Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Friday: No bake Lemon and Orange Cheesecake.

This week is Noelie's 2nd birthday. Time just flew in and I can remember very clearly what I baked for her birthday last year. We decided to celebrate her birthday early with family and friends. Mr Foodie and I started baking on Friday, to save rushing on Saturday. We had decided to bake a chocolate cake, a quiche, cookies (3 different types) and make a lemon and orange cheesecake (I say make because it's a no bake cheesecake).

So Friday I got cracking with the cookie dough that can be refrigerated and kept overnight, the quiche and the cheesecake. I made it all from scratch. I left the baking of the cookies and the chocolate cake for the Saturday morning.

I love the cheesecake recipe as it is one of the easiest and tastiest recipe I have ever come across. Other people seem to agree with me as I was asked to wrap up the last two slices so that they could be taken home.

So I decided to share the recipe with you. Try it out and let me know what you think!


- 200 grs Digestive biscuits.
- 100 grs of butter.
- 1 can of condensed milk.
- 1 tub of Philadelphia (300 grs).
- 2 or 3 Lemons and Oranges.

How to?

- Melt the butter.
- Bash the biscuits.
- Mix the melted butter and the biscuit crumbs.
- Put the mix in the base and refrigerate while you do the next steps.
- Mix together the condensed milk, the cream cheese and the juices of the oranges and lemons.
- Beat up until it thickens a bit.
- Pour over the base.
- Decorate with either biscuit crumbs or lemon and orange zest.
- Refrigerate for as little as a couple of hours, as long as 24 hours.
- Cut up and enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WAHM: Don't know how to get started!

I've been on both sides of the fence. I have been a working mum and I have been a stay at home mum. Both have advantages and both have disadvantages.

I have experienced the guilt of leaving your child for so many hours a day to go and work and bring money in. I have experienced the exhaustion of rushing constantly from home to creche to work to creche to home, the exhaustion of having to do everything to a strict schedule and only putting your feet up late at night, thinking now I can relax and falling asleep on the sofa 10 minutes later. I have experienced the corporate world and climbed up the ladder only to be made redundant after 10 years of loyal services. My dedication and loyalty to the company meant nothing to them. At first, I was glad not to have to return to work, not to fall back into that trap of running around like a headless chicken. Feeling like I was being cut in half, feeling like I couldn't give as much as somebody who didn't have children, because I had to leave on time to pick Marie up, because there was always the possibility of THE phone call, that something happened and that I would have to leave work and feel like I was letting other people down. Feeling like I wasn't flexible enough for the company. Although nothing was ever said to that effect, it was always there at the back of my mind.
And then there is the other side of it, feeling guilty that I couldn't see Marie's first steps, first words, delegating so many of the decisions to the creche. They made the transition to solids, not me, they potty trained her, not me, they looked after and cared for her, not me. So many not mes. Feeling guilty about it all, because in the back of my mind, it should have been me. She was my child, my responsibility, mine to bring up, I should have been there to make those decisions, witness those firsts. I was torn like most of working mums are.

Then after being made redundant, I jumped the fence and stayed at home. It was and still is a wonderful experience. I am there for those firsts for Noelie, I am there for Marie to help with her homework, to get her to school and pick her up, I look after the house, I look after Mr Foodie and I am enjoying it immensely. I don't need to rush from here to there, like I used to. I feel more complete and I feel like I belong. But there is a downside to it too. Unfortunately, it's quite a damn big one. Financially, things are harder, as you would expect them to be. I feel guilty about the fact that I don't bring in an income and that we have to be more careful with our money. I feel guilty that Mr Foodie works his arse off and I don't share the financial burden. He works hard and should be able to enjoy the rewards of his hard work instead of being faced with the worry of what had come out, what needs to come out and how much is there left, of how can we save more. I am very grateful to him for not complaining about and getting on with things. But yet, once again, I am not 100% happy with the balance. Before it was too much work, not enough time for the children and enough money and now, it's enough time with the children, and not enough money. Does a mother's guilt ever go away? It feels like you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

There has to be a happy medium or is it just an illusion? And then I look at my lovely neighbour. She is a work at home mum. She has two successful business that she runs from home, that bring in an income. She is a personal trainer and she is also a hairdresser. And I envy her. It feels like she has found that balance I am currently looking for. This is what I would like to do. I would love to be a work at home mum. Unfortunately, I don't have any of her hands on skills, I can't cut hair, I can't train people, I can't do much with my hands other than cook and bake. I have other skills, of course. I have made a list of them.  I am fluent in French and English. I can teach people. I can make mean PowerPoint presentations. I'm sure I have skills there that would allow me to make a living from home. I'm far from stupid, I learn fast. I just need to be able to take my skills out of the corporate environment and apply them differently. I can see that this is what I need to do. I just don't know where to start, what to do and how to go about it. Self doubt is clouding my judgement. I just need to think outside the box for long enough to be able to formulate a viable idea (not easy with baby brain!). All I need is a bit of direction and support. Does anybody have any spare supply of it?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pampers factory: a trip to remember

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to visit the Pampers factory in Manchester and meet the experts from the Pampers Parenting panel.

It was a very busy day that started very, very early (4.30 am anyone?). Mr Foodie had been very kind and taken the day off to look after the girls and he even got up to make me a fresh pot of coffee! At the airport, I met Sandra from and Chris, the lovely PR from Fleishman Hillard.

Due to a misplaced boarding pass, Chris and I took a mad dash through Terminal 2 to make it onto the plane on time. If you saw a pregnant woman running through the terminal with her belt in her hand and her trousers falling off closely followed by another lady running in her socks carrying her shoes, well, that was us! The exercise certainly woke me up at that early hour and really is not that different from running after a toddler who doesn't want to put her shoes and coat on!

We arrived in Manchester and had breakfast while we waited for Barbara from who was arriving on a later flight. As we were early and the event wasn't due to start for another couple of hours, we went to the Trafford Centre for a spot of shopping (or window licking as we call it in french!).

We finally arrived at the Pampers factory for the event. There I had the pleasure of meeting fellow mummy bloggers SimplyHayley, Mummysbusyworld, Simone and Wendy. We all gathered in the conference room for an informal meet and greet along with the Experts from the Pampers  Village Parenting Panel, and representatives from Pampers. The experts were very interested in the mummy bloggers, on how and why we blog, where we get our inspiration from, how we started etc.

The Plant Manager then gave us a presentation on the brand and the plant which celebrated its 75th birthday a couple of years ago. We then received a presentation on what goes into a nappy and how it works to keep your baby dry for up to 12 hours! We had great fun ripping nappies apart to see the various layers of material they are made of (which, despite having nappies at hand everyday for the past 2 years, funnily never really occurred to me before!). Did you know that the absorbent gel thingy (I believe it's called polymer) is the same thing that goes into sanitary towels as well as the bottom of prepackaged meat? Well, I didn't, but it does make sense when you think about it. Another interesting thing is that all Pampers nappies across the world are designed and manufactured the same way and that a pack of size 5 Pampers in Ireland is the exact same product as a size 5 in Japan or the US. The only thing is that some sizes wouldn't exist in some countries (Pampers size 7 or 8 are available in North America!).

Everybody listening to the presentation.
Over lunch, we had the chance to mingle and talk to the experts. I had a great chat with Mary Steen-Greaves, the expert midwife on the Parenting Panel. We talked about the differences in prenatal care in the UK and Ireland (which are a world apart), premature birth, breech babies, c-sections and breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. She was the most approachable midwife I ever spoke too and I very much liked her philosophy that 'a happy mummy is a happy baby' and 'you have to do what works for you'. I also talked to Dr Maggie Redshaw, the development expert, about bilingualism. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to talk to the other experts:
- Dr Gillian Lockwood, the fertility expert.
- Laura Williams, the fitness and nutrition expert
- Dr David Atherton, the skin expert.
- Denise Knowles, the relationship expert
- Nicola Cairncross, the money expert and Wendy Dean, the sleep expert.

We were then given highly fashionable (not) safety shoes and hi-vis vests and went on a tour of the plant and witnessed how the production works, from raw material to finished product. Most of it is handled by very fast and very impressive machines, and quality checks are performed at every single stage of the production. Unfortunately, us Irish bloggers had to leave before the end of the tour because we had a plane to catch and didn't get to see the warehouse and shipping part of the process.

During the tour.

I got home about 6pm that same evening and I have to say the house was still standing, the girls were in one piece, and dinner was on its way too (not that I ever doubted it would be otherwise)! I had such a wonderful time that Mr Foodie could hardly put in a word edge ways as I was telling him all about the day. So thank you P&G, Pampers, Fleishman Hillard and everybody else that made the day so memorable!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bumps and brains...

I am now 28 weeks pregnant and I feel like a whale. There I've said it. My head says that really I am not that big. If I look purely at numbers, I 'only' put on 3 kgs in 3 months (well, the last time I was weighed), which really is not that much. But I'm quite petite and this bump is without a doubt the biggest bump I have ever had. And I have had 2 before! Even at the end of both my previous pregnancies I don't think I had such a big bump. Going to the hospital for check ups puts things in perspective though and makes me feel quite good, because when I look at all the other bumps waiting for their check ups, I realise that really my bump is not that big. That and the fact that I haven't yet developed any stretchmarks! Don't ask me for a miracle cure, I haven't got one. And if anything I am definitely not as rigorous when it comes to applying cream to my bump as I was with the 2 others. This one is quite a mystery really as my skin has always been very dry and far from being stretchy!  I am definitely carrying this bump differently than the girls. While, with the girls I had a bump that was mainly towards the front, this one seems to be more across. But all this doesn't make it any lighter and bending forward has become something close to mission impossible. Putting my shoes on is becoming difficult as I have to consider both the bump and my back which still acts up some days more than others.

I have gone for some physio appointments which have helped and have been cause for great laughs. I came back from the first one with one of those tubey things that help you support your bump although stepping into it now is becoming more and more difficult! And I came back from the second one with a triangle of elastoplast on my bum! I felt a bit like a broken down truck at the side of the motorway! I have had to take it off though because it was starting to peel off and was getting caught in my clothes and pulling the skin of my arse literally!

This bump is also the most active bump I have ever had. I don't know what this baby is doing in there but he must be having great fun! Jumping up and down and side to side and back to front. Every bone and organ in the vicinity is being kicked and pushed and prodded. He is a very very active baby and quite a jittery one too and would sometimes take 'fits' of movement that are quite incredible to feel and even more impressive to look at. We are pretty sure we saw an arm (or leg) rolling across my belly the other night!

Baby brain has also set in and I'm forever forgetting things. I would walk into the kitchen and by the time I get there not remember what I went in for. I think that this baby has also stolen my writing mojo. I have had great ideas for posts and then either forgot them, or sat down to write and haven't been able to string 2 words together that make sense. We have had a very busy week with Marie's communion and a day trip to Manchester to visit the Pampers factory (more about that soon!) and I find it quite hard to get over the tiredness this week which doesn't help either but I am trying to apply the old philosophy of the more you write, the more you'll want to write. Hope it's going to work!

So please bear with me while this little baby is sucking all my brains and energy (and kicking the netbook that is resting on my bump!), I promise you that I will make sense soon (hopefully).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review : Little Dish

I usually cook food from scratch. I like the sense of achievement and to see the look on people's faces whenever they taste my food. Noelie eats the same food we do. And you better put the plate in front of her before you cut anything otherwise she thinks that she is not eating the same thing and would rather eat what's on your plate than what's on hers.

I have never seen a baby love vegetables and fruit so much. Actually, I have never seen a toddler (because she's hardly a baby now that she turns 2 at the end of the month) eat like that. A sure way to know if she is not well is to look at her plate. If she refuses to eat, then there is something wrong. Anytime we cook, she wants to sit on the counter and look at what we are doing. And if we taste anything, she wants to taste it too. She loves looking at whatever is in the oven and just generally loves food. She is not a fussy eater.

I am not going to lie, there are days when I or Mr Foodie are not in the mood for cooking and we usually resort to ready made lasagna (there's a dish I have never managed to get right) and salad. I sometimes give Noelie baby food at lunchtime, especially if there are no leftovers from dinner the day before. And we do have a few stored in the cupboard just in case. However, I am not a big fan of them as they all look the same, orange gloop with bits.

Then Little Dish got in contact with me (a while ago, sorry!) to try their ready made fresh dinners, I was immediately won over by their philosophy: making fresh, healthy food using only 100% natural ingredients without adding salt or sugar. Just like I would cook at home myself. So off we went in search of their products. We selected 3 of their wide range: the Mild Chicken Korma, the Salmon and Broccoli pasta bake and the Cottage Pie.

The first thing that struck me was that you can actually recognize what's in the dish, unlike so many baby foods around, rice looks like rice, salmon looks like salmon. It looks and smells like you've made it yourself. Noelie wasn't too keen on the chicken Korma but she wasn't feeling great that day and I am pretty sure that this is what it came down too. I have to admit that I finished her plate and it was really tasty, not too strong, not too bland. The Cottage Pie and Salmon and Broccoli Pasta Bake went down a treat and there was next to nothing left for me to taste (you are supposed to taste yourself too, aren't you?).

I was really glad to find out that these Little Dishes can be frozen too. As I don't rely much on ready made food for Noelie, they could have sat in the fridge for a quite a while and they could have gone off without me noticing. But the fact that they can be frozen means that I didn't have to worry about it. I just popped them in the freezer and took them out whenever I needed them. It was also great knowing that there were no nasty preservatives or other unknown ingredients in them, that there was no added sugar or salt, just like I would cook myself! And that they definitely passed the Noelie taste test!

If your children are past the toddler stage, Little Dish also has a beautifully illustrated cookbook out entitled 'Little Dish Favourites Cookbook', full of more than 60 favourite recipes for the whole family, from Macaroni and Cheese to Chili and Rice Bake to Pink Ice Cream, all tried and tasted by children and adults alike, and with no added salt. The recipes are divided in various sections: First tastes for that all important weaning period, Family Dishes (itself divided into sections such as poultry, vegetarian, meat and fish) and finally the Treats and Puddings. Each section has its own introduction with tips and guidelines from when to start weaning to dealing with fussy eaters to choosing the right treats. The degree of complexity of each recipe is clearly indicated along with the prep time and the cooking time which makes it easy for busy parents to identify and select the recipe that will suit their needs. They don't require an infinite list of ingredients and all of them are readily available. I particularly liked the fact that all the weights were both in grs and oz since I don't do imperial (sorry I'm from the continent, give me grs and kgs anyday!) The recipe planner at the end of the book lists all the recipes by degree of complexity but also points out the ones that can be made ahead, freeze well and the ones in which children can easily get involved. It also matches various recipes together to provide meal ideas. We decided to try out the Meat Loaf recipe as I had never cooked one before. The result was very tasty despite its appearance (but that definitely would be my fault and not the books!!).

I would definitely recommend the fresh dinners to any parent who wants to give their children nutritious food even if they might not have the time to make it all from scratch themselves.The Little Dish range of fresh dinners is available in the UK from the following retailers: Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Boots and on and can be found in the Republic of Ireland in Tesco and Superquinn stores.

And I would also recommend the cookbook for those who are past the toddler stage and are looking for easy and tasty recipes that the whole family will like. It is available from WH Smith, Waterstones, Tesco, Ocado, and Sainsbury’s, or online at

Go on, give it a try!

In order to review, we received coupons and a free cookbook.

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