Weekend Highlights – Spray Painting, Bike Riding & Roasted Vegetable Risotto (with Recipe!)

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend ūüôā

We managed to fit in lots of fun activities this weekend, starting off with a trip to the library on Saturday morning where¬†Lil’ L returned his¬†book¬†and came out with another seven! You can guess who ended up carrying those round Bath. Luckily he had lots of books to keep him occupied while we went for coffees in Neros ūüėČ

I’m still getting a real kick out of how much Lil’ L is enjoying reading.¬† In addition to the library books, he’s also currently reading a chapter of Lemony Snicket¬†to us every night and, on his own, he’s reading Philip Pullman’s ‘The Subtle Knife’ (both books that he picked up from the charity shop for a couple of pounds each).

In the afternoon, after a quick visit to a local village fete, Lil’ L and his friend T did some stencilling and spray art with M¬†in our garage.

T did a space-inspired picture, while Lil’ L sprayed an underwater scene with a scary looking fish!

On Sunday, it actually stopped raining for a few hours and the sun came out. We decided to grab the opportunity to go out for a bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To make it more interesting for Lil’ L, we said we’d cycle to the Angel Fish Cafe at Limpley Stoke for lunch.¬† That sure got him moving!

Both the boys fancied baked beans on toast¬†but we were surprised to find that the Cafe only served white bread. No wholemeal, no granary, no seeded bread.¬† That’s no good!¬†Bike riders need big chunky¬†doorsteps of wholemeal granary bread to refuel them, not thin anaemic white slices ūüėČ

Lil’ L asked if he could have an ice cream for dessert. I told him he could have one at the Canal Boat Cafe in Bathampton (back where we started our journey). This was a sneaky move on my part to make sure he peddled fast rather than dawdled all the way back. It sure worked ūüėČ

We’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain lately but, on the plus side, the countryside is looking beautifully lush and green!

The muddy bike bottom really isn’t a good look is it? I’m so glad I’ve finally had mudguards fitted to my bike.

The face was pretty muddy too (and chocolatey!)

And look at those legs!

Back home, Lil’ L headed straight to the shower while I made the most of our sunshine and did a little gardening. I was amazed to find that we’ve actually managed to grow some¬†strawberries that haven’t been eaten by a slug … or snail …¬†or blackbird!

And look what else I came across… a beautiful shimmering blue damselfly taking refuge on Buddha ūüôā

He stayed there for ages!

After a great day out, I cooked us a large pan of roasted squash and red pepper risotto. It was very yummy indeed. Unfortunately, Lil’ L isn’t a huge fan of risotto (he isn’t keen on the texture of Arborio¬†rice) but I pre-empted any negative comments by serving it with some toasted wholegrain tortilla segments. He then proceeded to tuck in with enthusiasm, piling the crispy tortilla high with the risotto, and ate every last grain!

I often find that the addition of a ‘bready’ side dish, like a flat bread, tortilla, or piece of garlic bread can transform a meal for Lil L. I wonder if this is the same for all children?

At the weekend, I made the risotto¬†with an old packet of¬†Arborio¬†rice that needed using up. Next time I make the risotto, I’m going to try the Riso Gallo 3 Grains Risotto Rice which consists of Italian Rice, Spelt and Pearl Barley. As this rice contains wholegrains, it will have a lower GI than regular white risotto rice, as well as other nutrients such as Iron and B Vitamins.

With the butternut squash and red pepper pieces, our risotto did look quite pretty. I also added some peas to add more colour and lovely nutrients ūüôā

Here’s how I made it:

Have¬†a great week everyone! ūüôā xx

This time last year… Glastonbury!

Festive Holiday Catch Up & Wild Mushroom Risotto

I’ve finally made my way back into blogging world!¬† Firstly, I want to say a bit ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR!’ to you all.¬† I hope 2012 brings you everything you wish for ūüôā

Secondly, apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks.¬† I took a break away from the computer so that I could give the family my full attention.¬†¬†The school holidays were¬†spent¬†playing with new toys and games, including the awesome Harry Potter Cluedo…

and the superb¬†Labyrinth ūüôā

This is such a great game for developing kids’ (and adults’) ability to think strategically and be flexible and adaptable. You have to work out how to reach certain objects on the board but, at each turn, the labyrinth changes so you have to keep adjusting your plans. I loved it!

As well as some old favourites, like Rich Uncle ūüôā

Now he’s 8, Lil’ L’s has been able to play all these¬†board games¬†as a contestant in his own right, and he’s loved it!¬†¬†It’s been a great way to spend quality time as a family ūüôā

We’ve also been on some awesome walks, including a¬†hike up to¬†the Glastonbury Tor on New Year’s Eve.

(c) Michael Cobb

As we were climbing up to the Tor, we were greeted with a spectacular sun set!

Evenings have been spent catching up on¬†all the films¬†that we’ve missed this year.¬†¬†M and I also watched several¬†Victorian¬†films¬†including¬†The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Young Victoria¬†and¬†adaptations of Dicken’s Great Expectations and David Copperfield.¬† The Victorian times weren’t that long ago, yet life was so different then.¬† It’s easy to forget¬†just how easy we have it these days.¬† Since watching these films, I haven’t complained once about having to do the odd hour of housework ūüėČ

On New Year’s Day, we took a trip to the cinema to watch Hugo in 3D.¬†¬†This film was¬†beautiful, mesmerizing, moving.¬† If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend going to the cinema and seeing it in 3D.¬† IMO, it’s one of those films that really needs to be seen¬†on the big screen to get the full effect.

Well, no post of mine would be complete¬†without the mention of¬†food ūüėȬ† We ate really well over the¬†festive period, although we probably ate a bit too much.¬† I’m not worried though¬†as I know that¬†that any extra weight I put¬†on will come off¬†over the next few weeks, now I’m back into¬†moderate eating mode rather than over indulgence.¬† I reckon I just need¬†to wear those stretchy¬†leggings for one more week, then I’ll be back in the jeans ūüėČ

Some of¬†our favourite eats¬†in the past few weeks¬†have been the more ‘natural’ foods.¬† We’ve loved eating¬†hot¬†roasted chestnuts,¬†walnuts eaten straight from their shells, and ruby red grapefruits.¬† I don’t think I’ve eaten a grapefruit since last Christmas and I’d forgotten just how much I love them!

We’ve also¬†enjoyed plenty of Christmas pudding¬†drizzled with fresh soya milk.¬† I don’t bother to make my own Christmas pudding as I¬†love¬†Tesco’s cheap range¬†pudding (it only costs¬†about ¬£3 and is vegan).

This is where the extra calories start piling on. One portion of Christmas pudding has over 300 calories… and that’s before the cream’s been poured on top! Who cares though, it’s Christmas!

Remember the snowball Christmas cake?  Well, it looked like this inside.

It was delicious… and it’s all gone!

We did try a few shop bought ‘processed’ foods, but we didn’t like most of them (probably because we’re not used to eating them).¬† I’m really glad that I made a nut roast for Christmas dinner, as the ‘Turkey-style’ veggie roast that I bought was way too salty and chewy for me.¬† We also tried some ‘chicken style’ nuggets, but they were really bland.¬† The one ready-made food that we really did love though was Linda McCartney’s sausage rolls.¬† Very tasty indeed!¬† I’ll definitely be buying them again next Christmas.

And finally, I’ve got a¬†recipe to share…. Wild Mushroom Risotto

This is what I made on arrival at my mum’s house on Christmas Eve.¬† It was super easy to make and didn’t take too long.¬† Mum¬†had some butternut squash to use up, so we roasted it in large chunks and served it as a side dish.¬† It turned out to be a perfect accompaniment for the¬†risotto.¬† It really was delicious.¬† Pefect for special occasions or dinner parties.

Instead of going out last¬†Friday night for a meal (the¬†credit cards needs a well earned¬†rest ūüėČ ), I decided to make¬†risotto again as a treat and, this time round, I¬†actually¬†wrote down the ingredients and method.

Here’s the recipe:

This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend

Since the beginning of 2012, I’ve been cooking with renewed enthusiasm,¬†and my favourite meals have been those that you can whip up in no time at all and, preferably, use one pan.¬† I’m looking forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks ūüôā

Did you play any fun games or see any good movies over the holidays?


A bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal… and WIAW!

Happy Wednesday everyone!¬† I hope you’re all having a great week!¬†ūüôā

I’ve been making the most of¬†opportunities to venture outside¬†and enjoy our beautiful Autumn/Fall!¬†¬†Despite the fact that we’ve had lots of rain and wind recently,¬†the trees are still holding onto their leaves and giving us an amazing¬†show of colour.¬† It is truly breath taking!

On Sunday we actually had sunshine and I¬†was itching to get outside and make the most of it.¬† As soon as M got back from his Sunday morning bike ride, he was more than happy to¬†hop back on the¬†bike and come for a ride with us along the Kennet and Avon Canal ūüôā

For today’s WIAW party, hosted by the¬†lovely Jenn (Peas & Crayons), I’d love to share our eats from Sunday, which involved a gorgeous lunch whilst out on our bikes.

We started the day with one of Lil’ L’s favourite weekend breakfasts …¬†vegan pancakes filled with cherry¬†& berry fruit spread,¬†and drizzled with a nutrition-packed chocolate sauce.¬†¬†Both the pancakes and the chocolate sauce are super easy to make and contains lots of ‘good stuff’ ūüėȬ† The recipe¬†is posted¬†here.

After getting fuelled up on the pancakes, we went out for a beautiful ride along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

This is one of my favourite views on the way to Dundas Aqueduct:

And here’s another beautiful view taken from Dundas Aqueduct.¬†

At Dundas, we headed down the Somerset Coal Canal to the Angel Fish Cafe for a spot of lunch.¬† I had a tasty avocado and black olive ciabatta, while M chose the roasted vegetable ciabatta.¬† The colours in this ciabatta were spectacular!¬† I managed to take one (pretty rubbish) photo before the camera battery died ūüôĀ

After a wonderful¬†day spent outdoors, we came¬†home and chilled out¬†watching the X Men Last Stand movie (Lil’ L’s choice ūüėČ ).¬†¬†

Inspired by the deliciousness of M’s lunch, for dinner I chose to make a roasted butternut squash and red pepper risotto.¬†

Check out the colour of these two beautiful veggies:

¬†This time round, I remembered to save the squash seeds and roast them.¬† I couldn’t believe how many seeds came out of one little squash!

This is the only meal that I prepare with white rice and I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt to have it once in a while ūüėȬ† I love the texture of Aborio risotto rice and love the contrast of the colourful veggies against the bright whiteness of the rice.¬† I finished off the dish with a sprinkling of peas (to add some more goodness and even more colour) and some lightly toasted almonds.¬†

Lil’ L described this meal as ‘scrummydiddlyumptious!’¬† I don’t know where¬†he gets these words¬†from!¬†

For dessert, I defrosted the apple and blackberry pudding that I made a few weeks ago.¬† Next time round I won’t add the blackberries into the pudding as Lil’ L has got an issue about purple apple pieces!¬† Personally, I think they’re very pretty ūüėČ

Right that’s me done!¬†¬† I can’t wait to head over to Jenn’s party and see what y’all eating.¬†

 Happy WIAW everyone! xx