Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies

Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies - 1

On Saturday, I went out to dinner with girlfriends for the first time in months. Before having Nino I couldn’t comprehend parents who never went out, always assumed it was easy but – (not such a ) news flash – it’s not. There’s a reason why all those friends with kids smile wryly and forecast the end to your social life as soon as you tell them you’re pregnant. Being a parent is wonderful in more ways than can be imagined, but it can also be repetitive, tough and – unless you have a live in nanny, endless family or an even more endless supply of cash – full time. Add into the mix a not-so good sleeper, breastfeeding on demand and separation anxiety (both Nino’s and mine), and you’re talking stay-at-home central. Continue reading

Easter Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Easter Cake - 1

Making memories is a wonderful thing. Ever since we’ve had Nino, each time a celebration rolls round I get a little twinkle of excitement at the thought of how I can recreate the fond traditions of Luke and my childhoods. Summer holidays with sandy toes and sticky ice creams, unwrapping presents at Christmas, Mothers Day lunches and chocolaty Easters. For as long as I can remember, my mum would organize an Easter egg hunt in and around the house and garden, working so well on their hiding places that tiny, shiny eggs would appear in the most unexpected places months after the actual event. One year we wondered why she’d disappeared during a dinner party at our flat, only to discover on getting into bed those same tiny, shiny surprises hidden under our pillows, mattress and tucked into our pajamas.

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Courgette & Raisin Loaf Cake

Courgette & Raisin Loaf Cake - 3

This blog has never been a hugely controversial space. I don’t tend to talk about politics, haven’t voiced my opinions on Europe or the horrors of what’s happening with the American presidency. Since having Nino there’s been plenty of parent chat; on birth, sleeping, eating, breastfeeding, but although I have my opinions on all of the above, I’m not going to go out of my way to pass judgement on others. Parenting is an incredible, but also incredibly tough, gig, and the last thing any mother needs is someone criticising the myriad choices she has to make on a daily basis. So when, last week, a blog reader compared giving a mouthful of cookie to my one year old with offering him alcohol and cigarettes, I was more than a little bit miffed. Continue reading

Chewy Chocolate, Oat & Raisin Cookie Bars

One of the (many) things I love about having a little person in my life is the way he’s made me reappraise my relationship with people I don’t know. Sitting on the quieter side of the social spectrum and living in London where everyone (with a few exceptions) is happy to go about their daily lives without so much as a ‘good morning’, I’m not much one for speaking to strangers if I don’t have to. But it’s impossible not to wave and smile along with Nino’s uninhibited attempts to make friends with any and everyone. Over the past year I’ve found myself striking up conversations in the shops and playground or on the bus. And even the surliest of strangers find it hard not to crack a smile at his full bodied, double handed wave. It’s incredibly sweet to watch.  Continue reading

Millionaire’s Shortbread with Salty Peanuts

Peanut Millionaire's Shortbread - 3
Millionaire’s shortbread
is something of staple in my baking repertoire, second only to brownies, perhaps cookies, in the list of simple treats I’ll bake when called on to bring something sweet to a special occasion. Like brownies, I’ve got a favourite recipe (ok three, on rotation) but I’m not averse to a little tinkering here and there. These lovely little morsels were my contribution to a baby shower this weekend just gone, and although it’s hard to beat the classic, I may have to throw a handful of salty peanuts into every batch of millionaire’s shortbread I make from now on, they’re so damn delicious.  Continue reading

Peanut Butter & Jam Cups

Peanut Butter & Jam Cups - 6

A couple of weeks after Nino turned one, I’d weaned him fully onto cow’s milk. For someone who wasn’t sure how easy it would be – before getting pregnant I’d always assumed there was some sort of ratio between boob size, quantity and quality of milk produced (there isn’t) – I’m super proud to have breastfed my baby for over a year. It’s a controversial topic, and some mums choose to feed on demand for a whole lot longer whilst others are on bottles of formula from the get go, but for me it’s been a wonderful experience. Crazy, beautiful, physical and emotional, tough at times but a brilliant journey that’s reconnected me with my body, our baby and afforded me hours of quiet contemplation in an otherwise hectic year. Continue reading

Pistachio Cream Filled Doughnuts

PIstachio Cream Filled Doughnuts - 3

When Nino came out of hospital for the first time, we paid a lot of visits to the supermarket. During those early weeks, he wasn’t supposed to come into close contact with anyone other than immediate family due to the risk of infection before the big op, but walking outside or round the shops was allowed. I can remember spending a lot of time shopping for and preparing elaborate family meals with our baby boy in his sling, slumbering away or inquisitively watching my every move, still at that stage where he was far too small to grab at things or get in the way of my master chef-ly endeavours. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Nino: White Chocolate & Lemon Birthday Cake

This time last year we were still in hospital. Forty eight hours after he was born, Nino had an emergency balloon septostomy in the paediatric intensive care unit of the Royal Brompton Hospital, a precursor to the open heart surgery he would undergo nine weeks later. I can remember sitting waiting for him to wake from the anaesthetic as if it was yesterday: the flutter and fall of his tiny chest, the sleepy beeps of a dozen life support machines, the artificial light illuminating our twenty four hour world and the sweet nurse suggesting, gently, for the eleventh time that I try to get some sleep myself.   Continue reading

Blackberry & Hazelnut Frangipane

Blackberry & Hazelnut Frangipane - 4
This week Nino started his settling in sessions at nursery. Having seen him through countless hospital visits, scans and over ten hours of open heart surgery, you’d think I could handle leaving him a cosy room surrounded by toys and a loving team of staff for a few hours. Not so much. It’s been a week of tears, and not all of them Nino’s. Separation anxiety, it seems, isn’t just for babies. Continue reading

3 Ingredient Cookies & Cream Fudge

3 ingredient cookies & cream fudge - 4

There’s a time and a place for boiling pans, sugar thermometers and endless beating with a wooden spoon. Forty eight hours before Christmas Day when you’re frantically trying to finish making and wrapping edible gifts for all your family and friends probably isn’t it. Throw a (not so) tiny ten month old explorer on the brink of walking into the equation and this 3-ingredient fudge was the elf to my slightly frantic Santa. Some might call it ‘cheat’s’ fudge – you simply mix together melted chocolate, condensed milk and cookies – but when something tastes this delicious, who’s going to begrudge the odd shortcut? Continue reading