Monday, 24 June 2019

Lotus Biscoff Cake

Lotus Biscoff Biscuit Cake 




I recently purchased two tiny 5inch tins, which I just love. They make the cutest cakes and just the right size for us to enjoy without over indulging. They also make great cakes to gift, small enough to be used as excuse to eat cake for any occasion, but still special. I brought these tins from eBay and they have turned out some beautiful cakes. 


Lotus Biscoff biscuits always remind me of the hairdressers and I love eating them while having a bit of me time, when I heard about the spread version I just had to try it. Although delicious for me I just found it way to sweet to have on toast or a rice cake but not wanting to waste it I develop the below recipe. This made two small 5inch cakes, so we kept one and one we took to my parents for them to enjoy. 

It’s a rich cake, perfect for desert or with coffee. 


Ingredients


135g Stork
135g Caster Sugar
150g Self Raising Flour
2 Large Eggs
70g Lotus Biscoff Spread

Topping 

2 tbsp Nutella
60g Unsalted Butter
60g Lotus Biscoff Spread 
300g Icing Sugar
1 tbsp Milk 
2 tbsp crumbed Lotus biscuits
1tbsp Chocolate Curls 

Method


1. Preheat oven to 160 fan, line two tins with baking paper and grease.

2. In a stand mixture, whisk together the stork and caster sugar for 5 minutes.

3. Whisk up eggs and add slowly to the mixture.

4. Add in the flour and lotus spread, mix gently until combined.

5. Pour into prepared cake tins and cook for 20-25 mins until a skewer comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool completely

7. To make buttercream combine in a stand mixture the icing sugar, milk, butter and spread.

8. Sandwich cakes together with buttercream and dollop of Nutella in the center.

9. Cover rest of cake and top with crumbed biscuits and chocolate curls.







Friday, 14 June 2019

Quinoa Granola



I have been making my own granola for a while now, much preferring both the taste and sugar content compared to store brought versions. I also really benefited from my lactation granola whilst breastfeeding.


On a recent holiday to Mumbai, whilst at breakfast at the famous Sea lounge in the Taj Palace, I tasted the most delicious freshly made quinoa granola and could not wait to add this great protein addition to my version. 
A slightly longer method than normal as you first need to puff the quinoa up in a dry pan but once this is done it as simple as pouring the rest of the ingredients in, mixing and baking.


Quinoa Granola - GF, DF and Vegan


1 cup Quinoa 
3 cups Jumbo Oats 
1/2 cup Pistachios
1/2 cup Almonds
2 tbsp Flaxseed
1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon 
1/2 tsp Sea salt
3 Tbsp Coconut oil 
3 Tbsp Maple Syrup 
1/2 cup Cocunut 
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries 

  1. Puff quinoa - heat a heavy based saucepan and add a small amount of quinoa at a time to cover the base, cook for a few minutes until popped and nutty brown aroma released. 
  2. Allow puffed quinoa to cool on a baking tray 
  3. Combine oats, nuts, flaxseed, Cinnamon and salt together 
  4. Melt coconut oil and whisk in maple syrup until combined 
  5. Add cooled quinoa to oat mixture along with liquid mixture and combine until all coated
  6. Line two baking trays with baking paper and spread a thin layer on each
  7. Bake at 160 fan for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes
  8. Allow to cool before transferring to an air tight container 

I hope you all enjoy both making and eating this great granola.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Kos with Kids - Ikos Aria - Our Family Travel Diary

Our Travel Diary for a week spent at the newly opened Ikos Aria Resort in Kefalos, Kos in Greece. A brief summary of what we did and the restaurants we choose to dine out, please check out my other posts for a much more detailed description of our stay. 



Day One

We arrived at Gatwick airport parking at around 11.30am and left our car before heading into Gatwick airport for a quick lunch and departure to Kos. It was our first time travelling easyJet with the children and after four hours of plane entertainment we touched down in Kos, a quick transfer from the airport at around 10.30pm local time we arrived at the Ikos Aria resort. Immediately we were escorted down to enjoy dinner at Fresca, the Italien restaurant before returning back to the lobby to check in. Got to our room just after midnight to be greeted by a cake and champagne. For more details on the room - check out my additional post


Day Two

All of us had a lie in and after a quick explore of our room and beautiful garden we headed to breakfast at flavours, one of the only buffet restaurants open for breakfast. A morning spent walking around the resort and our first dip in the pool was followed by a quick light lunch also at Flavours. We then spent most of the late afternoon in our room whilst the youngest napped we enjoyed the garden, packed up and moved rooms before getting ready for dinner at Seasons. I also spoke with Guest Relations to book all of our restaurants for the whole week ahead. Click here to see my post on all of the restaurants we dined at. 


Day Three


After a great nights sleep we headed for an earlier breakfast at Kos, enjoyed sitting outside on the verranda with the stunning views over the sea and mountains. Another day spent enjoying the pools and poolside drink service. We had headed back to our room for a quick change before heading over to Ouzo at the far end of the resort for a beachside barbeque lunch at Ouzo. More swimming and napping in the afternoon before heading back to our room to get ready for a delicious dinner at Kos. As both the kids had a long afternoon nap and were not tired we headed to the lobby bar after dinner to enjoy some Peach Bellinis before heading back to our room for milk and cookies in our pjs. 

Day Four


All weekends should start with a beach breakfast setting like that at Ouzo, to mix things up we decided to head over to the beach after a leisurely stroll back to our room to collect our beach toys.  For more information on other kids facilities check out this post.The kids were playing so nicely with each other and having so much fun, rather than moving we decided to stay on the beach and enjoyed the Ikos Burger beachside instead. This is one of the best burgers I have ever tasted, the bun, the sauce and juicy patty was the perfect combination. We headed back to our room in the late afternoon for naps and to get ready for our dinner at Provence. 



Day Five

We started the day earlier than normal for us with breakfast at Fresca before heading to reception to start our mini adventure, after a little mix up and delay we eventually started our Mercedez adventure instead. Headed into Kos town to enjoy a lunch picnic and wonder around the sleepy village. After a quick pit stop to pick up a few souvenirs and sweets for back home we headed back to the hotel. A quick change and we were back at reception for our transfer to dinner at Mylotopi, one of three dine out experiences you can enjoy at Ikos. 

Day Six
We headed over on one of the hotel buggies for breakfast at seasons, before heading over to resume our normal position at the pool, which after a two day break the kids had really missed. The youngest went down for a nap when we returned to the room, so I headed out for a lunch date with the oldest at Fresca for lunch. We then decided to have a walk around the resort and check out the kids club, which as soon as he saw he ran off into and never looked back. Leaving me with an hour of alone time, its great having family holidays but I think by Tuesday we all needed a little break from each other. After the oldest finally agreed to return from kids club, we got ready and went to dinner at Olivia, unfortunately it started raining this evening so we had to move indoors. The churros for desert though helped warm us all up. 



Day Seven

My Birthday Woohoo, and our last full day at the resort, woke up to lots of kisses and cards and then headed to my favourite restaurant Kos for a birthday breakfast. I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the pool and beach and they voted pool, I treated myself to a few extra cocktails than normal this day and also Mr S took the kids for lots of walks to give me a few minutes to relax and sunbath. After a few snacks by the pool in the early afternoon, we headed for a quick lunch/desert at Flavours before the oldest headed back to kids club and the youngest went down for a nap. Leaving us to enjoy a few more drinks at the lobby lagoon bar. For dinner we headed to Anaya for my favourite type of cuisine, walked home via the white party on the beach before being greeted by a birthday cake in our room.


Day Eight


We had a late check out, so headed over to Ouzo for our last breakfast, before chilling by the pool by our room. I spent the morning between sunbathing, swimming and packing up. For lunch it had to be Kos, and we were not disappointed with a delicious last three course meal accompanied by a few glasses of very chilled rose. The oldest headed off for a final kids club session whilst we enjoyed our last few hours of relaxing. Around 6pm we all got ready in our airport clothes and headed to Flavours for a quick dinner before checking out and heading back to the airport. Arrived back in London at around 1am local time, collected our car and were in our own beds by 2.30am. 




For more details on our stay check out the additional posts:




Kos With Kids - Ikos Aria - Kids Facilities Review

Kids at Ikos Aria 



Cuddles at Kos


Ikos knows how to make it a wonderful holiday for all ages, but I feel they have paid special attention to their younger guests.

Starting with check in, along with our glasses of bubbly, both the kids were also given their own apple juices, crayons and ikos colouring pads to keep them entertained whilst we filled in a few forms, from the comfort of our sofa.








Rooms and Equipment



The check in set the tone for the rest of our stay. My little ones are 4 and 1 years old, so in terms of baby equipment in the room I personally did not request or need any but I am sure the hotel would be more than willing to provide you with bottle warmers, sterilisers, bath baths and monitors if you asked. We were also given a cot in our first room and since both of mine co- sleep they just thought this was a really fun toy to play with, it was however very clean and well padded. Sometimes I find hotel cots are really thin mattress, suffice to say no one slept in the cot but it looked great.


Garden in our original Junior Suite.

The main reason we ended up having two rooms was the first did not have an actual bath in it, which was surprising for a junior suite room in such a large resort with a large bathroom. My youngest is not a fan of showers and too big now for a baby bath so when we explained this situation to reception, Panos at Reception,  kindly upgraded us to a one bedroom suite instead which did have a bathtub.  To read more about the rooms please click here


The garden in our One-Bedroom Suite





Food



There are two main kids menu - a toddler menu which I actually think should be renamed a baby menu as it’s all purée food, which chefs will freshly prepare for your baby. Again as mine are too old we did not try this. 


The main kids menu however is the same, in all the restaurants, pools, beach and room service. It has a few healthy options such as salads, grilled fish and chicken but is mainly pizza, pasta, burgers and ice cream. I found it such a shame that so much effort had been put into the adults menus and the kids just had exactly the same offering, however on the upside the chefs will be happy to do anything for you. 


Striking a pose before breakfast


At lunch and dinner I would often request an adults meal for the kids to eat, with a few adjustments or just ask the chef to create something I knew they would like to eat. Some examples as chicken souvlakia with chips, butter prawn pasta, chicken and prawn paella, chicken noodles. Mylotopia the dine out restaurant we went too was great as they had a kids menu which was basically this, adult mains slightly adjust for a younger palate and the kids loved their dinner here especially the home made chips. To see more about what the kids ate - check out this post. It would be amazing, if the themed restaurants would have a different kids menu to reflect the food they serve to adults and I did pass this feedback onto the management team so I hope it is taken onboard.


Looking so pleased to be on the tour at Mylotopi


We only went to the buffet once for dinners and they did have a separate kids area with chicken nuggets etc for them also.

Room service was always fabulous, every evening we would order a warm milk that would be delivered within a few minutes to our door. Always at the right temperature and in an easy to pour teapot for minimal mess. Really efficient service and my little ones would always love the sound of the bell after we got back to our room as they quickly learnt it meant the milk had arrived.



Milk Nightcaps


Every highchair at Ikos is setup with colourful ikea cutely and colouring placemats, ideal for little hands and also since this is the same as what we use at home made them feel right at ease at the dinner table.



Highchair with colouring and kids cutlery

Bikes

You can rent different size kids and adult bikes and also tricycles for younger guests. Both of mine thankfully were not interested in this which was great for us as it meant we didn’t have to lug bikes, helmets and tricycles with us, however they did look like lots of fun for the kids who were on them.


Pool Ready


We did however take the hotel up on the mini adventure driving experience for the day and the hotel provided car seats( and installed them) for both of the kids.



Our drivers for the day on our Mini/Mercedes Adventure



Kids Club and Entertainment


We have never used a kids club before, not that I have anything against them but we have always been happy spending time with kids and without the stresses of day to day life they seem like so much less hassle. This time around on day 4, I went for a walk with the oldest(Big Bubs) and we went by the kids club building which is actual separate from the main buildings in its own stand alone area. As soon as the staff showed me the room for ages 4+, big Bubs threw off his flip flops and ran in, leaving me to fill in his forms and wonder back to my room feeling slightly deserted. I went back after two hours to collect him and he asked to stay for longer, I think that alone is a testament to how good the kids club is, or how boring we are as parents. 



Trying to make his way out of lunch to kids club

He spent the last three afternoons at kids club and to be honest if he had his way would probably have gone mornings too. Most of the staff are British and it split into two sections, one being for under 4’s and the other side over 4s. Both areas were really well equipped with lots of toys, soft play areas and outdoor playgrounds too. The outdoor space you can access at any time too without having to go to a kids club session. Unfortunately the youngest Bubs spent the holiday with a huge phobia of any adults who were not me and her Papa, so despite the hotel offering us complimentary sessions for her to join the kids club she did not join in on the fun. Over 4’s are free, however as we went the week before half term the hotel was still very quiet but I was told the following week most of the sessions had very long waiting lists so it would be best to pre book. Under 4’s are charged at around €35 a session or €50 for two sessions.


Sandy Chips


They also offer a beach minding service free for the first 30 minutes, we did not spend that much time on the beach so did not end up using this but the kids did play with a few of the beach toys they had available too.



Strips Galore


There is also a nightly kids disco, that we thankfully never attended and a movie night once a week too, the disco however starts at 7pm and we would normally be getting ready for dinner around this time so it never worked out for us.



When your outfit matches the bathroom


One final note on the kids club that I also thought was great was that a lot of the babysitting is done by kids club staff. This means the kids are already used to them, making it easier for mum and dad to have a night off. Hopefully little Bubs is a lot older on our return trip and we can make use of this service too.



Keeping busy at dinner with his blocks

Staff



All the staff are great with the kids, and despite us having one child who wouldn’t let anyone near her, our other/favourite child loved all the attention he got. By the end of the week so many staff members knew his name, he felt so at home in the hotel he would often leave his hat/ slippers just lying around and they would always be returned to us. 

From small things such as being able to order his own milkshakes and ice creams, to the high fives and in depth conversations about his toys. 


Enjoying one of many ice creams


At check out Effie the hotel general manager presented both of them with a present, a unicorn teddy bear and submarine. The kids had an absolute blast and the smiles they had at check in only grew during the week to the final huge smile at a surprise presents upon check out. 




To see more details on the rest of our trip check out our additional posts:




Kos With Kids - Ikos Aria - Our Rooms

Relaxing on our Garden Wall 

Rooms at Ikos Aria


Junior suite with sea view.


This room had a great view as it was on a higher level. The resorts has several lower buildings which means that lower rooms and the pools do not have an uninterrupted view to the sea and you can see a lot of buildings, but the junior suites and their gardens sit higher up therefore can actually see more of the sea. The bathroom has double sinks, a separate toilet and shower but with no bath as explained in my kids at ikos post.
The main room has a large bed followed by a sitting area, the sofa here had been turned into a bed and an extra cot placed in the room, there was still plenty of space to move around and lots of storage for all our stuff. I loved the neutral and simple decor of the room, especially the bed and beautiful rugs in the room.The garden was my favourite part of this room.


Garden Area - with Sea in Distance
Dressing Area
Cot in our Junior Suite - Bedtime Cuddles 

Deluxe Suite
Extra Bed - Junior Suite 

One bedroom suite


We then moved across the walkway to a one bedroom suite which was beautifully decorated too. I loved all the attention to detail and also the practical aspects of the room. For instance in the bathroom there was plenty of storage for all of your toiletry bags and in the main bedroom the vanity had a pull-out store again more drawers for storage and most importantly a light above it for when you were doing your make up. 

Upon entering the room and your immediate left was the minibar and coffee area next to this was a double cupboard this also contained the sofa which we converted into a sofa bed that provided more than enough space for both of the kids to sleep on and they had two separate duvets on top.
On the right of the entrance was one doorway to the bathroom which had the same set up as the previous bathroom in the junior suite with the addition of a beautiful bath tub. 
A second door to the bathroom lead out into the main master bedroom which contained a large king-size bed and the cupboards a second TV and dressing table. Both the bedroom and lounge area had sliding doors leading out into a large garden with two sunbeds a small grassy area and a sofa and table area to relax in the garden let directly onto the pool and our room was opposite the pool bar and ice cream stop. 
This was the perfect position as the staff at the pool bar were more than happy to come inside the garden and ask us if we needed any drinks or food and Big Bubs could go and help himself to ice cream whenever he wanted. 
It was also great being so close to the pool especially when the youngest would be having long naps, we could also relax with a drink which ispure bliss. I would highly recommend these rooms for families as the extra space is perfect and also feel like you’re having a holiday even when you’re doing nothing.

My favourite part of this room has its location near enough all of the restaurants and main building, pools and beach. In keeping with the amazing decor of the rest of the hotel the room was beautifully and tastefully decorated with a muted neutral palette and lots of natural materials such as wood and metal providing focal points in the room Mr S favourite part of the room is probably the espresso maker.



Second TV in Bedroom 



One Bedroom Suite Lounge Area 

Bedroom Area 




Dressing Area - lots of light and plugs

Extra seating in bedroom Area


Sofa Bed in Action 

Bathroom with Robes

Double Sinks and lots of storage space

Towel Art



Bathroom complete with Bathtub 

Mini Bar and Coffee Area

Relaxing in our large Patio space

For additional information please check out my other posts on this resort: