#GreatBritishSwitch – Compare the Market and Save on bills this winter

#GreatBritishSwitch – Compare the Market and Save on bills this winter

Did you know that 90% of those aged 65 or over have never tried to switch energy supplier, despite the fact that a typical household can save up to £350 a year by switching energy suppliers?

A shocking number isn’t it?

It is actually quite puzzling for me. We take care of our bills and always make sure that we get the best possible deal out there, so why not share the knowledge?

I can understand that for some older people it might not be so easy or it simply doesn’t occur to them that switching suppliers can save them money but with so many online tools these days this task really isn’t so scary.

This weekend (November 14-16) is the Great British Switch – when comparethemarket.com is encouraging the UK population to see how much money they could save on their energy bills this winter by switching to a new supplier.

Get involved and help your relatives or elderly neighbour to get the best deal they can get.

We had a chat to our family members and showed them how to switch.

The process isn’t complicated, at least not for us, but not everyone is so internet savvy 😉 I think it is important to explain the benefits of the switch, biggest being of course money saving. At first we were met with some quite big resistance, simply because of the hassle… hey! What hassle? Switching supplier these days isn’t a hassle at all. You pick the new supplier; give them your current meter reading and job jobbed. Really, it is that simple!

#GreatBritishSwitch

Whilst checking the numbers for our family members, we found a potential saving of a staggering £409! Wow, £409, that is an entire Christmas present list paid for or a giant new TV or maybe that very much needed new piece of white goods.

It is really worth shopping around. Don’t be scared of it and please share what you know with others!

#GreatBritishSwitch - Compare the Market and Save on bills this winter

Help keep the elderly warm this winter with the #GreatBritishSwitch from 14th – 16th November. For every switch, done during this weekend, comparethemarket.com will donate £5 to Friends of the Elderly.

Help spread the world. Join The Great British Switch on Thunderclap and show your support.

Have you ever switched?

If so, did it prove to be a saving?

* Post written in collaboration with tots100 and comparethemarket.com

Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

my autumn cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Betta Living in celebration of National Cupcake Week have challenged bloggers to come up with an innovative and interesting variation. So with the nights’ drawing in and the temperatures definitely on a downward trend culinary thoughts wander towards comfort foods and homely foods. In light of this I would like to offer my take on an Autumnal Cupcake.

Turn your oven on to 180C and let warm up

Prepare your cupcake trays and line them with paper forms.

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 2 large carrots; grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 220g brown sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5tsp ground ginger
  • 0.5tsp ground nutmeg
  • A handful almonds; chopped
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredients for the decorations:

  • 200ml whipped cream
  • 125g mascarpone cheese
  • 1.5tblsp icing sugar
  • 1 large carrot
  • 250ml water
  • 220g caster sugar
  • Orange food colouring

Method:

Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda.

Now add the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and the pinch of salt and mix well.

In a second bowl gentle whisk the eggs together mix in the oil; sugar, grated carrots and vanilla extract, you are wanting the ingredients to be just combined.

Now add your wet ingredients to your dry ones and throw in the chopped almonds and combine gently.

Spoon into your paper cupcake forms, you should have enough mixture for 18 cupcakes.

Place into your preheated oven for 20-25minutes or until golden brown and a wooden toothpick comes out clean when stuck into your cupcake.

Turn the oven down to 110C.

1. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Allow the cupcakes to cool as we get ready to start creating the decorations.

2. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Wash your carrot and peel it and dry with some kitchen roll. With a sharp knife you can turn half the carrot into julienne pieces and the other half into wafer thin leaves, or if you are like us who have good but not stunning knife skills then drag out your Oxo Chef’s Mandolin Slicer (other makes are available) and it’s done in seconds.

Add the sugar to the water in a heavy based saucepan and put on a low heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add all the pre-cut carrot pieces to the pan and boil gently for 10-15 minutes.

Sieve the carrots to remove the excess water and place on a baking tray that is lined with baking paper, space them out so they each have lots of space. Place in the oven 20-25minutes.

3. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool you want to roll the leaf shaped pieces around something like a skewer to help form the curl shape. The julienne pieces you want to tie together into knots. Once all the pieces are formed pop them back into the oven for another 20 minutes, we are wanting them to be very dry.

Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and then add then fold in the mascarpone cheese and the sugar. Split your cream if desired so that different colours can be added, we have created a nice orange cream to accentuate the cupcake base.

So we should now have 18 lovely baked cupcakes, a tray of carrot decorations and a bowl of topping.

Now all that is left to do is find your piping bag and let your imagination run riot.

Have fun and enjoy!

4. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff7. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff6. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek

I bet we all love crispy things, so what can be better than to join in the celebration of National Crisp Sandwich Week and indulge ourselves with some great tasting Crisp Sarnies.

I like a variety of textures in my food and as much as I really enjoy a crispy taste, sometimes too much “crispy” is just too much, so my recipe idea gives the perfect balance between crisp and soft.

To make my Crispy Sarnie you will need the following ingredients:

Ingredients for The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek

  • 1 crusty white roll
  • 4 slices of good quality ham
  • 2 thick slices of a ripe tomato
  • 1 pack of Seabrook Crisps
  • Few leaves of fresh chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter

Now let’s talk how to put it all together.

First things first – wash your tomato and basil and dry with kitchen roll ready for chopping.

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek .

Cut your roll almost in half – ideally you want to cut it about 2/5 from the bottom. The idea is to have a bit bigger “hat” part.

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek ,

Now, the magic bit – pull out most of the roll from the “hat” part creating a lovely hiding spot for your crisps.

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek Buidling Stages

Butter the bottom part.

Add two slices of ham.

Add 2 thick slices of tomato.

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the rough chopped basil.

Now add the remaining two slices of ham. The idea is to cover the moist tomato with something which will prevent the crisps from going soggy if it is not to be eaten immediately. If it is to be eaten immediately this will most likely not happen, but I know from experience that sometimes is it not so easy to get everyone to the table instantly – I hear “Ok, I am coming” and five minutes later the food still sits there unattended. So… to avoid soggy crisps you have to protect them!

Finally add as many large pieces of crisps as you can fit or want on top of you masterpiece.

Now add all those small, broken crisps from the bottom of the packet to the “hat” opening you made earlier.

With a swift and deft movement put the two halves together and enjoy!

The Ultimate Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek.

As a point of interest, just in case you are wondering why the tomatoes have to be thick sliced, I will explain… They will perfectly balance out the crustiness of the roll and the crispy crisps, creating a truly tasty sandwich.

What’s your favourite combination for a Crisp Sarnie or are you purist and only put crisps in?

* This recipe is my entry into the National Crisp Sarnie Week competition with Seabrook crisps.

Xmas presents Hide and Seek #hudlxmascheer

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A subject that does not receive any publicity of note but plagues us all unless you live alone, it is the subject of hiding the Xmas presents from loved ones. Now disregarding Lottery winners and footballers, the majority of people living in the UK occupy a modest compact living space and as such every square inch of the space is both occupied and visited on a frequent basis. Traditionally, you would be thinking well in advance of Xmas what you would like to buy your loved ones, as for the kids that is usually a no brainer as they will have been pleading for weeks about the latest must have plastic Chinese import, as seen on TV or at a friend’s  house. So there you are armed with your list at the next hurdle you encounter is how too surreptitiously sneak away to buy them undetected. Again traditional life means we all have routines that we loop through daily, consequently any noted deviation to this routine stands out and arises suspicion or worse, questions. So purchases are made in plain sight days and sometimes even weeks ahead. You may wonder about using the internet but alas that raises as many problems as it solves. Sure you can happily click away and purchase to your heart’s content with absolute certainty of not being discovered, it is easy. However can you be as sure about being the one to receive the parcel from Mr Courier or Mr Posty? And let us not forget about the wonders of delivery dates being accurate, especially around the Xmas rush, Wednesday morning as often as not will turn into a Friday afternoon arrival.

However the obstacles you have over come so far are nought to the next one. What to buy, where to buy and how to get away with it are all common problems and can be discussed with friends and work colleagues in a general forum so the acquisition of tips and tricks is natural and inevitable. That said, no one really knows your house like you do, its potential hiding spaces, the routines and who goes where and what for or able to judge the associated risk of a present being discovered.

So here we are, present under arm, a slightly heightened sense of urgency causing an increase in heart rate and adrenaline levels, you need to act fast. We have all been that soldier, we all have the T shirt and we are all still usually clueless as to a solution and I for one have had enough. I think it’s time we pooled our ideas for solutions to this situation.

What have you done in the past to survive this horror scene, do you in fact have a well oiled idea that just flows easily and extinguishes the worry of discovery? Then share…please!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So to start the thread, here is my strategy that has worked for me in the past.

Wrap the presents in alternative packaging and simply place it under the tree.

Simple but very effective and it also teaches kids and other family members (points at Mark) to be patient.

For example next time you empty a jar of coffee, don’t through it away just pop it in a cupboard. Ideal for hiding a small present in and even of any caressing of the package is only going to raise a quizzical frown as the present hunter tries to work out why on earth you have bought them a jar of coffee for Xmas, what a wonderful YouTube clip it would make. I collect boxes and then over package most of the gifts to change their shape. This way my prezzies can be left out there in the open and it is unlikely that their true identity will be revealed before its desired time.

What is your strategy for hiding gifts?

 This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas cheer competition.