Super Easy Moist Chocolate Cake (Malteser Cake!)

Sooo it is that time again at Life At The Zoo – we are bang in the middle of our family “birthday season”.. and with family birthdays.. comes the need for CAKE! We all like a yummy cake now and again, but it is nice to make your cake a little bit more special for a birthday. Special, does not mean difficult.. here we have a super easy moist chocolate cake recipe (really, so easy, so rich and tasty) and we a little trick or two we dressed it up into this three layered delicious Maleteser cake. Mother in law was delighted!

Maltese moist chocolate cakeEasy Malteser Cake

Visit our Easy Chocolate & Raspberry Cake recipe.. and make these simple changes:

  • This time I used three medium sized cake tins (instead of one or two and having to cut the what is a very moist cake). In fact I lie.. I used 3 medium sized tins. And two mini ones.. to make an extra mini cake for the kids…
  • Take cake out of oven, when a skewer “test” shows that the cake is cooked
  • I omitted the “Gelatine” from the raspberry cream, as faffy.. just add a handful of raspberries to the cream on the inside of cake (I used about 2/3s of one pot of double cream for this
  • Buy Maltesers and pop them on top

Malteser Cake - Easy chocolate cake recipe

This chocolate cake really is sooooooo easy! The kids loved the mini cake too!

Easy Chocolate CakeAnd here you see the Raspberry Cream. Yum!

 

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Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

Time to share some more baking goodies.. this time we have scrumptilious Chocolate Chip Muffins.. who doesn’t love all that chocolate?!?!

Choc Muffins –  the below are plenty for 12 muffins:

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 180g self raising flour
  • 1.5 tsps baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of chocolate!)

Wet ingredients:

  • 180ml milk
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract

Handy Hint

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6 and fill a 12 bun muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Weigh out the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Pour all the liquid ingredients into a large jug or bowl.
  3. Mix both together – DO NOT OVER MIX – it will be a lumpy but runny batter. Spoon into the muffin cases.
  4. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top and then cook for 20 mins or until risen and springy.

Try using other ingredients such as blueberries, cherries, raspberries as a variation. Dust with icing sugar for a perfect finish.

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Thoughts & Tips on Potty Training

Another flashback to my early parenting days, when I had JUST finished potty training my first child:

Now is time to sum up the weeks of potty training!!! Needless to say, I am NOT an expert… this is just my twopence worth. For (some) expert advice:

http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Health-and-Development/-/0-to-4-years.aspx

I think it is very important, that YOU are just as ready for potty training as the little one. Ultimately, YOU have to see it through. Just don’t leave it too late (see this bit of research: http://www.madeformums.com/toddler/ideal-age-for-potty-training-discovered/4731.html – too old and you will face new issues. Red Ted, btw is 23 months)

So… how was it? It was a slow start to potty training, things didn’t really start “happening” until after Christmas and then again after Daddy went back to work.

Lesson 1: Xmas may have been a bad time as there were lots of people around and far too exciting – so our expectations should have been set lower (doing it again, I probably would have still started at Xmas, as I had the support around me that I (!) needed, just expectations would have been different

Lesson 2: With both Daddy and me “watching” Red Ted, we both assumed the other was doing so and therefore missed toilet cues – I think it may be better if just one of you takes charge

Lesson 3: Daddy (bless him) finds it hard(er) to hide his pooh disgust –work really really hard to praise IMMEDIATELY after a successful potty event and to hide any yukky feelings

Top tips:

Tip 1: Go for it, drop the nappy completely. None of this – “I will just put one for the supermarket run” – so far (!) we have had NO accidents in the pram or car, just make sure you go on the potty before any outing and upon arrival at friends and family’s

Tip 2: Vary rewards for pees (there are so many pees, that a reward may get boring, eg we migrated from popcorn to stickers and will have to think of something new)

Tip 3: show the reward (i.e. Red Ted really “Got it” when he could see the cookie for a Nr 2) – I felt sorry for him, when he raced to the potty to get a Nr 2 out and couldn’t, so rewarded his efforts with a piece of cookie… though don’t fall for this manoeuvre more than once

Tip 4: reward instantly (even if it means a soggy biscuit in the bath or a delayed bedtime as biscuit is consumed)

Tip 5: take them with you, when YOU go to the loo (Red Ted likes to go on the “big” toilet, because he sees us go)

Tip 6: don’t stress or worry if it all takes a little longer, by all accounts several weeks is perfectly normal

Tip 7: stop worrying about “whether THEY are ready for it”, as yourself whether “you are ready for it” – I think it is VERY hard to ascertain that “exact” moment in which they are perfect for training – easy to start too early, but just as easy to miss it and start too late…

Tip 8: get a travel potty that combines as a toilet seat – Red  Ted loves going on the “big” toilet (see earlier posts re Potettes)

Tip 9: when the going gets tough keep going!! some books recommend a potty break, but I reckon it will cause more confusion as to what is expected of them… keep going, even if there seems to be no end in sight… it will come!!! (we briefly toyed with the idea of, did we do it to early, and then suddenly it was working!!)

I guess that it is from a non expert!

I should prob review this again in 3 months and then again 12 months… I am sure that there will be accidents and frustrating moments to come. But so far – almost 6 accident free days! Woo hoo.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…

… that is the Good Life Mantra. Try not to use something in the first place. If you do, try and use it again and then finally, if all else fails recycle! Some people think that by recycling, they are being “good enough”… not so!

reduce reuse recycle

But I want to talk about my favourite form of “reusing” – children’s clothes… mainly because we have benefited so much from this: friends have given us SO MANY lovely things to reuse that we have had to barely buy anything new for Red Ted since he was about 6 months old! And it isn’t tatty stuff (well no tattier than something “new” worn by Red Ted “once”.. ;-)). Reusing is particularly useful with small children, they grow so fast that sometimes they have only worn something 2-3 times – what a waste! And I am not at all certain how good the “recycling” industry is for textiles or shoes…

Here are some lovely little shoes that Red Ted got to “Reuse”. Hurray!

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Wholesome Fingerfood – Falafel

Like all mothers, I am constantly on the look out for new and interesting dishes to serve to my fussy toddler. I try as often as possible for him to eat our food, but as he has two warm meals a day (and we tend to have one, in the evening), I need more ideas and inspriation – somehow, he always seems to eat the same things! Add to this, that a 9 months, he only wanted fingerfood (luckily this changed when he was a little older) and Pip Squeak will no doubt go through a similar phase. Our staples became quiche (great for veg -will post a recipe ASAP) and meatballs. Both of these freeze really well, so you can always have meals stocked up in the freezer and the “effort” of making it is REALLY worth it!

Easy falafel recipe

And, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, now I have discovered Falafel! Again, like the meatballs you can make these in the oven, cutting down on “cooker time”, as well as frying fat. I haven’t tried freezing them yet, as they disappeared in no time out our house! But will try out before Pip Squeak starts finger eating, as these will be a great addition to her diet.

Here we go:

  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tin of 420g chickpeas (drained and left to dry a little)
  • Handful or parsley or corriander
  • Tsp ground cumin
  • Tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 Tblsp of flour (use chickpea flour if wheat intolerant)

Blend (minus flour) together. Once all mushy, add flour, to make managable consistency. Form balls and place in pre oiled tray. Dab with extra oil. Shove in oven for ~30-40 min at 200 C – turn once or twice carefully. Brush with extra oil if necessary!

Eat. Make yoghurt tip if you feel like it!

Have also seen a similar recipe with carrots – so guess you can sneak some veg in if you need to – can imagine courgette would work too, though it is quite wet and may need more flour to help keep it togther. Alternatively, add an egg…

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