could use 1 tsp oregano, 1 sprig of rosemary and 1 bay leaf
  • Optional 1 additional stock cube

What to do:

  1. Peel the carrots and slice into rounds. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks; if using a large potato then about 6 chunks will be fine, smaller ones can go into three or four pieces.
  2. Chop the onion into small pieces and cut the mushrooms into halves.
  3. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker, spread along the bottom of the pot.
  4. Put the chicken pieces on top and then cover with the stock. Add a bit more water if necessary.
  5. Add the herbs and the tomato puree.
  6. Put the lid onto the slow cooker and if you have an auto setting, then switch to this. If not, use high if you have 6-7 hours to cook your casserole, or low if you have around 8-10 hours.
  7. Leave your slow cooker to do the work.
  8. If you want to thicken up the sauce at any point, you can mash one of the potatoes into the juice, or use a teaspoon of cornflour.
  9. Once your casserole is ready, remove a portion for baby. If you want to, you can then add the normal stock cube and cook for another hour. I would highly recommend this as it does add to the flavour; the baby stock cubes are fine but a little blander than we are probably used to.
  10. Serve in bowls and enjoy the hearty meal.

I hope this helps you on your weaning journey. What is your baby’s favourite meal?
Sarah

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Reviews: VonShef slow cooker

I’m well aware I’m becoming a bit of a bore on my blog, talking about how things are different in our household since having our daughter. But it’s so true! One thing that is certain is I have less time to prep and cook elaborate meals. While ready meals and ‘slam in the oven’ food was super helpful for the first few months with a newborn, for me it was soon time to get back to home cooked fodder.

I’d been toying with the idea of getting a slow cooker for a while, as I imagined it would help me cook healthy and tasty meals with ease. Also now Phoebe is on solid food, I wanted to get her eating what we are having sooner rather than later, so once I go back to work we can all eat together without me having to make two different meals.

With this in mind, when I was kindly offered the Vonshef 6.5l electric slow cooker to try out, I jumped at the chance. The 6.5l version is a good size for us, as the plan is once I am more experienced with a slow cooker I can cook larger portions and freeze half for another day.

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I’d always imagined slow cookers to be clunky and old fashioned, but the Vonshef version I have is rather stylish. Not that my kitchen is particularly modern or very well co-ordinated, but the slow cooker certainly doesn’t look out of place sitting on the work surface. If you had plenty of cupboard space you could pop it away when not in use, but with our limited kitchen storage I’ve decided to just leave ours out.

I like that the Vonshef cooker has fast, slow and auto settings. The first time I used it, I fiddled around a bit too much and kept changing it from slow to fast, so the next time I set it to auto and let the cooker do the hard work. This will be perfect for when I am back at work as I won’t be here to mess with it all day!

My first two cooks in it have been chicken casserole (you can read the recipe here). To make life easy for myself, I prepped my vegetables the night before I was making my casserole once Phoebe had gone to bed, and then in the morning just popped everything into the slow cooker. It cooked everything beautifully; the vegetables were soft but not falling apart, and the chicken was tender and moist. My husband loved the casserole and my daughter tucked in as well, which was lovely to see as it was her first taste of chicken.

Something to note is that as I was making a portion for my 8-month-old, normal stock cubes are too salty for little ones. I used a Boots baby stock cube to start with, then once I had taken out a portion for her, I added a normal stock cube and left it to cook for another hour or so.

The slow cooker is pretty easy to clean too, what I would say is don’t leave it too long before you wash it out though as it will be harder work. But with a good scrub the pot and lid came up nice and clean, ready for the next use.

For anyone who wants to cook homely meals with ease, I would definitely suggest investing in a slow cooker. And, having tried it for myself, I can highly recommend the Vonshef electric slow cooker. It does everything you need it to, and with a price tag of just £34.99 you can’t go wrong.

For more information you can view the slow cooker on Domu’s website.

Would you consider getting a slow cooker?
Sarah