Back to talk about all things Halloween! Just in case it wasn’t already clear that I am obsessed with this season! Also how amazing are our new pumpkins? I am going to have to find a ton of recipes for pumpkins once Halloween is over. Our pumpkin box just keeps growing!
Anyway, moving on from all the pumpkin talk, we popped into town for a few messages last week and I found myself browsing for baby clothes (what’s new!). I needed to pick up some warmer clothes for the babies and there is such a great selection out there at the moment. There is also some very cute Halloween themed bits floating about, so I managed to pick up a few items that weren’t too Halloween orientated and the babies could get wear out of them for the next few months hopefully.
I have noticed lately that a lot of the clothes in Baby Zara are made of really nice ethically sourced, organic cotton and are actually quite affordable. Baby I got these gorgeous fleece lined mustard pants (€9.95) and this white peter pan collar top (€5.95). The soft cotton bow is from penneys (€2, I think!).
I got L some Autumn/Winter bits as well. The orange long-sleeved top(€3.95) and bat pants(€7.95) are both from Zara too. I love the kids in soft cotton clothes, i just think they are so much more comfortable in them and can move around more freely. These kept him really warm and comfy on one of our many Autumn walks!
Another item I picked up in town has been a lifesaver for us the last few nights. Ok so I’m probably really late to the game on this one but since the babies have been majorly congested and sick lately, I have rediscovered the wonders of the Calpol plug-in diffuser! So, this thing is actually magic( no seriously!) and avoids all that messing around with olbas oil and hot water. It helps to decongest by diffusing a constant eucalyptus, menthol and lavender vapour. All you have to do is place one of the inserts into the diffuser and plug-in. It acts as a night-light as well which is so handy. Just thought I’d mention as there seems to be a bad cough/cold going around, which we have unfortunately caught.
I am craving all things comfort food at the moment, and I love, love, love Nutella as a treat. However I don’t love all the sugar that regular nutella contains, plus I would prefer to give L a slightly healthier alternative, which led to me hunting down a recipe. I wanted it to be a little sweet and not too rich so I did have to add a little maple syrup to it. I went looking for agave syrup as a sugar substitute but after doing some research and chatting to the lady in the health food shop I was dissuaded against it. Apparently it’s the least nutritious of all the sweeteners and is pretty much all fructose which is what we should all be trying to avoid (says she who ate half a bucket of trick or treat sweets last night!). What is great about this recipe is that its full of protein from all the hazelnuts. You will need a good blender for this, preferably one you can switch on and let it blend away for a few mins. I did our’s in the nutribullet and it took forever, plus it didn’t quite get to the completely smooth texture i was after. It was really tasty all the same and the slightly crunchy texture grew on me! You can of course substitute the dark chocolate with milk chocolate. What you will need;
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tbsp of maple syrup
100 grams of dark chocolate melted
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
Roast the hazelnuts at 170.C for 12-15 mins. Remove hazelnuts from the oven a pop onto a tea towel and rub until the skins come off. Pop hazelnuts and all ingredients in a blender and blend for 8- 10 mins until blended into a paste. Add melted chocolate and blend until smooth. I just threw it all in together but I suspect it is better to wait until the hazelnut mixture is well combined before adding the melted chocolate. And that’s it! Lovely bonus to this recipe is how yummy your kitchen smells after roasting the hazelnuts!
As well as trying to perfect a homemade nutella recipe, I have also been stalking the pages of Pinterest to find healthy Halloween snack ideas. They have some great ideas but these were my favourite! Mandarin pumpkins! What a genius idea this is! Peel a mandarin and stick a bit of celery in it. How hard is that? I’m also loving these ghoulish teeth! Again, so simple! Two slices of apple, a bit of cashew nut butter (but you can use any nut butter!) and a few mini marshmallows! This one is actually really tasty! Mr T and I ate a good few of these!
I managed to pick up some Halloween pasta shapes in Lidl earlier in the week and I made a really quick family dinner using them. I found some mini cucumbers there too so I made up some ghoulish fingers to go with it. I had a teeny bit of leftover pesto, some pancetta pieces from Aldi, spinach. mushrooms and cheese.
It was all very rough so no specific measurements for this one!
I cooked the pasta, added the little bit of pesto and some grated cheese bit by bit, mixing well after each addition. In a separate frying pan I cooked the mushrooms, pancetta and spinach then added them to the pasta. This was a real comfort food kind of meal! I served it up with some sliced peppers and sliced grapes. I picked out the pancetta from Baby I’s dinner just because it was a little stringy and a bit too salty.
Finally, one of my favourite Halloween bakes are my meringue ghosts! I made these about 4 years ago and used them to top a Halloween brownie cake and they were a big hit! I think meringues are a bit daunting to some people but they are actually really easy. This is just a basic meringue recipe and then I used a piping bag to pipe out the little ghosts/ blobs! I actually couldn’t find my piping bag when I sat down to make these so I just got a sandwich bag and cut out a small hole in one of the corners. You will only need two ingredients for this recipe. Sugar and egg whites. I just buy the egg whites instead of having a load of egg yolks leftover hanging around in my fridge. A few tips to making meringue before I start;
- You will need an electric whisk, preferably a free-standing mixer but a handheld will do fine also.
- Your bowl must be really clean, spotless! If there is grease in the bowl the egg whites won’t rise. I always give my bowl a fresh clean with hot water and a little washing up liquid before I start.
- Make sure your bowl is fully dry.
- Egg whites work best at room temp. Measure out your egg whites and leave them stand for a few mins at room temperature.
2 large egg whites
110 grams of caster sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 100-110 degree celsius. My oven runs quite hot so I usually leave it at 100.C but you may have to experiment. Line a large backing tray with greaseproof paper and put to one side. Put the egg whites and 55 grams of sugar into your mixer and whisk on full power until you reach a soft peak texture. This means that when you lift your whisk out the peaks of meringue should flop to one side. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until stiff white peaks have formed. You should be able to take your bowl and turn it upside down and the mixture should not move. I have seen some recipes saying you should whisk for 10 mins but my mixer never takes more than 3-4 mins so it really depends. Once the mixture is done, take you piping bag or sandwich bag(with a small home in one of the corners) and fill it with the mixture. Pipe little blobs onto your baking tray leaving a little space in between. This is not an exact art so have fun with it. I kind of move my wrist in circles as I move upward for each ghost. Try making different shape and size ones as well! Once you have filled your baking tray pop in the oven for about an hour. Keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t brown too much. If they do you might need to lower your oven temp. When they are done remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then with a little melted chocolate/chocolate icing dot on little eyes! You can also use a toothpick with a little chocolate on the tip. These are great for little kids as there is no hidden nasties or colours and great for an adult dessert too!
I’ll hopefully get my recipe for waffles up tomorrow so keep an eye out for that, but for now I’m going to go back to snuggling my two little babas lying next to me. Check out my instagram for daily food pictures!
Bye for now!