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homemade mozzarella sticks like mcdonalds

When I was younger there were certain things in your lunch box that marked you out as the sort of person who’d NEVER be picked last for the rounders team. I’m thinking mini bags of animal biscuits, Monster Munch, that sort of thing. Then there were the lunch box ‘treats’ that didn’t do you any favours in the friend stakes, like egg sandwiches and carrot sticks. I’m not sure Bee will ever forgive me for sending her into school with sunflower seeds wrapped up in little bits of tin foil. (I hate making packed lunches though, so.)

In my mind, peelable cheese sticks definitely fall into the first category. When you’re a child you get points for any food that gives you the opportunity to say ‘yeah look at this, I always do this with my cheese’, while performing some elaborate ritual that you’ve made up on the spot.

(This isn’t just me is it? I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house for tea and having sausage, mash and beans, and spreading the mash all over my plate, sticking the sausages into it like flag poles, pouring my beans on top and saying ‘oh yeah, this is how I always eat them’.) View Post

Today’s breakfast lamb recipe is in partnership with the Lamb. Try it, Love it campaign. If you like this one, why not try my Greek lamb meatballs for an easy packed lunch?

lamb breakfast recipe for Valentine's Day

When I first mentioned to Belle that I was going to make up a breakfast recipe using lamb, she was sceptical.

‘A breakfast lamb recipe?’ she said, scrunching up her face. ‘LAMB? For breakfast?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’m going to base it on my favourite – eggs benedict – but bring in a literary reference for fun.’ She didn’t look less sceptical at this point, I have to say. ‘So it’s eggs and ham… green eggs and ham… GREEN EGGS AND LAMB!’

I paused for her to tell me what I genius I was. Silence. She’s 16 though, I don’t think it was a reflection on my idea.

The thing is, I could see where she was coming from. When I first considered lamb for breakfast I wasn’t sure either. The more I thought about it though, the more it felt like an untapped source of breakfasty meat goodness. We have no problem eating pork for breakfast do we? Bacon, sausages, black pudding – it’s all good. Steak and eggs isn’t unheard of for a hearty brunch, so why not come up with a tasty breakfast lamb recipe?

Plus there are environmental and health benefits to consider – lamb is a lot more sustainable than most other animal agriculture farming and it’s also one of the healthiest meats you can eat – it’s rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a great source of things like protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. So there you go.

My green eggs and lamb recipe is pretty easy to make, although I’d suggest it’s more of a special weekend breakfast than a ‘we’re leaving in ten minutes godammit so find your shoes NOW!’ thing. It’s the sort of breakfast I imagine cooking up while listening to The Archers omnibus and drinking a big mug of fresh coffee. In fact, it would serve you very well as a Valentine’s Day breakfast – nothing says ‘I love you more than the cat, honest’ like taking your time over a special breakfast for someone.

That’s not to say my breakfast lamb recipe is difficult, in fact, it’s possibly easier than your regular eggs benedict because the ‘green’ bit comes from a cheaty hollandaise-style sauce made from avocados, which is actually much easier than regular hollandaise. Your Valentine doesn’t have to know that though.

‘Darling, I love you so much I made you this delicious avocado sauce from SCRATCH.’

Chuck a flower on the side next to the plate and cue some much deserved swooning. View Post

Today I put Belle to work in the kitchen to create this mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial for you, because as you may know, she secretly wishes she WAS a mermaid. I hovered about taking photos and offering ‘constructive criticism’. Great fun was had by all.

Mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial

A while ago I went to a black tie dinner thing in a silver sequinned jumpsuit and crimped hair. The look I was going for was ‘disco mermaid’. I scoured the shops for mermaid jewellery, thinking for sure that I would find some big, tasteless scallop necklace in Claire’s at least, but no luck. Apparently mermaid jewellery isn’t a thing anymore.

Mermaid cupcakes though. Mermaid cupcakes are very much a thing.

I thought it might be fun to put together a little mermaid tail cupcakes tutorial for you using the new Dr Oetker mermaid cupcake decoration kit. They aren’t paying me to write this, but they did send me the kit to try, and it was fun, so here we are. View Post

Welcome to the final part of my fascinating freezer series – freezer staples! Do go back and read part one: Weird Crap You Have in Your Freezer, and part two: How To Defrost a Freezer Without Doing Anything Stupid.

I have to say I’ve been feeling pretty good about life since I defrosted my freezer last week. I’ve sorted out my freezer staples, arranged the shelves into three categories – meat, non-meat, random crap in bags – I’ve frozen leftover pancakes and soup and even some leftover cheese sauce. It’s been pretty empowering. On the back of defrosting the freezer I felt inspired to replace the broken headlight bulb in my car all by myself, and I’m almost feeling brave enough to call Sky and cancel my TV subscription.

In this post I want to go back to the tweet that started me thinking about my freezer, where I asked people about their freezer staples – cool or weird stuff they always kept in their freezers because it was actually super useful. I asked the question as an antidote to the fact that I always seem to have half a loaf of bread in my freezer, but never actually use it. (NOT useful.)

The tweet had over 100 replies, which just goes to show how people honestly need to get more hobbies, but it was really interesting for me to read everyone suggestions. I was heartened to find that around 83 of them were advising me to freeze lemon and lime wedges for gin and tonic – proof that I have my target audience on point.

Based on the answers to my tweet, plus my own research, I’ve pulled together a list of 11 freezer staples I think would be genuinely useful for you to have in your freezer for NOW AND ALWAYS.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what your freezer absolutely couldn’t do without.

Frozen fruit for drinks

I’ve never frozen a lemon wedge before, but what a genius idea! It makes me feel slightly ashamed to be honest that I’ve spent at least 20 years buying lemons, cutting out a wedge for a drink, leaving the rest in the fridge until it dries up and smells of onions, and then throwing it away.

As well as lemons you can freeze lime or orange wedges, or fruit like raspberries. You could even go with thick cucumber slices for gin? The added beauty of this is that the fruit doubles as an ice cube! Huzzah! Make lemon and lime wedges one of your freezer staples RIGHT NOW.

freezer staples How to freeze lemons View Post

I’m going to put it out there – peas are, in my opinion, a severely underrated vegetable. They’re tasty, low calories, and as you will know from my freezer reveal, everyone always has peas in their freezer. Pea soup is one of my favourites and this easy pea soup recipe is so simple, you can have it in the bowl in ten minutes.

I’ve found over the years that working from home can lead to bad lunch choices. I’m never going to be the sort of person who forgets meals, but it’s too easy when you’re sat next to the fridge, (that’s where my desk is, I don’t just put a chair there), to graze on slices of cheese dipped in the mayonnaise jar in lieu of a Wholesome Meal.

Making a quick pea soup is an easy way to break the snack habit and pack in some vitamins and minerals. As well as being yummy, peas are high in fibre and contain vitamin C, folate and vitamin B1. If you love peas as much as me you might also enjoy these mini frittatas or this pea and pancetta pasta recipe, both of which would make an easy work-from-home lunch.

Fun pea fact: the average Brit eats 9,000 peas a year!* Challenge: why not count the number of peas you eat over the course of a year and see if your pea consumption is above or below average?

This easy pea soup recipe is just for one person, but you can easily scale it up. It makes one large bowl, (larger than the one in the picture – that’s just to look pretty), but could stretch to a bowl for lunch and a small bowl mid-afternoon.

I’ve used ingredients that you probably have already, to keep things simple. No point changing out of those freelancer pyjamas if you can help it.

quick pea soup recipe View Post

This ‘how to defrost a freezer’ post is part two of my ‘cool posts about freezers’ series, so do go back and read ‘What weird crap do you have in your freezer?’ and check out 11 things you should have in your freezer now and always.

There are many aspects of general house care where I feel I’ve really got it together. My bathroom is always reasonably clean and I do that thing where you put a whole set of bedding into one pillowcase so you never have to rifle around in the airing cupboard for a matching set. (Honestly, that changed my life.)

Other things though, not so much. Take my car windscreen for example. It turns out that scraping off ice with the base of a tin of paint that you happen to have in your hand is not a good idea. I mean it looks fine – you couldn’t tell – except when it rains. Gawd.

Defrosting the freezer regularly is a similar weak spot for me, as you can see here:

How to defrost a freezer

I haven’t done it since we moved in 18 months ago and it has started to do the thing where it’s difficult to open the doors because there’s ice in the way. Also, it could really just do with being cleaned. The bottom of the freezer is a mess of peas, crumbs and, weirdly, hair. View Post