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[Recipe] Cheap and Easy Vegetable Soup

12349521_10153873133597160_1075690722_o When I was younger and home sick from school, my mom would always make me a bowl of Campbell’s vegetable soup with ABC pasta (I liked vegetable soup better than chicken noodle). When I became a vegetarian, I stopped eating it because it had meat based (beef or chicken) stock in it. And then I moved to the UK and stopped being vegetarian, but Campbell soup wasn’t sold here until recently. Two weeks ago when I was sick I happened to be looking at the tinned vegetables in Tesco and I spotted a tin of mixed veg – carrot, potato, parsnip, and peas. I thought it might be nice as a soup, so I picked some up and I’ve been making this soup every few days since. It’s quick, cheap, easy, and surprisingly tastes just like Campbell’s, so it’s also a nice bit of comfort food for this expat.

Vegetable Soup
Syns: 0

You will need:
1 tin mixed vegetables
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1L vegetable stock or broth (made from scratch, cubes, or stock pots*)
handful of pearl barley, small pasta, or rice (optional)

1. Check the cooking time on the barley, pasta, or rice as this will determine how long the soup will take. Pearl barley takes about 30 minutes, but small pasta only 10-15 minutes.
2. Combine everything in a large pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer per directions on the barley, pasta, or rice (I simmer mine for 30 minutes).

And you’re done. This made plenty for my husband and I to have for lunch over two days. I think the total cost for this is under £1, so it’s quite frugal too!

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*Double check to make sure your stock is still syn free, or calculate the syns. Oxo cubes are free.

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Recipe] Peanut Butter Blondies

12322398_10153868394152160_4879704170875940798_o Several months ago, my husband’s aunt hosted all of us for a Sunday dinner and asked everyone else to bring along a sweet. About a month before that, just after our niece was born, I brought over a meal to my Brother and Sister-in-Law and made them some brownies. SIL asked if I would make them again, so I agreed and then I was rooting through my cupboard and found a bag of peanut butter chips I had brought back from the US and I decided to make some blondies too, since Tim’s sister loves peanut butter. Both were a big hit, and when Tim’s aunt decided to host a family dinner again, the request came through from my sisters-in-law (sister-in-laws? How do you plural SIL?) for brownies…..and blondies. The only problem was that I had used the bag of PB chips last time and as it was a grocery item from the USA, I had no way of getting them. So, I went on a hunt for a decent PB blondie recipe. Pinterest yielded a bunch, and then my sister (from another) linked me to a recipe. It only had seven reviews and one review said it was more like a cake, but there also was a side bar link to another PB bar recipe, so on analysing both recipes and then converting down to metric, I came up with this recipe. It’s still a little more cakey than a traditional brownie, and I think I used more white chocolate last time, but these are pretty peanut buttery!

Peanut Butter Blondies

You will need:
275g peanut butter* (I used Jif, you can use any brand. I used smooth, but if you like chunky, use chunky)
100g butter, softened (I used Stork)
175g caster sugar
175g brown sugar
4 eggs
1TBS vanilla essence
200g flour (I used self-rising, plain might have been better and not gone so cakey!)
100g white chocolate chips (optional. Add more if you want!)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175C and spray a tray bake tray** with fry light or line with baking parchment.
2. Cream together peanut butter, butter, and both sugars.
3. Add vanilla and add eggs one at a time.
4. slowly mix in flour.
5. stir in white chocolate chips
6. Spread evenly in the baking tray and bake 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown and it pulls slightly from the edge
7. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Makes 32.

I did not calculate syns for this treat, but I do know that peanut butter has a lot of syns in it. Something like 4 or 4.5 per Tablespoon (15g!), so at a bare minimum you would be looking at at least 6 syns per piece (if divided into 32) at a rough estimate using flora light instead of stork, and that’s without the white chocolate chips too. So…..yeah. This has lots of syns in it. If I was planning on keeping it at home, I would work out the syns more accurately, but since I’m taking this to a party, I’m not concerned in knowing.

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*I would love to try this out with almond butter or other non-peanut butter butters for people with peanut allergies. I bet it would taste really good!
**I bought a pack of 10 tray bake trays at ASDA for £1 or £2 that I’ve been using every time I make brownies so I can easily give it away to someone without worrying about getting the tray back.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Recipe] Cherry Almond Marzipan Cake

12311822_10153852651367160_543051224_o Today was my Mother-in-law’s birthday and she wanted to have pizza with her kids, so my sister-in-law hosted us, brother-in-law picked up pizza, and I offered to make a cake. I asked if there was anything in particular she wanted, and she said to surprise her. After thinking about what I knew she liked (Marzipan) and some browsing on Pinterest, I found this cake, showed it to Tim, and he thought his mum would like it. Off I went to Tesco for ingredients…..to discover Tesco was OUT of glacé cherries! In fact, I found out from a friend who works for Tesco that Tesco had issues with the supplier, so NONE of the stores had any! Fortunately, there is an Aldi on the same road as Tesco, so I called in there and found stacks of them (and purchased three containers to be safe!). So, if Tesco hasn’t fixed their issue, you can find the cherries at Aldi. I also purchased a jar of cocktail cherries in case I couldn’t find the glacé, so I bet those could be used in a pinch (but I would drain and pat them dry).

One tip the original recipe suggests is tossing the cherries in a little bit of flour before mixing them in as it will keep the cherries from sinking. I did this, but I’m not sure it really made a difference because once the cherries touched the batter I felt like the coating disappeared. However if I had needed to use the cocktail cherries, I think I would have coated them.

When I took this cake out of the oven, it looked like a mess. Honestly. It looked awful. And after it had cooled off, it felt very dry, so I wound up poking holes in the top with a fork and drizzling over it some of the juice from the jar of cocktail cherries. If you don’t have any and you need to moisten the cake, you also could thin a teaspoon of jam with some boiling water and use that. It didn’t need a lot of liquid, maybe only about 2 teaspoons worth, but I do think that helped. I also thought about using some cherry kirsch, but with one family member pregnant and one breastfeeding, I wanted to keep alcohol away.

This cake also has an incredibly high calorie and fat content due to the almonds. The website the original recipe was on pegs it at just under 400 calories per serving, but doesn’t state how many servings the cake serves. There are 8 of us, so we divided the cake into eight. Slimming World, what slimming world? haha.

This was only my second time working with marzipan (the first being the Battenburg cake), and my first time ever coating a cake with marzipan, because the Battenburg is rolled to wrap it, not draped. So now I can add draping a cake with marzipan to my list of kitchen skills I never thought I would have.

Cherry Almond Marzipan Cake

You will need:

150g butter, softened (I used Stork)
150g caster sugar
2 extra large eggs
150g self-rising flour
150g ground almonds
25g flaked almonds (optional and approximate)
1 tsp almond extract
200g glacé cherries
25g self-rising flour (optional, for coating the cherries)
400g marzipan (divided into 150g and 250g pieces)
1 TBS cherry jam (or any flavour you happen to have)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line an 8-inch (20cm) round cake tin with parchment paper.
2. Take 100g of the cherries and cut them in half. Save one half of a cherry for decoration at the end. Coat cherries (both halved and whole) in flour (optional).
3. Cream together butter and sugar. Add almond extract and add eggs one at a time.
4. Alternately mix in flour and ground almonds until mix is smooth.
5. Put away the mixer, and grab a wooden spoon and stir in the cherries. Set mix aside.
6. Roll out 150g marzipan between two sheets of parchment paper and cut it into an 8-inch round (use the cake tin as a guide).
7. Fill the tin with HALF the batter, level off, and carefully place the 150g disc of marzipan on top of the batter. Cover with remaining batter.
8. Bake 45-60 minutes. It’s hard to tell when this one is done, because a toothpick inserted will likely grab onto the marzipan, but the top of the cake will go golden. If you think the bottom isn’t cooked yet but the top is, cover the top with some foil to keep it from burning (this is the reason my cake dried out a little I think)
9. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes, turn out, and cool completely. I left mine overnight.
10. Roll out the 250g piece of marzipan between two sheets of parchment paper until it is 10-12 inches in diameter (27-30cm). You will want the marzipan sheet to be slightly bigger than the size of your cake.
11. Microwave the jam for 30 seconds just to let it go runny and brush over top and sides of cake.
12. Carefully transfer your marzipan round on top of the cake, smooth down the sides, and trim. I did need to make a few patches towards the bottom because it didn’t quite reach. If you’re worried about presentation, you could wrap a ribbon around the cake to cover your mistakes!
13. Place the half cherry you saved in the middle, and artfully arrange the almonds (optional)

Everyone who tried a piece loved it! Which is great, because I was really nervous about this one, and this morning I debated trying to make a new cake and debated dividing the batter between two cake tins and then sandwiching the cakes together with marzipan instead of baking the marzipan into the middle, but it worked out and I didn’t need to. Good thing too, as I had very little sleep last night thanks to a hacking cough keeping me awake!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Recipe] Crustless Pumpkin Pie

12311373_10153850694002160_476025140_o Because everyone knows the filling is the best part! Special thanks go to Sue, who gave me the original recipe I modified after I lamented on Facebook about all the recipes I found on Pinteresst calling for either ingredients that aren’t sold in the UK or ingredients I didn’t have. You can use fresh or tinned pumpkin for this (you also could use a butternut squash or sweet potato), though the verdict is still out if tinned pumpkin is syn free. I say it is, because it’s a tinned vegetable (and contains 100% pumpkin), but a friend of mine says it isn’t. So, use fresh pureed pumpkin if you have it, syn the tinned or don’t syn, it’s your choice. This pie comes in at 2 syns per slice if you divide it into 8 and it tastes exactly the same a the filling in a regular pie does.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

You will need:

425g pureed pumpkin
250ml semi-skim milk
75g Truvia for Baking*
2 eggs
2TBS cornflour**
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 220C and spray your pie plate with fry light.
2. Combine all ingredients and use a hand mixer to mix until smooth
3. Pour into the sprayed pie plate and bake for 15 minutes.
4. Lower the oven to 180C and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, or until it is firm on the edges (a little wiggle is ok. In fact, I think I slightly overcooked mine since it cracked the whole way around!)

I served this after we had a mini Thanksgiving, or Fauxgiving as I called it.We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, so anyone who is celebrating it here today is probably an American or related to an American (or friends with, etc.). Basically, we had a roast dinner with turkey instead of chicken and I added a bit of stuffing and cranberry sauce. I served mashed potatoes instead of the usual roast only because my throat hurts right now and I thought the sharp corners on the potatoes would have hurt going down. I followed the cranberry sauce recipe in the Slimming World Christmas cookbook and made a double batch of it to store in a jar until Christmas (if you turn the jar upside down, it will seal itself).

12295739_10153850934622160_921517929_o

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*Truvia for baking is sold in a 500g bag and is amazing to bake with on Slimming World, as it only has 2.5 syns per 25g. You could use regular sweetener, but 75g would be A LOT of sweetener, or you could use sugar, but adjust the syns accordingly. 75g Truvia baking blend is 7 1/2 syns.

**If you’re in the US, this is cornstarch, not the stuff you make cornbread with!

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Easy Chocolate Fudge

12265799_10153835253647160_5239096253652785517_o Yum! Who doesn’t love Fudge? Tim and I decided that we will no longer put anything in our mouths unless we know the syn values for it, and that includes tasty chocolate treats. I always like to make assorted treats at Christmas time, and last year I made Peanut Butter Fudge. This year, I want try a few other types of fudge including chocolate, and I decided it needed a trial run and I needed to work out the syns for this. If you follow my recipe exactly and use an 8″ square tin, depending on how small you cut the pieces they can be as little as 4 syns or as many as 9 syns per piece. You might need a ruler to work out the exact sizes!

You Will Need:

1 tin of Carnation Condensed Milk
300g Dr Oetker plain chocolate chips
Parchment paper
microwave safe bowl
8 inch square tin
Spatula

1. Line an 8 inch square tin with parchment paper.
2. Combine milk and chocolate in a microwave safe dish.
3. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave in 30 second intervals stirring between until chocolate is melted and it is evenly combined with the milk.
4. Pour mixture into tin, and smooth out into the corners with the spatula and level off.
5. Refrigerate overnight.
6. When solid, cut into pieces. 36 pieces = 4 syns per piece, 25 pieces = 6 (5.76) syns each, 16 pieces = 9 syns each.

If you use a different sized container, what you need to know to calculate the syns is the total syn value of these exact ingredients are 144.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] A Taste of Austria – Pork Schnitzel

12279459_10153834140982160_976593785_o Austria has some amazing food. Some amazingly fattening food. Did you know that Austrians consume on average more calories per day than most other countries in the world? I didn’t either until my husband found an article about it. No wonder he and I both gained weight on our trip to Austria. We figure native Austrians probably need all those calories since everything is on top of a mountain! One of my huband’s favourite foods is Schnitzel, and they serve it pretty much everywhere. Large pieces of chicken, pork, or viel coated in batter and then deep fried. Wow. I can feel my arteries clogging just writing that. A few years back, the Slimming World magazine had some international foods, and incldued a recipe for Schnitzel, which I have used to base my recipe off of. The breadcrumbs are best if you are able to let them bake and stand for several hours, but you can crisp them up just before you make them or you can use them soft. But this is best with crispy crunchy breadcrumbs.

Pork Schnitzel
1 Syn per Schnitzel

You Will Need:
60g wholemeal bread (loaf or roll, but measure to make sure it’s 60!)
2 tsp Celery salt
2 tsp mixed herbs (I actually used Italian herbs as I was out of mixed and it was fine)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg
6 pork chops with the fat trimmed off (or pork steaks or pork medallions)
Frylight

For the Breadcrumbs:
1. Preheat oven to 150C.
2. Blitz the bread along with the spices in a blender or food processor until crumbs.
3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
4. Bake the crumbs for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.
5. Turn off the oven and and leave the crumbs in the oven for 4 hours.
6. Fold over the parchment paper and crush the now crispy crumbs with your hands, the back of a knife, or a rolling pin.

For the Schnitzel:
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Whisk the egg white, then add the yolk and whisk some more.
3. Spray a baking tray with frylight.
4. Dredge the pork first in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs and place on the tray.
5. Spray the tops of the pork with some frylight.
6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are starting to brown.

This goes great with some chips, peas, and sauerkraut! Don’t forget to measure out your ketchup too. 1 TBS of reduced sugar and salt ketchup is half a syn. I just dumped all my ketchup on my chips, so it looks like a lot, but I only used 2TBS, bringing the total syns to my dinner to 4.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Savory Cheese Cookies (Cheese Scones)

12255492_10153835571962160_951995685_o I know you’re probably thinking savory cookies? What? But see, I started out reworking a recipe for Victorian Cheese Scones, and they came out a bit flat – more like a cheese biscuit, but they’re soft like a cookie. Since they’re too flat to be scones, I’ve decided they must be savory cookies. Even better? They work out at 2.5 Syns each! Of course, you could make them bigger/thicker and have them at 5 syns each, too. As this was originally a recipe measured in ounces, the grams are a little funny looking.

Savory Cheese Cookies (Cheese Scones)

You will need:
170g self-rising flour
28g Flora light (blue container) (if you’re not following SW, use any butter or margarine)
84g grated reduced fat Cheddar cheese*
1 egg
2 TBS semi-skim milk
pinch of salt & pepper
1/4 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder
about 1/2 TBS water (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with parchment paper OR spray with Frylight.
2. Whisk together egg and milk in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Sift together flour, salt, pepper, and mustard powder.
4. Rub in the Flora. I did his by kind of scrunching it, if that makes sense. You’ll wind up with the texture of breadcrumbs.
5. Stir in the cheese.
6. Mix in the milk and egg and combine until it forms a ball. If it’s not picking up all the flour and looks dry, add about 1/2TBS of water.
7. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to around 1/4″ to 1/2″.
8. Using a middle sized biscuit cutter, cut out 20 rounds and transfer them onto the baking sheet.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you divide this into 20, each cookie is 2.5 Syns each. If you roll out the dough thicker and only cut 10 out, each one is 5 syns. For a more rustic look, you could just shape them by hand.

Add-ins: Make Cheese & Onion scones by adding some chopped spring onions after adding the cheese. Make Cheese & Bacon by adding drained chopped bacon (use lardons for no added syns) to the dough. Try adding chilli powder for a kick. The possibilities are endless!

*You can use another type of cheese, but you will need to recalculate the syns.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Stuffed French Toast

12250765_10153827925177160_1136318101_o Walk into an American diner, and one thing you’ll spot on the menu is French Toast, and about a half dozen (or more!)) ways to have it , including stuffed.

French toast is known as eggy bread in the UK, the only difference being that eggy bread is more of a savory dish, and French toast is usually a sweet. And to further confuse things, in the UK we also have something called fried bread, which you would think would be similar, but nope. Fried bread kind of grosses me out.

If you order Stuffed French Toast in a diner, you will usually get two really thick slices of white bread, dipped in a mixture of egg and milk, and fried. Between the two pieces of bread they lay on the sweet cream cheese and then it’s topped with fruit mixed in a sugary syrup. Sounds disgustingly delicious, doesn’t it?

Since Tim was swapping over to night shift on Saturday, I knew we would be up late on Friday night (to try to sleep in on Saturday to help him switch over) and Saturday by the time we got up we would be having Brunch instead of Breakfast, and I decided to make French Toast. Then, when I was getting the milk out for my coffee, I spotted the dish of thawed out frozen berries and a container of quark, so I decided to make mine stuffed!

Stuffed French Toast
Syns: 0, but this will count as your HEB. If you’re not having it as your HEB, you will need to syn the bread.

You will need:
2 slices of any Healthy Extra B bread option
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
100g frozen mixed berries, thawed (or fresh berries)
2 TBS quark
Fry Light

1. Spray a frying pan with Fry Light and pre-heat it on the hob (that’s stove for my American readers!).
2. Whisk the eggs with the cinnamon in a bowl or dish large enough to fit a slice of bread.
3. Soak one slice of bread in the mixture and fry until golden brown (3-4 minutes per side). Repeat with the second slice of bread (you might need to give the pan another spray of Fry Light too). If your frying pan is large enough, you could do both slices at once.
4. Spread one slice of French toast with quark, top with mixed berries, and place the second slice of French toast on top.
5. Optional: top the whole thing with some agave syrup, treacle, American pancake syrup, or golden syrup (and make sure you calculate the syns for your syrup!)

Not only is this a great Slimming World brunch choice, it’s great for a diabetic! If you wanted to make a “full fat” version, use cream cheese instead of quark and you could use tinned fruit in syrup.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Queen Cakes from Beamish

12244841_10153828556132160_1633251543351578338_o Last year, my husband gave me an experience day at Beamish for our 5th anniversary. I went on the baking course, and it was loads of fun! Not only did we get to use recipes from the Victorian era, we also baked on a coal stove, similar to the Esse stove I have in my kitchen (which I still haven’t used…..). We got to take home everything we baked and we were given a packet with the recipes to use at home. The goodies were enjoyed by my husband and I over our weekend break up North, and also given to my in-laws. We enjoyed everything we made, with the exception of the bread as it had too much yeast in it for our tastes. I held on to the recipe packet, and today when my pictures from the baking day popped up on my Timehop, I asked Tim what from that day I should make again. He suggested queencakes.

If the measurements look a little odd, its because the recipe from Beamish was in ounces. Fortunately, my digital scale can be switched from grams to ounces, so I swapped it over and then swapped it back to see what it was in grams so I could share this in an easier to measure measurement. I also worked out the sys for this since I wanted to know if I could have any and if you make 12, they come out at 3.5 Syns each. The batter filled up the tins, so I debated making 24 with the mixture, which would make them 1.7 syns each (round up to 2), but I think they would wind up being too small.

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Queen Cakes
Makes 12, 3.5 Syns each

You will need:
114g self-rising flour
56g caster sugar
56g Flora light
1 egg
2 TBS semi-skim milk
31g currants

1. Preheat oven to 180C and spray a 12-hole bun tin with fry light.
2. beat the egg and milk together and set aside.
3. Cream together Flora and sugar.
4. Alternate adding egg mixture and flour to the mix.
5. Stir in currants.
6. Divide evenly into the bun tin and bake for 15 minutes.
7. allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Recipe] A Trio of Cheap and Easy Crock Pot Soups

12214067_10153817709282160_257290123_o I regularly make Slimming World speed soup because it’s super easy, and the ingredients are almost always in my cupboard and if they’re not, the local co-op stocks everything I need. I’ve been on a Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) kick lately, especially with it becoming colder outside and Tim wanting to take food in a hot food flask for his pack-up. Last year, Tim wound up with microwave curries most days (at a hefty cost of £6 for 2!) or a Bachelor’s Pasta N Sauce. But I decided to try to not only save us some money, but to also give him some healthier meals, as the only way his curry was Slimming World friendly was if I went to Iceland and bought the SW frozen curries, but more often I wound up popping down to the co-op at the last minute! Using the crock pot to make soup means I can make it in bulk to last the whole week. A few weeks ago, I made Parsnip and apple soup, last week was butternut squash soup, and this week is Tomato Speed soup. The best part about the tomato soup is it’s less than £3 for all the ingredients as this works great with the value ranges! And if you’re on an early shift, you can put this in the crock pot the night before!

Parsnip and Apple Soup

You will need:
6 Parsnips, chopped
1 large cooking apple
2 Celery ribs, diced
1 Vegetable stock cube, made up with water to make 500ml vegetable stock
2 tsp Nutmeg

Dump everything into a 3L crock pot and turn on low for 8-10 hours. In the morning, use a stick blender or transfer into a blender to blend until smooth. You will need to weigh your apples before putting them in the crock pot to determine the total number of syns for this soup, then divide it by the number of portions. This should make at least 4 servings and each serving should be 1-2 syns. I did not peel the parsnips or apples as I relied on the stick blender to smooth everything, but you could take an extra step and peel them first. If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock to thin it out.

Butternut Squash Soup

You will need:
1 Butternut (or other squash) squash, quartered and de-seeded
1 Sweet potato, roughly chopped
2 Celery ribs, diced
3 Spring onion sprigs, chopped
2 Vegetable stock cubes, made up with water to make 1L vegetable stock

Put all ingredients in a 6L crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. In the morning, use a stick blender or transfer into a blender to blend until smooth. I did not peel the squash or potato as I relied on the stick blender to smooth everything, but you could take an extra step and peel them first. If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock to thin it out, but we liked it as a thick soup. I also added leftover mashed potatoes and leftover carrot and swede mash to it this time, and it gave it some extra flavour and helped to stretch the servings. This soup has no syns!

Tomato Speed Soup

You will need:
6 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of carrots (or 6 carrots diced)
2 tins of baked beans (for this, I bought the cheapest beans Tesco sell)
2 Celery ribs, diced
3 Spring onion sprigs, chopped
4 TBS Italian herbs
2 tsp chili powder (optional, to give it a kick)
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 vegetable stock cubes, crumbled

Dump everything into a 6L crock pot and turn on low for 8-10 hours. In the morning, use a stick blender or transfer into a blender to blend until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock to thin it out. Makes 8 400ml portions. This soup has no syns!

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Battenberg Cake

12218288_10153817965167160_2079031149_o I had never heard of Battenberg Cake until I moved here and I think it took several years before I even had a piece, as it’s not something I would usually pick. But Tim and I were at a cafe once and he bought one, which had me curious. Recently, Tim told me Battenberg was one of his favourite treats when he was a kid. I became inspired to try to make one myself, and today I finally did.

I will admit I did not make my own marzipan, but that’s something for me to think about trying in the future. I also did not calculate syns for this cake or use anything low fat/ low sugar as I knew I wouldn’t be keeping the cake for myself. I made today’s as a trail run for Christmas.

Battenberg Cake

You will need:

175g butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self-raising flour
65g ground almond
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pink (or red) food colouring
150g apricot jam
250g ready-made marzipan (half a pack)

You also will need:

Square baking tin (20x20cm/8″x8″)
Parchment paper
Aluminium foil
Non-stick cooking spray
Small strainer (I used a tea strainer)

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1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Divide your cake tin in half. Fold a piece of foil over and over itself several times to make a thick divider the same length as your tin. Line the tin with parchment paper and then cover the foil divider with parchment paper. I used cooking spray to stick the parchment divider to the parchment liner.
3. Cream together eggs, butter, and sugar. Add eggs one at a time.
4. Combine dry ingredients and slowly add dry to wet.
5. Put HALF the batter in one side of the cake tin.
6. Add pink food colouring to the remaining batter until the batter is the shade of pink you like and pour it into the other half of the in
7. Bake 30 minutes. I rotated it after 15, but if your oven doesn’t need things to be rotated, you can skip that.
8. While the cake is baking, bring the jam to a boil and then strain it over a small bowl. Discard the apricot bits left in the strainer. Allow the jam to cool completely.
9. Remove cake from oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool for about an hour.

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10. Cut each cake in half lengthwise, making 4 cake strips. Trim each strip so they are all the same size.
11. Stack the cakes. Bottom layer – one pink, one yellow. Top layer – yellow on top of pink, pink on top of yellow.
12. Use some of the apricot jam to stick the strips of cake together. Sit to one side.
13. Knead the marzipan slightly and roll out onto a floured surface (you can use icing sugar or more ground almond for this, too) until it is a rectangle large enough to cover all four sides of the cake.
14. Spread apricot jam onto the marzipan and lay the cake down onto the jam. Wrap the jam covered marzipan around the cake.
15. Trim off the excess marzipan on each edge of the cake and slightly trim the cake so you can see the checkerboard pattern.

Now what can I do with all these cake ends?!?!

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(Answer: Cake Pops!)

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Weetabix Tea Cake

12227914_10153816110347160_259533549_o When a new Slimming World recipe book comes out, I always flip through it with a set of tabs and tab off the recipes I’d like to try. One of the recipes I marked in Best Loved Extra Easy Recipes was Weetabix Cake (p156). I finally decided to make it today, but unfortunately I didn’t have the Skim Milk or the mixed spice it calls for, so I needed to get a little creative. I thought about the recipe for my Lincolnshire Plum Bread and how you soak the sultanas in tea, so I decided to try it with the Weetabix Cake, and for the spices, I used the mixture I use for Plum Bread (which is actually Pumpkin Pie spice). So really, alternate names for this could be Weetabix Plum Bread or even Pumpkin Spice Weetabix Cake. But I called it a tea cake on my Instagram pictures, so Tea Cake it is. This cake is not only suitable for someone following Slimming World, but it is suitable for a diabetic as well.

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Weetabix Tea Cake
2 Syns per slice if divided into 15 slices / 30 Syns for the whole cake (for you to divide by number of slices) [PLEASE NOTE: You cannot use the Weetabix as your Healthy Extra B choice as it is considered a tweak and the 6 syns for the Weetabix have been calculated into the Syn value.]

You will need:
2 Weetabix
200ml very strong tea (I used a chai spiced, but any black tea will work)
100g sultanas
100g self-rising flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR 1/4 tsp each of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, All Spice, and Ginger
2 TBS sweetener (I used Splenda)
2 eggs

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a loaf tin with some parchment paper or spray with fry light
2. Place Weetabix and sultanas in a large bowl and pour over the tea. Leave to soak for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk two eggs in a separate bowl, set aside.
4. Add all dry ingredients to Weetabix and sultana mix and beat in the eggs.
5. Pour mixture into prepared tin and spread out evenly
6. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean
7. Cut into 15 equal pieces.

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Self Saucing Chocolate Cake

12190796_10153811213152160_4155680206197715560_n Today is our 6th wedding anniversary! Since we’ve had a pretty amazing year already between 3 weeks in the US in May and a spur of the moment 10 days in Austria, we decided to keep our anniversary low-key. When I asked Tim what he wanted, he asked for pulled pork and a gooey dessert, the kind like you can get a Frankie and Benny’s. A dish my Aunt Barb made came to mind, which was like a brownie baked in a pie pan that made it’s own sauce and I remembered it was out of the Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s on Page 200 of the spiral bound (US) version and is called a Hot Fudge Sundae Cake. I’ve made it once before, but this time I wanted to scale it down to 2 servings, convert it to UK measurements, and work out the syns for Slimming World. As listed in the cookbook, the original serves 9 and has 10 Syns per serving (basing it on calories only as I don’t have the size of a serving to plug it into the calculator). I wanted to scale this down to serve 2 (no leftovers means no temptation!) and I also wanted to make it diabetic friendly and use some sugar substitutes. It still comes out to 10 syns, so changing the sugar didn’t matter and I will list the recipe using both regular sugar and sweeteners.

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I baked this in a small Corningware dish my mom gave me when I moved. It’s an individual casserole size, so an individual pie dish would work for this or possibly dividing it in half into two ramekins (but then you would need to adjust cooking time). There also is a recipe for a Melting Chocolate Pudding on the Slimming World website which has 9 syns per serving, but I didn’t have individual microwaveable pudding containers and I wanted to be a bit more creative.

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Self Saucing Chocolate Cake
Serves: 2
Syns: 10 per serving (it’s 9.25 if you use sweetener products)

You Will Need:
Cake –
50g self-rising flour
15g Truvia baking blend OR 30g caster sugar
1/2 TBS cocoa (I used Green & Black’s Organic)
25ml semi-skim milk
1-2 TBS water
1/2 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Topping –
25g Splenda for baking Brown (or 50g brown sugar)
1 TBS cocoa
100ml very hot water (from the kettle)

1) Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
2) Combine flour, Truvia, and 1/2 TBS cocoa in the ungreased small casserole dish.
3) Mix in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and 1TBS of water. If mixture is still dry, add an additional Tablespoon water.
4) Spread mix evenly in dish.
5) Sprinkle batter with 1 TBS cocoa and brown sugar.
6) Pour hot water evenly over the top.
7) Bake 25-30 minutes until cake is cooked (Will be gooey on top. Stick a spoon in to check the cake)

Serve hot with custard or ice cream!

For the pulled pork, all you need is a piece of pork butt or shoulder (cut off all visible fat) and a batch of Slimming World Barbecue Sauce. Just toss it all in a crock pot and let it cook on low for 8-10 hours. I put ours in the crock pot last night before we went to bed and it was ready by the time we woke up and then I left it on warm until Lunch. We served it on top of wholemeal rolls (my HEB for the day) with smash, corn on the cob, and mixed vegetables.

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***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

Photo of Tim and I taken by Eric Stocklin

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Halloween

happy-halloween-house-wallpaper This morning, I got the chance to speak on BBC Radio Lincolnshire about Halloween as an American now living in the United Kingdom, and it made me think of the holiday growing up.

First of all, a little history about Halloween — Did you know it didn’t originate in the USA? According to Wikipedia, Halloween has Celtic roots in the British isles, specifically in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. In Wales, they still celebrate Calan Gaeaf on November 1. Halloween was then adopted by Christians as the day before All Hallow’s Day (Hallow in Scots Gaelic means Holy), like many other Christian holidays that have Celtic/Pagan roots.

It’s also interesting to learn that the idea behind trick or treating isn’t entirely American, either. This actually originated in Ireland, where it involved adults going door-to-door in costume, performing a song or play, and receiving food in exchange.

In the United States, the Puritans did not celebrate the holiday, and it was not celebrated at all (as far as historians can tell) until the Irish and Scottish began immigrating to America in the late 19th century and it did not spread beyond their culture until the early 20th century. Even the traditional Jack O’ Lantern carved out of a pumpkin is only a pumpkin because pumpkins were more widely available than turnips, the vegetable used in Scotland for carving lanterns.

Trick or Treating, called guising, continued in the United Kingdom until the 1930s, and first began in the USA in the 1920s. I can only assume it stopped in the UK due to WWII, though I can’t find any information to back this up. The use of the term ‘Trick or Treat’ did not come into use until the 1940s when it first appeared in children’s magazines in the United States. The term guising was still being used in the UK at that time and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the term ‘Trick or Treat’ began to be used here and it’s only become more and more popular in the UK as American mainstream media is imported more and more.

I find it fascinating to learn the holiday and practice has roots in the United Kingdom when so many people in the UK seem to hate Halloween and consider it to be “Americanising” children by celebrating it. Not so much, eh?

Halloween in the US and the UK are different, but also very similar. Like with the idea of Prom, it feels to me that the UK takes the American idea and makes it even bigger — possibly as a result of the public’s exposure to American television and films where most traditions are more over-the-top than they are in general.

While Halloween can have scary costumes, ghost hunts, and haunted mansions; Halloween also has home-made costumes, hayrides, and a lot of traditions associated with harvest and not scaring. In fact, I can’t actually remember my parents ever buying me a Halloween costume. Accessories to go with one perhaps, but most of my costumes were entirely home grown and either made specifically for Halloween or adapted from something I already owned. For example, if I wanted to dress as a black cat, my mom bought me a headband with cat ears and I wore a black leotard and tights for the body and my mom drew whiskers on my face with an eye pencil. I was fascinated with Little House on the Prairie when I was younger, so the year I dressed as Laura Ingalls I re-used my dress at Thanksgiving to be a pilgrim. One year when I was a teenager, my neighbour’s son asked me to take him Trick or Treating and as I had recently had knee surgery I wasn’t prepared and I managed to throw together “absent-minded professor” by wearing my Pajama bottoms with a white shirt and tie, one slipper on the leg that had surgery and a shoe on the other! But in the UK, I feel as though costumes are mostly bought and things are focused more on having scary/gory costumes.

Trick-or-Treating is also different. In the US, you would typically go out with your friends and maybe one parent when you were younger and you would only go to homes that had their porch light turned on. Here, the tradition seems to be a child going out with their parent, and only to the homes of friends/family. This year, I also heard about a UK tradition of putting out a pumpkin by your front door to indicate that you would allow trick-or-treaters, but more often I’ve seen online shares of signs to print that say things like “NO Trick-or-Treaters”, “Do not knock”, etc., and some of those have even been issued by local councils. I think the signs are unnecessary if you go by the rule of “look for a pumpkin”.

One thing I haven’t touched on at all is the idea of tricking or making mischief if you do not get a treat. I grew up in New Jersey, where we called it Mischief Night, but I personally was never involved in causing or receiving mischief, so I really don’t know how prevalent the practice is in the US or in the UK. I do remember being driven around the day after Halloween with my parents and you might see a few trees that had been littered with toilet paper, but not knowing who owned the house or who did the TPing, I don’t know if it was micheif or decoration!

Halloween, like any other holiday, is voluntary. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. Simple. Just please don’t ruin it for the people who do want to participate!

***

Top image from http://interactive360.wordpress.com

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Renting a Holiday Apartment

FugenBalconyOn our recent trip to Austria, we thought it would be a great idea to rent apartments instead of hotels so we could do a bit of self-catering to help cut costs. The last time we were in Austria, we were camping with our tent (and car) and had breakfast and dinner at our campsite, so shopping in Austrian grocery stores wasn’t a foreign concept (haha!).

When you are choosing to rent a holiday apartment, you have two options. You can either rent a private home through a site like airbnb or you can rent an apartment in a managed property, similar to a hotel through booking sites like booking.com (what I use)*. I also leave a tab open with TripAdvisor to check reviews of the apartments I’m looking at and a tab with google maps for checking the area the apartments are in for finding out how close they are to public transportation, shops, restaurants, and attractions. I’ve never used airbnb, but I have friends who have used it while travelling abroad, and they’ve had very good experiences. Airbnb also seems like they are on the ball with their customer service if you have any problems. Likewise, booking.com has excellent customer service. I have had good luck with booking.com, but also some less-than-perfect luck. Booking.com suggests not booking properties with a rating below 7, as their ratings are generated based on users reviews. So if you don’t mind renting someone’s private apartment, you might want to have tabs open for both to compare apartments. I also kept open a tab with google translate in case I needed to look up German words I wasn’t familiar with.

Firstly, you need to decide on your location and price range. Booking.com lets you search by towns as well as regions, so I put in “Zillertal” and then ticked the box for £0-£55/night which led me to several choices, including Apart Heim, the place we stayed. I wound up looking at around a half dozen places before making my decision, and one of our “musts” was being close to public transportation as we would be using the Zillertalbahn to get around and would not have a car. We also needed to be close to a grocery store, due to the aforementioned lack of a car. I used Google Maps to look at where the apartment was and zoomed in until I could see the icons. When I saw a shop icon, I googled to find out what the shop was and discovered MPREIS was the name of a grocery store.

Another thing to consider is what amenities you need. It was only my husband and I travelling, so we knew we could stay in either a studio apartment or a one-bedroom. When we travel next Summer with my mom, we will be looking at one-bedroom with a sofabed in the living room as well as two-bedroom apartments. Our only other requirement was that we wanted to have our own private bathroom (not usually a problem with apartments, but many hotels have shared bathrooms). I also looked at what was available in the kitchen and we picked an apartment that had a stove (hob), refrigerator, sink, microwave, and kettle. Our first apartment didn’t have an oven, but the second location did. We weren’t bothered by things like wifi or television since we knew we wouldn’t watch TV and we had our phones for internet. Our apartment provided dish soap, a sponge, and potholders in the kitchen. You also can assume that apartment rentals will include basic dishes and cooking equipment, though if you need anything specific you probably should pack it. Our apartments also included towels and linens, but some apartments do not or charge extra, so check the notes on the listing.

Most apartments also charge a flat cleaning fee between €25-50 no matter the length of your stay. You’ll want to make sure you factor this fee in when you’re picking an apartment as it won’t be part of your total for accommodation and many places will ask you to pay the cleaning fee separately in cash on arrival. Some apartments also charge a security deposit, so again, make sure you read all the information listed on the booking site.

Unlike a hotel, front desks at apartment rentals aren’t open 24 hours a day, so you will need to check and make sure you can arrive at the hotel while the desk is open or are able to ring the landlords when you arrive. This was another mistake I made with our second booking.

Even though you paid a cleaning fee, some apartments require their tenants to take out (and sort) the rubbish, strip beds, or sweep the floors. Most places will come with a set of rules, and it’s important you read over these. Google translate can help translate a picture of text. This is particularly important in case there are additional fees for breaking any of the rules!

Have fun and happy planning!

*~*
*But I did make a mistake and wound up booking a private apartment through booking.com….more details in another post on that apartment.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Packing for Autumn in Austria

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Whenever I plan a trip, I immediately start making pakcking lists. Things I know I’ll need, things I might need, and things I need to buy. If I’ve already made my itinerary, I try to match up my outfits to what I’m doing. So for example, if I have a trip to a beach planned, I know that autumatically means a bathing suit and sunblock need to go on my packing list. I also check to see if we will have access to a washing machine (this time, we wouldn’t) and plan appropriately. If there is no washing machine, I think about what clothing we have that could be sink washed and we plan on wearing one shirt for two days, and trousers or skirts for 3-4 days. I also bring Febreeze along on all trips in a small spray bottle to help keep clothing refreshed.

I also immediately start scouring the internet for suggested packing lists for the area I’m visiting to get ideas….and the one blank spot in many websites and travel blogs seem to be visiting Austria in the Autumn. Plenty of packing lists for going in the Winter, plenty of packing lists specific to visiting Vienna, too….but nothing for visiting in the Autumn.

I checked the long-range weather forecasts and saw that the weather was predicted to be chilly and slightly damp, with not many warm days. This immediately indicated to me that I needed to think in terms of layers. Things that could easily be taken on or off (either in public or by visiting a toilet), and easily packed into whatever I was carrying for the day, as well as packed into my main luggage.

Before I go any further, let’s go over luggage. My luggage consisted of my LL Bean deluxe Bookbag (I’ve had it since I was 15 and this was its third trip to Austria!), a borrowed cabin sized bag wheeled suitcase, and my camera bag (Tim had an LL Bean bag and a camera bag). We decided to share the single checked bag for on the way to Austria, and I packed a folding ‘weekender’ bag which we decided to pre-pay for to use as a second bag for the trip home (GOOD idea). The weight limit on Ryanair for both checked and carry-on luggage is 15kg per bag, so I didn’t want to use a bigger bag for fear that it would soon get overweight. Ryanair does now allow TWO carryon bags, but one has to fit under the seat in front of you (my canmera bag) and one in the overhead. They also let you carry on a single carrier bag from the duty free shops in addition to your two carry ons.

Ok, so now that we know how much space we’re working with, we need to think about what we’re packing.

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Toiletries for both of us immediately went on the list. I chose to buy pre-packaged travel sized versions of most things because I wouldn’t feel bad tossing them at the end of the trip to save space, but Poundland does a decent fillable set for £1 if you’d rather fill with your own products. I did also need a refillable pump with my armpit wash (prescription), and I filled a very small container with some aftershave for Tim. As you can see, nearly everything we needed fit into those two clear bags. I also had a separate bag that held both our razors and a small make-up bag that had everything non-liquid in it. I decided to put the toiletries in the checked bag, so I had an additional plastic baggie which I put in the things I wanted in my carry on (my liquid medicines, squash, and hand sanitizer). I packed minimal toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, prescription armpit wash, face wash, deodorant, small body spray, toothpaste, face moisturizer, and pimple cream. My non-liquids included vaseline, a Clinique palate (blush, eyeshadow, mascara), a No7 face powder compact, a folding brush, nail clipper, tweezers, travel toothbrushes, and cotton pads. I went on the principle that Austria is not a third world country, and if there was anything we needed we could easily pick it up either at the Boots in the airport or once we were in Austria. Which we did do as I needed muscle rub, a sewing kit, and Tim needed bodywash partway through as I accidentally packed a 50ml bottle for him. Yes. I forgot my sewing kit. DON’T forget one, or if you need one you will be stuck for days wandering into shops using your German dictionary to ask for a sewing kit. Other than needing body wash for Tim, we managed to make 100ml of everything else last until the last day. If I was going for longer than 10 days, I would probably try to either pack extras of everything, pack bigger containers, or plan on purchasing things once I arrived.

Tim’s toiletries were just shampoo, body wash, deodorant, after shave, toothpaste, and shave gel. I also added a bottle of Dr Bronner’s All In One and a spray bottle of Febreeze to his bag.

The other thing I find incredibly useful day-to-day as well as for travelling is a pill container I picked up in Poundland. It folds over itself and one side has four large compartments (originally labelled Morning-Afternoon-Evening-Bed) and six smaller compartments on the other side. It’s supposed to be a weekly pill organizer, but I used Tim’s dymamo labeller and changed the labels on i onlit so I can keep with me paracetamol, ibruprofin, naproxin, pepto, kwells, antihisimine, and a few Metformin.

So now that I’ve waffled on about toiletries….let’s move on to outerwear, including shoes. You might have noticed from my pictures that I mostly wore a pink fleece body warmer (gilet). I deliberately chose this because I like having mobility in my arms and I knew it would fit over multiple layers and even if I purchased a fleece (I almost did, but stopped myself in the end), I knew the gilet would have zipped over that too. I packed the pink one only because I couldn’t find my black one the day before we left, but in the end, the pink matched most of my clothing anyway.

I also packed a black cardigan, black opera length wrist warmers/fingerless gloves, a headband earmuff thing, leg warmers, and a scarf. I always pack a scarf when I travel even in the Summer because it winds up being useful as a blanket or folded up as a pillow. I have loads of scarfs, but for this trip I took the pashmina I bought in a Vienna market in 2010. I bought one of those tube things (Tuk?) that can be worn multiple ways and a bandana as souvenirs. Both those items will be going into my regular travel rotation as I found them both very useful. You might be laughing at the leg warmers, but I wear a lot of skirts/dresses and a cheapie pair from Primark has kept my legs warm on more than one occasion.

Shoe-wise, I only had the hiking boots I wore most of the trip, and a pair of ankle boots. I hardly wore the ankle boots, but they were nice for my one dress-up day (my day in Salzburg) and they fit in the bottom of my rucksack. Because for the first four days we were staying halfway up a mountain, I was quite glad for my hiking boots. They were comfortable, dry, and generally warm. I paired my boots most times with wooly knee socks. Not particularly fashionable, but again, they kept my legs warm and I felt cute in them. Plus because they were wool I was able to wash them in the sink at our apartment and get multiple days use out of them, so I only packed 4 pairs of knee socks. I also packed 4 pairs of ankle socks for wearing with tights or leggings. I packed 3 pairs of cheap (Primark again) weather sensing tights, 3 pairs of footless tights, and one pair of thicker leggings. And while not strictly outerwear, I also had along a pair of bicycle shorts and a pair of knee-length leggings (to prevent chafing and to protect my modesty!). I only wore tights one day and I only needed leggings for two as my knee socks kept my pretty warm, but I always kept a pair in my bag (except for the day I forgot!) in case I needed them. They don’t take up a lot of room, so it wasn’t really a big deal.

I packed in layers on top. Most of my tops were hiking/exercise tops that also claimed to be “quick dry” (They weren’t and only dried because I had a radiator to hang them on!). My favourite top was a new top I picked up at TK Maxx for a tenner (Retail price was £55!) a week before we left. It was a Reebok brand long-sleeved top with built-in thumb holes to make the sleeves into wrist warmers. My other long-sleeved tops were a Nike top I bought on a trip to the US at a deep discount (mint green with shoulder vents), and a cheap Primark pink long-sleeved shirt. I also packed along a M&S short-sleeved work out top, a black primark T-shirt (didn’t wear it), and 2 camisoles (one black, one nude). I also had a pink dress (worn for travel) and a grey and black striped dress. For my bottom half, I only brought along two hiking skirts – a Columbia skirt I’ve had for years, a grey skirt from H&M that has bright pink shorts under it, and a pair of grey lounge pants/pajama pants. I did wish I had packed one more skirt simply because I got tired of the two I had, but it was manageable. I also wished I had added extra camisoles, as they didn’t take up much space. I also packed slipper socks (well, they looked more like booties) because they took up less space than slippers, 11 pairs of knickers, and 3 bras (black, white, nude). I also wished I had packed another bra, but I was able to wash one in the sink.

Tim’s wardrobe consisted of his hiking boots, 2 long-sleeved hiking shirts, 2 polo shirts, 1 short sleeved hiking shirt, 1 t-shirt, zip off trousers, walking trousers, and cargo trousers. He was supposed to also have a rugby top, but I wound up grabbing a dirty one so he wore his work shirt (button down) for travel instead. He also had 10 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of boxers, sleep shorts, and slipper socks. I think Tim probably wished he had an extra shirt or two by the end and possibly pajama trousers instead of shorts. For outerwear, he had a fleece pullover, fleece jacket, hat, fingerless gloves, and a neck warmer. He didn’t wear the neck warmer at all, but made use of the gloves and hat.

We also each had a kag in a bag and I had an umbrella. They weren’t needed, but we don’t travel without them!

As far as electronics go, we both packed our 10 inch laptops (didn’t pull them out for anything other than watching cartoons), DSLR cameras (with lenses), tablets, and mobile phones. We also brought the camcorder (barely used it), my ipod (didn’t use at all), and a tripod (also didn’t use at all). For charging our mobile devices, I picked up 4-port USB plugs that came with 4 changeable plugs for the UK, US, EU, and AU before our trip to the US. These plugs come in handy around the house too as they only need one plug to charge up to 4 devices. We also packed some emergency chargers, which can be picked up for as little as £5 to as much as £30, depending on capacity. I have three small lipstick sized chargers and Tim has a larger one. Since they also need to be charge via USB, having the multi port plugs was a big help. These chargers came in handy as we took lots of pictures on our phones for instant sharing and used our phone for internet access. Since our laptops and camera battery chargers didn’t have EU plugs, we also took along a two-plug converter. Out of all the electronics, we only used my laptop twice (once to watch cartoons and once to look up something that we could have looked up on the tablet), and I don’t think Tim used his laptop at all. We had planned on using the laptops to remove pictures from our cameras and possibly even post them while we were away, but a lack of wifi at most places prevented this and we didn’t take as many pictures as we had thought we would. Would we take the laptops again? Possibly. Only because knowing we had the capability to back up photos and clear off memory cards meant we weren’t afraid to click away, and loading my laptop with some silly cartoons (in English) meant we had a small amount of comic relief to wind down to in the evenings if we wanted it. Plus the laptops are so small they don’t take up much space. Tim’s fit into his camera bag, and mine was in my rucksack. We also had a small electronic luggage scale, which comes in handy for making sure all your bags meet weight requirements!

We took along a railway atlas (because…..train geeks.) and maps of the area as well as a German dictionary and phrasebook. The dictionary came in handier than the phrasebook did as I do speak German, but we occasionally needed to look up either an unfamiliar German word or how to say something specific in German (like sewing kit!). Yes, my phone had Google Translate installed, but that requires having signal and we couldn’t count on that. (I did later discover I could download an offline German dictionary to Google Translate, but I’m not sure how good it is). I also had a small notebook about the size of an airline ticket, though we never needed it. I organized all our tickets and itinerary in an A5 display folder from Paperchase (£2.50). This wasn’t entirely needed, but it gave us an easy place to keep track of train schedules and tickets and a place to pop in brochures we wanted to keep. We also brought along baggies of teabags because we remembered how horrendous Austrian tea was, and knew we would need the pick me up first thing in the morning.

I did not take a handbag along, instead I have a camera bag that functions as a handbag. I used a small Cath Kidston travel wallet for my money, debit card, credit card, and driver’s license. All other cards stayed at home in my regular purse. I used a wristlet from Cath Kidston that I usually used for makeup as my purse and kept my passports, travel wallet, and travel cards all in one place. It also gave me a small purse for the evenings we went out without our cameras. I did wish I had brought along a cross body bag for these evenings though, as my small wristlet wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to take.

We also each had a folding shopping bag and folding rucksacks. I had been wanting to get us folding rucksacks for a while as we tend to take our large bags with us on holiday but then find they are too big to use as a daypack (like a day out at an amusement park), but the cost of some of them (£21 for a Sea to Summit) always put me off. I found some on clearance at trespass for £6 so I picked them up, assuming with the trespass name on it they would be good quality. They were…..ok. Mine seemed to have a factory defect on it with one strap not attached to the bag (hence needing the sewing kit!) and Tim had a strap start to go on his. But I was able to rig them back together with some duct tape (I always carry a little!) and safety pins until I was able to get my hands on a sewing kit.

The only other thing in my bag was a selfie stick (used to take “selvsies” as Tim called them), Bagpuss (I made sure I had room for him, but could have left him at home) and Hamish, the scottish rubber duck. We both had 750ml water bottles attached to a carabeaner on our bags. We took them empty through airport security, then filled them and used one of those Robinsons Squash’d to flavour them.

Looks like a lot, doesn’t it? I started looking on YouTube for packing tutorials and found lots of tips and tricks, but the one that appealed to me the most was an Army Roll/Ranger Roll as demonstrated in this video:

I used this technique on everything except for my knickers (too small and slippery as they were all microfiber) and bras (yeah, there is no way of folding bras. haha!). It WORKED. We really did fit nearly all of our clothing in the two rucksacks, and I think with a couple of better choices (less bulky clothing items) or a better rucksack (on designed for travel/backpacking and not one designed for schoolbooks) we might have been able to manage without the extra suitcase, but we were glad we had it for the trip home as there was plenty of room for lots of chocolate! I also used zipper top bags to compress things further. You can buy space bags for travel, but the zipper top bags work just as well and are easier to replace if they rip.

Things I wish we had packed:

-A sewing kit (mentioned above)
-Extra plastic zipper top bags for snacks OR plastic containers.
-Additional camisoles (also mentioned above)
-Hair elastics
-Dry shampoo
-fleece pullover for myself
-pajama trousers for Tim

Things we didn’t or barely use:

-tripod
-laptops
-black t-shirt
-camcorder
-make-up
-notebook

Everything I wish we had taken are all things that are small enough to add to a bag in the future, and all the things we didn’t use could either be left at home or didn’t take up much space to begin with.

For the return we decided to check an additional bag, and we needed it! Even after abandoning some of the clothing (all Primark buys – socks, my shirt and cardigan, tights, and a few pairs of underwear for each of us), we needed the space for the 3KG of chocolate we purchased! Plus since we had the room, we were able to put some of the heavier books into the checked bag to take some of the pressure off of our shoulders.

I know I wrote a lot, but I hope this helps you plan your packing for your next adventure!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Planning Austria

September 2015 032

Recently, my husband and I returned from a a rather spontaneous trip to Austria. I say spontaneous, because we planned it 2 days after I received my British passport (yes, there will be a post about that) for travel the following month. We originally planned for a long weekend away to one of our favourite places, the Zillertal area of Tirol, but then realised Tim’s week of Autumn leave happened to be right after his long weekend, so a 10-day trip was put into place!

We booked our plane tickets with Ryanair, and I was pleasantly surprised at the cheap fares. However, once we added in checked bags (1 going, 2 coming home) at £15 and paid for our seats (£5 each each way), it soon added up and I was surprised to discover that British Airways actually offers cheap European flights that include both one bag and your seat selection for around the same price once you add in all of Ryanair’s extra fees. So, my suggestion is to shop around on several airlines before making your final selection. Ryanair might wind up being the best or go to the destination you need, but you might find BA or Lufthansa or Austrian Air offered a better price.

We flew into Linz, simply because it was the cheapest Austria option for flying with Ryanair. We needed to actually be closer to Innsbruck, and could have also flown to Munich, but after all the problems being reported with cross border trains in the weeks leading up to our trip, it was a good thing we chose to fly directly into Austria.

Our options to getting over to our first destination included rail, bus, or a car. We might have also been able to book a flight on a smaller, local, airline, but we skipped that option all together. We don’t like travelling by bus for long distances, so we also didn’t bother looking that information up. I did price out a rental car and I found a car for around €10/day. However, as my husband is a former BR staff member, he retained his BR privs and we get 4 48-hour free travel passes on OBB, Austria’s railway, so I began to look up trains.

Remember what I mentioned above about the border issues? Yeah, our train should have been a corridor train that crosses into Germany for about 45 minutes with no stops, but due to Germany deciding to close the borders, this was going to become a nightmare with a 90-minute delay! In the end, Germany decided to allow the corridor trains, so we were fine and in fact, things worked out so well that we managed to snag an earlier direct train to Jenbach without going out of our way to Innsbruck and got to our destination a lot earlier than we thought we would!

For rail schedules, I downloaded an app to my phone called OBB Scotty. For ticket prices and buying, you will need a separate app called OBB Tickets, but the Scotty app will prompt you to download it if you want to buy tickets. Also helpful is the DB app as DB has schedules for all European countries. The nice thing about all of these apps is that they seem to be automatically working in English for me. And if you’re using Chrome to look at websites, Chrome can automatically translate things into English.

Our schedule looked like this:

24 September- TRAVEL Stansted-Linz-Fügen
25 September-Brenner/Brennero (Italy!)
26 September-Achenseebahn/Achensee/Spieljochbahn
27 September-Zillertalbahn Dampfzug
28 September- TRAVEL Fügen-Zell am See
29 September-Salzberg
30 September-Pinzgauerlokalbahn/Krimml Wasserfälle
01 October-Pinzgauerlokalbahn Dampfzug/TRAVEL Zell -Linz
02 October-Pöstlingbergbahn/Linz
03 October-TRAVEL Linz-Stansted-Lincoln

We did have to modify our plans slightly as due to the no trains to Germany thing we had to cancel our plans to visit the Chiemsee, but we replaced it with a quick trip to Italy instead, so not all bad!

We changed locations twice, so we had a 4 night stay in an Apartment in Fügen, 3 nights in an Apartment in Zell am See, and 2 nights in a hotel in Linz. I will detail our stays later, however you can read my reviews of the first and last place on TripAdvisor. On average, we paid €50/night for our accomondation, but both apartments also charged a cleaning fee.

The nice thing about renting apartments is you get to eat on your own schedule, and you generally have a bit more space. The downside is you have to buy all your own food, but more on that in a later post.

Over the next few days/weeks I hope to post about our entire trip, since after all, my blog was originally a travel blog!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Slimming World] Always double check your Syn Values!

chocolate-cake-cup-by-roreMy slimming world mojo has been at an all-time low lately, and I took to Pinterest to look for some ideas and inspiration. Searching just “slimming world” gives you hundreds of results – links to recipes off the official website, charts showing syn values for snacks most often eaten, inspirational quotes, and recipes that other people have come up with. In fact, many of my own recipes I blog wind up on Pinterest, repinned by many. One thing I always leave in my disclaimer is that my Syn values are accurate at the time of posting, based on my exact ingredients and using the online Syn calculator, and I always encourage my readers to double check the syn values for themselves.

While scrolling through the results on Pinterest, I came across a link to 5 under 5 Syns Chocolate Treats. Now, I’m not a huge chocolate eater, but I do like the occasional chocolate treat, so I decided to check out the suggestions/recipes on that page. To my surprise, the last recipe was for a one syn chocolate cake in a mug.

The Slimming World website has a feature on meals in a mug, and one of theirs is a low-syn chocolate mug cake using an Options hot chocolate. I assumed this would be the same recipe, but to my surprise, it wasn’t. Her recipe uses a chopped apple and 2 TBS raw cacao powder (I won’t retype her entire recipe, as it’s hers. You can find it on her site I linked to above). I was interested, but curious as to the syn value as I know you need to syn cooked apple and I had never heard of raw cacao powder. I did some digging, and it turns out her 1 syn desert is actually a whopping NINE syns. 3.5 of them come from the hidden syns in the cooked apple and 5.5 come from the 2 TBS of raw cacao. I left her the following comment:

Hello, I always double check the syns when I find an online recipe (and encourage people who view my recipes to check for themselves, too) and I have a question for you……How is the chocolage mug cake only one syn? I can’t find raw cacao powder in the online syn database, but I found raw cacao nibs, which come in at 4.5 for 25g. I looked up nutritional information for The Raw Chocolate Co. Cacao Powder and ran it through the online Syn calculator, and it gives me 5.5 syns for 30g (2 TBS). You also would need to syn the apple, as it’s being cooked. 100g of an eating apple is 2.5 syns and 100g of a cooking apple is 1.5 syn. I just weighed a braeburn apple out of out a bag from Tesco, and it came in at 134g, so it would be slightly more than 2.5 syns (3.3 to be exact, I’d round it to 3.5, whicn nicely covers the dash of almond milk). Unsweetened almond milk is .5 syn for 100ml, although a dash is probably only around 50ml. So….. 5.5 + 3.5 = 9 Syns for your chocolate mug cup, not counting the chocolate yogurt on top. It’s a bit misleading to people to show this as only being 1 Syn.

I am sincerely hoping this was just a mistake on her part or a miscalculation online. But it just highlights the importance of double checking the syn value for recipes that other people are blogging. Obviously, the recipes that are on the Slimming World website, Slimming World cookbooks, and the Slimming World magazine will be accurate….but take anything else posted with a grain of salt. Including my own recipes, because I make mistakes, too.

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Chocolate cake in a mug picture from http://food.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/11/microwave_cake_cup.php

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Orange Chicken [Slimming World]

11414983_10153468711902160_2078282423_o I love Chinese food. But Chinese food isn’t very Slimming World friendly unless you make it yourself…and the biggest hurdle for me has always been making a tasty sauce. My husband and I like gooey Chinese food, and lots of the recipes I’ve found online just aren’t gooey enough. I have tried using orange Fanta, and while that was good, it still wasn’t satisfying. The other day I was looking at a recipe for orange chicken and suddenly it dawned on me to use orange squash (which is free on Slimming World).

If you follow my exact recipe, this is a syn free meal that serves two comfortably, three if you bulk it out further. The nice thing about a stir fry is you can make it as big as you need it to be. Because all the ingredients are free on Slimming World, you also can play around with the taste of the sauce to get it to fit your specifications. I’ve made this three times, and the first time I didn’t do any measuring other than the squash, the second time I did measurements so I could blog the recipe accurately, and the third time I did a combination of measuring and estimating. All three times it turned out quite tasty!

You will need:

400G diced chicken (or there about. I sometimes cut up two breast portions, and I also used a packet of stir fry turkey last time)
6 TBS double concentrate orange squash (I used Robinson)
4 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS tomato puree (called paste in the US)
2 TBS red wine vinegar (I’m sure other vinegars could be used)
1 TBS Chinese five spice
2 Oranges, broken into segments (I used satsumas)
(optional 1 TBS sweetener)
Stir-fry vegetables of your choice
Dried Chinese noodles or rice (whichever you prefer. I prefer noodles)
Fry light

1. Spray a wok with fry light and pre-heat on the hob
2. Toss diced chicken with Chinese five spice to coat, then stir-fry chicken for 5-10 minutes.
3. Add squash, soy sauce, puree, and vinegar. Give it a stir and let it come to a boil.
4. Add vegetables and stir-fry an addtional 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are to your liking.
5. Cook noodles or rice according to package instructions.
6. Give your sauce a quick taste test. Too sweet? Add a splash more vinegar. Too sour? Add the sweetener. Not enough orange flavor? add another splash of squash. Not spicy enough? Add more five spice.
7. Divide noodles or rice between bowls and top with stir-fry. Garnish with fresh orange segments.

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DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Recipe] Four Syn Cupcakes [Slimming World]

11400971_10153490155457160_3990479385781041299_n Recently, at my Slimming World Group, we had a taster night in honour of one of our member’s birthdays. It wound up being a double…no, triple celebration as my friend was celebrating her 40th birthday, reaching target, AND losing five stone! So proud of her! Anyway. Since it was her birthday, I really wanted to make some kind of low syn cake treat. The Internet is full of suggestions for low syn cakes. Most of them are flourless and use beaten egg whites to make the cake part, or use crushed Scan Bran or Weetabix or Ryvita. But I wanted proper cake. Enter, this Weight Watcher’s recipe! The original recipe states that you can use ANY diet soda with ANY box cake mix. But since Slimming World and Weight Watchers use different criteria for determining points and syns, I needed to use the online calculator to work out the exact syns for my cupcakes. So if you use the exact ingredients I’ve used and make 24 cupcakes, each cupcake will be 4 syns. Any other brand or type and you will need to use the syn calculator.

You will Need:

For the cake –
1 box Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 330ml can (12 oz) Doctor Pepper Zero
24 cupcake papers

For the icing –
500g Quark
1 mug Truvia or other sweetener
(optional) food colouring

1. Preheat oven to 180C and put the liners in the cupcake tins
2. combine dry cake mix and Dr Pepper Zero. No other ingredients are needed.
3. Evenly divide between the cupcake papers. I discovered 2 Tablespoons per cup will evenly divide it.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
6. Pour Quark into a bowl and slowly mix in the sweetener. I used about a mugful, but you might need more or less depending on your sweet tooth. I also added some red food colouring (but I wasn’t satisfied with the result, so I added blue to make violet). If you don’t add colouring, your icing will be white.
7. Pipe or spoon the icing onto the cupcakes.

You will need to store these cupcakes in the fridge because of the Quark icing.

About a week later, I made a Carrot Cake mix with Fanta Zero, and I would be willing to try a yellow cake with Sprite Zero. I bet a chocolate cake made with Cherry Coke Zero or Cherry Pepsi Max would be good, too.

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[DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.]

[Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.]

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