My Mum’s Homemade Chilli Con Carne

SC ChilliL1

My Mum has always made this as comfort food in my childhood home, the smell just makes me feel so warm inside. This is a super speedy recipe that I often make with microwavable rice if i’m feeling REALLY lazy! If not, you can make it in around half an hour, after you have popped the rice in the rice cooker. I make it at least once a week, as it is a firm favourite of my husbands!

The ingredients list below will make enough for around 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (mild or hot, depending on preference!)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • salt and pepper to season
  • white rice (microwaved, hob cooked or cooked in the slow cooker)

Method:

  • Add olive oil to pan on a medium heat, add onions and fry for two minutes and add crushed garlic and fry for another minute
  • Add beef mince and fry until browned
  • Add crumbled stock cube, cumin, paprika, chilli powder and seasoning
  • Pour in chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Taste chilli and add seasoning if needs be
  • Dish up with rice and salad… enjoy!

 

Let me know how you get on with the recipe, I love this dish!

Happy cooking,

Em x

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Emma Bridgewater… seconds?!

Why pay more for something that does the same job as the full priced product? When I first decided upon collecting Emma Bridgewater pottery, I was just SO excited! (My husband was not…)

Of course, I immediately started surfing their website deciding what theme I would start with. Starry Skies and Polka Dot stood out to me as they are gorgeous but don’t scream girly.

So upon typing in ‘Polka Dot’ in the search bar, a number of products came up. I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be two of almost every product on the website, except one was full price, and one was an ‘outlet’ product at a considerably cheaper price.

After some investigating, I came across this rather vague explanation of what a ‘second’ actually is.

 The reviews people have submitted of the products seemed very good, so after some deliberation, I decided to go for it and purchase some seconds.

It made sense to me as I want to slowly build up my EB collection so they can be used every day and not as Sunday best china. 

What’s the point of spending a small fortune on beautiful stoneware and only using it on occasion? 

When they arrived, I was pleasantly surprised!

You are quite shocked when you take them out the gorgeous box, as they have been squiggled all over with marker pen. Once you rub the pen off, the stoneware revealed is lovely.

This plate was a ‘second’, due to the glazing imperfections, but to me this adds wonderful character to what is a hand painted plate.

No one has been able to spot any differences between any of my seconds and full price products at all, as they are all hand painted and individual, no one piece is the same as another.

There is nothing visually wrong with the plate at all, and it looks fab!

My pasta bowl had a few chips on the bottom, but none are sharp, or hinder the use at all.

As you can see, it is still perfectly usable!

So, I will continue to purchase seconds for everyday stoneware, but special items such as tea pots etc I would purchase at full price.

If you already have an Emma Bridgewater collection, but never bought a second, or are thinking of starting your collection, I absolutely recommend the seconds for everyday products, as you almost get two for the price of one! Yay!

Happy shopping,

Em  x

So… Montessori eh?

Somebody once said to me “Montessori is when they just get to play all day right?” Erm, no. 

I have worked in both Montessori and state school settings over the past six years, including a top Montessori school in London. Over these years, I have never seen a method of teaching that makes more sense than Montessori. Each child is taught as an individual and not as one of many. I plan to have Montessori activities at home and send my children to Montessori Nursery School. They are wonderful places to be and I fully encourage parents to look into this wonderful type of teaching. I can assure you it will help shape your little ones into a confident, happy individuals.

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a type of education that was created in the 20th century, by Dr Maria Montessori. 

Who was Maria Montessori?

Maria Montessori was born in 1870. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome medical school, and became interested in education through her work as a doctor with disadvantaged children. 

What is the Montessori Method?

Montessori is a method of teaching that stemmed from Maria Montessori’s experiences alongside disadvantaged children. It pushes children to become independent, self confident individuals that learn through their natural interests. She developed a method of teaching children through ‘doing’, and the UK Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage has acknowledged that the  Montessori approach is at the core of its view on the way children learn.

Montessori believed that the child’s biggest capacity to learn was between the ages of 0-6 years old. Each child learns as an individual and chooses what activity they use and where they use it. Each activity has many indirect learning objectives; such as hand eye co-ordination, concentration skills and fine motor skills. 

A child uses an activity independently from the shelf, and take it their chosen place in the classroom to explore it. Often a child will be able to use control of error to learn how to use the activity, for example; a tray with two jugs, and a little sponge. The child uses the sponge to clean up spillages until they can pour the liquid without spilling. If the adult saw the child struggling to use it, they could approach the child to say something like “I love the way you are using that activity, can I show you another way to use it?” That way the child still builds their self esteem and concentration skills, without thinking they are wrong.

The Montessori Classroom

The classroom is set up so everything is at the child’s height at certain shelves. The child is able to choose whether they work at a table or on the floor, using a roll out mat. The child will be at their most comfortable so therefore have the maximum capacity to take in new skills and information. 

Montessori classrooms have five areas of learning; Practical Life (Otherwise known as Activities of Everyday Living), Sensorial, Literacy, Numeracy, and Cultural. Alongside these areas, Montessori classrooms will usually have an Art area, Reading corner, Construction shelf and Role play area. The children will often have free flow to the outside so they can choose their best learning environment. 

Some activity examples are below:

Example Cultural Activity

Example Numeracy Activity

Example Practical Life Activity

Example Sensorial Activity

Example Literacy Activity

Best EVER shortbread recipe!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

shortbreadchoco

I hope you are all  enjoying prepping for the holidays! This recipe is my brother-in-law’s absolute favourite!  I often whip up a batchfor my husband to take to work, and share around with his colleagues on a gloomy British morning. It’s perfect as a tea time treat alongside a cup of something comforting. This timeless recipe is one that I go back to time and time again. It is simple and easy to follow and the whole thing only take about 45 minutes from prep to taking them out the oven! 

 

Ingredients: This recipe makes about 15 rounds. 


115 g

Unsalted Butter (4 oz) softened
50 g Caster Sugar (2 oz) and extra for sprinkling
175 g Plain Flour (6 oz)
Pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Madagascan Vanilla Extract
100 g Chocolate Chips

Preparation

1

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan, Gas Mark 4). Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Add the flour, salt, vanilla extract and chocolate chips and stir into the creamed butter and sugar until the mixture forms a firm dough.

2

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll out to a thickness of about 1cm; the mixture will be quite short. Using a round cutter, stamp out 15 rounds, re-rolling as necessary.

3

Arrange on the baking tray, spaced slightly apart. Prick the tops with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. (I don’t do this if I don’t have enough time, and I haven’t noticed much difference!)

4

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden. I’m not sure if it is my oven but sometimes they take a little longer to cook, but that isn’t an issue! Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with the extra sugar and voila! 

These keep in a tupperware box for up to five days. 

Now…I’m off to bake! 

Em  x