Archive for May, 2010

Donna’s Recipe of the Month

May 26, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Every month I will be posting a special recipe for you all to try out.  So let me know how you get on and you could always post image of your dish on Facebook and on the Bizziebaby Forum.

My recipe of the month for May – Hidden Vegetable Lasagne.

Bolognaise sauce

3 small carrots

1 large courgette

 150g mushrooms

 1 tble sp Worcestershire sauce

 1 tble sp balsamic vinegar

 2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes

 1 level tsp dried basil

 1 heaped tsp dried oregano

 1 heaped tsp garlic puree or two garlic cloves crushed

 100g tomato puree

 1 onion chopped

 500g lean mince, I use beef but it is your choice

 White sauce

 25g flour

 25g butter

 300ml milk

 90g grated cheddar cheese (optional)

 250g Fresh egg pasta sheets

 Sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some slices of fresh tomato to finish (optional)

 Preheat oven to 200° C/390° F/gas mark 6.

To make your bolognaise sauce peel and finely chop the onion and mushrooms, alternately give them a whiz in a food processor. Grate the carrots and courgette and add to a large saucepan with the onion, mushrooms, herbs and garlic along with a dash of olive oil. Place on a medium heat and cook until the onion and vegetables are softened. Stir in the mince before adding the tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Finally add the tomato puree and leave on a low heat to simmer until the sauce is thickened slightly, about 30-45min.

To make your white sauce melt the butter in a pan and using a wooden spoon stir in the flour to make a paste, also know as a “rue“. Add a quarter of the milk whilst whisking to prevent any lumps. Gradually add the rest of the milk a quarter at a time, whisking as you go. Allow the sauce to cook fully for about a minute before adding the cheddar cheese if you are using, stir and remove from the heat.

To make your lasagne spoon a third of your sauce into a oven proof dish, follow with a couple of lasagne sheets making sure not to overlap. Over that layer poor a third of your white sauce and over that another third of your bolognaise sauce. Again cover with a layer of pasta, then another third of white sauce and the last of the bolognaise sauce after that. Place your final layer of pasta and cover completely with the remaining white sauce. If you so choose you can place some slices of fresh tomato and an extra sprinkling of cheese to finish your lasagne.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25-30min or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with crusty garlic bread and salad or fresh chips.

Happy Cooking and will be back next month with a new recipe for you all.

Donna x



Donna’s Monthly Blog ‘Cooking with Children’

May 26, 2010

This month has been a hectic one for me, Harrison, my son, celebrated his 2nd birthday and just the day before that I celebrated, all be it very grumpily, my 27th.  What happened to the days when we looked forward to birthdays, having a whole day completely about yourself and doing whatever you wanted and everyone had to lump it. I have just taken a second to think and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t actually miss those days; Those were the days before Harrison and before Layla my 4 month old bundle of joy, I say joy in the loosest term as there is no joy in waking to her in the early hours of the morning, when it is still pitch black and there is no calming birdsong outside the window. Alas, joy may no longer be found in my birthday but so much more joy is found in their happy, smiley faces on their birthdays. Ok so Layla will not have any clue when it eventually gets to her first birthday and Harrison at his second birthday party had a somewhat bemused look on his face before taking a running jump onto the bouncy castle we had hired; but we’ll get there eventually.

Well for my birthday I wrongly assumed I got absolutely nothing from my darling husband, Dom, however as I type I’m using my new notebook which was delayed in arriving as it was out of stock. Unbeknown to him he was in my bad books until this little cutie arrived this morning, thinking I will not leave his work shirts at the bottom of the laundry until he decides to do them for himself, think I’ll fish them out and do them a bit quick now while he is out with Harrison trying to get a replacement paddling pool. Oh yes, the paddling pool! The one we bought yesterday and I so gleefully blew up with nothing but my own puff this morning to find it has a puncture and has to be exchanged, “oh how blooming marvellous”, said I, “can you get a foot pump whilst you are swapping it?”.

Harrison’s party was arranged in just over a week, with the surprise news that family were to be visiting for the day we had to do something, even if it was half because I wanted to make sure we were keeping up with the Joneses. Here we go back to that simple little word again, Joy; oh the joy of making sure you are seen to be the model parent by those people that for some, probably completely unreasonable, reason we feel pressured into living our lives in a seemingly better way than them. We all have those people in our lives somewhere along the line. I’ve tried to avoid those people that make me feel like I’m 5 years old all over again and that I cannot do anything right, but they are always lurking around some dark and dingy corner waiting to pounce on you, particularly on the day you haven’t bothered with your hair and you are still wearing your pyjamas at two in the afternoon.

Anyway this gossiping isn’t getting me very far, although I really am enjoying it, I must tell you about my learning to cope with my children and cooking and of course the mess. I should probably start with the fact my mother has an OCD and yes it is for cleaning and yes it rubbed off on me. I have overcome it since having Harrison, I am still finicky about germs and bacterium and I wouldn’t dare eat chicken off a bone or eat off the floor and I have even learnt to cope with my husband who truly believes in the 5 second rule. One day when I was lovingly spooning pureed food into a six month old Harrison, and mopping his mouth after every spoonful and cleaning him up every time he tried to take the spoon and do the hard work for himself, it dawned on me, “what is the harm in mess?” I have nothing that cannot be cleaned nor anything too expensive to replace if the tomato sauce plastered all over it wouldn’t come off. Let him have the spoon, let him at least try and let him be himself. I will not deny it was hard to sit and watch him as he repeatedly splattered all manner of surfaces in the red stuff and looked as though he had been attacked by an over ripe tomato with a bad attitude. The wonder in his face and the excitement when he picked up a fist full of squishy vegetables and pasta and shoved it very squarely into his face, mostly missing his mouth but not completely, and enjoying the taste of something he had fed himself more than made up for the fact my dining room had been redecorated a somewhat distasteful shade of red.

Getting Harrison into the kitchen was probably the most natural thing for me. I love cooking and before Harrison came along I spent a lot of my spare time creating and baking away the hours. In order to continue with my passion I had to think of a way to keep him occupied and keep him safe and the safest place for him is with me. So I invested in a bebe pod and placed him on my kitchen side next to me with a plastic bowl, a wooden spoon and some flour. My kitchen, its contents and ourselves eventually looked like we’d gone three rounds with the Pillsbury dough man but I managed to make some wonderful muffins and a delicious dinner and best of all Harrison and I really had fun.

Some people really hate cooking and I can see why, lots of mess to clean up, hot and sweaty surroundings and loneliness. Unless you can afford to have a huge open plan space and a cleaner and a really good air conditioning unit you have to get around it in other ways. I have a dish washer, it is a start, and I have a fan for those really hot days but best of all I bought my family into the kitchen with me. Harrison loves helping me with recipes now, stirring and adding the ingredients, although some always manage to go missing; particularly chocolate.

Happy cooking everyone and much love from, Donna and the rest of the Lovegrove family xxxxxxx

We will update you all next month.

 PS. Don’t forget to check out my recipe of the month, Hidden vegetable Lasagne!

Freddy our Miracle Baby – This is Julie’s Story

May 7, 2010

With my fourth child I had a very difficult pregnancy and here is my personal story.

At 10 weeks pregnant I met the midwife for the first time. I had the routine bloods taken and was so excited as this was a planned pregnancy and every new experience was brilliant! We had a call about 2 days later to say can you come and have a chat. Both me and Mark went to meet the midwife.  She said there was a problem with my titre level. Apparently it measures antibodies in the blood.  All they said was  my blood must have been contaminated and they needed to retest it.  So they proceeded to take more blood to test.  Once again a couple of days later we were called in for another consultation.  We attended the consultation and still we were told the results were the same and showing massively high levels. This is when we started to look into the problem!

In a standard pregnancy a dangerous titre level is 32 or over. Its more normal to have single figure levels and a level of 32 is considered extremely high. I was measuring 2000!!

I was referred straight away to the high risk pregnancy unit at Leeds hospital.  This was an extremely worrying time for all of us.  We read up on what we now know is called Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn.  Its also known as Rhesus Disease. The stats are shocking-especially with my levels.

When we met the specialist team at Leeds I was 16 weeks pregnant. We were told a lot about the disease and its possible outcomes which covered the likelihood  the foetus would become severely anaemic and risk of brain damage, heart disease, lung disease etc. We were advised we would need to have baby brain scans weekly and if at any time the baby showed signs of damage we were told to prepare to have inter uterine transfusions. They would give the baby a transfusion via its umbilical cord whilst still in my womb. This procedure is quite high risk.

All through my pregnancy, each time we went the 2 hour journey to the hospital we were prepared to have a very premature baby.  I was just so scared each and every day and trips to the hospital were even more traumatic.  Mark had to have his blood taken to see if they could determine the baby’s blood. They couldn’t so he had to have more blood taken and it was sent to specialists in Bristol were it underwent a new procedure to find out the baby’s DNA. We were told there was an 80% chance our baby had my blood which meant he was safe!!  Oh My God is all that enters your mind and I have never cried so much in my life. They did advise us this  procedure was experimental and my levels were so high (and rising) it was still likely he may have problems and the results were invalid.  During one particularly upsetting appointment we were told that they had never seen such levels and to prepare ourselves for a child with cerebral palsy or severe brain damage-if they survived the birth.  This was such  an emotional pregnancy.  To add even more stress and upset to the pregnancy I also had severe SPD from 10 weeks and had to wear a body brace. The travelling put an immense strain on my body.

During our visit’s we were advised that we could consider having the baby delivered by c-section at 36 weeks because my levels again started to rise. We discussed this and decided this would be an acceptable option for us so agreed to proceed with c-section at 36 weeks.  Although we had been told the good news he may have had my blood, we spent months and months preparing for the worst.  Finally when our special little miracle son was  born and started crying like a good ‘un I just sobbed.  My tears came from the bottom of my heart.  We had all be prepared for the worst and when he was born it was the best moment of my life to see him look so healthy.
After giving birth I encountered some  additional problems so Mark ended up with Freddy for a good hour while I was being dealt with and this was a very special time for Mark to hold and be close to our new son.  Mark had the same worries as me throughout the pregnancy and he needed this time with his newborn son. They tested the blood from his cord at birth and we were told on the first day of his birth he was 100% healthy.  The specialist from Leeds hospital  even sent me flowers and addressed the card to the ‘Miracle Baby’.

During the whole pregnancy I  had many discussions with Mark and we both agreed we would love the baby regardless.  We were prepared for any eventuality, but our Little fighter survived and was born fit and healthy thank God.  Now we had our little bundle of  joy we both agreed we would not be tempting fate again and would not try for another child.  After lengthy discussions we both agreed we would get sterilized.  It is  a decision I don’t regret but I do wonder what if sometimes.

We all realise how blessed we are to have Freddy and we are a wonderful happy family with our little Miracle Freddy as a major part of who we all are.

It has been an emotional experience writing this story as you go through all the emotions again in your mind, but I hope this will help others and show everyone Miracles do happen.

It has been so nice to share this with you all Julie.

You Can do it! Helen’s Story

May 5, 2010

Hi my names Helen I have 2 beautiful girls and always like to spoil them on their birthdays with a big fun party. I would always purchase their birthday cakes from Asda.  Then one day I noticed the Toffeelady’s picture she had posted of her son Logan’s birthday cake. It was Georgey pig it was so fab I thought to myself wow I would love to make a cake like this one day, but this is me who has only ever done character fairy cakes with the girls and I did manage to burn them a few times.  Then Di (Toffeelady) said Helen you can do it and I will send you the pattern for George and you change it to Peppa. With my niece Hope 1st birthday coming up I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a go as I really had nothing to loose.  I caught up with my sister and told her not to tell anybody about my plans just in case it did not turn out as well as I hoped.  The pattern came in the post thanks to Di and I read through it thinking I am really not sure I can do this.  Some of the ingredients I had never heard off.  However the instructions were really detailed with pictures and easy to understand and follow step by step.  I compiled a list covering everything I needed and took a trip to my local cake shop.  I purchased a cake board and the sugar paste colours. Then next stop was our local Asda for the rest of the ingredients.  I purchased some chocolate sponge mixes which were easy to prepare as you only had to add egg and milk.  Also picked up some white icing which I would colour my self and ingredients for butter cream.  The party for my niece Hope was held on the Saturday so on Thursday night I started to prepare the cake.  I had to make 4 8″ round cakes.  I was so nervous when taking they came out of the oven as had to take them out of their case and was just praying they would not crumble, but no need to worry they were prefect.  I felt so proud as I had got through the first stage and wrapped them up in cling film and put them in the fridge over night.  Next day I started to colour the icing for the arms eyes and nose by using white icing and sugar paste colours.  I found you had to add a little bit of colour and knead it into the icing and you would finally obtain the perfect colour you required.  At first the pink was very dark as I had added too colour, so started all over again.  Once the icing was coloured and prepared I just wrapped them in cling film and left them on the side over night.  Friday night arrive, I was so nervous but I thought you have done so much now so come on Helen you can do this.  My hubby Baz helped me cut the cake patterns out.  We had to cut out 2 heads 2 bodies 2 ears and 4 boots and it was nice to have my hubby’s support.  They all came out really well and I was so relieved and pleased (smiling like a Cheshire cat).  We then placed the bottom body and face onto the cake board sticking them down with icing, then sandwiched them using butter cream and placed the top face and body. I then had to colour the butter cream one bowl pink and one bowl red.  The whole cake was now really starting to look like Peppa and I was smiling more than ever now. I found the sides a little more difficult to ice but in the end they looked ok> I then did the same with the ears and Peppa’s boots which had to be yellow. For the eyes I used some tiny circle cutters then rolled the icing for the arms and the nose, cut the puddle shapes out the brown icing and placed on the cake boad. The finished result was amazing I couldn’t believe I had made this cake in front of me.  Me, Helen who had never hardly baked in her life. I ran to the laptop uploaded it on to Bizziebaby and people loved it and had some brill replies.  Then the day of the party and you can imagine how pleased and happy I was.  “Lovely Cake” everyone said and I piped up “Yeah I have made it me Ha!”  Now I am hooked and it was Sophie’s 3rd birthday last month and I ordered a Hello Kitty patters.  The Hello Kitty cake was another success with everyone and Sophie loved it.  So never doubt yourself you can do anything you set your mind to “You can do it”.  Helen

My Wedding Story By Stacey

May 2, 2010

I have no idea where to start, but I guess the beginning would be best.  When myself and Rich got engaged on the 17th July 2006, it wasn’t standing under the Eiffel Tower, or lounging in a Gondola in Venice.  I spotted a ring I liked in the jewellers, went home told him to start saving, which he did, a few months later we went and bought the ring together, and that was about it.

Making the decision to actually get married came a year later, our second daughter had been born 13 weeks prematurely, and as anyone who has had a child in hospital for a long period of time will tell you, it gets a little bit boring sitting around all day feeling useless.  So we said “Right, shall we plan a wedding?”

We booked the wedding for 3 years later, 31st July 2010, it had to be this year, as 2008 would have been too soon, and 2009 is an odd number, and I have a “thing” about odd numbers!

So far we have planned 3 different weddings, firstly we were booked to get married in a hotel, but the planning started to feel rather formal, we weren’t really going to be able to make it personal to us; we were being restricted on a lot of things.  So we cancelled the hotel and decided to get married in Cyprus, I’m not sure why, but we changed our minds again, or rather I did.  Rich has said from day one, just tell me the date and time and I’ll be there.

So our 3rd and final wedding, we decided we wanted to get married in Church, so we went off to see the Vicar, and stewards of the church.  Then we booked our venue, deciding on a venue was easy, my friend Jemma got married at the same place last year, and it is such a lovely room.  Then my friend Helen suggested I get in touch with the wedding planner she had used for her wedding last year, so off I went to meet Lyn.  She asked me exactly what I wanted from her, and was so helpful, I am so grateful to her for everything she has done so far, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the venue on the day, I am in no doubt it will look amazing.

Of course the next big thing was my dress; I knew it was “The ONE” the moment I laid eyes on it.  I had been browsing the internet and had seen the most amazing dress, but never thought for one moment that it would in a shop near me.  As it happens, it was, and I fell in love instantly, it is the perfect dress for me.  I actually feel like a Princess every time I try it on.  I cannot wait to have another fitting; if I could I would every Saturday.

We are having 9 bridesmaids and 10 ushers on the day, so off we went to choose suits, Rich finally got have a bit of input, and chose well.  My colours are hot pink and black, and I can’t wait to see the men in their suits, they will all look wonderful. 

Choosing 9 bridesmaid dresses has been very difficult, obviously I had to like the dresses, but also wanted the girls to be happy with the choice, so I’d like to think I gave them a lot of options.  It took a long time to make the final choice, and as it happens we finally decided on the first dresses we had looked at, about 3 months before. 

It was now time to buy accessories to go with the 10 dresses we had purchased, I now have my jewellery, shoes, veil, tiara; I have the girl’s fascinators and shoes, but am still to decide on their jewellery.

We are at the stage now, where things have come to a bit of a standstill, we have our wedding rings ready, we’re also having names tattooed onto our wedding fingers, but we can’t decide whether to have them done before or after the wedding.  We are awaiting delivery of the bridesmaid dresses, and once they arrive they all need adjustments, I think they are a very misshapen bunch.  The men should be going for their suit fittings in approx. 4 weeks.  I have everything ready for making favours etc.   I am just waiting now for everything to start happening all at once, and I am trying to psyche myself up for the mayhem to come.

I am off shopping this weekend with my Mom, for her “Mother of the Bride” outfit, I’m looking forward to it, I’m sure we’ll have a very stressful but fun day.

I’d like to think that our wedding is personal to us; we have designed our invites, which were handmade by my sister-in-law to be, every part of the room decoration has been decided by us, we are having fish and chips as our “sit down” meal, I think this is perfect for us, we’re not really a “5 courses” kind of couple.

I’m not sure how I’m feeling at the moment, the wedding is now 94 days away, I have no nerves whatsoever about getting married, we had every intention of being together for life (hopefully lol)when we decided to have the children.  I cannot wait to see my beautiful girls in their dresses, and my lovely hubby to be in his suit.  This really is the icing on the cake for me, and I cannot wait to be a blubbering wreck on the day!