Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Home-made hummus

You can use hummus as a dip when entertaining, a healthy snack or a spread for sandwiches and wraps – it is so versatile and tasty!

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1 garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4 simple money-saving home tips

While regular home maintenance won't always guarantee that you'll have a future of no home repairs to budget for, they can prevent some costly problems that could have been avoided. There are some easy home maintenance things that you can do that could save you big bucks.

1. A pesky water drip or leak can add up to higher water bills. Leaks and drips can also lead to severe water damage if you leave it for too long or they’re in a spot that can cause structural damage, like an upstairs bathroom. Check your plumbing regularly.

2. It's also important to check for any breaks in caulking around tubs, sinks, etc. The same applies to the grouting in any tiled surfaces that you have. Not only is mildew a problem to get rid of, but improperly grouted or broken grouted surfaces can destroy a shower or countertop and even warp the surface.

3. Put dimmers on lights that you use frequently but are in areas where you don't always need a lot of light. Also switch your bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent ones. You'll save money on the electric bill and also on your bulbs.

4. No matter what you have in your home, over time, if you keep things like windows, floors, cabinets, walls and railings clean and well taken care of, you're going to avoid the cost of repairing or replacing them. So stay on top of small problems before they get out of hand.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tomato and basil quiche

Not every winter meal needs to be a heavy stew or curry. Sometimes it's still nice to have something light and tasty. This tart is simple to make and it's meat-free. Serve it with a fresh green salad for an easy lunch.

1 roll ready-made puff pastry
300g cherry tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, sliced in rounds
Olive oil
100g parmesan, grated
3 eggs
250ml double cream
Handful basil leaves, shredded, plus a few small ones left whole for scattering

1. Heat oven to 200ºC.
2. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the tomatoes on the low shelf of the oven and roast at a high heat for 10 minutes.
3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the cream and stir in the basil and season.
4. Spread the pastry over a greased round quiche dish or in a rectangular shape on a greased baking tray.
5. Sprinkle half the cheese over the base, scatter over the tomatoes, pour over the cream mixture, then layer the tomato rounds on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden brown. Leave to cool, then remove from the tin. Scatter over the remaining basil and serve in slices.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

4 allergy mistakes

Sick of struggling with horrible allergies that make you feel irritable and tired? Consider these four common allergy mistakes before giving in.

Mistake 1: You treat symptoms without knowing what you’re allergic to.

Solution: Get tested. Before you assume that your allergy medicine isn’t working, make an appointment with a reputable allergist. They will then be able to tell you the best method of treatment.

Mistake 2: You don’t steer clear of your allergy triggers.

Solution: It’s not always that easy, but depending on your allergy trigger, try and minimise your exposure to it.

Mistake 3: You wait too long to take allergy medicines.

Solution: Don’t wait until you start sneezing and sniffling to take medication. Medication works best at blocking symptoms, not treating them, so if you know you have seasonal allergies then plan ahead.

Mistake 4: You eat foods that might aggravate sniffles and sneezes. Some people find that certain foods such as fruit can also trigger allergy symptoms.

Solution: Talk to your doctor if you’ve ever experienced these symptoms after eating certain foods. Cooking the food can help, but your doctor will be able to advise you.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Fish pie with mashed potato

A tasty way to get even the fussiest of eaters to eat some fish.

1.5kg potatoes
150g butter
1.5kg hake or any fish of your choice
500ml full cream milk
3 bays leaves
125g frozen peas
75g plain flour
125gr grated cheese
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp bread crumbs

1. Peel the potatoes and bring to a boil in salted water. Once they are tender, drain and then mash them with 75g of the butter. Season to taste
2. Put the fish into a large pan with milk, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Bring the milk to a boil, then, immediately turn down and simmer the fish until it is just cooked through. Remove the fish to a plate and pour the cooking liquid into jug, straining out the bay leaves.
3. Put the frozen peas in a bowl and pour over some boiling water.
4. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
5. Melt the remaining 75g butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux.
6. Take off the heat and whisk in the milk in which the fish was cooked. Put back onto a medium heat and keep stirring until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Take off the heat and stir in most of the cheese and the drained peas.
7. Flake the fish and line a casserole dish with it. Pour the sauce over using a spatula to help you distribute it equally. Top with the mash potato.
8. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and top with breadcrumbs.
9. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.

You can also give this fish pie a try to see which one wins over the kids.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Create a schedule for your newborn

Why? A baby has three basic needs – sleep, food and lots of love. It doesn’t sound that complicated, but when you also need to take care of yourself and your other family members, a schedule can really come in handy. Another reason is that your baby will benefit from knowing what to expect each day and this can prevent them becoming over-tired or hungry and irritable. This in turn makes a happy baby and happy mom.

When? This is debatable and you’ll need to see what works best for you and your baby. Some experts recommended starting a routine between two and four months as their habits will become more consistent from about three months. You can take this opportunity to coach them into a routine. Just remember however that no schedule supersedes the needs of your baby. Never deprive your baby of food, sleep or comfort because it’s “not the right time”. Use your gut instinct and let your baby guide you.

How? On Babycenter.com, baby schedules have been grouped into three main types: parent-led, baby-led and combination. The parent-led schedule is the strictest and you as the parent dictate when, where and how much your baby will eat, sleep and play. This is often based on their natural patterns, but is a very precise schedule.

The baby-led schedule is the least strict and pretty much lets your baby decide what is happening that day. You basically just follow your baby’s cues on when he’s hungry or sleepy.

The combination schedule combines the two methods, so you’ll have a schedule for the day and on most days you’ll follow a similar pattern. But a nap can be pushed back if baby isn’t tired or if your grocery shopping is taking longer than expected then baby will have lunch slightly later.

You really just need to decide which method works best for you and what fits with your lifestyle.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Chicken and mushroom hotpot

It has chicken, veggies and potatoes all in one delicious pot. Family-friendly, budget-friendly, winter-friendly – check!

1 tbsp oil
8 chicken thighs
250g mushrooms
2 tbsp flour
1 large onion, chopped
300ml chicken stock
Your choice of veggies, we used carrots and green beans
4 potatoes, sliced for topping

1. Brown the chicken on all sides, then transfer to a large casserole dish and sprinkle with flour.
2. Fry the onion and mushrooms for about five minutes.
3. Partially cook your veggies if needed (carrots can take a while).
4. Spoon the veggies, mushrooms and onion over the chicken and cover with the stock. Season well.
5. Layer the sliced potatoes over the top of the mixture.
6. Cover the casserole dish and cook on a low heat for one hour. Then uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes until the potato topping is golden brown.
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