Friday, 26 September 2014

Guest Post - Recipe For Chicken Tikka and Quark Rice

Today I have a lovely guest post recipe from Joanna Victoria. Joanna is 24, married to Stuart and a mummy-to-be expecting their little bundle in December. 

I am sharing with you a very yummy and healthy recipe using one of The Lake District Dairy Co Cooking sauces. I have been trying out some very yummy recipes over the week trying out the three yummy flavours: 
- Garlic and Herb 
- Tikka
- Tomato and Basil 

The Tikka and Tomato and Basil flavors will be out sometime this autumn and the Garlic and Herb one is already out in supermarkets across the UK. Today I'll be sharing my recipe of Chicken and rice in a Tikka sauce.

So onto the recipe:

Serves 4 (382 Kcals each) 

You will need: 
- 1 tsbp vegetable oil 
- 400g of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cubed) 
- 1 red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 200g of basmati rice 
- 250ml chicken stock
- 50g raisons 
- 200g of Lake District Tikka cooking sauce
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander
- 2 tbsp toasted almonds (flaked) 

1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil, then add the chicken and stirfry over a high heat until it starts to brown. 
2. Add the onion and pepper and stirfry over a high heat for 4 mins or until soft
3. stir in the rice and stock, then bring to boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins
4. remove the lid and stir in the Tikka cooking sauce, add the raisins and recover. 
5. Simmer for a further 5 mins stirring occasionally until the rice grains are plump and tender
6. scatter over coriander and almonds to serve.

We really enjoyed how this one turned out we chose not to use the raisins on ours though as I'm not keen on raisins on this type of meal. We also left off the almonds due to hubby having a nut allergy. 

For more yummy recipes, reviews and mummy posts please head over to my blog

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Aldi Baby & Toddler Event

I love that you can now pop to your local Aldi and stock up on baby items at the moment as their Baby & Toddler event is on. During this time, there are Special Buy items and discounted baby essentials as well as maternity wear.

Even better for us because, not only am I pregnant, but so are 2 of my sisters and my niece also. I am having a boy and the rest girls, so I can stock up on items for all of us whilst at Aldi. 

We were sent a range of their items that are in store, from maternity wear, a changing bag and some baby girl items. You can click through to see my review of the baby changing bag on my earlier post as well as seeing what I thought of the rest in this post.

The baby girls items are so cute, and when I saw them, I couldn't wait to show my sister exactly what you can buy from Aldi. Great quality socks and tights that will come in handy for my little niece and the bright pink boots would suit any budding diva. 

I have found it difficult to buy maternity wear that isn't so expensive. I always think, what's the point spending a fortune when it'll only be worn for a few months. So I am so glad that Aldi have done a range of maternity wear that is cheap yet durable and will last throughout pregnancy and baby-hood. 

Both the dress and the top have easy to access breast fitting for breastfeeding. The top simply has an extra flap of material that pulls to the side to reveal a hole for easy access and the dress has a grey panel that pulls away to do the same. 

The leggings are stretchy and cover the whole of my bump whilst leaving enough room for bump growth and feel comfortable to wear. All items are extremely comfy and are made of a stretch material so will grow as you do. 

The Aldi Baby & Toddler event is on in store already so make sure you get there quick before stock disappears. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Travelodge St Nicholas Hotel, Scarborough

When it comes to going away with the kids, I want somewhere that is close to everything and easy to find. My worst nightmare would be finding out that accommodation is in the middle of nowhere and far from amenities and the fun. 

So when it came to booking our trip away to Scarborough in the school holidays, I searched for the best place to stay. After searching various B&B's and hotels, I found that there was a Travelodge in Scarborough and was offered to stay there for a few days with my husband and the boys to show what we thought. 

Travelodge is situated on St Nicholas Cliff, on the south beach of Scarborough. It is actually in the most perfect position when it comes to getting to the beach and finding shops. 2 minutes from the train station and slap bang in the centre of town, everything is in walking distance. 

Upon arrival, we were met by a lovely receptionist who took our details and gave us our key card to our room, showing us to the lift and pointing out the restaurant and bar areas too. It all looked clean and very tidy so we were happy to be staying. 

It is a very old building and this shows as you are walking around to find your room as there are various hallways you can go down to find different room numbers. I think that this is very quirky and loved that the period features in the hallways stood out. 

I was surprised at how spacious the room was. I was expecting a family room to just have a sofa bed squashed into the corner but it had a double bed plus 2 singles and space to walk around too. Big thick duvets to keep us toasty warm and heaters too. A full length mirror for posing into, a television with a few channels (all you need really) and a small seated area which had tea and coffee making facilities. The tea, coffee and milk was provided as was decaf coffee which was a plus from me as that is all I drink. 

Being that there was 4 of us, I was a little disappointed that there was no wardrobe or shelving unit adequate enough to put clothing on, just a small shelf and rack in the corner that was only really big enough for one persons clothes. We did remedy this by having our suitcase opened up on the floor which is where the size of the room and the floor space came in handy as it meant that we could leave it open and not have to worry about it getting in the way. 

The bathroom was big also. Brightly decorated in red, there was a full sized bath and a toilet and sink. A small canister of bath and hair wash is left on the sink for if you forget your own. This was great for us as I hadn't brought bath stuff for the boys and the size of the bottle was perfect to last the few days we stayed at the hotel. 

A huge bay window with black out curtains shined light straight in to the hotel room. I just have to point out the black out curtains and how fab they were as I cannot sleep in there is one ounce of light in the room and so these were great for helping me get a good nights sleep. 

Out of the window was a fabulous view. Truly stunning, straight over the cliff-side and out over the ocean. I loved waking up and seeing this every morning. 

We visited the restaurant both mornings for our breakfast. I thought it was a great deal as, when we paid for our adult meal, the kids got theirs free. 

The breakfast was a buffet setting so you could choose from a hot fried breakfast with the choice of bacon, sausage, scrambled egg, beans and tomatoes, cold food such as croissants, cereal and freshly cut fruit and they also had a toast machine with jams and chocolate spread. Tea, coffee and juice was included on the breakfast price too and the staff were so friendly, one asking about my pregnancy and going off to find me some sachets of decaf so I could have a morning coffee. 

We also stayed for dinner one evening too. The boys picked their favourites of sausage and mash for Thomas and chicken nuggets and chips for Charlie, both plates finished off with loads of peas. Me and the hubster went a chicken fillet burger each which came with coleslaw and chips. 

There was a bit of a wait for the food but that can be expected when they are cooking for a hotel full, and the fact that you can order pizzas and chips to take-away too. The boys didn't mind so much about the wait as they had been given a huge colouring and puzzle sheet and crayons to play with. This kept them occupied whilst we waited. 

The boys did so well with their food that they both got a chocolate sundae for dessert. This was made up of vanilla ice-cream, cream and loads of chocolate sauce with wafers sprouting from the top. So huge that we even got to try a bit each too. 

Going out of the hotel, there are loads of things to do that are just minutes away. The city centre has a range of shops and eateries to dine in and there is the long walk down to the beach front if you fancy going that way. If not, just to the side of the hotel is a huge bridge going over the road that has steps down to the beach from there. If you have a pram or wheelchair then the tram is also just round the corner too which takes you directly down to the beach. 

A plethora of different amusements to play in. The all time favourite 2p machines were there in the hundreds and we even managed to get a Peppa Pig keyring to fall from one which made me so happy. I've never managed to get a prize before from one of those machines and it was great to see the boys winning.

Teddy machines were fun too. I hate seeing the boys playing on them and coming away disappointed when they don't win. So instead, I let them have a few goes on the machines, and then pop them over onto the ones that cost a few pounds to go on but you're guaranteed a prize. After a couple of tries, the machine will pick a teddy up and you win. It's great to see the excitement on the boys faces as they win. 

We were a bit unlucky with the weather as it wasn't that great but it didn't stop us from playing on the beach, Thomas even braved the freezing water a had a little wonder through the sea. He even managed donkey ride too and gave us a laugh as the donkey decided to stop mid ride to relieve himself. 

Walking along the pier to watch the boats going in and out of the port, admiring the lighthouse and seeing Scarborough Castle were all great experiences to finish off our break away. 

I really can't wait for our next adventure in Scarborough, we go every year. And I know that next time we'll definitely be staying at Travelodge again. 

For more information about Travelodge and to book, visit the Travelodge website

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Saving Water, Energy and Money

Nowadays, everyone is talking about ways to save energy, in turn help the environment and saving a few extra pounds in our pockets, but no one ever mentions water. How hard it it to save water? How do you save water? Is there advice on how to save water? Can it save you money in the long run?

There are ways you can save water in your house and, in turn, save yourselves money but of course you would need to be on a water metre for this to take be a practical way of saving money. If you are more focussed on the helping the environment aspect then it is a little easier as there is no messing changing to a metre, just a few steps to saving water. The best way to do this would be to follow a few simple steps.

Using a dishwasher
Yes, this shocked me too as you'd think that it would take more water powering a whole dishwasher, but no, you use 11 times less water when washing with a dishwasher as opposed to by hand. 

Use cold water for cleaning
With a little extra elbow grease, using cold water to clean about the house saves a lot of energy that would usually go in to heating the water making it a more cost effective way of cleaning. 

Reusing water
When having a bath, do you run a clean tub full for every person in your household? To be honest, there is no need. For us, I always get in whilst the water is red hot and then, once I'm finished, it has cooled enough for the boys to get in. Thus meaning only one bath has been run. 

Use the amount you need
I am very conscious of saving water when it comes to filling up my kettle and I've got good at knowing just how much water I need to put in it to make myself and the hubster a cuppa. Using the right amout of water means that it isn't taking as long to heat the whole kettle up and uses much less energy. 

Work out what you could save
Comparing past years water bills to this years is a great way to see if you have consumed more or less over a yearly period and a good way of trying to limit how much you use. You can also try out this water saving calculator to see what changes could help you save. 

It's amazing how many people I hear moaning when the government announces that we are having a drought. Yes, the Earth may be filled with water, but that doesn't mean that we can use it all. In fact, less than 0.5% of the world's total water is freshwater available for humans. The rest is made up of 97% salt water and 2.5% is frozen in glaciers. 
So basically, we have a minuscule amount of water from the Earth that is available for us to use and consume. 

So next time you are leaving the tap running whilst cleaning, or filling the kettle full for a cuppa, just think about saving water and energy and turn off the tap.