Friday, 27 June 2014

Bake: Cashew and Apricot Flapjack

Despite the butter and sugar content in a flapjack, I always regard it as a healthier choice of cake. With some chopped apricot and cashew nuts, the humble flapjack is transformed into something gorgeous. Again, the recipe originates from BBC Good Food (they just have some of the best recipes) but I have added my own take according to what I have in my store cupboard at the time. Next time, I may try a cherry and coconut version.

140g butter or margarine
140g demerara sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g porridge oats
75g chopped cashews (mine were a bag of cashew pieces)
140g dried chopped apricots

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. 

2. Melt the butter in a pan with the sugar and syrup. Once melted, take off the heat.

3. Add to the pan, the oats, cashews and apricots and mix well. Pour into a greased and lined baking tin (20cm square) and bake for 35-40 minutes.

4. Leave to cool before marking and cutting the slices out. You should get between 12 and 16 slices out of this.

Unfortunately for me, my children decided they didn't like these, so I had to eat them all myself (not all at once though!)

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 23 June 2014

Lunch:: Pork and Tarragon Meatloaf

This is a great meatloaf that given enough leftovers, will do double duty: hot in an evening and just as delicious cold with some artisanal bread and pickles the following lunch. If you wrap it in bacon before cooking, this would also be a great accompaniment to a buffet table. This meatloaf will take time to cook but to make it easy, all the preparation can be done in a food processor.

Pork and Tarragon Meatloaf
Prep time: 10 mins. Cook time: 45 mins. Serves 4 

500g pork mince
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 rashers of bacon
1 slice of stale bread
1 egg
Tarragon 2 tsp
Mixed herbs 1 tsp
Salt & pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven at 200C.

2. Pulse the bread in the food processor until breadcrumbed and put in a large mixing bowl.

3. Pulse the onion and garlic together - you are aiming for a fine chopped texture. Add to the bowl.

4. Pulse the bacon and add to the bowl.

5. Add in the oil, tomato puree and egg and mix thoroughly.

6. Sprinkle in the dried herbs and the lemon juice. Add the pork mince and season. Mix well.

7. You can cook it either of these ways: a) in a lined (cake liner) 2lb loaf tin; or b) form the mix into a loaf shape and wrap with bacon and slide it onto a baking sheet.

8. Cook for 45 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before cutting it into slices. You should be able to achieve 8 generous slices.

Check back every Monday for more delicious Lunch recipes!
Love Mrs Jones x

Friday, 20 June 2014

Bake: Chocolate Loaf Cake

I made this dense, moist chocolate loaf cake a few days ago in one of those "I fancy some cake" moments. I am having those a lot at the moment! I have adapted this recipe from the original BBC Good Food one mainly due to the fact that I had neither ground almonds or chocolate chips, but I will also give you the original recipe link here for reference.

175g butter or margarine - I always invariably use Stork
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
175g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder (although I actually used drinking chocolate)
Chocolate spread or a little chocolate melted
You will also need a  2lb loaf tin and liner (or line it with baking parchment)

1.Preheat the oven at 170C and line your tin.

2.Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and then beat in the eggs.

3. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and mix well before adding the milk and cocoa powder. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 50 minutes.. Test with a skewer to make sure it comes out clean. If not, bake for a little longer.

4. When the cake is cool you can either drizzle some melted chocolate over the top or cover in chocolate spread. I used some delicious chocolate spread that my husband brought back from Italy.

The cake will serve 10-12 slices.

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Craft: Sewing Machine Cover

After 18 months with my sewing machine, I thought it was about time that I discarded it's nasty plastic cover and made it a nice clean cover instead. I was having one of those sewing-for-sewing's-sake moments - a need/desire to sew just anything!

I started with the staggered chevron design, and built the rest of the case up from that. It was a great project to use up some of my scraps. The only bit that is remotely tricky is drafting and sewing in the end panel.

I love the staggered chevron with half square triangles. I definitely need to try to be a bit more creative with what I make.

I left the plug socket end open and added in some ties to keep it closed.

What is on your sewing table at the moment?

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 16 June 2014

Lunch:: Chicken, Pepper and Olive Salad with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Dressing

This is a great Monday lunch salad, using up any of your roast chicken and new potatoes from a summer Sunday dinner. The dressing that accompanies this salad is first class and is worth making in its own right. I think that this would also work well with some hot smoked salmon flaked in, in place of the chicken. I have had this recipe in my book for a long time, but I think it was originally adapted from the Sainsbury's Magazine.

Chicken, Pepper and Olive Salad with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Dressing
Prep time: 30 mins. Serves 4 as a lunch

It is easy enough to adapt this recipe for just one or two people by adjusting the salad quantities. I would still advise making all the dressing - you can keep it in the fridge if you don't use it all at once.

Cooked leftover chicken, shredded (or use 2 large chicken breasts, cooked)
Olive oil
2 Peppers (red, orange or yellow)
New potatoes 
Sunflower seeds, handful
Pine nuts, handful
Black olives
Salad leaves

Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp grainy mustard (I sometimes use a smooth Dijon)
2 tbsp runny honey
100ml olive oil

1. Boil the new potatoes, if not using leftovers. This will take 25-30 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

2. Slice the peppers, add a little oil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 190C.

3. Toast the sunflower seeds and pine nuts in a dry frying pan. Keep moving them until they have turned a golden brown. This will take just a couple of minutes.

4. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jug and whisk until emulsified.

5. Put the salad leaves and olives in a serving bowl, add in the potatoes, chicken and peppers. 

6. Pour over the dressing and add the toasted seeds.

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Le Challenge: Charity

For the past couple of years, I have donated a Christmas Shoe Box to Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child. These boxes are filled with age appropriate gifts for children around the world. So, the first thing that came into my mind when the Le Challenge theme was Charity was to make something for the shoebox. Last year, I made a draughts set for an older boy. This time, I have made a crayon roll for a young child with this fantastic monkey fabric:

It is a simple idea which can be used for make up brushes, pens or even knitting needles (see tutorial here). 

Sorry for mentioning the Festive word in June, but I like to fill my box slowly and with a lot of thought. Operation Christmas Child also has a Pinterest board of things that you can make for their shoeboxes.

Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mr Nutcase Custom Phone Case Review and Discount Code!

The Review
This week, I have been over at Mr Nutcase creating a custom phone case for myself using some of my own images of quilts that I have made. I love the idea of a personalised phone case, especially that can show off some of my crafting creativity. Mr Nutcase is an established brand of phone case suppliers and if you are looking for a custom iphone case (or most other mobile brands), then this is a great place to look. What is more, I have a discount code for you to get 10% off your case!

If you have photos already edited and cropped, the process of creating a phone case is super easy: select the make and model of your phone and what kind of case you require, then upload your photos and play with the layouts until you are happy. There are also some awesome pre-designed cases for sale and my son chose one of these for his ipod touch. I love Contrast Circles and Vintage Blue Floral - two patterns that would make great fabric!!

Unfortunately for me, I am due a phone upgrade and my current phone doesn't feature in the make and model list, although if you are in a similar position, you can contact Mr Nutcase to ask them to track one down for you.

The Verdict
My son's case arrived within two days of creating it which was brilliantly quick, especially in the run up to Father's Day. It is exceptionally light and fits very neatly onto the back of his ipod touch. He loves the feel of it. In a few weeks (post phone upgrade), I will be having another play on the site, but this time for my own case!!

For You
For a 10% discount off a case, use discount code: Thanku10

In exchange for this review, Mr Nutcase has given me one free phone case and a fantastic discount for you guys! All the opinions are my own and you can be assured that I would not recommend a product if I didn't think it was worth it.

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Sewn: Lisette Souvenir Shorts

With so many good shorts patterns out there to try (think, Thurlow, Iris or Chataigne) I had a hard time deciding which one would be good for my first attempt at shorts. I went for Lisette's Souvenir Dress, Top and Shorts set because I also liked the look of the top. The fabric requirement was for just 1 metre of fabric!

As usual, I was across sizes in the hip and waist measurements (according to the back of the envelope, I am a US 12 waist and a US 8 hips)! I went for the straight size 12 though because I wanted to do French seams on the sides. The sizing is perfect.

Ha ha, I am sure no-one wanted to see my midriff, and tempting though it was to suck it all in, they fit lovely!

Does it look like the photo?
Yes - I think it does.

Nice and easy all the way up to the leg cuffs, at which point I made it up! It wasn't clear whether I was just hemming the edge or hemming the edge and creating a cuff. I did the later, then turned the cuffs out so the hem is the hem of the shorts.

Not the best zip insertion ever, but it's okay.

I used my own technique for inserting a zip, not the way the instructions went and because my zip was 8 inches rather than 7, I dispensed with the need for a hook and eye.

My only raw edge is the centre crotch seam which I have used a zig zag stitch on. Everything else is all neat and tidy with the French seams at the side - I can't tell you how proud I am of this!

I am really quite pleased with the way these shorts have turned out and I can't wait to wear them on my Summer holiday!

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Fun Umbrella Straw for Summer Drinks

When I was a child, I used to love those fragile paper umbrellas that you would get in your drink or dessert. Here I have tried to recreate them, using a paint chart. This is a great fun activity for you and your children to have a go at this Summer.

You will need:
  • Some drinking straws 
  • Paint charts
  • Scissors
  • Glue dots
  • Hole punch
1. Draw a circle on your paint chart - I drew around a glass.

2. Fold the disc in half, open out and fold in half the other way so that you have four even wedges. Fold the disc in half two more times so that you have eight fairly even wedges.

3. With scissors, cut down one of these folds to the centre.

4. Use a single hole punch to make a hole in the centre.

5. Shape the edges to look like an umbrella. Scallops would look good too. Then apply a glue dot to one of the wedges next to the cut edge. Overlap the other edge and press until stuck.

6. Carefully push a straw through the centre of your umbrella and the look is complete! Pour yourself a refreshing Summer cooler and relax!

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 9 June 2014

Lunch:: Carrot & Hummus Pitta

Carrot and hummus is my all time favourite sandwich filler and I had this for lunch every day for a week when I came out of hospital (I was craving that freshness)! Make your own hummus or buy one of the better ones in the shop, it really will make a difference to the taste. 

Carrot and Hummus Pitta
Prep time 5 mins. Serves 2

I like to serve mine with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and a handful of crisps! To make this into a more substantial meal, you could also serve with some falafel.

Wholemeal pitta
Medium carrot, grated
Iceberg lettuce

1. Pop the pitta in the toaster on low. You may have to flip it to toast the other end, and be careful doing so as they get very hot!

2. Shred the lettuce and prepare your carrot.

3. Let your pitta cool down before slicing it through the middle and opening the pocket. Place your lettuce and carrot into each side and add a generous couple of teaspoons of hummus, pushing it right into the pocket.
To make your own pitta bread, see my recipe here.
Love Mrs Jones x

Friday, 6 June 2014

Bake: Bourbon Biscuits

I love the idea behind making your own biscuit barrel biscuits, and have had some success in the past with some Nigella Lawson's custard creams. Today is the turn of the deliciously chocolatey Bourbon Biscuit featured in The Primrose Bakery Book. For once, I made no changes to the recipe, which is reproduced here by the Sunday Baking blog.

Unlike the custard creams which can be quickly made up in a food processor, these bourbon biscuits became a bit of a chore to mix, kneed and roll out as there is just so much of it.  

The biscuits take approximately ten minutes to bake and you will need as many baking sheets as possible. I think I had five or six batches going!

These biscuits would make a great present for Father's Day - stack them and present them in a box or cello bag.

I found the chocolate icing very runny, and blogger Confessions of a Teenage Baking Queen has made a modification for this.

They are absolutely delicious with a very intense chocolate taste.

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Sewn: GBSB Gathered Top

Following on from the GBSB: Sew Your Own Wardrobe review that I did earlier this week, I am going to show you the Gathered Top that I made. It is a super easy and very stylish sewing pattern that requires just 1 metre of fabric and approximately an hour of your time. In true GBSB spirit I chose to recycle a dress for this project. I have never done this before, but I loved the fabric so much that I couldn't bear to part with it.

Gathered Top from Great British Sewing Bee: Sew your own wardrobe

Pattern Description
Loose fitting tie neck top

The pattern states that one size fits most, but I would translate that as sizes 8-12/14. Because I was reusing fabric, I used slightly less fabric for the back piece than required, and this worked out fine for me.

Very easy to follow with lovely colour diagrams if you need to visualise what you are doing. This would make a great first step into dressmaking.

Would I sew it again?
Yes, I love both the speed and fabric requirements of this pattern. I am already thinking about another one!

Have you sewn anything from Sew Your Own Wardrobe yet?

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 2 June 2014

Lunch:: Panzanella

Do you get bored with same old lunch, day in, day out? Are you salivating at the thought of your Cheese and Pickle Sandwich eaten at your desk in a moment snatched between emails? Neither am I! I am starting a new weekly lunch recipe series in an attempt to overhaul my lunches of old and ring the changes with something new.

With World Environment Day (5th June) in mind, I am thinking about our FOODprint - how much we waste our food. This recipe suggests using ciabatta, but you can in fact use any stale bread that you have lying around. 

Prep time 15 mins. Serves 3-4 people

Panzanella is a rustic Italian salad, and way back when I was a vegetarian, we used to eat this all the time. To make this more substantial meal, serve along some cooked chicken. What you put in your panzanella can be highly subjective, but here is what I like in mine.

Small ciabatta loaf
2 gloves of garlic sliced
Half of a cucumber chopped
Avocado chopped
Cherry tomatoes - a handful or two
Fresh basil - a few leaves, torn
300 ml Olive oil
100 ml Wine vinegar or Balsamic vinegar
Alternative: use a classic salad dressing of your choice

1. Tear up the ciabatta into bite sized chunks and place into a bowl with the garlic.

2. Add in the chopped salad vegetables and the basil.

3. If you want to make your own dressing, mix up the olive oil and vinegar. Otherwise, use a bought dressing. Pour this over the salad and mix well.

If you are taking this into work with you, you may want to set aside the dressing and apply it ten minutes before you eat it. 

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Looking Forward in June 2014

May has come and gone, and with it the end of Me Made May, which I partially blogged about. Did you pledge to wear more of your handmade garments last month? I do tend to wear my makes fairly often anyway - not a lot of point making them otherwise! See here for the New Look tunic (below).

Coming up in June, I am launching a new weekly Lunch series featuring anything but the humble sandwich, to coincide with my anticipated return to work after illness. It is all about making something quickly but that is also nutritionally sound, and I am linking in to World Environment Day on 5th June, looking at our FOODprint and how much food we waste. Look out for this on Mondays.

With the World Cup beginning on 12 June, the same extended weekend of Father's Day, Dad's will have never had it so good. If you like to make your Dad something homemade for Father's Day, later this week, I will be posting about some fabulous Bourbon Biscuits that will make a wonderful and delicious present.

Thinking ahead to holiday season, I have the Lisette Souvenir Shorts pattern all ready to start this month. I will also be showing you the Draped Top all sewn up from the latest Great British Sewing Bee book.
Lily's Quilts
Finally, I am linking up over at Lily's Quilts today for Fresh Sewing Day - I love having a look at what everyone else has been up to.

Love Mrs Jones x